For the past several years, the financial services industry has grappled with market disruption, political uncertainty and increasing regulatory scrutiny. At the same time, financial services firms have seen dramatically changing customer demands, with consumers expecting higher levels of service in an omni-channel environment.
Historically, financial services firms have not emphasized customer service, instead focusing on the management of complex transactions and facilitating access to subject matter experts. In today’s digital economy, however, consumers have more choices and more information than ever before. They are looking beyond traditional product and service offerings toward higher levels of convenience and a personalized experience which drives banks to find new methods of reaching the customer as well as new offerings beyond simply a bank account.
Information technology can help financial services firms address these challenges. Unified communications tools allow real-time collaboration between employees, managers and customers across traditional, mobile and social platforms, enhancing customer service and enabling faster decision-making. Mobile commerce tools that are tightly integrated with existing services help to promote brand strategies and provide a seamless customer experience. Big data analytics enables firms to continually evaluate information to better understand buying patterns and refine products and services.
As a result, financial services firms need an agile IT environment that can respond to the accelerating pace of change in the industry. Many organizations are undertaking initiatives to further optimize their environments to ensure application and network performance, effective storage management, scalability, and flexibility. This requires significant expertise across the data center stack, as well as an understanding of key technology trends.
Of course, security must play a central role in any IT initiative. A data breach exacts an enormous cost in terms of lost revenue, brand value and consumer trust. Financial services firms must carefully evaluate security threats and implement new policies as they expand their mobile commerce and social media strategies. Data must be managed and classified to ensure security and privacy and meet regulatory compliance requirements.
Business continuity is also critical. Recent disasters and high-profile data breaches have underscored the importance of effective disaster response. Business continuity strategies should emphasize resilience in the face of technical disruptions as well as rapid recovery and restoration of operations after a catastrophic event.
Regulatory pressures will continue to drive IT strategies and investments for the foreseeable future. Many financial services organizations are subject to mandatory semiannual stress testing, which requires that they estimate potential financial losses in a variety of adverse situations. Many of the technologies in use today did not exist 20 years ago, making risk analysis and management difficult. Financial services firms must take steps to minimize IT complexity in order to effectively address risk.
Technology offers both opportunities and challenges to financial services firms. Those organizations that become adept at managing data and the customer experience are poised to capture significant market share. However, financial services firms must also be prepared to respond to changing regulations and security threats. Pivot Technology Solutions, through its portfolio companies, can help financial organizations implement a robust technology infrastructure that meets today’s demands.
by John Flores