Accelerating the future of financial services

Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time with companies across different industries, listening and working to understand their unique needs. As their respective landscapes evolve, it’s clear that each of them is looking for technology that accelerates the execution of their most imperative objectives. With that in mind, I want to take a look at a few specific industries, examining issues they face as well as their plans for innovating for the future. First up: financial services.

From my perspective, there are three pivotal shifts underway.

Innovation Through Digitalization

Major financial institutions have struggled with the move to digital for years. This is not new. What is new? A change in perception. No longer is cutting-edge tech viewed as a novelty -- now it’s a must-have. Companies realize that the days of customers patiently and loyally waiting for new products and services are long gone. Consumers are in control, and they’re just too time-starved and too used to technology simplifying each task to waste time conducting their financial lives the same old way. They want convenience, and they want it now; if they don’t get it, they are more than willing to take their business elsewhere.

As a result, IT has become vitally important. In fact, Gartner listed digitalization as the single biggest strategic business priority for CIOs in its 2017 CIO Agenda: A Financial Services Perspective report.

Based on the FIs I’ve talked with, they are looking to tech to help them provide services like more personalized recommendations and automated, streamlined experiences. This is how they will attract and retain customers in a highly competitive landscape. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are becoming a big part of this. But, building and/or integrating software that can predict and anticipate needs while simultaneously offering the means to fulfill those needs, albeit in an instant, can be tough. Solutions must be readily available online and via mobile because people are no longer lining up to come into your office for a consultation about all that you can offer them. And if these personalized services take too long to develop and deploy, it’s game over.

This pressure leads to the second major shift.

Modernizing Infrastructure

Due to all of the security and privacy regulations involved in financial services, infrastructure seems as though it was stuck a few generations back. Making significant changes had traditionally been perceived as anything from unnecessarily expensive to a major headache that could be avoided by a few strategic band-aids to something that was just not possible from a risk perspective.

Today, that’s changed. IT leaders understand that upgrading infrastructure isn’t optional. They require the best, most agile, easiest, most secure systems and software on the market so that new solutions can be created and deployed with the speed of a startup. The question then becomes how in the world do they accomplish this without disrupting their entire operation or compromising their systems?

Say, for example, that an FI needs to migrate to Windows 10. This is a huge undertaking when you think about deploying a new OS on every machine and device of a 30,000-person company. It has to be downloaded, configured, and perpetually updated and maintained in order to get the full benefits. Instead of trying to tackle this all themselves, IT teams are turning to thoroughly vetted third parties who can automate these steps for them so that those 30,000 workers and hundreds of thousands of customers are not negatively impacted by outages or slow systems. This type of migration then can be completed in a fraction of the time as problems -- technical and otherwise -- are dramatically minimized.

Financial services companies are also moving more and more applications to the cloud to reduce the need for dedicated servers and drive down costs. This is a bit stickier due to compliance issues, so we’re seeing more private and hybrid cloud solutions emerge. But the fact that there is movement on this front at all is worth noting because it shows a commitment to modernize infrastructure. They have to walk before they can run, right? And this is a big step forward.

Address the Threat

Beyond competitive threats, the financial industry faces the highest number and most sophisticated cyberthreats out there. Billions of dollars are at stake -- people’s entire life savings. It’s incredibly serious business which has created, understandably, a very risk-averse industry. There is absolutely no room for error, but we are noticing a shift here as well.

As frightening as change can be in this environment, financial services companies are perpetually looking for better ways to protect data, assets, and systems. After all, they are tasked with fighting off everyone from the hacker in the basement that wants to steal some social security numbers to attackers attempting to take down the entire financial system.

Financial services companies require bulletproof systems because the risk of failure is far greater than the risk of informed change. Whether it’s a better way to handle encryption or automated endpoint management, the end goal is to harden the enterprise. This will continue because it must.

Moving forward, my money is on 2018 to be the year that financial services really dive in and embrace tech to innovate at record speed -- whether in product development, IT infrastructure, or security.

Daniel Okine, senior director of product management, is responsible for setting product vision and roadmap at Adaptiva, using data from market trends and opportunities, competitive landscape, and customer needs to develop a global strategy for the company’s endpoint management platform and products. Daniel drives the technical priorities and programs at Adaptiva in collaboration with key stakeholders in engineering and marketing. For more information on Adaptiva, the market leader in modern endpoint management and security, please visit www.adaptiva.com, and follow the company at LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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