PIMCO Banks on Iterative Development for Digital Transformation

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Global asset manager Pimco has aggressive plans for the firm’s digital transformation in the coming years, according to firm officials.

By 2023, Pimco expects to be operating on a common core platform regarding architecture, development process, build pipelines, and data models, according to Dirk Manelski, CTO at Pimco.

Dirk Manelski, Pimco

“We have to get the data models right if we want to get that value of the franchise,” he said at fireside chat during the recent Tabb Forum Fintech Festival in Midtown Manhattan.

As part of the transformation, Manelski also plans to retire its in-house data centers.

“Building and operating data centers is an anachronism,” he said. “And, over time, we will move everything to the cloud.”

Maneliski hinted that he and his team would rely heavily on internal development rather than turning to third-party vendors.

“That said, we are not going to build everything,” he noted. “We cannot acquire all of the skill sets internally, and we will partner for something unique.”

However, shrink-wrapped software seldom presents the total cost of ownership that a firm initially expects.

“There is a set of responsibilities like care and feeding, that come with every piece of technology that you buy,” said Manelski. “You need the infrastructure to run it on and know how to operate it, diagnosis it, and fix it as well as get data out of it.”

A significant aspect of Pimco’s digital transformation will be the critical role that experimentation will play.

The days of spending a year of nailing a new trading system’s architecture and common framework before releasing to the business are for the history books, according to Manelski. “Now, we are in a very different world and the expectation that we are going to be putting out product quite quickly so that we can put something in front of our customers and learn from it,” he said.

The new development process includes the product owners as part of the development team and who contribute product visions, wireframes and whiteboard descriptions of the final products. “We are going to build something, deliver it, and learn from it,” he said. “Rinse and repeat.”

Such an approach is common among the consumer giants, such as Facebook and Google, added Mazy Dar, CEO of OpenFin and who also took part in the fireside chat.

“We have been held back in capital markets because the way we deliver software to end users,” he said. “It is incredibly painful and incredibly slow.”

Eventually, Pimco would reach a state where it can release software to the desktop without sending someone to configure it, added Manelski.