How does a bank stay competitive and future-ready in the battlefield that is today’s financial sector? How do you mobilize resources and knowledge in the right places? You strengthen your core. That means optimally connecting employees, making the company’s knowledge accessible to all and fostering work that plays to individual strengths. All this requires a purposefully guided cultural transformation within the company. Together with edcom’s/ TIMETOACT’s consultants, the Sparda-Bank Munich has taken its first steps to tackle that fundamental change. A traditional intranet would not have sufficed: a unique Social Intranet was introduced, which is now the successful cornerstone of the bank’s Digital Transformation.

Felix Rohatyn once said “At its core, banking is not simply about profit, but about personal relationships.” This is something we tend to forget in the Digital Age, where the financial world and its customers are active 24/7 and consumer needs have changed significantly since the 20th century. Cashier’s desks are quickly becoming a thing of the past, today everything must be fast, online and accessible on the go. But giving up completely on the traditional services a bank offers? No, nobody is quite ready for that just yet, which is why we see FinTechs jumping in, trying to bridge that gap with “quick and easy” solutions, tempting customers with offers from credits to trading guidebooks. The competition these new technologies represent cannot be denied. Banks need to react decidedly if they want to stay in the game. If they succeed, they will thrive because they already have a loyal and trusting customer-base, with which they can leverage the Digital Revolution to all parties’ advantage. The key to making it happen? Rohatyn’s “personal relationships”. The bank needs to have employees who are efficiently interconnected  and work collaboratively at the highest possible standard. The Sparda-Bank Munich has decided to tackle this Digital Transformation. A future-ready bank is emerging, with an internal structure that all will profit from: the employees, the clients, the numbers and the common good.

Goodbye classic intranet, hello Social Intranet!

Sparda-Bank Munich’s old intranet system was based on Lotus Notes databases. Systematically searching through them was tedious and time-consuming – and that’s if one even knew where to search! News of any kind were disseminated via a function called  “Headlines” and they were never sorted by topic or importance. Accessing something you saw later on? Almost impossible amidst the flood of news. This knowledge fragmentation made working (especially together) harder on every level, despite the fact that the Sparda-Bank Munich always strives to assign its employees as sensibly as it can for optimal results. Employees are meant to feel comfortable and happy in their positions, their evolution is important to the company and their work should benefit both the bank and the common good. The Sparda-Bank Munich had long since recognized what its most valuable assets were: human beings and their knowledge. Truly leveraging these, however, was a challenge. Gabi Bauer from the change management team sums it up: “Every employee has their knowledge, their ideas, their input that they want to give and which we encourage them to share for the company’s benefit. We want to progress, to put our vision of working towards the common good into action. That’s why it was crucial to bring more openness and transparency into our company; to involve our employees in more meaningful ways and to share information in a more targeted fashion and have it be current. Everyone and everything need to be better connected in the future.” The new intranet was christened “SpardaNet”.

The introduction of a Social Intranet composed of IBM Connections and the IBM Connections Engagement Center (ICEC) gave the Sparda-Bank Munich a host of useful new features. A welcome side-effect will be the benefits the bank’s customers will derive from it, for instance a more efficient and flexible customer service. The biggest advantages for the bank are the networks and knowledge that can now flow freely through the company. Instead of just receiving unilateral information from the top, everyone can now contribute, discuss, comment. The system is quite intuitive. Everyone can produce content quickly and easily. Specialists are identifiable, the knowledge-base grows daily. It’s easy to access, technical barriers are a thing of the past. Three office branches have already come together in a Community – a virtual workspace – to share information and experiences. Solving similar problems together, working on strategies now happens in a much more productive environment. The same goes for connections between individual employees.

“Every employee has their knowledge, their ideas, their input that they want to give and which we encourage them to share for the company’s benefit. We want to progress, to put our vision of working towards the common good into action. That’s why it was crucial to bring more openness and transparency into our company; to involve our employees in more meaningful ways and to share information in a more targeted fashion and have it be current. Everyone and everything need to be better connected in the future.”

