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Tim Bandos, CISO and VP Managed Security Services at Digital Guardian,  discusses how sticking with a technology provider for too long can end up doing more harm than good and why it’s important to know when a relationship has run its course.

Remaining competitive in today’s crowded financial sector requires organisations to make technology work for them. They must identify an aspect of their operations that might hold them back, and then quickly make any changes necessary to unleash productivity and growth. The challenge with technology, however, is the rate at which change occurs. Organisations regularly outgrow their current technology providers, for example, and often don’t even realize it. They might find their business has scaled in size or scope beyond their existing tech platforms, or simply encounter new requirements beyond what their existing provider can address. Sometimes, lack of change stems from inertia or even fear. Some organisations can be either scared or unwilling to make the changes needed

Regardless of the reason, the truth is a fresh start can be extremely beneficial to all parties. Change is good, after all, and clinging to an existing partner for too long usually does more harm than good. But how can you tell when a partnership has run its course? Below are three of the most common red flags that signal it’s time to make a change: 

1.Your business goals are no longer aligned

In the fast-paced world of modern finance, business goals can change in the blink of an eye.  If your technology provider isn’t constantly updating and tailoring your IT services accordingly, vulnerabilities will soon appear. 

Perhaps your organisation recently switched your systems to agile, for example, as a way to optimize your business systems. This requires more than just a cultural shift, it probably also means onboarding another provider. This new provider – one that’s also agile – should be better suited to your changing needs, compared to one that doesn’t share the same philosophy or have hybrid capabilities.

Leading financial institutions know the ever-changing nature of regulatory compliance requirements, and that they require major ongoing attention. An effective provider will understand relevant aspects of this regulatory framework, and help guide you in remaining fully compliant.

These examples reflect the shifting nature of business needs and goals, which often happen with little prior warning. Effective providers will help you meet these new goals proactively, not act as a barrier. If your current provider can’t keep up with your need for change, you should re-evaluate the viability of the partnership.

2.Your existing provider hasn’t kept up with the latest technology

Keeping up with technology can be costly, but the best providers know it’s worthwhile because it helps their customers and partners improve operations. As such, if your provider is unable or unwilling to do so, consider it a warning sign and prepare to move on. Reliance on outdated, legacy technology not only hinders customer operations but also puts sensitive customer and employee data at risk, particularly if it’s no longer supported on a regular basis. Furthermore, without regular security patches, such technology quickly becomes vulnerable to cyberattacks, potentially risking major financial and reputational damage, either of which can harm your organisation’s long-term prospects. 

Unfortunately, this is where many financial institutions get complacent. They grow too comfortable with their existing technology, making them reluctant to change. Few organisations benefit from such inertia. For one thing, they miss out on disruptive technology innovations that can save organisations money and drive operational efficiency. Providers, meanwhile, risk becoming uncompetitive if they rest too hard on their laurels, causing them to lose out on new business and market position. If your organisation finds itself in this position, it’s time to change providers. 

3.Your relationship isn’t as close/strong as it once was

Of course, the biggest indicator of needed change is when the relationship between you and your existing provider starts to go downhill. The best providers act as genuine partners that always have your organisation’s best interests at heart. If this isn’t the case for you and your technology provider, something’s wrong.

Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon. Major tech migrations are daunting, and many providers capitalise on related costs and customer uncertainty to dissuade them from doing so. This is a way to hold them captive within their current solution agreements. Not only are these tactics unscrupulous, but they can also harm their customers’ businesses

Poor or deteriorating communication is usually another sign that something’s amiss, particularly when it’s related to predictable, yet potentially serious issues. A good example is failing to notify you when planned IT maintenance is about to take place, causing unexpected downtime that can severely hinder operations.

While the idea of changing technology providers can be intimidating, for many organisations it is absolutely the right choice. Whether you’ve simply outgrown your current provider, or have become disillusioned with the service being provided, don’t let the fear of change prevent you from making the move. 

About Author:

Tim Bandos, CISO and VP Managed Security Services at Digital Guardian:

Tim Bandos, CISSP, CISA, CEH is CISO and VP Managed Security Services at Digital Guardian and an expert in incident response and threat hunting. He has over 15 years of experience in the cybersecurity world and has a wealth of practical knowledge gained from tracking and hunting advanced threats that targeted stealing highly sensitive data. A majority of his career was spent working at a Fortune 100 company where he built an Incident Response organization and he now runs Digital Guardian’s global Security Operation Center for Managed Detection & Response. 

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