Head of Client Services and Technology at TIAA Rahul Merchant will be inducted into the CIO Hall of Fame
IDG’s CIO has given TIAA and Nuveen, the investment manager of TIAA, two 2021 CIO 100 awards. For more than 30 years, the CIO 100 awards have recognized innovative organizations worldwide that exemplify the highest level of strategic and operational excellence in IT. Since 2018, TIAA and Nuveen innovations have earned a total of 10 CIO awards.
In addition, CIO selected Rahul Merchant, Head of Client Services & Technology at TIAA, as an inductee into the CIO Hall of Fame in recognition of his significant career achievements as a transformative technology leader
TIAA was recognized for its proprietary MultiVendor Transaction Compliance (MVTC) system, which insourced cross-vendor compliance services for marquee institutional clients, including many of the largest universities and medical centers in the U.S. The MVTC solution leveraged TIAA’s cloud-ready framework to aggregate data across multiple vendors, ultimately reducing audit and compliance risks and operational costs while increasing functionality and integration with core products and services.
Nuveen was recognized for AIXplorer, which utilizes open-source technologies and TIAA’s cloud infrastructure to enable scalable AI experimentation and data research. The platform allows any Nuveen employee to use data science tools for analysis and decision-making. For example, the platform’s AI models were used to build the Next Best Fund tool, which recommends the top funds to advisors for increasing fund diversification and revenue, and improves the client experience. This project built on Nuveen’s progress as an AI-enhanced company, promoting data science for everyone in the organization.
“Winning two CIO 100 Awards is powerful recognition of our commitment to delivering innovative solutions for our clients, especially during this time of unparalleled uncertainty,” said Merchant. “It is a testament to the dedicated teams who work each day to enhance our capabilities and improve our client experience. I am also humbled by the CIO Hall of Fame recognition and feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such a devoted team of technology and client service experts.”
Merchant will accept his award at the virtual CIO 100 Symposium & Awards in August. Induction into the CIO Hall of Fame is a prestigious honor bestowed upon a select group of outstanding executives and visionaries who have had a significant impact on the IT profession.
“The CIO Hall of Fame honors business technology leaders whose 10+ years as C-level executives have advanced the CIO role and led their organizations through changing times for great business success,” said Anne McCrory, Group VP, Customer Experience & Operations, IDG Communications, Inc. “This year, we are excited to induct 11 outstanding IT executives into the CIO Hall of Fame, as selected by their peers. The winners’ leadership, outlook and contributions to the profession should inspire generations to come.”
TIAA’s MVTC system combines the power of modern development with existing and new innovative technologies.
TIAA’s previous multivendor system was built and hosted by a third-party firm. A broad review of the technology portfolio helped determine that insourcing the system on a modern technology stack would ultimately increase functionality, reduce operational costs, minimize risks, while enabling seamless integration with core products and services. The new solution would also allow TIAA to be more responsive to unique client needs as they manage personal data across vendors.
Using TIAA’s “refactored” development process, the firm leveraged emerging development delivery models across 20 different practice areas to accelerate the delivery of multivendor compliance services and deliver microservices-based solutions aligned to the broader TIAA technology strategy, as well as individual client needs. This integrated digital delivery model resulted in solutions that can be delivered nearly 10x faster and increase performance by 4x through scalable and dynamically deployable compute resources.
The new, insourced application not only meets 100 percent of TIAA’s security, compliance, and audit requirements without additional development costs but also is projected to deliver a five-year return on investment of nearly 400 percent and save more than $3 million in year-over-year operating costs – savings that are returned to TIAA clients and participants.
Nuveen’s AIXplorer simplifies the complex data science experimentation lifecycle and enables data science for everyone within the organization.
Nuveen’s Investment Analysts and Marketing Data Science teams didn’t have access to an integrated environment with full data science lifecycle capabilities to efficiently develop scalable algorithms and AI models. To solve this problem and simplify the end-to-end lifecycle of the data science process, Nuveen’s Technology Innovation team developed AIXplorer, a data science and analytics platform with standard machine learning libraries and a dynamically scalable computing environment to better inform their decision making.
AIXplorer is a browser-based platform that facilitates data exploration and insights gathering without any setup on the user’s machine. Leveraging open-source technology and cloud infrastructure, analysts within Nuveen, as well as the broader data science community within TIAA, can now utilize the full power of AI, machine learning and natural language processing in a big data ecosystem, all integrated into a seamless data and analytics pipeline.
With a one-click setup, this self-service platform helps users build models and products based on more than 400 machine-learning libraries. A data science portal also enables faster onboarding with accelerators, best practices, and prebuilt notebooks to enable rapid development of data products, providing a 97 percent reduction in experimentation time and reducing the need to engage data engineering and IT teams to automate researchers’ workflows. All the new resources are available immediately across all types of users, which reduces the time to research and roll out new data products. The platform also hosts revenue impacting data products like new fund IPO ranking, Fund recommendation engine, Data Quality scoring, Cross Sell, Muni & Retention dashboards that are used across Nuveen with drive decision making.
More About Rahul Merchant, Head of Client Services & Technology at TIAA
Merchant has demonstrated a range of CIO leadership skills and executive business acumen, which he acquired during his more than 30 years in the public and private sectors.
Since 2015, he has led a vital division of TIAA, unifying the global technology and client support functions in a new operating structure which included nearly half of TIAA employees called “Client Services and Technology,” or CS&T. This dynamic, integrated organization proved to be a critical enabler of success at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the months that followed as Merchant and team helped nearly 17,000 TIAA employees shift to a remote-work environment in just one week.
In addition to leading amid a pandemic, Merchant has also led TIAA through technical and operational integrations of major acquisitions and strategic partnerships with Nuveen, EverBank, MyVest and eight asset management affiliates. With each integration, he deployed a vision for a major digital transformation and a state-of-the-art client experience at a reduced cost. His leadership also played a key role in the launch and growth of TIAA India, which today has thousands of employees and has significantly improved service across all client engagement channels.
Prior to joining TIAA, Merchant served as Citywide Chief Information & Innovation Officer (CIIO) for the City of New York and as Chief Information and Operations Officer at Fannie Mae. His peers recognize him as a transformational leader whose experience has repeatedly delivered results for clients and stakeholders and as a visionary, committed to solving complex business problems.