Transitioning from a builder to a conductor in financial services

Written by Donncha McCarthy SVP, Customer & Services Excellence
Image of team discussing in front of a laptop at night

The term digital transformation was first coined in 2011. Though one could reasonably argue that financial institutions have been digitally transforming various aspects of their business as far back as the 1950s, when computers were first introduced to support the book-keeping process. When we talk about transformation now, in the 21st century, we’re talking about the adoption of cloud-based technology solutions that provide a secure, resilient, scalable, and agile model capable of delivering a more frictionless customer experience and a faster time to market with new services.

When we look at our customer base and the industry in general, we see financial institutions that are each at different stages of the transformation journey. We are seeing a lot of short-termism within some business units, and we’re seeing other customers take a more strategic approach with transformation tied to their enterprise strategy. Not surprisingly, the strategic players are gaining a lot more market penetration thanks to the benefits transformation delivers, including an increase in delivering innovation, mitigating risk, and improvements in customer satisfaction.

How banks move forward with the implementation of digitally transformative technologies is also evolving. We’re seeing the role of the IT executive transform from being a builder to becoming a conductor or an orchestrator. Traditionally, IT executives lead internal software development teams to create customized applications as needed, but today they need to orchestrate, creating development tools and leveraging external partners to enable low-code/no-code product composition.

Structurally and culturally, banks are behind the curve in this area with the pandemic being partly responsible for this lag. While it’s true that the pandemic accelerated digitization journeys for many, it did so perhaps a little too rapidly and under very trying circumstances. According to IDC1 a worrying 65%–75% of institutions worldwide have not optimized or even implemented processes or tools to manage what will eventually become the bank’s future digital infrastructure.

There is an industry-wide realization that the old world of large, heavyweight banks or financial organizations, has been encroached on by a world filled with a broad array of nimble, flexible, fintechs and new challengers that are bringing innovation to financial services offerings. The evolution is forcing change in a lot of places.

Organizations are starting to realize that they no longer need to build and maintain the hugely complex digital ecosystems upon which they rely. Moving to the cloud or a managed service means they can simplify and standardize their software architecture. They can also deploy new software and applications more quickly and cost effectively, with a significant reduction in risk.

Change management like this does not happen overnight. As IT teams evolve their digital infrastructure and as they move more towards open platforms and best of breed solutions, they will need to evolve how they operate. The teams involved are now much more focused on the changing needs of the end customer.

A common challenge we encounter is when an individual business unit within a bank embarks on a transformation journey in isolation. This can only be taken so far because, ultimately, they need to align with the bank’s broader strategic direction. That’s where you see the importance of an IT orchestrator at a senior level rather than a collection of builders in different business units.

Ultimately, the winners in this space will be the organizations that can be agile and be faster to market with new products and services in a relatively simple way. They will need to be able to orchestrate their technology ecosystem and get operations running ahead of their rivals without incurring massive overheads. The good news is banks don’t need to do this alone. A managed services model offers clear benefits — enabling financial institutions to evolve and compete without the need for overnight change.

A big piece of the work we do at Finastra with our customers is understanding their current state, challenges, opportunities, and overall experience with their Finastra solution, to identify where they are on their transformation journey and determine the next best step. We break the journey into stages, which each deliver tangible benefit and interlock with the change program of the bank. Transformation is a shared process and through ongoing services that underpin progressive modernization and solution adoption, we can build a structured route to realize greater value.

To learn more about how financial services organizations around the world are using new service models to accelerate innovation in banking, download this IDC report in partnership with Finastra.

1 Future Enterprise Resilience and Spending Survey, IDC, June 2021

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