Guest post by Tom Moxon, Head of Resourcing Services, IT Alliance
Technology systems across all industries are in a process of transformation, with cloud playing a major and disruptive role. Organisations are rethinking their investment in IT Infrastructure to prepare for the future. In turn, new approaches require IT professionals with highly specialised skills and experience, creating an obstacle for many companies.
For example, financial institutions across the board are heavily investing in upgrading their customer facing platforms and IT infrastructure, with cloud strategy playing a significant role and Platform as a Service (PaaS) systems (such as Azure and AWS) providing a crucial, stable platform to support online customer engagement.
In this scenario, banks are working their way through the challenges of making traditionally in-branch services purely digital. While some processes – like setting up a current account – can be done entirely through digital portals, others – such as processing mortgage applications – are still quite manual and require hard copy documentation.
In order to drive their business strategy and enable successful transformation, such organisations must overcome these obstacles and facilitate automation. This will rely on a combination of the right technology and talent.
Coping with the complex
Sticking with the financial sector as an example, to take services to the next level, applications such as digital wallets, instant payments and SEPA transfers require complex, secure digital infrastructure. Similarly, Open Banking resources such as APIs (Application Programming Interface) and PSD2 (the revised Payment Service Directive) can make online banking more accessible and safe, but they involve transitions which must meet stringent security and privacy requirements.
The digital transformation projects required to bring processes entirely online require comprehensive governance and skilled IT professionals who have experience in designing them. IT architecture must also be designed and future-proofed in a way that will allow organisations to scale successfully going forward.
At the moment, there is a severe shortage of IT professionals with the necessary skills to support these projects. But that can’t stall innovation and transformation. Companies need to turn their focus elsewhere and beyond their four walls, working with consultants and contractors with the necessary experience and developed skills. This will allow them to create a distinct advantage and be effective in their digital – and business – objectives. This can also provide them more flexibility in terms of how long they engage with such specialists and control over their costs.
Tackling the talent gap
Looking to the future, any investment made today should also deliver long-term value for the organisation. That means the ability to scale and secure business by investing in people as well as technologies. In many financial institutions, in-house professionals are experienced in using legacy systems. They do not necessarily have the skills to support new digital transformation projects, but upskilling and retaining can address this gap.
Consultants and contractors again can provide support here and during transition periods, when in-house IT departments get up to speed with new applications and processes. Even during times of uncertainty and recession, when headcounts are often frozen, many institutions can benefit from engaging expert IT professionals on a contract basis with experience in the relevant areas to support the delivery of business-critical projects and the integration of new applications with older systems. In the same vein, spending now on training internal teams can deliver longer-term value for challenging times when innovation is ever more important.
While these projects can be complex and often costly, businesses need to take the leap and invest in the technologies and processes that will ultimately increase their efficiency, security, performance and service delivery. They must also invest in people, both inside and outside of the organisation, if these projects are to prove effective and successful. Those organisations that carry out these transformations now, with clear and comprehensive strategies, will be well placed in an ever-changing business landscape.
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