By Dal Bamford, Chief Customer Officer at Tenth Revolution Group.
While the financial industry was as hard hit as any other sector in 2020, this year looks to be filled with opportunity as the world recovers from the catastrophic events of the last twelve months. Our thirst to innovate and grow may have been temporarily dampened, but the flame hasn’t been extinguished.
The way the industry relies on cloud technology will play a big part in that recuperation. Almost every business has undergone an accelerated period of cloud adoption, forced upon them due to the pandemic. Organizations shifted to new virtual set-ups overnight, rolling out new digital platforms and processes to support them through the increasingly digitized new normal.
With that has come the realisation that cloud platforms don’t just help your business survive, but can actually make them thrive. Cloud software is quicker, cheaper and simpler to implement than its on-premise predecessors, and that’s before the additional benefits such as better security. As a result, pretty much every vertical in the world is joining the scramble for those specialists who can ramp up their infrastructure, and that demand will increase as we all look to bounce back. So what role will technology play in helping financial institutions recover?
We’ve all seen the forecasts for how a post-pandemic world will look—deserted cities as the global workforce continues from home, while skyscrapers and Starbucks outlets lie empty. The reality is going to be somewhat different. Not everyone can, or wants to, work from home permanently. The novelty of young children and pets interrupting video meetings will wear off, improvised workstations aren’t always a long-term answer, and for others the social element that work brings is essential for their wellbeing. That means that offices and city centres will remain a critical part of working life, even if attendance becomes a lot more relaxed, and in some cases, completely optional.
However, with the working week becoming more flexible, in terms of both hours and location, the tools we’ve invested in that allow us to work collaboratively will remain in place indefinitely. Not only that, but additional resource will be ploughed into them to ensure they’re more intuitive and can enhance our working lives even further. We’ve all rushed to adopt the solutions we can in the short-term to facilitate a remote workforce collaborating together, and the next twelve months will see tech professionals refine both the way we use those tools, as well as what is happening behind the interface we see as end users.
The platforms we’ve relied on won’t just go away; they will improve and in some ways re-invent the way we work forever. We all work best when we work together, and giving your staff the tools to make that happen is essential as we hit the road to recovery.
One of the key areas of tech where I think there’s a lot of room for innovation is with HTTP Live Streaming (HLS). Even as the world begins to re-open, video will play a bigger part in our working lives. Restrictions—and costs—will reduce the amount of international travel, and we’ve all seen how effective video meetings can be. Nothing will ever truly replace in-person events, but we’ll certainly be asking ourselves whether certain engagements really require a flight going forward.
Virtual events can also be a fantastic marketing tool. You can reach out to your customers in their own home and give them access to your products and services in a way that better suits them and their own busy lives. While we’ve all adjusted our expectation levels when it comes to such content, that won’t always be the case. Going forward, customers will expect the quality of the videos they watch not just to improve, but to be available on demand without buffering, pixilation or delay, and there is work to do amongst the tech community to ensure this more customer-focused option is of a standard that truly adds to your offering in this sphere.
Your customers are used to digital solutions to their problems, and improving the way you deliver them will be a key part to the way you attract and retain them going forward. Nobody is going to use tech less in the future, so embracing the change now and investing in the way you use it will only make you a more attractive business to the people who matter the most.
It goes without saying, then, that getting the jump on digital talent will be key to any organisation looking to succeed as we emerge in a post-pandemic world. For starters, digital infrastructure needs to be secure enough that it can survive the stresses that were placed on it in 2020. It’s impossible to take for granted that the successful switch to remote workplaces can be successfully replicated again. That means investing in professionals now to ensure you have contingency plans in place, rather than having to resort to disaster mode should we ever face a similar challenge again in future. Not only that, but innovation in all areas of tech mean that you can provide a better experience for your customers. From more realistic digital decision-making processes to AI-powered chatbots on your website, digital solutions are offering the potential to deliver a better and more personalised service.
Of course, not every organisation has the budget to expand their IT department to embrace these changes, which is where re-skilling can really come into its own. Most cloud platforms have their own certification programs, allowing you to beef up your team without the costs involved in a traditional hire. Technical proficiencies can be taught, whereas the soft skills such as a desire to learn cannot, so having staff that are hungry to develop and improve could be a more valuable asset to your organisation than ever before. The demand for already-skilled professionals won’t go away—nor should you look solely at re-skilling to fuel your talent pipeline—but it’s a very effective fix that can also help your retention as people see true career development on offer.
Whichever way you look at it, the key thread that answers how technology will help the finance sector rebound from Covid-19 is people. From your employees to your customers, there are digital solutions that improve everyone’s experience when it comes to interacting with your organisation. The cloud will encompass all of this, and making sure your business is best-placed to attract the talent to drive that change will be the cornerstone of your success.
Dal Bamford is Chief Customer Officer of cloud talent specialists Tenth Revolution Group. The Oxford graduate has spent nearly two decades in the technology sector, helping senior leaders to transform the way their companies service customers.