Technology never stands still: there’s always an innovation waiting in the wings to become the latest buzz words for CIOs. This perpetual change means that the IT world is in a constant state of flux, with a conveyor belt of technologies appearing to improve performance. Whether you’re improving on existing capabilities or going about business in a completely different way, incorporating new technological trends can certainly pay dividends.
Growth is a core focus for financial services, but it needs ITC infrastructure and services that can support it. Similarly, if technologies are being adopted to improve business performance, the ITC infrastructure needs to be in place to harness this development. Change requires careful planning and consideration: if not properly thought through, technology updates can quickly start to go wrong. What should have been an improvement to fix a minor issue can quickly turn into a much more serious crisis. This can have particularly grave consequences for banks and financial services governed by strict regulations. For instance, in 2014 the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority fined RBS £42m penalty following its 2012 IT meltdown.
It’s important to remember that long-term problems can’t be fixed overnight by replacing the technology involved in administering and processing them. Cloud was once much-heralded, bringing all a scalability to the financial industry previously only accessible to organsiations with a large in-house infrastructure. According to the Gartner hype cycle, cloud computing has now dipped into the trough of disillusionment. For some, moving services to the cloud without the correct planning and preparation has resulted in a loss of control and spiralling costs for unexpected returns.
In order to adopt ITC infrastructures that enhance performance, change needs to be seen as an ongoing process that demands clear, considered action at every step. Changes should be made because they suit the business’s needs, not because they represent the latest and greatest or give IT a new tool to play with. There are three golden rules to approaching change:
Knowledge is power. It makes no sense to implement changes when you don’t even know what you are making changes to. Decision-makers must carry out an internal audit of what is currently being delivered, the way in which this is being done, and if it meets the business’s requirements.
Without that information, it will be nigh-on impossible to make an intelligent call about what to change: there could be a very simple switch to make that will save all that hassle, time and financial outlay being needed in the first place.
Similarly, you must know your goals. When you’re on a long distance journey, it’s advisable to know your final destination. Without that knowledge, it can prove difficult to know exactly which direction to drive in. Make sure you take the time to work out the precise point your organisation would like to arrive at, and build out a roadmap from there.
Know your limits. You need to know precisely what your organisation, and people, are capable of; what they desire; and what level of change they will accept before you can decide whether change is both necessary and realistic; and if so, whether any additional help is required. At the minimum you should know the skills, experience and knowledge your organisation possesses: after all, if a project will either add no new capabilities, or require expertise entirely outside your remit, it may not be the best course of action. You should also evaluate the impact of any changes. No change is without risk or business disruption, so ensure that you have assessed this against the expected benefits.
Stay in control. Whatever type of change you’re going through, it’s vital to ensure that you retain ultimate control and responsibility for the work. This can be easier said than done if change involves the cloud or multiple consultants and contractors. However, since the buck will always stop with the CIO, this is where ultimate responsibility has to lie. If a project is at risk of spiralling out of control, then the business needs to once again question whether this is the change the business needs, and whether it is being done in the best way.
Change can be a great thing, but it should be approached with even greater caution. Ensuring that you know your current location and destination; your limits; and responsibilities before investigating new infrastructure technologies is a crucial starting point, and one you can build from to make positive improvements.
By Andy Soanes, CTO, Bell Integration