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Future technology strategy

Future technology strategyDeloitte partner Colin Scott and director Ciaran O'Connell discuss delivering up-to-date user and customer friendly technology for banks.

Australian consumers according to the OECD, rank #5 in the world when it comes to adopting technology, but only #26 when measured as corporates.

Yet mobile banking, high-tech branches and social models are offering new possibilities for connecting with customers. Activity Based working disciplines, virtual desktops, collaboration tools, and 'Bring Your Own Device' (BYOD) smartphones and tablets are also creating new ways for banks and their staff to enjoy increased satisfaction, productivity and cost efficiencies.

The research

Recent Australian and New Zealand research by Deloitte Access Economics The Connected Workplace - War for talent in the digital economy - shows a direct relationship for the first time between flexible IT policies, employee satisfaction, retention and productivity. It found many people report their home IT is more user-friendly (46 per cent), up-to-date (38 per cent) and faster (38 per cent) than their workplace IT.

The hyper-connected technology experiences available at home with smartphones, tablets, collaboration technologies like Skype, and streaming services like Spotify and Youtube have raised employee and customer expectations of the workplace and marketplace experience.

Support from the top

The banks, along with other corporates have for the first time in Deloitte's Board Effectiveness - Directors' Cut (Edition 4 2013) placed productivity as the ASX 100's top consideration to enhance profitability.

Chairs and CEOs both see 'doing business in a better way' and becoming 'more efficient rather than just cutting costs' as critical. "We know we cannot cut our way to growth' – we have to balance expected productivity gains with trade-offs between worker expectations, organisational impacts, cost management and risk mitigation.

'The speed with which obsolescence is happening is frightening,' said one Chair. As a result the need to review business models has moved higher up the Directors' and CEOs' agendas, with 72 per cent and 66 per cent respectively having had to change their business models in the past few years.

Although Australian and global banks have already implemented discrete initiatives to meet the hyper-connected demand with available technologies maturing so rapidly, it is difficult to develop a strategy that will stay current for 12 to 18 months.

The hidden perils in a business case

Reduced  ICT costs are typically one of the big benefits used to support a business case for new investments. However, this rationale can be flawed without an accurate articulation of the current and future 'fully loaded' run and support costs per employee.

Access to more services remotely will be likely to translate into additional data consumption and more support requirements.

This step change from current to target capabilities requires levels of investment that need to be articulated to business leaders. An added complexity is that IT functions must also understand and align cycles of investment with workplace technologies and workforce segment needs.

The evolution cycle of mobile devices, apps, development platforms, access and use will continue to change faster than investments in underlying technical infrastructure.

The current checklist

  • Most organisations use smartphones for email and calendar management – but there is often demand for additional apps and features that are currently locked down and unavailable to staff

  • Tablet usage is being driven from the top down – with executives' own demands leading to point solutions rather than a holistic response

  • Desktop computing continues to evolve, and ICT teams currently have to manage a profusion of desktops, laptops and even virtual desktop environments

  • Presentations in meeting rooms still require scrambling under desks to find a cable that will work, whilst video conferencing has been confined to specialist rooms that are often booked out weeks in advance

  • Desktop collaboration and the use of cloud streaming platforms are often constrained by policy due to the perceived risks to the organisation.

The resulting mixture of technologies has led to user frustration, increased technology costs, and the emergence of potentially risky workarounds. The time is right to change. While the available technologies continue to evolve, the fundamentals are now in place to build a coherent strategy to balance both staff and customer experiences and the need for regulation and control.

The user groups

The workplace technology strategy needs to audit the computing, mobility and information needs of each group of users across each business. Consider the differing needs of, for example a trader, line manager or executive, an offshore IT support analyst, operations team member or retail front line clerk, a business analyst or institutional advisor and prioritise each user need against the organisational objectives for cost disciplines, security and compliance, and user engagement and end customer experience.

Strategy into action

Consider all the implications of the strategy, including opportunities and implications for paper reduction/digitisation, process automation, corporate productivity applications, infrastructure and those of policy, compliance, procurement and legal.

Leading practice banks have learned to design integrated programs blended to suit the organisation's specific needs and culture; usually involving HR, Finance, IT, Real Estate, Business Units/Operations and Executive Leadership.

The opportunities to be agile are significant. And the rewards will be commensurate with the effort and commitment. While the available technologies will continue to evolve rapidly, the components are in place to support a coherent strategy that balances staff and workplace needs with customer experiences. This will both enhance productivity and performance as well as meet governance and regulatory requirements.

Colin Scott is a Technology Advisory Consulting partner in Deloitte's Financial Services group. With more than 20 years' experience in advisory and implementation projects, he specialises in core banking and transformation projects in Australia and Asia. Deloitte Director Ciaran O'Connell has a strong track record in assisting institutions improve IT performance and operations.

This article was first published in Australian Banking & Finance July 2013.

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