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Friday, 16 July 2021 01:35

What’s the Next Play for IT Pros in the BFSI Industry?

By Leon Adato SolarWinds
Leon Adato, Head Geek, SolarWinds Leon Adato, Head Geek, SolarWinds

GUEST OPINION by Leon Adato, Head Geek, SolarWinds: Although they can be seen as one of the most change-adverse industries known to man, the banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) sector has adapted surprisingly well to the pandemic. As things worsened last year, some of the larger banks took decisive measures to provide devices and remote work arrangements, to safeguard employees and retain operational capability.

But all of that was done with hopes things would soon return to normal. That’s not the case: projections state that pandemic scares will likely continue into mid-2022. With that fact, it’s prime time for IT pros and executives of BFSI organizations to begin thinking about retooling their digital infrastructure for the long haul. The question is, where to begin? And the billion-dollar question: how to manage the risks these changes might bring?

Getting the Lay of the Land

When lockdowns began, most organizations moved at breakneck speed to set employees up for remote work – BFSI organizations were no exception. As the now popular saying goes, change happened overnight, but it didn’t stop there. Change continued incrementally through the months, with staff needing to learn new tools, rethink processes, and adopt entirely new ways of work – all huge shifts for a sector that has always operated on-premises since inception.

This whiplash of change meant financial IT pros were on the defensive, on fire-fighting mode most of last year, with nary a moment to breathe and take stock of the situation. That has to change at once. Financial IT pros must start taking an honest look at their “technical debt” – the complex patchwork of digital systems and solutions they’ve put together at great speed to enable the shift to remote work. This patchwork has held together for the past few months, but can it carry financial institutions into the future, particularly at a time where many are implementing new digital services to remain competitive and relevant?

I think not. Financial IT pros must evaluate solutions they have in place, consider future employee or business needs, and then begin necessary replacements or upgrades. To help them along, here are two questions IT pros need to ask:

Is this solution sufficient? Questions could center around a solution’s capacity: how many new cloud-based services had to be reverted to on-prem because they couldn’t support the demands of a remote workforce? It could be capability: how many server applications had to be replaced with a SaaS equivalent to ensure continued operability? Or it could be utility: how many requests have been put in by teams for a certain solution or service?

The answers will point you to what solutions you can spin down, or what solutions need scaling up, need more licenses, more data center capacity or a more capable, high-capacity alternative.

Is this solution stable? The biggest challenge of remote work is its impact on the stability and serviceability of back-end infrastructure. While the shift to remote was happening, employees and customers might have been understanding whenever an application crashed, or cloud service goes down. A year later, things would have definitely changed. To reduce the risk of cascading failures and to formalize troubleshooting and governance of post-pandemic infrastructure, IT pros should consider putting IT Service Management (ITSM) protocols in place.

Since most IT teams are currently operating as remote service desks, this suggestion isn’t much of a stretch. Establishing best practices from ITIL and creating service catalogues gives IT pros a measure of control when dealing with brand new systems or solutions. If anything, it promises to bring structure to chaotic remote work infrastructure.

Don’t Bet the Farm on Just One Thing

Once IT pros have done their evaluations, it’s time to determine what new solutions to adopt, or more accurately, to prioritize. Since future BFSI concerns would mainly revolve around normalizing remote operations while lowering risk and instability, let those concerns guide your investment decisions:

  • Network monitoring tools are absolutely critical for ITSM or troubleshooting of remote work infrastructure. Knowing where problems or failures are happening—or about to happen—means the difference between the stability of financial services and work tools, or crippling outages frustrating customers, and puts institutions at the risk of breaching financial compliance.

  • Future deployments of additional technology or services will depend on whether BFSI institutions have visibility over their network and the capacity to support onboarding and maintenance of those solutions. Even the addition of a couple VPN connections risks driving already stretched network infrastructure over the edge—and without monitoring, that’s a risk IT pros cannot take.

It’s early days yet, and nobody knows what the future holds for BFSI organizations, indeed for any organization. But IT pros have the unenviable task of ensuring systems and infrastructure is prepared for any eventuality. But the above guidance, plus the huge rapport they’ve built with senior management over the critical role they played during the pandemic, should make the path ahead much easier.

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