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Banking’s IT Pain Points


I was sitting through a vendor presentation when a slide popped up titled: “Industry Pain Points.” It was an interesting take on the banking industry’s challenges with technology. The slide was divided into four sections, the first of which talked about the challenges of managing technology effectively. The issues here relate to:

  •  increasing total cost of ownership;
  • an uncontrollable number of new applications;
  • applications become inefficient and obsolete more rapidly over time;
  • returns on investment are not delivered as promised;
  • too many companies providing too many solutions at different price points, making it  difficult to compare apples with apples.

The technologies are a challenge:

  • too many platforms, applications and technologies that are legacy;
  • too many systems that are not integrated or web-capable;
  • too many applications that are too tightly integrated to be able to unravel them;
  • new technologies disrupting the existing infrastructures;
  • existing applications that have become unstable, unsupported or unusable.

The technology processes are a problem:

  • challenges to comply with new regulations;
  • processes that are unique and cannot be standardised;
  • processes that should be complied with but suffer from low adherence to the flow or rules;
  • lengthy time-to-market;
  • process performance failure and inefficiencies.

Finally, the human talent pool is a barrier:

  • a reducing pool of expertise in specific areas;
  • lack of in-depth knowledge of product, process, domain or system;
  • issues with utilisation and productivity of staff;
  • attrition rates increasing;
  • difficulty in getting best practices shared;
  • increasing costs of gaining and retaining good people;
  • too much dependency on core staff.

The list here is not exhaustive, but represents the key things highlighted during the presentation. At this point, I did ask myself: why do we bother? Why would a bank bother with all this pain? Isn’t it all too difficult? Are banks banks, or are they technology firms? And yes, I know some banks technology departments are bigger than Microsoft, but should they be? (The answer to this one is yes, by the way.)

I then realised the answer to the question: outsource! Of course, it is. And guess what? The vendor doing the pitch is an outsourcing company.

Oh, good move …

Mr. Skinner is chairman of the Financial Services Club, CEO of Balatro Ltd. and comments on the financial markets through his blog the Finanser. He can be reached at [email protected].