Whether you’re depositing a paycheck or investing your savings you are performing banking operations — even if it’s been a while since you visited a local branch. Today, storefronts are only the visible part of a vast infrastructure built by the financial services industry. Customers have quickly evolved into users, interacting in a click or a tap with devices that don’t close on Sundays. Transactions multiply, happening 24/7, and customers expect real-time responses from their banks. As needs evolve, they set an increasingly high bar for the technologies and services that power the industry.
After all, financial services companies are no longer compared to one another—but to an endless ecosystem of innovative consumer applications and websites that are developing across industries. The challenge for these companies isn’t just embracing cutting edge technologies to build better services more efficiently but doing so while meeting the security standards required to handle sensitive data. In recent years, French multinational banking and financial services company Societe Generale is taking the challenge of digital transformation head on.
Based in Paris, France, Societe Generale employs more than 147,000 people across over 60 countries. Global Banking & Investor Solutions (GBIS) is one of the bank’s three core businesses, bringing together Corporate and Investment Banking, Asset Management, Private Banking, and Securities Services.
A few years ago, GBIS embarked on a major overhaul of its information systems, aimed primarily at speeding up the software development life cycle and facilitating teams interactions. The process was led by Amir Jaballah, Head of Digital Transformation and Digital Lab ASIA for Societe Generale. Amir Jaballah heads up teams of experts in charge of building and maintaining the digital foundations of GBIS, which he describes as enablers to wholesale platform strategy.
“As a central team, you can imagine that we can easily be on the critical path of any other dependent team,” he explained, “and that’s exactly what we don’t want: we can’t afford to block any team waiting for us to deliver a fix that they need to move their own project forward.” To move faster, they realized they needed to embrace two things: Innersource and self-service.
To deliver those two capabilities, Amir Jaballah and Societe Generale choose GitHub Enterprise. Today, thousands of employees have adopted GitHub across their global organization. And in just a few years, Societe Generale has automated workflows, tripled their releases, cut development time by more than half, and improved employee retention.
Prior to adopting GitHub, Societe Generale’s software teams ran into barriers in communication that built up legacy code and technical debt. “GitHub Enterprise has become a cornerstone of our development for a few reasons,” Amir Jaballah elaborated. “It’s a self-service shared asset that is open to anyone in the company which makes it possible to reduce administrative oversight while encouraging collaboration.”
As Societe Generale has learned, a more open IT infrastructure brings more solutions and innovation to the table—and ultimately to customers’ devices. Developers can create their own repositories, host code on a central platform, and work in teams, significantly reducing project delivery time. They can also review, propose changes to, and reuse code that already exists across the organization instead of reinventing field-tested solutions developed for other projects.
Amir Jaballah also appreciates the connectivity and context GitHub brings to a globally distributed mix of roles: from product owners to field team leaders to front-end and full stack developers. “We want them to focus on doing the work that matters most, not struggling with their tools.” he said. “Having a reliable platform is key, and GitHub’s a part of it.”
An end-goal for IT at Societe Generale is open collaboration not only across teams but also with external technologies. A world of code and tools exists both internally and within the open source community. Strategically adopting these allows the team to use the best tools for the job without having to start from scratch. For the organization, success is the flexibility to stay competitive and adapt to customer needs as they change. Of course, this long-term goal must be supported by meticulous security practices.
As a financial services company, security is an important prerequisite. GBIS’s entire platform is hosted on internal servers, meeting Societe Generale’s airtight security requirements. GitHub Enterprise Server uses the enterprise directory to manage user authentication and logs all user and system activity.
Another reason for making GitHub a cornerstone of GBIS, Amir Jaballah continues, “is that we’re automating as much of our development process as possible, and GitHub is where everything starts.” GBIS already packs a lot of tools in its kit—JIRA, Jenkins, SonarQube, Artifactory, and Docker to name a few—but when it came time to select a platform that can help to unleash collaborative culture, Amir Jaballah says, “GitHub came as a no-brainer.”
With GitHub as a foundation for an integrated toolchain, Societe Generale has built on their infrastructure with a focus on efficiency and quality. The number of microservices connected to their financing platform has increased by 25 percent in a year without a notable change in the size of the team.
By integrating existing tools like Jenkins and SonarQube, and finding more opportunities for automation—leveraging the Github API for instance—the team has seen a 215 percent increase in number of releases in production without any major incidents. Now, committing code triggers a chain of pre-configured events that build, test, and deploy automatically. A lot of these tasks used to be manual, or semi-automated at best. All the time saved is now spent crafting new features, benefiting the platform users.
While code delivery is on the move at Societe Generale, developers are staying put, noted Amir Jaballah. He believes GitHub also contributes to employee retention. Prior to its adoption, tooling was a huge problem that was generating secondary difficulties: “We were spending a lot of time on training and working with vendors on fixes for the previous solutions that we had.” One administrator, Amir Jaballah points out, “confessed that he loves it. He loves GitHub. He says it’s one of the most reliable solutions he’s operated in his 15 years of experience.”
GitHub Enterprise has since been adopted by more than 7,000 employees worldwide. To Amir Jaballah, asking whether GitHub brings value isn’t even a question anymore. “Everyone’s convinced at Societe Generale,” he says. “This is the way forward.”
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