We are investing in our information and communications technology (ICT) systems, our internal processes and our ability to innovate in order to transform UniCredit's operating model and provide a better customer experience.
Transform through innovation
UniCredit is committed to developing cutting-edge solutions to provide an innovative and competitive service to our customers.
Our Group Transformation Office coordinates activities in the field of innovation, supporting strategic decision-making and the definition of Group-wide priorities. It also scouts for innovative solutions and monitors their implementation.
The identification and evaluation of innovative ideas and solutions is supported by the Group Transformation and Innovation Advisory Board (TIAB).
Acting as both advisor and challenger, the TIAB reviews key transformational and innovation related initiatives from across the Group on critical topics such as data analytics, fintech collaboration and innovation management.
We maintain a high focus on fintechs, leveraging new technologies to enhance our processes and customer offering. To facilitate the scouting and testing of fintech solutions, UniCredit has established a partnership with Plug and Play, a global innovation platform bringing together start-ups and corporations from main market sectors.
Recent innovation-rich activities include innovating our payment services with customers now able to use UniCredit cards in conjunction with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Alipay.
We also seized the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) provisions as an opportunity to innovate our services to meet clients' changing needs, initiating the development of multi-banking functionalities.
Optimise our processes, services and ICT set up
Robust and secure ICT structures have always been fundamental to the efficacy of our processes and the advancement of our service model.
Investing in these measures is core to our Team 23 strategic plan which is strongly focused on the migration towards direct, digital channels. During the course of the plan, we have committed an average of €900 million per year to IT improvements.
One example is our Paperless Bank programme. Through its deployment, our clients benefit from an improved customer experience thanks to the convergence of traditional in-branch transactions with simpler and quicker digital solutions and products. In-branch processes will be significantly optimised through the complete dematerialisation of documents, reducing operational risk and increasing efficiency.
We also converged our Italian and German mobile banking applications into a single global app, with Austria to follow, achieving a more user-friendly, seamless banking experience and universal app enhancements across these countries as well as ICT synergies.
Another example is our Advanced Analytics Lab (AALab).
Leveraging on big data architecture and data analytics, the programme has the objective of boosting business decision-making processes through the use of data to enhance our relationship with our clients, support risk presidium and overall controls, and improve efficiency. It does so through a centralised big data platform which aggregates data from multiple sources, transforming it into the final analytics.
At the same time, our Best Practice Sharing and Convergence programme works to identify and replicate internal best practices in strategic areas of our business, such as customer experience and our Paperless Bank programme, thereby fostering best-in-class processes and accelerating progress.
Optimisation of our ICT set up is ongoing.
Measures include our Internal Service Quality (ISQ) survey regarding IT services to identify areas of improvement, our cloud adoption journey, and applying new ways of working to facilitate the delivery of high quality, timely and effective ICT solutions.
Fortifying our ICT security
Cyber-crime is a growing concern for the financial sector and beyond, requiring a high level of presidium to protect client and company data and assets.
UniCredit's cyber security strategy centres on a continuous improvement model and a dedicated process and policy framework so as to respond effectively to the dynamism of the threat landscape and evolving regulatory requirements. Our cyber security strategy is cyclically monitored both internally and through third party assessments.
Over 400 full-time equivalents (FTEs) are dedicated to our ICT security activities and operations, an increase versus 2018. Among the others, we deliver initiatives on prevention, risk mitigation and alignment with regulatory requirements. Recent examples include reinforcing the protection against sensitive data exfiltration and implementing new strong customer authentication measures for online and mobile channels in line with the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2).
Because employee awareness of cyber security risks is essential, in 2019, around 39,000 hours of dedicated training were provided Group-wide.
Within our risk management activities, we have recently reinforced our cyber risk assessment methodology through a series of dedicated initiatives.
Our commitments on data
The use of data is key to providing the best possible service to our clients.
To this end, we are committed to ensuring data is managed and used in a transparent, secure and respectful way, in alignment with UniCredit's "Ethics & Respect: Do the right thing!" guiding principle.