At the beginning of 2021, Gartner published a report entitled 'Fill Finance's Skill Gaps'. According to contributor Rob van der Meulen, there's one area in particular that will shape the modern workplace for businesses in financial services:
" ...many finance functions lack the digital skills and competencies needed to fully exploit technology and automation. The culture of digital ‘haves and have-nots’ will deepen if finance leaders don’t address digital finance skill gaps."
That claim comes off the back of Gartner's prediction that just 40 percent of cloud financial management strategies will be successful over the next three years. With the fintech industry continuing to grow each year, financial service organisations that aren't digitally literate risk falling behind.
Here's why you should start thinking about your organisation's digital workplace sooner rather than later.
A stitch in time...
Regulatory compliance in the financial services industry may cause delays to digitisation. But as we’ve seen with other heavily-regulated industries (like healthcare, for instance), it’s likely that those hurdles will be navigated within the next few years. If the Gartner team is to be believed, that process is well underway.
If your business is prepared to take advantage of the significant flexibility and efficiency gains that come with a fully digital workspace, you'll be keeping up with your strongest competitors.
The clearer you are about your current loadout, the easier it will be to identify the areas that virtual desktop infrastructure/modern applications can improve. With that in mind:
Understand your baseline
In practice, preparing for that transition means examining your current environment. As the saying goes, you can't improve what you don't measure. Look at:
- The software you're currently using, and how much of it involves inflexible legacy platforms that are vulnerable to breaches.
- The points at which your security could be breached — do you need to address any customer-facing vulnerabilities?
- Whether or not your current stack adequately (and securely) serves a dispersed workforce.
- The licenses you're paying, and contracts your business has committed to.
- The adoption rate of your current technology stack. What are staff using, and what is unnecessary?
- Any opportunities to centralise and consolidate tools in your technology stack. A common example of 'doubling-up' involves paying for security software that your virtual desktop provider already provides.
That last point is particularly important when it comes to implementing a cost-effective digital toolset. The modern workplace is a consolidated one, with centralised security and maintenance to ease the burden on in-house IT teams.
That's arguably more important for the financial services industry than any other because security breaches and downtime can cost millions. Recent research suggests that finance was one of the industries that faced the greatest damages for downtime, with the average reaching $5 million an hour in some cases. If you're working with people on trade floors, that number could skyrocket.
The industry will no doubt respond to the exponential increase of cyberattacks in 2020 by looking for ways to gain as much oversight over the security of their digital environments as possible. Managing it all from one platform is one of the best ways to do exactly that.
Do your future self a favour
Put yourself in next year's shoes. What groundwork will you wish you had laid right now? What contracts and platforms will you wish you had mapped a transition away from?
The modern workplace for financial services will be a flexible, centralised, remote-ready one — if 2020 did nothing else, it made that fact abundantly clear. Don't just take it from us, or even from Gartner. Here's Jim Liddy, the Chairman of KPMG's Global Financial Services practice, on what financial services firms should prioritise post-COVID:
"Financial services firms are looking for ways to rapidly accelerate their digital transformation and cloud enablement roadmaps...the financial services markets of the future will largely be shaped by those firms that are able to anticipate tomorrow while delivering on the priorities of today.”
Create your roadmap today, and you'll join the ranks of those market leaders that Liddy envisions.