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IMBA students kick off the TechLab with IBM and Santander

IMBA students kick off the TechLab with IBM and Santander | IE Business School

In collaboration with IBM and Banco Santander, IE’s International MBA students kicked off the 4th TechLab, a five-week hands-on experience.

With an eye on solving some of the digital banking sector’s trickiest challenges,  around 40 IE International MBA students kicked off the 4th Edition of the TechLab. Associate Director for the International MBA program and TechLab Director at IE Fernando Esteve welcomed students to this new edition, held in cooperation with IBM and Banco Santander, at the Spanish bank’s sprawling headquarters on the outskirts of Madrid.

Head of Research and Non-Financial Risks at Santander Manuel Vega revealed the challenge at the opening ceremony, asking students if a Fintech philosophy in banking could be successful.

“How can we use artificial intelligence in a highly regulated environment to create a user experience similar to that obtained in the Fintech sector? How would you improve the user experience of Banco Santander using artificial intelligence?” Vega questioned.

IMBA students kick off the TechLab with IBM and Santander | IE Business SchoolExecutives from both companies were on hand for the launch of what will be a five-week  “deep dive” into theoretical and practical sessions designed to tackle the challenge, focused on Artificial Intelligence, Data Architecture, Digital Banking and more.

Global Head of Data Architecture at Santander José Luis Agundez discussed plausible ways to unlock the value in data and said Santander is increasingly a data-driven technology company. He stressed on the importance of developing a data strategy with a clear understanding of its components, structure, insight flow and event-driven architecture.

“You have data experts in all departments in a company, but those people are generally not the ones that breathe data, and only breathing that data will show you the truth,” Agundez said. “Curating data as an asset is no longer an IT problem, it’s a business problem.”

IMBA students kick off the TechLab with IBM and Santander | IE Business SchoolSantander Strategic Initiatives Director Regino Coca highlighted topics from his upcoming sessions with the students, such as the distinction between commercial and investment banks and the relevant challenges emerging with the digital transformation.

“Banks are becoming technology companies, trying to renovate themselves, but this is a big challenge for Santander. Because of its legacy and long history. It faces completely different challenges. This will be the objective of our first session,” he said.

Cloud Evangelist at IBM and IE Associate Professor for the Masters in Big Data & Analytics Manuel Rodriguez provided a technical perspective from his 20-year experience in the field. He presented the students with IBM’s ultimate image recognition technology IBM Watson along with the concept of Artificial Intelligence pills and chat-bots for business.

“Data is such a dirty job, and sometimes you are looking into the trash to see what customers are doing. We have to define what technology can do,” said Esteve reflecting on Rodriguez’s talk.

IMBA students kick off the TechLab with IBM and Santander | IE Business SchoolThe IE TechLab experience combines specific classes of technology and provides weekly touchpoints with the companies to guide the students in creating their business impact projects based on company values, propositions and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies. After the 5-week period, each group will pitch its case in front of a panel of professionals who will nominate the winning team based on the most innovative solution. This year the panel will be composed of professionals from Santander and IBM.

“I joined the TechLab because I am illiterate in technology, and I want to be able to continue my MBA learning new languages, and learning the Tech language to be able to understand how to transform businesses,” IMBA student Bernard d’Arche said.