Powering the hybrid bank workplace

By Jean Antanaitis

PImagine a workday where you only have access to half of the video conferencing and messaging tools you use on a regular basis. Chances are, it won’t be a very productive day. This is especially the case for banks, where everyone from senior management to part-time staff and technical teams use these tools to assist clients in real time, connect with colleagues, engage clients via video calls or access remote servers to retrieve files. The software-as-a-service applications and collaboration tools that we’ve grown to love (and hate) during the pandemic are here to stay. In fact, Gartner predicts that the SaaS industry will reach a valuation of $ 121 billion globally this year, up from $ 102 billion in 2019. The past 13 months have introduced new tools that we use every day. The next 13 will redefine the way we use them.

Opportunity is at the heart of this widespread adoption of SaaS applications. Banks have the power to ensure their digital investments improve, rather than hamper productivity and great customer experiences. We have taken up the challenges of the past year together. Now, the digital strategies of banks will start to diverge. Some will prove to be more effective than others at taking full advantage of the benefits of collaboration tools, overcoming connectivity challenges, and optimizing the experiences supported by SaaS. But what will determine success? The answer lies in a thorough understanding of how these applications work on your network.

Digital transformation is finally coming. But its challenges too.

When the pandemic struck, banks and financial institutions around the world were forced to completely change the way they communicate. Almost overnight, they had to start working in new ways to stay socially distanced and embrace technology in an industry that just wasn’t designed for remote working.

To achieve this, organizations have invested heavily in SaaS and collaboration tools like Slack, Trello, and Office 365, which has resulted in increased usage. During the first month of the pandemic, Microsoft Teams usage increased by 70% to 75 million daily active users. Almost every facet of every organization in the financial services industry, including mortgages, retail banking, financial accounting, customer service, CRM and HR systems, all required to operate remotely and reliably.

To call this change a major challenge for IT teams would be an understatement. These teams were faced with a wave of applications and devices that were suddenly part of business-critical networks, and they had little or no visibility into most of these access points. It is therefore not surprising that 44% of financial decision makers identify slow and outdated technology as having an impact on business, according to recent research from Riverbed. Financial institutions had to act quickly to put in place solutions that could support new ways of working and were quickly faced with visibility gaps. Many banks have turned to SaaS and mobile customer accelerators to meet this challenge.

The inevitability of a hybrid model

With the end of capacity restrictions and mask requirements, and the viral risk that sparked them, banks are turning to a hybrid model that aims to combine the best of work environments from the pre and post-pandemic worlds. Financial institutions have the ability to make permanent the flexibility and agility that the workforce expects by ensuring that remote workers can collaborate with office workers securely and without disruption.

Regardless of each organization’s approach, some employees and customers will return to physical work environments. Likewise, some will stay away. As a hybrid model takes shape, SaaS applications and collaboration tools will need to run seamlessly, regardless of where workers log in. Higher levels of network visibility and performance will be key to creating a fair and productive experience for all employees, not to mention fast, secure and reliable service for customers. Clunky, slow, or glitchy collaboration tools and apps have a tangible impact on the employee and customer experience.

For these reasons, every financial institution should embrace technology that offers holistic visibility into every corner of its newly extended networks. It starts with solutions that collect and analyze data from every app and device on your network. This paints a fuller and clearer picture of your IT landscape, so teams can better understand weaknesses, wherever they arise, and take meaningful action to rectify them.

Tools to keep the future in sight

Increasingly, network performance defines both the employee and customer experience. Small latency and bandwidth issues accumulate over time and have a disproportionate impact on enterprise-wide success, especially now that even the most basic business functions are tied to network performance. A network failure or a slowly operating system can make the difference between approving a mortgage, making an investment, or damaging a bank’s reputation with a customer.

With more comprehensive visibility into networks and applications, banks and financial institutions can optimize the way they work and resolve disruptions before they leave a serious impact. Adopting the right tools will not only provide full visibility, but will also help maximize the performance of each application, paving the way for organizations to innovate and grow. With fully utilized SaaS tools at the center of their strategy, financial organizations can truly thrive in a post-pandemic world.

John Antanaitis is vice president of product and solutions marketing at Riverbed, where his responsibilities include positioning and messaging, content strategy and execution, market intelligence and evangelism, and strategic influence as a voice of the customer.

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