Don’t Break the Bank – how do banks work from home?

Posted on 03/04/2020 by vmwareemeasmt
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by Matthew O’Neill, Industry Managing Director, Advanced Technology Group, VMware Office of the CTO.

I don’t think there’s ever been a time when so many of us have seen such an upheaval in our way of life. Our current situation has forced lockdowns and self-isolation, with businesses moving quickly to protect employees and customers, and at the same time striving to continue operating. It’s a time of challenge marked increasingly by the ability of people to adapt.

While it would be easy to dwell on the negative stories making the headlines, we have been heartened by the positive stories, those of selfless acts, and the heroics of our front-line and key workers, a part of society that is often taken for granted, and mostly unable to work remotely due to the nature of the services they perform for us all.

Working for a tech company, and before that for a global bank in IT, I’m very fortunate to be able to work remotely. So, moving from occasionally working from home to that of being my new normal hasn’t been a significant shift, at least from the perspective of having the right kit for the job. In fact, since being at VMware, it is clear to me that the vast majority of our workforce has been able to move quickly into a fully remote organisation. Video conferencing and secure messaging services are the new de-facto way to have face-to-face meetings and catch-ups over coffee.  But of course, many businesses haven’t operated like that before – mostly for cultural and historical reasons, rather than technology. That’s why we thought it’d be worth looking at some of the challenges in our latest episode of ‘Don’t Break the Bank, Run IT and Change IT’ our podcast for curious minds in the Financial Services Industry. It’s not so much a Run vs Change issue right now, although that will undoubtedly follow; it’s all about adapting, protecting staff, delivering customer service and keeping their data safe while positioning now for the world to come.

Following the success of the first three episodes, we’re changing the format slightly – as well as a regular guest, I’ve enlisted the support of Brian Hayes, Financial Services Industry Lead for EMEA at VMware to join me as a co-host. We both have over thirty years of experience working in banking and banking IT. However, it’s safe to say we’ve never seen anything like this before.

For this next episode, we decided to focus on the current challenges facing financial services organisations, especially when also undertaking this radical shift to remote working. We connected with Rory Choudhuri, Solution Marketing Director for Cloud in EMEA for VMware. As it happened, while we’d already arranged to record the podcast, it turned out we were speaking the morning after the UK Prime Minister announced a national lock-down, a situation few would have imagined a couple of months before.

As Rory summed up, the feeling from the FS organisations we deal with was that they, like so many other businesses, are having to do what they normally do, but in a completely different setting; this, in turn, is driving urgent, pressing matters that have to be attended to. How do you continue to serve end customers when you can’t deal with them face-to-face? How do you enable employees to work remotely and, critically, securely? How do you ensure that customers that aren’t as comfortable with online or mobile banking aren’t left behind or exposed to the threat from those less scrupulous? Customers need to know that they, their money and their privacy are protected, in light of old, new and emerging threats. Most importantly, how do you answer all this in a situation that is changing almost hour by hour, and with a workforce that will undoubtedly be impacted by the virus directly?

It all points to a capacity issue, and an immediate requirement for more resource. But the other challenge banks and other FS providers are facing is how what they do will impact whatever the new normal is in the coming weeks and months. One of the points Brian makes is the difference between this pandemic and the last major global crisis – the 2008 financial crash. Back then, we had queues outside banks as people desperately tried to get hold of their money. Now, we don’t see that – there are many reasons for this, but one of the main ones is that much of our banking and money management has gone digital – if people have concerns about banks, they can move their money with a few clicks. It’s a bewildering time, and all we can do is focus on what we can control.

This podcast doesn’t have all the answers, but hopefully, it can suggest some guidance on how we can all continue to operate in the current situation.

As always, we welcome your thoughts on how you’re managing and any concerns you have. Please do let us know how you’re getting on.

Listen to episode four of ‘Don’t Break the Bank – Run IT, Change IT’ with Rory Choudhuri and subscribe for future episodes:


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