Banking IT Insights for 2021

In an article recently published by Deloitte in which banking industry leaders shared how they’ll leverage COVID-19 lessons for business transformation in the coming year, IT was a primary theme.

“While institutions that made strategic investments in technology came out stronger, laggards may still be able to leapfrog competitors if they take swift action to accelerate tech modernization.”

The experts predict that advanced technology will be at the heart of everything banks do. If this is true, then a strong IT infrastructure will be the framework that keeps that heart beating. Want to get granular? Here’s what will make up the anatomy of successful banking technology in 2021.

Virtual Operation Models

Like most industries, COVID-19 inflicted enormous stress on banks’ operations. But, according to Deloitte, the relatively smooth transition to a new virtual operating model is a testament to years of preparation and regulators’ attention on operational resilience. Avatara client, Jaimie McKeen of Fortune Bank, can attest to this.

“One of the biggest challenges during the pandemic was ensuring everyone was set up to work from home securely,” McKeen shared. “We had to make sure every data security protocol that is followed in the office was also followed remotely—which we were able to do thanks to our CompleteCloud remote desktops that use multi-factor authentication (MFA).”

Because Fortune Bank had proactively invested in technology that prioritized productivity, security, and compliance, they were much better prepared when tragedy struck. Click here to read more about why Fortune Bank switched to CompleteCloud several years ago and the outcomes they’ve seen.

Cloud Capabilities

Deloitte states that until now, cloud migration efforts were predominantly focused on cost reduction, modernizing the technology stack, and more recently, virtualizing the workforce. But the real promise of cloud may lie in enabling banks to reimagine business models, foster agility, achieve scale, and drive innovation. Scale, in particular, could become more critical than ever as profitability pressure will put costs into greater focus. Avatara is seeing this trend firsthand as more financial institutions show interest in the CompleteCloud Platform which is built to scale as businesses grow, compliance becomes more cumbersome, and needs evolve.

Banks that thrive in the coming year will be those who explore how private cloud technologies can simultaneously contribute to significant cost savings, while also helping increase speed, improve accuracy, and provide scalability.

Productivity and Collaboration

Whether IT is being leveraged from the traditional bank environment or virtually, the leaders surveyed by Deloitte made it clear that improving productivity and collaboration are important strategic goals.

“[Technology] should play a fundamental role in improving productivity in a virtual environment…creating flexible teams, sharing knowledge, making information flows efficient, and promoting new forms of collaboration across the organization.”

It’s important to remember, however, that choosing the right collaboration tools is critical when it comes to staying secure. The more external applications your company uses, the higher your risk of cyberattack. For example, of ransomware attacks on SaaS applications in 2020, Microsoft, Dropbox, and Google Workspace were hit the hardest. Organizations that work entirely within a secure private infrastructure are better protected. That’s why Avatara is constantly innovating to ensure all productivity and collaboration tools a team could need are available directly within CompleteCloud.

Speaking of Cybersecurity…

The pandemic created a perfect storm for cybercriminals and has tested the cyber resilience of banks. Although much progress has been made, the threat volume, velocity, and variability continue to accelerate. Deloitte’s advice:

“In strengthening cyber resilience, banks should both adopt more effective preventative controls as well as prepare for rapid recovery from adverse events caused by malware, ransomware, and other pernicious attacks. Additionally, to get ahead of emerging problems, banks should take a security-by-design approach, weaving cybersecurity requirements into all aspects of their digital architecture.”

More specifically, in a recent Deloitte-FS-ISAC benchmarking survey, access control, data security, and detection processes were highlighted as the top investment priorities for financial institutions. At the same time, the uncertain macroeconomic picture puts the focus on maintaining/enhancing cyber defense capabilities at stable or lower budgets, forcing more intense prioritization. Especially for smaller institutions, outsourcing a secure IT infrastructure within a predictable per user per month pricing model is becoming more appealing.

Trusted Partners

As our world becomes more digital, bank industry leaders are forced to wear more hats. Successful leaders will find trusted advisors and vendors to help them determine how far, how deep, and how wide IT transformation should go to achieve long-term goals. Deciding how much change is needed, and what the role of business technology is in this transformation, are important strategic questions to address. Not sure where to begin? We’re here to help.

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