Google Cloud Results
Provides productivity and collaboration tools to 20K employees
• KBZ Bank delivers inclusion and innovation – and entrenches the core value of
loving kindness – by providing productivity and collaboration tools to about
• Powers transformation of the bank into a highly competitive tech startup
• Delivers high uptime to enhance productivity and collaboration
• Streamlines workflows through efficient creation of forms
• Enables focus on core programs like financial inclusion for 50,000 new customers per week – among the fastest growth in the world – on the KBZPay e-wallet application
Digital transformation and new regulations are challenging banks worldwide. However, for Kanbawza Bank (KBZ Bank) in Myanmar, the speed and scale of change is far greater than for banks in mature markets. The 25-year-old private commercial bank operates in a democracy that emerged only in 2015 after 50 years of military rule.
"Myanmar is an emerging market of 55 million people and KBZ Bank faces challengers ranging from local startups to international players." explains Pete Cooper, Chief Information Officer, KBZ Bank.
Founded in 1994, KBZ Bank is Myanmar's largest privately owned bank. The cornerstone of diversified conglomerate KBZ Group, KBZ Bank operates more than 500 branches and 1,100 ATMs. The bank combines commercial operations with nation-building activities such as providing fresh water in regional areas, health, education, restoration of historical sites, microlending to female entrepreneurs, and a national financial inclusion program through the KBZ Pay e-wallet application.
"The positive thing about the brief history of the bank and the country is there is not much in the way of legacy infrastructure, systems, or practices," says Cooper. "But the negative is that we have a lot of catching up to do. The bank aims to move from being "too big to fail" to being "too good to fail", and to become one of the best-managed banks in the world.
"We need to be the bank the nation deserves as it grows," he adds. "We can leapfrog not just one but two generations of technology and innovation. This has already happened in mobile and social media adoption and we recently adopted a leading position in biometrics."
Little time for administration
"Google Workspace had the application ecosystem, reliability, and the accessibility we needed. The applications would enable us to cut through the banking bureaucracy and make a difference in how our people work." - Pete Cooper, Chief Information Officer, KBZ Bank
Playing catch up to compete with international rivals while delivering large-scale national service and nation-building programs means KBZ Bank's technology team needs to focus on the highest-value activities possible. This leaves little time for routine system administration or maintenance tasks.
The team has already delivered an e-payment service that competes with established services from China – taking KBZPay from pilot to an internal launch for thousands of staff just 100 days after the initial announcement with a technology partner.
The bank also faces the challenge of increasing the percentage of Myanmar citizens with a bank account from about 10 percent to above 90 percent. According to Cooper, this means onboarding up to 40 million people over the next decade.
"The whole country and our bank are drowning in paper, including bank notes, documents and forms, which is inefficient and disadvantages the most vulnerable citizens," says Cooper. "With these types of challenges, we don't want to be focusing on the small things. Financial inclusion of 100 percent is our goal, so the most vulnerable are not excluded by bureaucracy or lack of access to safe, free, or inexpensive financial services like savings, payments, and value-added offerings."
R&D, vision key criteria
The bank had operated an on-premises email system since its establishment but decided to go to market to identify the solution best equipped to meet its challenges. "We considered keeping the existing system, moving to a cloud version of that system, or implementing a basic open source email and document package," says Cooper. "However, we had to make an informed decision that considered vendors' research and development track records, their vision, and their execution of that vision. Cost, scale, resilience, and innovation were all key factors.
"Google Workspace from Google had the application ecosystem, reliability, and the accessibility we needed," he adds. "The applications would enable us to cut through the banking bureaucracy and make a difference in how our people work."
Google Workspace supports transformation
"Google Workspace is always on, always accessible, remarkably simple, and deceptively powerful. You do not necessarily realize how powerful it is until you start using the search function for Gmail, or look at ecosystem plugins, build an API, or start playing with AI extensions." - Pete Cooper, Chief Information Officer, KBZ Bank
As cloud-based, intelligent applications that support collaboration and workflow development, Google Workspace is helping transform the bank into what Cooper describes as a tech startup. "Our e-payment service has already grown remarkably to hundreds of thousands of people, and we hope to reach millions of people this year," he says.
By September 2018, KBZ Bank had deployed Google Workspace to about 3,500 employees and had completed the migration with in-house resources and assistance from Google Cloud Premier Partner GoPomelo. "The GoPomelo team performed very well and we would like to grow that relationship long term," says Cooper. The bank aims to roll out the Google Workspace to about 20,000 employees and potentially to nearly 80,000 employees across KBZ Group over time.
Workflows based on Google Forms
KBZ Bank has standardized on Sheets for spreadsheets, Google Meet for voice and video conferencing, Calendar for calendar functionality, and Gmail for email. The bank has also picked what Cooper describes as "the low hanging fruit" in developing workflows based on Forms. All time-off requests for the technology team and bank-wide orders of equipment such as laptops, phones, printers, and uninterruptible power supplies are completed using Forms.
"While traditional departments like finance were initially slow to move, innovative teams like business intelligence and data mining, business analysis, and software development were rapid adopters," Cooper says. "These leading teams have shown the way by using Google Workspace for all their work, with other departments following and realizing the benefits.
KBZ Bank is already reaping considerable rewards from deploying Google Workspace. According to Cooper, the product has enabled the technology team to set a standard for the rest of the bank to emulate. "Google Workspace is always on, always accessible, remarkably simple, and deceptively powerful," says Cooper. "You do not necessarily realize how powerful it is until you start using the search function for Gmail, or look at the ecosystem plugins, build an API, or start playing with the AI extensions in the cloud."
"Overall, Google Workspace is a great reference model for us as we aim for financial inclusion and make great strides towards being the bank the nation deserves." - Pete Cooper, Chief Information Officer, KBZ Bank
"After 10 years as a user myself, it is a delight to bring Google Workspace to a leading financial enterprise in one of the world's most promising democracies," adds Cooper. "Google Workspace running on Meet Hardware and Chromebook devices is particularly productive. These elegant and cost-effective machines replace old-school PCs, are more secure, and boot up in a few seconds."
According to Cooper, the bank has started to standardize on the devices as visitor machines for the CIO office and the technology division. In addition, the IT team is likely to roll them out to the bank's branches. "Our staff cannot believe the great video conferencing quality on such low-cost devices," says Cooper.
Number 1 on NPS
The Google Workspace deployment has contributed to KBZ Bank's 28 centers – comprising 17 value centers and 11 functional centers – ranking the technology function consistently high on Net Promoter Score (a popular loyalty and customer satisfaction metric the bank uses on its own customers). "We are consistently at or near the top for NPS when ranked by all the other groups," says Cooper. "Technology is delivering and the bank as a whole loves it."
The improvements powered by Google Workspace also help build KBZ Bank's international reputation. "As well as enabling us to innovate, we've already been able to 'flip the table' on recruiting talent," says Cooper. "On a recent recruitment trip to Singapore, we had 200 people apply for bank positions. People want to come back to Myanmar and we are an employer of choice because we are leading in technology like Google Workspace and others."
"Overall, Google Workspace is a great reference model for us as we aim for financial inclusion and make great strides towards being the bank the nation deserves," concludes Cooper. "For KBZ Group, affiliated companies, the economy, and democracy in Myanmar, it is extremely important that we fulfill our objectives of having the best in technology in the country."
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*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.