When Judo Bank was created three years ago, its founders could never have imagined how drastically and rapidly the world and the workplaces within it would change. Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the personal and professional lives of people around the world, Judo Bank has ensured its employees are able to continue their work seamlessly, safely and securely so their customers can benefit from an uninterrupted level of service when they need it most.
The smooth transition is not the result of contingency planning or a rapid response demanded by the pandemic, but an outcome of building a future-proof workplace from the ground up. “We sat down right at the beginning and said we want to build a bank for the next 20 years, not for the last 20 years. We knew there was a tremendous amount of emerging technology available to us, so we set out effectively to build an entirely born in the cloud bank,” says Alex Twigg, Co-Founder and CIO at Judo Bank.
High touch and high–tech
Judo Bank provides advice, guidance and business lending solutions for Australian small and medium sized businesses. The bank operates on a high touch and high–tech premise, prioritising quality relationships with customers and allowing leading edge technology to automate and simplify everything else.
This strategy grew from a desire to think outside the box and to create a completely service-driven solution, allowing Judo Bank to stay agile in a market that continually shifts, whilst enabling employees to do their best work.
“We wanted to change the entire paradigm that we operated with our partners and vendors so that we could have a completely service-driven business, whether that be in the physical space with devices or in the virtual space with software,” explains Twigg.
Enabling modern work
JB Hi-Fi Solutions is Judo Bank’s services and solution partner, working closely with the bank to make this vision a reality, starting with Microsoft 365 and utilising Microsoft security architecture to build a ‘Zero Trust’ network, with single sign on access across all internal and external services. Surface devices completed the mobile work experience, with seamless Microsoft 365 integration and a ‘choose your own Surface device’ policy. Judo Bank depends on its people and the strategy was to ensure they were empowered with the device that works for them, allowing employees to select either a Surface Pro 7 or a Surface Laptop 3 based on their preference and use cases.
By taking the time to understand how technology could support Judo Bank’s vision of a fully cloud–based, high-performance team, the business leaders implemented tools and platforms to support new ways of working. They identified the opportunity to create a single sign on digital work environment that offers a secure and seamless employee experience, independent of the physical workplace.
Surface devices with Microsoft 365 allow Judo Bank employees to do the work they need, anywhere, communicating and collaborating in a safe and secure environment. Niko Bielovich, Chief Service Management Officer a Judo Bank explains “There is definitely a synergy using both the Microsoft Office products as well as the Microsoft Surface devices. Being one ecosystem, it just works, and that’s what I need for the team. This has proven to be a really good partnership, delivering it as one service.”
Employee satisfaction has remained high thanks to the simplicity of set up, and the team are seeing productivity and collaboration gains; all in an environment where security has informed every technology decision. Surface devices authenticate their owners with cameras that protect privacy, while the Surface Pen learns how they prefer to take notes on a touchscreen, and Surface dual far-field Studio Microphones know the difference between conversation and noise.
Twigg says “What we’ve seen with this platform is that we’re bridging the gap between hardware and software to reach the point where you no longer notice the difference, and technology starts to multiply our efforts.”
Future proof technology for resilient operations
By understanding how technology could support Judo Bank’s vision of a fully cloud-based, high-performance team, it was possible to implement tools and platforms to support new ways of working. Like many other businesses, when Judo Bank were suddenly pushed to accommodate remote work capability during COVID-19 they found the shift was seamless.
Bielovich said “When we designed the Judo Bank technology strategy, we actually designed it in a way that assumed people wouldn’t always be working in the office. They would be working at customer sites, out on the road, or from anywhere. So when the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, our technology did not miss a beat. It worked the way it was designed to work in that you can be working from anywhere. What we have seen change is the amount of usage of Microsoft Teams. That is our collaboration tool of choice, and the usage has just skyrocketed, which was expected. But the Microsoft Office 365 platform hasn’t skipped a beat.”
Nick Fielden, Business Development Manager, JB Hi-Fi Solutions said “Judo Bank is still hiring new staff and deploying Surface devices to them remotely during COVID-19 as per normal, whereas we know of other organisations that are having serious issues trying to get people onboarded or offboarded, as their technology doesn’t allow for it remotely.”
“We recommended this auto-pilot solution for Judo Bank because this is how businesses should be operating, but it’s become so relevant now due to COVID-19, there’s a bit of irony in it all. As we adjust to a new landscape for businesses, we have the opportunity to offer a different kind of workplace, one that’s built around employees rather than desks,” explains Fielden.
Initially 120 Surface devices were deployed to the Judo Bank team in just one day, with Windows Autopilot for Surface preconfigured online for true zero-touch deployment. Employees followed a simple step-by-step guide and JB Hi-Fi Solutions engineers were on hand to facilitate the deployment and help with fast end user adoption. Bielovich said “This strategy has revolutionised the way our teams work. It enables them to perform. Our process allows us to get employees up and running within a few hours, on their Surface device even remotely.”
The set up process was specifically designed so that it could happen anywhere – at home, in the office, in a café – meaning all devices could be deployed, secured and managed remotely for a ready out-of-the-box experience. As Fielden says, “Technology shouldn’t be an inhibitor for the individual, it should empower them to communicate, to connect, to collaborate”.
Judo Bank has moved from three primary office locations in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to a 100% remote working environment with full collaboration tools and capability. Over 200 employees have been able to transition smoothly into remote work on their Surface devices, continuing to support Judo’s customers seamlessly.
Twigg asserts that the forward-thinking workplace structure implemented by Judo Bank has enabled its employees to operate on a business as usual basis when the reality is anything but usual. “We didn’t change a thing, it just worked,” he says.
The device-as-a-service and software-as-a-service strategy has also led to enormous efficiency gains and IT cost reduction for Judo Bank. The bank does not own any servers or employ any developers, with JB Hi-Fi Solutions as their partner running a centrally managed, holistic service.
As a result, Judo Bank is able to save on administration overhead and focus internal resources on creating better experiences for employees and their customers.
Flow on effect
It’s a testament to Judo Bank’s commitment to innovation from its inception. The Microsoft cloud has allowed employees to take their work home without any sacrifices to productivity or security.
And most importantly, they can continue to collaborate freely with team members and customers alike. Judo Bank meetings are hosted on Microsoft Teams, with a 300% increase in Teams usage as employees transitioned to working from home. The high-quality audio and video experience has kept internal and external meetings running efficiently from home office locations.
From a business perspective, Judo Bank’s focus in the current climate is on helping clients drive their businesses forward, whilst navigating its own exponential growth. Its technology infrastructure is allowing the bank to do just that. “Our technology becomes invisible because it just works. The everything-as a-service model has proven to be exceptionally good for us in these uncertain times,” says Twigg.
Embracing cloud technology and combining powerful software with secure and reliable hardware has prepared Judo Bank to better serve its customers. “Our bankers have been able to service customers even from home, because they haven’t had to worry about continuity with productivity, access and their devices. The banker is straight up and running efficiently, so customers benefit from that and to us that is paramount,” says Twigg.
Purposefully designed for the evolving ways people work, Surface for Business and Microsoft 365 give people the freedom to work their way, protected by the best modern security and manageability platform from Microsoft.