The digital revolution is affecting every industry — but perhaps none more than financial services. Banks, credit unions and others in the industry are under intense pressure to provide elegantly designed, mobile-friendly network access that’s available 24/7 to both customers and employees. They aren’t willing to be restrained by the 9-to-5 workday.
Banks work hard to deliver modern customer experiences. But what about a modern work experience for their employees? While this side of the digital revolution gets less attention than digital banking and the development of new mobile applications, worker experience might be equally important to the success of a financial services company.
“Efficiency and organizational leverage are key concerns for banks right now,” says Peter Hazou, director of business development for financial services at Microsoft. “Banks need to reduce costs on one hand and support workers in their high-value activities on the other. An efficient, connected organization is essential to meeting those goals, and that entails a shift from the siloed model that has traditionally characterized the way many banks work. Now, we’re seeing banks moving toward a more fluid, networked environment that empowers each worker to connect with the people and resources they need so they can deliver new value and connected experiences.”
Vital Requirements for Digital Workspace in Financial Services
This connected environment is even more important for organizations whose workforces have always been distributed at branches. What I find is that banks and credit unions that have the most effective digital workspaces tend to have a few high-level elements in common:
- Employee experience is central. Building a digital workspace means not simply keeping workers in mind but making employee experience central to the process. Anything else risks that employees will fail to adopt the collaboration and security solutions necessary for a modern work experience. Consider the devices and form factors employees use throughout the day and the locations from which they need to work.
- All applications are supported. Financial services employees work in a wide range of business applications throughout the day, including many legacy programs that haven’t been updated and internally developed apps that serve a unique purpose. Regardless, employees need the ability to access all the tools they use on whatever device they need.
- Devices are managed securely. Whether employees are using their own or company-issued devices — and whether they’re working in a branch, corporate office or on the road — it’s imperative to leverage modern device management to protect your network across all endpoints and locations.
Make Sure the Right Network Infrastructure Is in Place
Because of the unique nature of financial services, where customer experiences are delivered both digitally and in person through distributed branch locations, it’s crucial to ensure the right physical infrastructure is in place at each location. And in financial services, if network access is slow, connections are balky, and applications are nonresponsive, it isn’t just employees who are affected; those employees often have frustrated customers and prospects sitting right in front of them.
That’s why the right infrastructure is essential. There are three areas where the right tools must be implemented to support this modern workspace:
- The latest Ethernet switches. The digital workplace breaks down communication barriers by allowing collaboration tools — video and voice conferencing, interoffice messaging — to better connect employees. But with so many devices vying for attention on a single network, the right high-speed Ethernet gigabit switches are critical when directing the bandwidth of your network connection to so many devices.
- High-speed Wi-Fi and WANs. With employees located far and wide, a wireless bridge can also better expand your connectivity to employees in remote locations. For banks and credit unions, access to both a wireless bridge and software-defined WAN devices keeps consumers, cloud services, headquarters and smaller branches communicating.
- Improved physical security. In financial services, physical security technology is a crucial element of a digital workspace. Yet many banks’ legacy security camera systems are slow, siloed and costly. Next-generation surveillance cameras and access control systems connect video surveillance, access control and incident response on a single network, supporting access to video anytime, from any location (plus video analytics and more).
The digital workspace means different things in different industries. Banks, credit unions and other financial services with distributed workforces and branch locations have some unique requirements when it comes to building optimal digital workspaces. But by deploying the right mix of technologies with the help of a trusted adviser, they can deliver a truly modern experience for employees and customers alike.