Aegon Grows Global IT Infrastructure
With offices in the U.S, the U.K., and the Netherlands, Aegon Asset Management is in the midst of developing a global IT infrastructure as part of the firm’s vision for 2020.
To support its global operations, the $382 billion firm’s technology organization needed to think, plan and act globally, William Mehmen, Aegon’s head of information technology said last week at an industry conference in New York.
For example, when the company’s facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa runs overnight processes, such as reports, they need to be done by midnight central time to accommodate the needs of its Dutch offices.
“When it’s midnight here, it’s 7 am in The Netherlands,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that run over sometimes. However, that is when you start affecting performance, backups and other things.”
His organization knows that they have a specific window to accomplish things like backups, so sometimes they have to be creative in accomplishing them, Mehmen added.
The asset manager has also established various ‘centers of excellence’, including a new global vendor management unit. Each center of excellence takes on the support function for their mandated systems and provides support for those systems to the other offices across the globe.
“We are going to have established areas where the centers of excellence are responsible for and own those systems,” Mehmen said. “It doesn’t mean that that each office does not have local tech support.”
Besides thinking globally, IT organization also needs to focus on “soft” issues, such as managing remote colleagues. Face-to-face communication is critical, according to Mehmen.
“I’ll be heading to The Netherlands with the other global head of IT to discuss our movement towards our global vision,” he said.
For more daily interactions, Aegon has deployed headsets and video cameras throughout its technology organization so that co-workers can communicate across the Atlantic more effectively. Along with the new communication channel, the asset manager also is investing in cultural training to remove any unintended sharp edges between regional organizations.
“In the Netherlands, they can be very direct just as here in the U.S. we can be very direct,” said Mehmen. “It really is about understanding what those cultural differences are so that you can understand how someone’s thoughts and culture play within your dynamics.”
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