Dan Hudson Rallies Teams to Build Better Experiences
Meeting the demands of internal and external banking customers requires a tech champion with hands-on experience.
From the military to software development to infrastructure and then technology management, Dan Hudson finds a common thread throughout professional life: understanding what customers want and how to get technology teams to deliver it.
“Whether it’s anything like helping with troubleshooting, sometimes it’s just nice to have an extra voice in the room, and then being able to speak their language and understand where they are coming from, I think it’s really helped a lot,” Hudson, Vice President for Integration and Strategy at First Citizens Bank, in Raleigh, NC, says.
First Citizens Bank is one of the largest family-controlled banks in the U.S. with $34 billion in assets, and more than 600 branches across 19 states. In the Q&A below, Hudson explains how he and his team of 45 people are helping this banking business take on new challenges in the digital era.
Modern Software Factory Hub: How did you get your start working in technology?
Dan Hudson: It’s just a progression, a journey, as you go and you’re learning about the development side and all the sudden you say, “Hey, well, what is it running on and how does that work?” And so, you start getting your hands in the infrastructure side. And as that progressed and then as I moved into a management role, I really understand what the developers and our infrastructure teams are.
MSF Hub: What challenges do you face working in technology in a large bank?
DH: Now we are to the point that we want to bank our way, we want to run our bank our way. So, that means truly developing applications in-house, catering to our customers because they need something different than just off-the-shelf software. Over the last nine years, we’ve really been working on that transition of how do we get ahead to that. My sphere of influence actually covers both internal and external customers... I think about things from a customer standpoint, but then I also have all of our middleware integration layers. I also have a lot of internal customers. What’s really interesting is, right now, I’m working on getting the customer experience—that is what our customer sees—to be the same as the back office.
MSF Hub: What type of results does that deliver for the business?
DH: Most of the time, you’re not looking at the exact screen, like-for-like. A customer calls in with a problem, maybe that call center rep or that branch representative doesn’t know exactly where they are. There is a disconnect there. Some of the tools we’re rolling out and some of the apps we’re writing now, we’re making them the same from that flow and user interface so our back-office people can pick up an application that someone has needed to stop online and walk into a branch because they’ve got a question or we need a piece of information.
MSF Hub: How does customer experience factor into your measures of success?
DH: From mine, it is actual delivery, the time delivery, as well as the budget functionality of that. And so, whenever I'm reviewed, it’s not only did I get it done on time and within budget but is it the right customer experience. While I may not be a product owner of those things, I still have just as much stake in the game as a true product owner. And we’re still a small enough organization that we are more than just influencers in that space. We do partner with our business units to say here’s what we can provide for you and here is how fast we can do it.
Banking from the Bus >
MSF Hub: Are you considering agile to speed features and functionality to customers?
DH: We’ve done a couple of POC [proof of concept] type of things where we’ve failed faster or learned fast. That puts a little bit more positive spin on it, but we’re getting better and learning fast. I really think that—and our business partners also step back and say, “That didn’t work the way we wanted it to,” but it’s good because now we know where we need to take it in a slightly different direction.
MSF Hub: What is driving the need for getting updates to customers faster?
DH: Anything that is focused around any type of revenue-generating activity, we are going to put more around that. But what is interesting in our revenue-generating work strains, it’s always a customer impact-based focus first. What is the customer impact and what is the customer experience going to be? While we are driving to make products that make money, we are also very focused on how does this impact our customer and what does it do for them.
MSF Hub: What keeps you excited about the work you do?
DH: I work with a group of people that solve problems, and so I love to be in a room where I get to champion them, and I also get to give them new challenges. Probably the best part of my job is I get to have my hands on a little bit of everything. It’s never the same job day in and day out.