Tom Moxon is Head of Resourcing Services with I.T. Alliance, an Auxilion company. He provides his insights on resourcing services for financial institutions during a phase of rapid transition.
Technology systems in the financial industry are in a process of transformation, with cloud playing a major and disruptive role. Organisations are rethinking their investment in IT Infrastructure to prepare for the future. New cloud approaches require IT professionals with highly specialised skills and experience. IT contractors who have experience in these processes can provide ideal solutions and knowledge sharing.
Transition to Digital
It has become very evident that many financial institutions are investing massively in upgrading their customer facing platforms and IT infrastructure in parallel. Cloud strategy of course plays a significant role in these developments. Platform As a Service (PAAS) systems such as Azure and AWS look like they are here to stay and provide a crucial, stable platform to support online customer engagement and IT infrastructure more broadly.
Banks are currently dealing with the challenges of making traditionally in-branch services purely digital. Some processes, such as setting up a current account, can already be done entirely through digital portals at many major institutions. Others, such as processing mortgage applications, are a little further behind. Processes such as this are often still quite manual, requiring hard copy documentation such as payslips. Banks are now trying to facilitate automation and allow users to load content into portals which will handle all or most of the process. At least one major pillar bank in Ireland has made the transition to online processes its core business strategy going forward. These transformations require a wide range of highly specialised IT skills in order to be successful.
Other applications such as digital wallets, instant payments and SEPA transfers also require complex, secure digital infrastructure. Open Banking resources such as APIs (Application Programming Interface) and PSD2 (the revised Payment Service Directive) aim to make online banking more accessible to a broader range of users while maintaining security standards and reducing fraud.
These are complex transitions that also must meet stringent security and privacy requirements. The digital transformation projects required to bring processes entirely online are complex and require comprehensive governance and skilled IT professionals who have experience in designing them. IT architecture must be designed and future proofed in a way that will allow organisations to scale successfully going forward.
There is a severe shortage in IT professionals with the necessary skills to support these projects. This is where IT consultants and contractors come in. Contractors who have previous experience and developed skills in areas like public cloud infrastructure, PSD2, and APIs are invaluable These are highly specialised and in-demand skillsets that will be essential for successful digital transformation moving forward. Financial institutions that engage with consultants and contractors with these relevant skills give themselves a distinct advantage.
Key to this though is engaging with a trusted partner who has taken the time to understand your business and can therefore ensure that they are helping you select the right resources for the challenges that lie ahead. It is also worth selecting a partner who can not only support your resourcing, but can complement this with additional value-added services across IT.
IT projects often require a combination of short, medium and long-term specialists. IT contractors also give institutions the opportunity to bring in expert professionals for defined periods of time or for specific projects without significantly increasing fixed overheads. As these projects are both expensive and business critical, this flexibility can be crucial.
In many financial institutions, professionals are experienced in using legacy systems. They do not necessarily have the skills to support new digital transformation projects. This means that skill shifts and retraining may be required. Contractors can provide support during these transition periods, as IT departments get up to speed with new applications and processes. Even during times of un-certainty and recession, when headcounts are often frozen, many institutions still choose to bring in expert IT professionals on a contract basis with experience in the relevant areas to support the delivery of business-critical projects. The flexibility and limited impact on fixed overheads can be particularly appealing during uncertain or transitional periods and allow for costs to be covered within capital expenditure budgets.
There is a significant shift going on within the financial sector towards institutions integrating SAAS (Software as a Service) products and applications which are cloud-based. These new products and applications must be integrated successfully with older, on-premise systems. These are complex projects that require specialist expertise. Again, considering a delivery strategy which incorporates IT consultants to complement the existing core team and fill in knowledge gaps is a sensible and effective approach.
While these projects can be complex and often costly, financial institutions are investing in processes that will ultimately increase their efficiency and performance. Users now expect an extremely high level of online service. Cloud systems can increase efficiency, security, and profitability. Institutions that carry out these transformations now, with clear and comprehensive strategies, will be well placed in an ever-changing landscape. Specialist IT partners with experience in sourcing and screening skilled I.T. professionals are ready to offer support.