People, processes, and technology shine bright on the road to digital transformation

How Discover has revolutionized its approach to product, platform, and customer delight.
September 07, 2023

When I joined Discover® Financial Services in 2021, the company was executing its Runway: Mission 80,000 Feet vision to transform the engineering culture toward product-centricity. The vision was to enable a digital transformation by building a highly skilled engineering workforce, supporting discipline and employee experience, embracing extreme automation, enforcing a single agile way of working, and optimizing our technology and reliability.

My part in this mission was to define and execute on the Discover product and platform operating model. We came together as one team across the organization to create a culture of continuous learning, knowledge sharing, and improvement. Our goal was to empower technologists in all business units with the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs, grow their skills and careers, and make space for innovation.

To enact this large-scale change, we had a three-pronged approach, focusing on the people, processes, and technologies that were driving the runway mission forward. To bring these facets together, we created the Discover Technology Academy (DTA), which includes an in-house learning platform, bespoke training dojos, innovation accelerator, career and skills building programs, developer support, open source enablement, and more.

People: how Discover engineers grow through peer-to-peer teaching

At Discover, continuous learning is ingrained in our culture. It is an essential part of our work to develop ourselves and develop others. The DTA gives Discover employees a single place to grow the skills they need for their specific role at Discover as well as tools and training to develop their skills and make connections that will help them in their next role.

Through expert guilds, we’ve standardized a number of engineering practices that we believe all engineers at Discover should understand as we move to product-centric mode of working. We welcome community engagement in crafting the standards and use the DTA platform to train all Discover engineers on how to implement them in their work.

In addition to training about engineering practices, teams post learning materials about their products and processes to help other engineers skill up quickly. This knowledge sharing is enhanced by active forums, communities, and events that are specific to real users’ questions and interests.

As employees look to grow their career, they can take advantage of role-based learning content that is curated to their skill level and interests. Our Discover External Eminence Program (DEEP) also offers hands-on editorial, graphical, and speaking support and training for Discover employees who are submitting conference talks or other speaking engagements.

Processes: how Discover is supporting product delivery & innovation

Developing the processes to support learning and innovation is critical to ensuring long-lasting success of our digital transformation. To that end, we created:

  • An automation program that finds inefficiencies within Discover processes and makes them better through automation
  • A simplified developer experience that makes it easier to started coding on day one
  • An open source process that encourages reuse of code and assets to enable faster, safer development
  • An inner source process that helps us develop in-house technology faster and with greater adoption across the organization
  • An innovation accelerator that uses design thinking practices and open source principles to help teams get better outcomes, quicker

These programs and processes enable our teams to move faster and build better products together.

This all comes together through our inner/open source approach to defining and evolving product delivery, security, infrastructure standards and engineering excellence practices through a vibrant guild with more than 200 active members. This has helped to empower the company’s technologists to create a single agile way of working, while allowing them to innovate faster, together.

Technology: evolving through an open source approach

As we embrace our digital transformation, choosing—or creating—the right technologies to compete in a fast-changing tech landscape is imperative to remaining competitive.

At Discover, we use an inner source approach to developing many of our products, including our award-winning Trident pipeline. The DTA supports this inner source development model by giving teams a place to collaborate with contributors, answer questions, and get input for tech development.

The DTA platform also supports code reuse and patterns, allowing teams from across infrastructure, architecture, and security to learn from each other and collaborate. We build great products by reusing existing software assets and reducing software development, risk, and maintenance costs.

In addition, our tech accelerator has rolled out a new patent program that has resulted in a significant increase in patent applications from Discover employees.


We empower our people. We evolve our processes. We create and use cutting-edge technologies. When we do one, the others benefit. When we do all three, we create a culture where engineers are inspired to do their best work, where innovation is celebrated, and where ideas grow into products that help our customers achieve a brighter financial future.

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