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Just one month into 2021 and there is no doubt it is going to be another year of continued disruption. Financial companies have been going hell for leather for the past year to meet new changes in customer needs and behaviours, and this pace of innovation is set to continue.
For some, these innovations will have been in the digital transformation roadmap for a long time, and the pandemic was simply the catalyst to kick them into motion. Others however, will have been quick fixes, often delivered by IT teams under enormous pressure and in record time.
As we embark on another bumpy road ahead, financial institutions need to take stock and solidify new ways of working, while ensuring they are responsive and resilient to the ever-changing business environment.
Moving to a low or no code methodology helps an organisation address the everyday tactical challenges that arise in a fast-moving business environment. Let’s look at the example of a team that has yet to invest in low or no code solutions. They might be using an older, incumbent piece of legacy software, where only one or two developers internally know the tool. When a tactical requirement arises – say, a change to an existing process or workflow – it goes into a backlog until one of the developers who is familiar with the legacy software has availability to custom code a solution. Immediately, there’s a bottleneck in the business.
Contrast this with a low to no code environment, where these sorts of integrations are ‘plug and play’, often using pre-built templates. Updates and integrations can be managed by business analysts as well as any developer so tactical requirements end up being shipped much faster. And we see how that trickles down through the entire organisation. In the financial services, this is mission critical because there’s a high dependency on delivering on the promised customer experience and maintaining customer confidence. People often ask me when’s the right time for them to invest in low code. My answer is assume you need low code solutions, don’t wait for red flags in the business.
Oftentimes, IT teams will respond to a red flag in the business with a quick fix – something which typically incurs an amount of technical debt. A bit of custom code or a work-around process which an individual on the team hacks together, usually under pressure of time. And, in a team without a low code culture, this can seem a reasonable way forward. But in six months’ time, when that employee leaves, the knowledge about that fix leaves too. Suddenly there’s a black box in the business which now needs ever more quick fixes to work around, accruing yet more technical debt.
At Jitterbit, we recently onboarded a new customer from the financial services. It’s a challenger bank where this kind of hidden technical debt suddenly became apparent during the pandemic’s first lockdown. Calls to their call centre increased and it transpired that several ‘fixes’ in the business could not scale to meet demand. The technical debt they’d accrued over time had to be paid back immediately and without warning.
Organisations in the financial services are, in the main, on board with the need to become more vendor neutral. Contrast that to ten years ago, when CTOs wanted monolithic partners who could provide hardware, software and services in order to remove the integration complexity of having multiple vendors in play.
In a sense, the monolithic approach did the job. But in return for greater operating simplicity, buyers had to accept a “middle of the road” type standard of tools and services – and less ability to respond quickly to changes in their business environment. With the rise of integration platforms and pre-built templates, CTOs today no longer have to make a choice between the quality of their solutions and the complexity of managing them. Integration platforms are like a connective layer on which to build. Having this foundation means it’s simple to integrate multiple best-of-breed vendors and manage hundreds, even thousands, of API connectors. This is the key for any financial organisation wanting to stay competitive, responsive to customer needs and resilient to change.
The way we work is changing. Increasingly, organisations are realising that to stay competitive, any task within the business that could be automated should be automated. This creates significant new efficiency gains within the business while at the same time liberating people to focus on more innovative or customer-orientated tasks. Being able to deploy ever greater automation requires the right technology foundations within a business.
At its heart, hyperautomation is about data and removing manual processes in the way an organisation gathers, analyses and deploys data. Every hyperautomation tool box will therefore need to include Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions which enable the automatic processing of data. Data Lakes, Data Integration Hubs and Virtual Data Warehouses will help organisations store and process data into information. Analytic tools will allow information to be turned into knowledge, ready for action at every level of the business.
By coupling these technologies with an integration platform-as-a-service, technology leads within financial organisations can focus on choosing the best-of-breed suppliers for their particular needs rather than how they need to be integrated. Hyperautomation now makes a 360 degree view of the whole business not only possible, but requisite. Much like the move to digital 25 years ago, the companies that embrace hyperautomation first will be at a distinct ‘first mover’ advantage, seizing a vantage point which could prove hard for competitors to assail.