Think CIO features Mr. Ariel A. Roda

Think CIO features Mr. Ariel A. Roda

Grabbed from: CIOs should thrive in a world where “smart” is normal - ThinkCIO

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged businesses across industries. The strain on the banking and payments sector is particularly high since payments are at the heart of every industry. No matter the situation, customers should be able to send and receive funds, pay bills, withdraw and deposit, get loans, etc. This makes it critical for the payments and banking industry to adapt quickly to changing conditions to function smoothly.

“Given that banking is an essential part of a successful economy, and digital transformation is becoming more urgent to ensure continued functionality in businesses, banking CIOs are in a promising position”, says Ariel A. Roda, the CIO of the Philippine Bank of Communications. He has held the role of CIO in five different industries and has seen great success in using technology to help companies flourish.

How the CIO provides value inside an organization

In Mr. Ariel’s career, he has endeavored to show how IT can be a strategic tool to create new revenue and improve existing streams.

“IT has real strategic value in terms of higher customer satisfaction, new revenue generation, cost reduction, and finding key vendor partners who can elevate your technological solutions,” he says. “This is where a CIO can help a company to flourish and thrive in a competitive marketplace and make themselves invaluable to the company.”

More companies are consulting their CIOs more frequently now. This happens especially if the CIO shows interest and capability in areas of corporate direction such as:
● Product development
● Revenue generation
● Market share analysis
● Process efficiency enabled by technology

Technology can contribute to reducing costs, improving or creating revenue and giving companies a strategic edge. These are perhaps the most important areas CIOs can lead in the new world where “smart” is normal.


“While the company as a whole focuses on serving external customers, the CIO also has internal customers,” Mr. Ariel explains. He refers to executives and their departments, employees who require support from the CIO and their department. “I have a responsibility to my internal customers to provide information so that they can generate insights and improve their respective areas.”

Learnings CIOs can take from the pandemic

“IT professionals like myself and my team are used to being able to work from anywhere, on-call 24 hours a day,” Mr. Ariel says. “But during the pandemic, we had to ensure that every critical employee was able to work from anywhere.” PBCOM discovered that they could still serve their customers while operating at 50-60% capacity in their physical branches thanks to alternative digital channels.

There are many other areas where CIOs can influence the adoption of technology to ensure a company’s survival and success. “If I could talk to myself at this time last year, I would make three recommendations,” he says.

Accelerate cloud adoption and deployment, because on-premises deployments and devices require physical people to operate and maintain, but the cloud is much more flexible.

Invest more in understanding customers from a 360o full lifecycle perspective, not only on a per-transaction basis, in order to deliver what the customer needs during major life events.

Do more retraining and upskilling company-wide, especially in the areas of entrepreneurial skills, such as project management, and how to build and present business cases to senior management.

What customers expect in a world where “smart” is normal

The new ‘smart normal’ world in which consumers and businesses are living and working revolves around the ability to be independent in terms of self-service options.

“If I’m a consumer, the new ‘smart normal’ for me means allowing me to do things on my own, at a time most convenient to me, with the device that I prefer, without anyone bothering me,” Mr. Ariel says. “If I stop in the middle of something, I should have the option to continue tomorrow without re-entering all the information I put in today.”

These insights, married with a strong desire to delight customers guide product development both externally and internally at PBCOM. In 2019, the bank started a journey to develop alternative self-service channels for their customers, which proved a blessing during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when government lockdown orders shut down the Philippines in mid-March.

“We had the foundations in place to continue expanding our alternative channels and pioneering new ones to keep customers banking with us. We are now in the age of the consumer. These consumers prefer secure, convenient self-service options. Our latest channel launch was a PBCO Mobile app on android and iOS mobile phones”, where you can set up bank accounts in a few minutes.”

“We want to keep making things more convenient for customers. We’re looking at launching more alternative channels for service and transaction.”


CIOs can thrive in a world where smart is the new normal by showing how technology can guide and improve corporate objectives. With smart use of technology, CIOs can help their companies thrive, and provide better service to customers both outside the company and within.