Digital

Martin Walker

The idea behind digital computers may be explained by saying that these machines are intended to carry out any operations which could be done by a human computer.

– Alan Turing (1950)

The digital fairy tale goes like this. Once upon a time, banks worked hard to automate processes, including interaction with customers, using computers. At a certain point, the public, consultancies and senior management of many firms forgot about computers and the IT department, and seemed to believe that processing data was largely carried out by people. Lean and Six Sigma were seen as the only way to improve processes. Then, a belief took hold that the solution to all banking’s problems was to “go digital”. This revolutionary idea generally involved giving large amounts of money to IT departments, software vendors and consultancies to automate processes using computers.

The mystery that this chapter will attempt to solve is whether the term “digital” in capital markets actually means anything, or whether it is simply a re-labelling of what bank IT departments (and system vendors) have been doing for five decades in order to make some management seem more dynamic and generate new

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