Arvest Bank partners with Google Cloud for IT overhaul

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,929 views 

Arvest Bank is working with Google’s cloud computing division to overhaul its current IT architecture and systems, including migrating its data centers to Google Cloud.

In a news release Thursday (July 21), bank officials said the collaboration would improve customer service and streamline banking processes using Google’s artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.

The five-year partnership with the software giant was signed earlier this year and is the latest domino to fall in Arvest’s multi-year digital transformation strategy.

The Google partnership follows an agreement with London-based fintech firm Thought Machine in September to implement a next-generation core banking infrastructure and the hiring of former Google Cloud chief transformation officer Laura Merling as chief transformation and operations officer. 

Arvest Bank operates over 200 bank branches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas and has approximately 830,000 retail and business customers. By assets ($26.6 billion), the Walton-owned bank is Arkansas’ largest bank.

“The rapid shifts around consumer financial needs and behaviors, along with the expectation for consistent customer engagement across channels, impose unprecedented demands for technology and speed of execution,” Arvest CEO Kevin Sabin said in a statement. “Moving to the cloud is another key component to our transformation.”

In the news release, Arvest listed the following priorities for working with Google:

  • Advance digital banking by using AI tools, technology, and solutions such as Contact Center AI (CCAI) Insightsto improve the contact center experience
  • Build business agility to meet the changing needs of retail and commercial customers; from using Document AIto advance commercial lending decisions, to using AI tools to help meet regulatory requirements
  • Offer training and certification opportunities for Arvest employees on Google Cloud’s tools and services
  • Drive sustainability by decreasing Arvest’s data center carbon footprint through cloud migration

Merling said the disruption in the financial services industry has only just begun.

“Data, insights, and artificial intelligence are the foundation for that disruption, from reshaping credit risk modeling and better supporting underserved communities to rethinking data-driven relationship management,” she said. “Collaborating with Google Cloud means we will not only gain access to the best tools, technologies, and expertise to deliver community banking in a digital world but also be able to drive sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint by moving to the cloud.”

Merling told the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal that the Google partnership has been active for the past few months. She described the work as transitioning the bank into a software company.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t want people to walk into the branch and do relationship banking,” she said. “It’s how you make that relationship banking better [by] making sure that person that’s working with you one-on-one is more informed.

“Making sure there is a consistent experience as a customer across all of our channels is what it’s about. Becoming a software company is about making sure we improve that customer experience.”

According to Google’s website, this is the company’s second announcement this year about working with a large community bank in the U.S.

“We see great opportunity to help community banks transform the experience they offer their customers while creating enterprise-wide efficiencies and increasing cost savings,” the website said. “Banking customers increasingly demand personalized and frictionless digital experiences, so community banks are seeing value in the secure, scalable, and sustainability infrastructure that Google Cloud offers.”

Merling said Arvest has developed a pilot reskilling program for jobs related to the Google partnership.

“There are new skills that are needed; upskilling and reskilling,” she said. “We’ll also be hiring [for new jobs]. We want to merge some existing skills while we build new skills so that people can learn from each other.

She said longtime Arvest employees bring a “huge value” to the partnership by preserving the company’s culture.

“What is the Arvest culture, and how do you continue to carry that [forward]?” she explained. “And how do we deliver that in our products with [people] who have been doing cloud computing for several years and can bring them that skillset and demonstrate how to do it. It’s a great marriage of the two, and we’re very excited about it.”