A New Dawn: How UniCredit Ramped Up Remote Work in Less Than Three Days


Like every other industry, banking increasingly relies on digital platforms, and UniCredit is no exception. Our digital transformation journey was already well underway in 2019, and in February 2020, we significantly accelerated this effort in the context of national lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

UniCredit is a pan-European commercial bank with fully plugged in Corporate and Investment Banking. We offer financial expertise and products in 13 core markets in Europe and, leveraging our international network of representative offices, serve clients in another 16 countries worldwide. 

Face-to-Face Interaction with Our Clients     

Given the nature of our business, face-to-face meetings with our clients have always been the core part of service at UniCredit. When the pandemic made these impossible, we had to find a workaround fast. We needed a solution that was right for our company and could be rolled out without any interruption to daily activities. Remote work was not new for the bank. UniCredit already had a "Smart Working" program in place, allowing colleagues who didn't work in the front-line branches to work from home a couple of days a week. 

We usually had around 4,000 colleagues in Italy alone connected through VPN at any one time. Our "DigitALL" journey was in full swing to transform the way we work, bringing in new technologies for collaboration and unified communication, but some countries were still in the pipeline. There was still some work to be done to make fully remote working possible across the group in a seamless way. 

Getting Ahead of the Crisis 

On January 31, 2020, Italy announced the first cases of Coronavirus. Shortly afterwards, on Friday, February 21, 2020, UniCredit notified all its employees in Italy to work from home to safeguard their health.  

As a result, the number of colleagues connected through VPN increased drastically from one day to the next, from 4,000, which was the usual number of connections, to over 60,000.

We quickly needed a fully operational remote work solution that also worked without our VPN platform to keep UniCredit in touch with its customers and enable seamless collaboration between all teams. All this in a matter of days and time was against us, but we had an ally on our side: Cisco.

Webex Was the Cloud-Based Solution We Needed 

We were already using Cisco's Telepresence platform and Webex was the cloud-based Solution that matched our remote working requirements.

Our colleagues needed a solution that was easy to use, offered high-quality voice and video calling, and was fully compliant with all banking regulations on cybersecurity and privacy. It also had to work across a variety of existing devices. 

Given the uncertainty of how long we would need to stay out of the office, this solution had to be a cloud-based solution and managed remotely. 

We were quickly able to secure 7,000 emergency licenses and started onboarding, guaranteeing business continuity. The business' familiarity with Cisco Telepresence and the user-friendly design of Webex were a big help in this regard, while the commitment of our IT team made sure UniCredit stayed ahead of the crisis.

In addition, Cisco also supplied easy-to-understand instructions and links to tutorial videos and other online content that walked new users through the Webex experience. These reference materials explained how to send out an invitation or join a meeting, and how to use the various voice, video, chat, and file-sharing features. Most of our people started using the solution without much assistance, which freed the IT team to focus on other ways to keep UniCredit fully operational during the coming weeks and months. 

A Stopgap Solution That Exceeded Our Expectations 

Cisco brought the right people and technology to the table to help UniCredit devise a sustainable, scalable, and functional response to the situation thanks to their strong engineering expertise. With up to 1,000 participants able to connect via Webex at any one time, we brought live meetings to people's homes, helping us maintain an open dialogue with our colleagues and clients across our markets during lockdown. 

Webex was intended as a temporary solution to help us navigate the lockdown. However, it’s proven to be a valid additional tool to enhance remote work for our colleagues on an ongoing basis in both internal and external interactions. 

For example, our wealth managers use Webex to offer personalized consultations to their clients, while our investment bankers use it for interactions with their clients and other relevant counterparts. 

The acceleration of remote work has evolved our corporate culture at UniCredit. Since July last year, over 295,000 Webex meetings have been organised involving 2.19 million returning participants. Our people have remained motivated and productive while working from home, and Cisco Webex helped make this adjustment easier. 

The Right Fit at the Right Time

With so many enterprise and consumer-facing collaborative platforms and teleconferencing solutions out there, the choice is varied. However, Webex was the right tool at the right time for UniCredit, and we’re now armed with an additional way to enhance efficiency and communication, regardless of location. 

Together with Cisco engineers, we scaled Webex in record time with continued refinement to ensure the platform meets our needs. Thanks to Cisco's Customer Experience (CX) team, UniCredit didn't lose a single business day during the pandemic. We were able to stay in touch with our people and continued to offer outstanding service to our customers.