By Abdi Essa, Regional VP, UK&I, Dynatrace
The pandemic represents a defining moment for the financial services sector and its digital aspirations. Many organisations had begun ambitious transformation projects prior to 2020, in response to changing customer expectations, new regulations, and increased competition. However, those efforts were often inconsistent. The pandemic presented a new and altogether more urgent need for greater investment in digital innovation.
Our research found that 91% of CIOs in the financial services sector claim digital transformation has already accelerated during the pandemic, and 57% predict it will continue to speed up. Yet as banks continue the innovation drive to improve the employee and customer experience, challenges persist. Existing silos and legacy ways of operating and managing IT threaten to form roadblocks to improved collaboration and better business outcomes. To tackle these challenges, IT and developer teams need a single, unified way to manage, monitor and understand the way all of their digital assets work together.
IT under pressure
With the advent of the pandemic came an almost overnight need to support mass remote working, and customer shifts to digital channels. One study revealed that UK consumers are among the world’s most digitally active today—73% interact with their banks online at least once a week now, slightly above the global average (70%). But as these channels become more critical to the business – supporting revenue growth, productive employees, and customer engagement – IT teams are coming under increased pressure to meet business demands for improved performance and scale.
We found that half of CIOs in financial services organisations now believe their IT teams are being stretched thinner than ever. Their efforts to deliver improved digital experiences are, among other things, being challenged by sudden surges in demand for cloud services, rapidly changing business needs and the large number of remote users now expecting first-rate experiences. IT performance is a perennial issue. And the presence of multiple discrete monitoring and management tools compounds the challenge, creating confusion and inefficiency where there should be clarity and control.
Silos make things harder
These multiple toolsets only serve to compound traditional organisation-wide siloes, leaving major visibility gaps where performance problems proliferate. Nearly half (44%) of CIOs told us that IT and business teams working in silos is one of their top barriers to IT maximising value for the business. A fifth (42%) believe that data from monitoring tools stored in silos is also a critical challenge, while even more (44%) complain that they have limited visibility into the end user experience of digital services, such as online and mobile banking.
This visibility is crucial, but becoming harder to achieve, thanks to the proliferation of microservices, containers, and serverless architectures in modern digital infrastructure. It’s a complex and dynamic landscape characterised by thousands of digital services in a single organisation, where billions of dependencies are capable of changing within milliseconds. The multiple IT and business teams tasked with designing, building, and deploying business-critical software desperately need context and insight from a single source-of-truth to monitor and manage user experience and business outcomes.
Without it, they find it difficult to identify the severity of issues and take prompt action, and run the risk of duplicating effort and resorting to finger-pointing when something goes wrong. There are also problems in fully understanding exactly what the business and its customers need, which makes it difficult to maximise the value of IT. We calculated that financial services firms may be losing as much as $1.7 million on average in wasted productivity simply because IT and business teams have to meet to identify the causes of and solutions to problems.
A new way of working
Financial services organisations understand that things can’t go on like this. Nearly all (95%) the CIOs we polled say IT investment decisions must be more data-driven in the future. Two-thirds claim to be fed-up with the need to stitch information together from multiple tools to understand the business impact of these investments. Many are adopting approaches such as NoOps, autonomous cloud operations, and BizDevOps to ease the burden on IT and help to break down silos.
These initiatives are a great start. But to get the required results, they must be centred around a single platform offering a single source of truth for cross-team collaboration and real-time visibility. Faster innovation and business value will only come from real-time, data-driven insight into the applications and services on which digital businesses depend. For financial services firms looking to exit the pandemic in pole position, there’s differentiation and growth ahead if they get this right.