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Guy Tweedale, Regional VP, Rocket Software

When you consider how much power is needed to handle the volume of data processed by banks’ IT systems, it’s unsurprising that most rely on mainframes to run their critical business processes.

This technology remains an extremely powerful choice, offering some major advantages. But in an era when exciting new fintech is constantly landing on the market, it must be kept up-to-date. If it’s not, the next generation of IT worker will become frustrated using it and they will fail to see its true value.

If we are to counter that threat, one key area that needs to be addressed is the commonly used green screen interface. Not only do these screens look like something out of the 1980s, but they are often complicated and counter-intuitive to use. This problem has been exacerbated as new graduates continue join the workforce without ever having come across such a thing before. The belief among younger IT staff is that enterprise applications should be as intuitive and accessible as a consumer app; I recently saw a young programmer trying to swipe a green screen with his finger.

Provide greater accessibility

Modernising the interface doesn’t necessary mean ripping out and replacing what’s already there, however. We can now place software on top of the green screen to make it more user friendly. This can tackle the problem in two different ways:

1) We can web-enable the back-end system so IT staff can gain access to mainframes on a web browser or mobile device, be that their phone or tablet.

2) The software can improve the interface experience itself, including combining information from multiple screens and other sources, so it’s easy to navigate, regardless of user experience.

Both courses of action make this technology more accessible to a broader talent pool – an increasingly pertinent issue given the IT skills shortage. It’s getting harder and harder to find staff who have previous experience working with this technology. But a more intuitive interface would allow banks, and other mainframe users, to cast their net a little further when recruiting staff.

Staying above the law and ahead of competitors

We also have to factor in the pressing demands of PSD2, which comes into force in January 2018. The legislation compels banks to open up their IT systems to third parties with the aim of creating a level playing field for competitors. The new fintech startups are all producing apps designed with the modern user in mind; if banks are to keep up, they need to be able to do the same.

Not only does an intuitive interface help meet expectations, and attract new talent, but it will also simplify the day-to-day tasks of non-technical staff because the applications they use at work will resemble more closely the ones they use in their personal lives. As a result, productivity increases, as does the overall efficiency of the IT department. This will help save time and money in other ways too. For example, there will be no need to train staff how to use green screens.

With financial technology advancing at such a rapid rate, maintaining an edge over competitors is essential. Mainframe technology has the power to make this happen, as long as it’s accessible to your IT team. If this is the case, they will be able to maximise its potential for the benefit of your organisation as a whole.