Service Excellence

Moving Technology with the Times

By Rachel West January 31, 2013

Financial Times’ supplement “Moving Tech with the Times”

Time flies ….. Did we just ring in the New Year? The whole month of January flew by in a blink of the eye.  In today’s high-speed everything, hyper-accelerated world, time is ever more compressed, especially with all things technology.  We are seeing the continuing momentum behind social, mobile and analytics, which are in play at every major industry sector.  And all the while, financial service firms are trying to figure out how to catch up, to keep up, and to take the lead.  A recent article published by The Banker Magazine How to Make Technology Move with the Times encapsulated the perspectives of EMC’s Financial Services thought leaders as well as global banking executives on key 2013 trends around Big Data, Trust, and IT Transformation.

These are no longer the buzzwords in the lexicon of IT professionals and consultants.  Financial institutions have been grappling with the reality of increasing volumes of data pertaining to their customers, products and services, and the heightened security concerns surrounding their inter-connected systems and mixture of technology platforms and devices that are being adopted at stunning speeds.

After years of cutting back on capital spending, IT operations and staffs, these big IT trends are acting as catalysts for senior leaders to tackle the much needed overhaul and modernization of their IT systems.

What Alexander Pope said more than 300 years ago is still relevant:  “Be not the first by whom the new is tried nor yet the last to lay the old aside”.  Time is relative, however.  It is not the relativity of time that’s the crux; but the relativity of technology that makes 2013 a critical year for financial firms to revisit IT transformation as an essential organization-wide imperative in winning, and effectively managing business, or be left behind in the competitive marketplace.

As the Financial Times article pointed out, technology must change with the times, new platforms and applications must be introduced and legacy applications and databases migrated, and priorities must be managed carefully to avoid prohibitive costs and business disruption. To this, I must add that the transformational journey should not simply be applied to the hardware and software, but also be ingrained in the DNA of the IT operations and personnel.

Many senior executives who have spent their entire careers in the financial industry can no longer dismiss the latest new cool tech, open source systems as youth-driven and faddish; they are now tasked with a broad responsibility of building the new, scale-out enterprise-wide information architectures that meet both the business goals and technology vision of the firm’s innovation roadmaps.  The rise of Cloud computing and Software as a Service models forced IT veterans to look beyond the traditional enterprise systems and learn more about the disruptive new technologies so that they can provide their business partners with superior capabilities in a stable environment that’s predictable and reliable.

Today, powerful, pervasive, secure technologies have become available to analyze data from social content, customer profiles, market, transaction and third party repositories in generating unparalleled insights.  Big Data, Multichannel Sales and Services and Trust are the highest potential areas for financial firms to grasp the opportunities to get to know their customers better and service them well. In return, the increased customer satisfaction and loyalty will become the differentiator for the firms to drive higher growth and profits.

Technologies only work if they are integrated appropriately into business processes in creating new customer value.  While IT departments want to understand the functionalities of Big Data tools such as Hadoop, MapReduce, HBase/Hive, Pig, etc., business managers have very little interest in the technical stacks other than how they can use the data analytics to generate additional revenue.  Perhaps the biggest challenge to move technology forward is to move IT closer to the business and deliver solutions to the business faster.

In 2013, we are going to see improved productivity, visibility and security of the potent Big Data technologies.  Each firm’s adoption path may undergo their own alternations; firms that invest the next generation of platforms to strengthen dynamic, collaborative connections between IT and business will be the big winner. Whether to create new efficiencies; respond to external threats; aligning the ultimate goals of IT transformation with that of their business partners is where sustainable progress made.

About Rachel West


As a Platinum Player Award winner and industry solution leader at EMC Consulting, Global Services, Rachel West specializes in technology strategy and implementation, product and service innovation and information management for financial services clients.
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With more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry as an analyst, advisor and strategist, Ms. West offers deep knowledge and insights into the value of an organization’s information assets, and works closely with many leading global financial institutions to leverage their technology investment to better manage information, and empower them to deliver unique products and services that drive business profitability and growth.
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Before joining EMC, Ms. West worked at Putnam Investments, spearheading the process reengineering and user workflow design in conjunction with the transformation of enterprise information architecture that was one of the first in the financial industry.
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A graduate of the University of Massachusetts’ MBA program, Ms. West also has a degree in economics and finance from the top ranked International Business School at University of Nanjing, China.

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