It’s been a long-held belief that technology has the potential to kickstart growth, particularly within financial institutions. Up to 98 percent of annual reports mention ‘digital,’ and investors themselves believe that tech is vital for their investment choices.

Somewhat intriguingly, stakeholders remain convinced of the power of tech, but yet it’s still difficult to find performance improvements generated by digital projects. It could even be suggested that tech is dying a slow death.

 

What are the priorities for companies?

Bosses invariably want to focus on the future, but recognise that there needs to be revenue improvement in the short term. If a tech programme delivers, it’s because a compromise has been reached between the two.

Without that balance, the projects are doomed to failure, particularly if the focus is so short term.

Companies that are successful in their roll-out of tech projects are those who have a technical leader on the board. If you take the top 10 UK banks as an example, there’s an absence of those who have digital, deep IT and tech experience.

At least by having a board member with the requisite acumen, they can impart their know-how and experience to ensure seamless transitions and delivery. A collaborative environment across the company follows as a result. Indeed, a CIO who has influence only within a tech team is a wasted asset.

Take banks that want to introduce a fancy app for customers, but have missed one vital detail: how to migrate their customers from an old system onto the new one.

There’s the excitement around the development of a new product, but what’s needed at the very end (data migration or scalability) is often forgotten about.

 

Where should the focus be?

Leaders need to ensure their tech teams focus on what makes a real difference to the project’s main objectives, such as security and reliability, and know what it takes to move from development to testing to launch.

Technology is changing so rapidly these days, that committing to a large platform will only leave business’ behind the times again in another five or 10 years. A modular system that cherry-picks the best components available is a much more preferable option.

That will likely require a new approach where every component and link needs to be efficiently tested. In addition to resilience testing, which ensures applications provide an acceptable service level under real-life conditions like an attempted cyberattack, modular systems also need chaos testing. This is where components are deliberately disabled to see how the rest of the system responds.

The challenge isn’t over once the project has finished. Productivity benefits from most technology projects only come once old systems are decommissioned and staff are freed up from manual tasks to more value-adding activities.

Financial institutions must continue to assess whether a project’s outputs remain fit-for-purpose as technology and their needs change.

After the launch of a customer-facing tech project, it’s time to create a programme of improvements and new features based on user feedback. This can be collected via interviews, social listening and the insights generated by the new systems.