Three ways data management tools can help financial services organisations stay competitive 

Michael Cade, Senior Global Technologis, Veeam

Competition in the financial sector is at a new high.

Data released last year by think tank New Financial found that even if the UK loses a quarter of its international financial sector as a result of Brexit, it will still be double the size of any other European business centre.

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As a result, many financial services organisations – as in other industries – are looking to the insights that they can glean from data to provide better customer services, competitive and relevant propositions and, ultimately, improve brand loyalty.

While this is an industry that comes with its own unique set of considerations when it comes to data management, there are three things they can do to ensure they do it effectively.

A unique backdrop

It has to be said that financial services is a highly regulated industry and organisations working within it are under more pressure than most to manage and use data compliantly at all times, making effective data management absolutely critical.

But that’s not all. According to PwC, 69% of CEOs in the sector are either somewhat or extremely concerned about cyber-threats. And they should be. Recent research from F-Secure revealed that financial services are among the most attractive targets for cyber attackers. But that doesn’t stop data from being a massive opportunity for organisations looking to stand out in an increasingly crowded market. As a result, international banks and insurers are exploring how they can be leaner in terms of making their data management and cloud provisions more efficient. But what does this mean in practice?

  1. Become a cloud-native

By adopting a cloud-native strategy, which disregards previous limitations imposed by legacy physical infrastructure, financial services can deliver services from any cloud to any device – whether it’s a retail banking app, a price-comparison website, or an entire trading platform.

This may mean the organisation is transitioning entirely to a cloud-based IT infrastructure and planning to remove data silos in one fell swoop. On the other hand, and for many organisations, it’ll mean running proof of concepts in a few areas of the business, and scaling it based on those learnings and business needs.

From a technical perspective, one of the benefits of moving away from a capacity-based approach is that banks and insurers are able to use containers to move applications closer to the data which powers them. As well as ensuring that their applications are able to deal with huge peaks and troughs in demand, containerisation prevents ‘server sprawl’ and makes managing cloud and on-premises platforms easier for IT departments.

From a customer’s perspective, it means an always-on, fast, seamless experience that organisations in this crowded space simply must deliver.

  1. Create a data-driven culture

Management guru, Peter Drucker, tells us that culture eats strategy for breakfast.

In some ways the same is true when discussing the impact data can have on a business. While a successful digital transformation strategy requires a coherent plan of action to roll out the appropriate technologies across the business, the most pertinent challenge is getting employees to adapt culturally.

Establishing a data-driven culture involves adapting behaviours until looking at the data becomes second nature. Our recent research – the Cloud Data Management Report – found that over one-third (37%) of IT decision makers (ITDMs) believe nurturing company culture to enable adoption is one of the most important factors in becoming an intelligent business.

After all, a business can have all the right infrastructure in place, but if it isn’t using the key insights emanating from big data and analytics, it can’t be described as data-driven.

The key is making the benefits of these new tools feel relevant for the teams that will use them – whether  showing them more efficient ways of generating leads or providing a place to keep track of sales discussions and relevant tasks.

  1. Use effective tools

As a general rule of thumb, if data is easier to manage it’s also easier to protect, which is a massive consideration for financial services organisations given the sensitive and valuable nature of the data on their hands.

This point is made more pertinent as cyber-criminals will see these organisations as extremely profitable targets. Banks and insurers must, therefore, invest appropriately in Cloud Data Management (CDM) – to ensure data is backed-up, replicated and recoverable across all storage environments.

Managing data in the financial sector is incredibly complex, and there is no simple solution that can be replicated for every organisation. That said, by thinking about these three areas when looking to implement new data management tools, organisations can ensure customers, employees and the business as a whole are all able to leverage the benefits.