– Gabi Bauer, Change Management Team @ Sparda-Bank München

The road to SpardaNet and its future

It’s not easy to institute the cultural transformation an interactive Social Intranet brings with it. If you want to leverage IBM Connections and ICEC’s full potential, you need to get used to being open and generous with your knowledge as well as asking and answering questions “in public” within the system. There has to be a willingness to connect and network, to work with others in order to push the company forward. It’s best when a company’s leading figures act as a role models. That is why the project team involved the board and the works council in “Mission: Social Intranet” from the beginning… and got them on their side unanimously. The benefits of a Social Intranet, however, are not entirely self-explanatory. The edcom/ TIMETOACT consultants knew that. Together with Sparda-Bank Munich’s project team, they planned a road show. For several weeks after the launch, the project team went into every office branch, every department and explained, took questions, noted concerns and gave a basic training session. All that helped to explain the value of SpardaNet and lowered the hurdles of getting started. That extra effort has paid off. More and more employees are using SpardaNet, asking questions, giving answers, posting content. The old intranet is being gradually switched off; SpardaNet is going to be the only intranet platform for the bank. The content fragmentation will be over with this new Single Point of Truth.

In the not too distant future, external users and mobile accessibility – “that’s of particular importance to the board members and managers” – will be added to the Intranet’s portfolio. This just needs to go through certain data security clearings, which takes a little while longer since a bank cannot take any risks in this area.

The Social Intranet SpardaNet is an optimal solution for the Sparda-Bank Munich because its collaborative, social nature is completely in tune with the vision of its CEO Helmut Lind. The Sparda-Bank Munich is a perfect example for a corporate cultural transformation that is defined by the human beings who need to perform that transformation. The approach has been geared towards the needs and habits of the modern employee. The technology was not the goal, just the supporting mechanism. Because even in an ever-changing, competitive market people and their knowledge remain the keys to success. These are now optimally connected and efficient. For an agile, powerful, service-oriented bank of the future which never sleeps.

Logo Sparda-Bank

Client profile:

The Sparda-Bank Munich is Bavaria’s biggest credit union. It counts 48 branch offices in Upper Bavaria. The new Social Intranet connects the employees of the central branch and of the 48 outlying offices.

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Initial situation

Sparda-Bank Munich’s original intranet did not have a Single Point of Entry. Information was arduous to obtain and was not targeted properly when disseminated. Knowledge was fragmented, a company-wide search was non-existent. Adequately connecting employees or branch offices was difficult. Communication was primarily one-sided, top-down and without much room for meaningful exchanges. For a long time, the bank looked into a technical solution to these problems. After establishing contact with edcom/ TIMETOACT, however, it quickly became clear that there was a need for a technology with a social component, which would facilitate peer-to-peer communication.

Our solution

Upon edcom’s/ TIMETOACT’s recommendations, the Sparda-Bank Munich simultaneously introduced both IBM Connections and its extension, the IBM Connections Engagement Center (ICEC). A brand-new, single-platform intranet was born: “SpardaNet”, where communication and collaboration are integrated and mesh perfectly. This results in a Single Point of Truth, any fragmentation is gone. Within the collaborative environment of IBM Connections, ICEC allows for the creation of countless custom apps, which can channel internal and external content and optimize the overall work environment. The consultants determined the bank’s pain points – no networks, knowledge fragmentation, multiple platforms – and worked on a Social Intranet that would serve both the exigencies of a bank and the needs of its employees. A universal Social Intranet was created, which today offers security as well as networks and knowledge.

Value for the client

Sparda-Bank Munich’s new digital workplace brings a new company culture with it: one of collaboration, communication and working towards one’s strengths as a way to benefit everyone. A capacity management function dubbed PEPSI – programmed  by TIMETOACT and based on the IBM Forms Experience Builder – is creating new collaborative opportunities and fostering mutual support. Office branches with similar issues or challenges have banded together in Communities, are sharing experiences and greatly benefit from doing so. A structured navigation, forums and a company-wide search function make sharing and disseminating knowledge easy and effective. Being able to work together, in context, on files within the SpardaNet alleviates the daily workload and is starting to reduce the email floods of the past. Having all the knowledge linked and connected also makes customer service quicker, more flexible and more efficient.

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