What’s the next play for IT professionals in finance sector?

June 22, 2021 12:27
Since most IT teams are currently operating remotely, establishing best practices from ITIL and creating service catalogs will only give IT professionals better control when dealing with new systems or solutions.Photo: Reuters

Although the banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) industry can be seen as one of the most change-adverse industries, the sector has adapted surprisingly well to the pandemic. Since last year, some of the larger banks in our city—including HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, and UBS—have taken decisive measures to provide remote work or rotating team arrangements to safeguard employees while maintaining their operational capabilities.

This was all done in the hope things would soon return to normal. But this wasn’t the case: projections state pandemic scares will likely continue well into 2022, making it prime time for IT professionals and BFSI executive teams alike to consider retooling their digital infrastructure altogether. The question is, where should they begin? And how can they manage the risks these changes might bring?

Lay of the Land

Since pandemic-induced precautions began, most organizations have moved at breakneck speed to set employees up for remote work, and BFSI players were no exception. As the now popular saying goes, change happened overnight, but it didn’t stop there. Change continued incrementally over the months, with staff needing to learn new tools, rethink processes, and adopt entirely new ways of work—all huge shifts for a sector that has always operated on-premises.

This whiplash of change meant financial IT professionals were on defensive firefighting mode throughout most of last year, with nary a moment to take stock of the situation. Now, most organizations have in place a complex and haphazardly strewn together network of digital systems and solutions they rolled out quickly to support remote work. But can it carry the institutions into the future, particularly at a time when smaller players are also implementing new digital services to drive a competitive edge? Unlikely.

Financial IT professionals have a plethora of concerns—namely, they must evaluate the solutions they have in place and consider present and future employee and business needs before beginning necessary replacements or upgrades. They should also consider these two key questions:

Is this solution sufficient?

Executives and financial IT pros should evaluate the capacity, capability, and utility of their current solutions. For instance, how many cloud-based services needed to be reverted to on-prem because they couldn’t support the demands of a remote workforce? How many server applications had to be replaced with a software as a service (SaaS) equivalent to ensure continued operability? Knowing this will help the team adjust their digital strategy and upgrade the IT infrastructure solutions according to their needs, with calculated margins to grow.

Is this solution stable?

The other important factor is the stability and serviceability of the back-end infrastructure. While the shift to remote was happening, employees and customers were understanding when an application crashed or the cloud service went down. A year later, though, things have changed. IT professionals should consider putting IT service management (ITSM) protocols in place to reduce the risk of cascading failures and to formalize troubleshooting and governance of the post-pandemic infrastructure. Since most IT teams are currently operating remotely, establishing best practices from ITIL and creating service catalogs will only give IT professionals better control when dealing with new systems or solutions.

Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Since future BFSI concerns will mainly revolve around normalizing remote operations while lowering risk and instability, it’s time to determine which new solutions to adopt or—more accurately—prioritize.

● Network monitoring tools are critical for ITSM or troubleshooting the remote work infrastructure. Knowing where problems or failures happen can make the difference between a stable, fully functional set of tools and crippling outages capable of frustrating customers and putting the institution at risk of breaching financial compliance.

● Future deployments of additional technology or services will depend on whether BFSI institutions have visibility over their network and the capacity to support the onboarding and maintenance of those solutions. Even adding a couple of VPN connections risks driving the already stretched network infrastructure over the edge—a risk IT professionals can’t take.

No matter where BFSI organizations are in their digital transformation journey, COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the landscape. IT professionals have the unenviable task of ensuring systems and the infrastructure are prepared for any eventuality and ultimately paving a robust and secure path to success.

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Head Geek™, SolarWinds