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Illustration: Three mint green icons with plus signs and three purple toggle buttons are switched on next to a graph charting three purple chat boxes with multicolored silhouettes of people trending upward signaling Ally's digital transformation.

Innovating at the Speed of Marketing and Moving at the Speed of Consumers

At Ally we’re constantly looking for opportunities to innovate and disrupt to provide the best customer experience. We know that technology changes as fast as consumer expectations. Therefore, we founded Ally Tech Labs to experiment with new and emerging technologies and help our organization ‘see around corners.’ Ally Tech Labs functions within a unique operating model — a self-contained startup within an enterprise technology environment. The investment in establishing a technology incubation lab allows us to accelerate adoption of new technologies, drive a culture of engineering excellence, and gather insights that influence business decisions. Outlined within this post is an example of how Ally Tech Labs’ operating model resulted in a rapid and transformational organizational change.

The Opportunity

Ally continues to raise the bar to support customers. One way we do this is by running marketing campaigns to drive financial literacy, product awareness, and overall brand awareness. Campaigns can communicate details about new products and offerings, provide support during economically challenging times, educate customers about financial management, and acquire relevant feedback to ensure we’re meeting the customer where they are with what they need.

To reach new potential customers as well as communicate our continuing commitment to existing customers, Ally undertakes disruptive marketing campaigns. As opposed to marketing a specific product or targeting new customer conversions, the goal of these campaigns is to build brand awareness. Each campaign is unique and requires us to emotionally connect with customers in a manner that is contextually relevant to multiple generations. These campaigns often launch in coordination with external events, leading to tight delivery timelines between concept and launch.

A Model to Disrupt (Marketing)

Historically, Ally relies on third-party agencies to support campaigns. While there are many benefits of leveraging the expertise and resources of a third-party agency, due to the tight timelines and innovative technical requirements, Ally’s Marketing team worked in collaboration with Ally Tech Labs to develop an approach that’s transformed how we deliver impactful messages externally and reduce the dependency on external vendors.

With the objective to create high impact, timely disruptive campaigns, Ally Tech Labs created a development and delivery process based on five key pillars:

  1. High Velocity Team


    — Develop a lean, multifaceted team with expertise across various tech domains that could quickly respond to unique tech requirements.

  2. Rapid Agile Development


    — Daily design and problem-solving sessions with technical and creative teams, pair programming, and test-driven development.

  3. Engineering Mindset


    — Develop a culture where teams can focus on initiating design based on abstract concepts while requirements are being formed. Adept at designing under constraints & understanding the trade-offs with various approaches.

  4. Leveraging Ally Assets —


    Setup reusable platform for development, automated testing, deployment, and leverage proven in-house security tools for testing purposes.

  5. Platform Approach


    — Accelerate agility, flexibility, and efficiency by focusing on designing and developing modular architecture. Develop a base framework with tooling and CI/CD pipeline for instant development. Develop reusable user interface (UI) components to cater to future needs.

Additionally, the Ally Tech Labs team utilizes foundational enterprise technologies and frameworks to ensure speed, quality, security, and risk are effectively managed. These include:

  • Leverage Public Cloud


    — Technology resources can be instantly procured with minimal ongoing operational overhead.

  • Use of Development Security Operations (DevSecOps) Pipelines


    — Delivery teams can self-service deploy software solutions in a highly repeatable manner using Continuous Integration/ Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) tooling, which also automatically enforces robust security controls.

  • Embrace Startup Mentality


    — A highly nimble agile team was founded to explore new and emerging technologies at high velocity.

  • Create Reusable Components

    . As developers, we are told to follow patterns referred to as


    don’t repeat yourself


    (DRY) patterns.

Platform Approach

The result of our platform approach (one of our key pillars) resulted in the development of our Marketing Disruptor Platform. This platform contains common reusable capabilities developed over time. Now when we’re given a new campaign requirement, we don’t have to start from scratch. We have starter kits and reusable components that we plug in. This adaptive model helps us significantly save time and continuously improve. The Marketing Disruptor Platform has the following capabilities:

  • Composable UI elements


    — Framework that incorporates new user experiences easily.

  • Precompiled static content for performance


    — Loads contents faster, especially for gaming/AR/VR experiences.

  • Extensible API framework


    — pre-wired microservices for integration with third-party or internal applications.

  • Automated testing and deploy


    — Pipeline ready for quick and thorough testing and production deployment.

  • Predefined cloud deployment templates with security baselines


    — Allows us to leverage tried and tested templates for faster deployments.

The use of platform thinking cannot be understated. Each campaign has different user experiences and varies in tech stack (a combination of tools, applications, and services used to build a web or mobile app). Without our platform approach enabling us to effectively leverage various components, we would not be able to rapidly develop and deploy campaigns.

Positive Outcomes with Significant Results

By leveraging this operating model, we’ve successfully eliminated our reliance on third-party vendors, and campaigns are developed and deployed in days instead of months. This has resulted in:

  • Increased cost savings

  • Enhanced customer experience

  • Improved customer satisfaction

  • Improved efficiency of managing campaigns and campaign analytics

A few campaign highlights include:

  • Financial Vows


    — Provides Mad Libs experience for customers and prospects to generate financial vows, which encourages couples to be more open with each other when discussing or planning their financial present and future together. We try to make this a fun way to be open about your finances and to share it on social channels instantly. We, also, highlight financial education resources for couples planning to get married. The project was designed, developed, and deployed in 21 days.

Illustration: Ally "financial vow" digital ad that shows a bride and groom wedding cake topper capturing money for a rainy day fund. The ad reads "Financially Open Relationship. Make the vow to be more open about money with your honey. We're making it easier for you to commit to being financially open, no matter your relationship status." and a hot pink "Create your vow" button.
  • HeroicALLY


    — Highlights Ally’s partnership with DC Comics in the Milestone Initiative. This online site brings awareness to diverse heroes in the Milestone comics universe and thus helps to raise social awareness by amplifying new and emerging voices represented in this format.

Illustration: Screenshot of Ally's "HeroicALLY" website featuring DC Comics characters and similar graphics in the background.
  • Cash Bonus


    — Unique experience for customers (implemented via Gamification to better engage site users) that talks about financial literacy and provides information about Ally’s short-term interest boost program for new and existing customers.

  • Your Story


    — Customer testimonial audio capture, which allows customers to record their experience about Ally, in their own voice, and to share in a frictionless way. Audio transcripts and sentiment analysis are performed in order to highlight high value recordings. We were able to implement this capability in 4 weeks.

Illustration: Screenshot of Ally's "PersonALLY" website that allows customers to record their experience about Ally. Website features a Black person with glasses, wearing a headset.

We continue to learn, refine, and push what’s possible and impactful. True to our goal of ‘seeing around corners’ — we are extending our platform to develop capabilities using blockchain, Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies.

Cross-Enterprise Application

While enterprise technology services, such as Public Cloud and DevSecOps pipelines are utilized by the Ally Tech Labs team, minimal manual intervention is required for solution delivery outside of core Tech Labs personnel. It is through this self-service delivery and deploy model that quick turn-around of product review and development can be achieved, while still following all compliance and security requirements.,

Using our Ally Tech Labs group and their model, we’re pushing both advanced technologies and best practices throughout our organization to develop rich user experiences, adhere to stringent timelines, and ensure products and experiences are secure and protected.

Interested in joining Ally's team of talented technologists to make a difference for our customers and communities? Check outAlly Careersto learn more.