The Bottom Line Per ... Martin Davis

By Anna Maria Virzi Print this article Print

Wachovia's Corporate CIO on Integrating Systems.

In September 2001, First Union Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., acquired Wachovia Corp. of Winston-Salem N.C., becoming the fifth-largest U.S. bank. Two months ago, the company said it was taking over Prudential Financial's brokerage unit. Deals like these require integrating bank accounts, bank branches and, of course, information systems. And that's where Davis steps in as corporate CIO.

Q. After a merger, how do you integrate technologies?

A. We pull together a task force from operations, technology and our line-of-business partners—our internal users. We analyze systems from each organization. For our automated clearinghouse, for example, we focus on feature functionality, customer needs, etc., to determine which system to select. Once we decide that, we make sure we don't impact any customer by choosing system A over B. If system B has functionality that system A did not have, we code that functionality onto the other system, test it and then roll it out regionally.

Q. What bottom-line metrics do you use when integrating those systems?

A. The bottom line—our goal—on every project is to have zero customer impact. That's our acid test when we do these conversions.

Q. Is that more important than the expense involved?

A. During the entire merger process, that's the mantra you can hear from any part of the company—that we want zero customer impact.

Q. Does that mean the company will err on the side of having more systems that are less integrated to have zero customer impact?

A. We realize it's impossible to do a merger of this size and complexity without impacting the customer, but all efforts have been made to minimize any negative disruption. That doesn't mean we'll err on the side of multiple systems. In fact, where possible, we believe integrated systems allow us to streamline processes and ultimately provide a higher level of service.

Q. How long did integration take?

A. We told everyone we wanted to be very deliberate on the process. That it would take up to three years to integrate the entire environment. We're probably 17 months into the Wachovia-First Union merger, and we're on track providing the efficiencies we told Wall Street we'd provide.

Q. Any efficiencies from the I.T. department?

A. We're going from both organizations pretty much having duplicative systems. Each time we do a conversion, we're able to turn off one of those systems. That impacts the bottom line.

Q. Where are the savings coming from?

A. We've seen savings on MIPS … the processing instructions on mainframes. We've seen savings on storage devices. It's across the board. We're still converting systems so we have yet to realize a lot of the savings.

This article was originally published on 2003-04-01
Executive Editor
Anna Maria was assistant managing editor Forbes.com. She held the posts of news editor and executive editor at Internet World magazine and was city editor and Washington correspondent for the Connecticut Post, a daily newspaper in Bridgeport. Anna Maria has a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island.
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