Many banks and financial service institutes are looking to deploy more digital strategies to stay relevant and competitive in today’s market. However, they first need to gain visibility into what’s in their ‘dark estate’ – or the areas of their IT environments where costly inefficiencies and poor end-user experiences hide.
By understanding the dark IT estate and its many blind spots, bank IT teams can help their organisations be more proactive, manage costs, and serve employees – and therefore customers – better. Explaining this further, we hear from Steve Dunnigan, VP EMEA, Lakeside Software, the digital fintech optimiser, following a recent webinar with Tesco, ABRDN and Lakeside.
What’s in the shadows: navigating the dark estate in the financial services industry
Financial service companies are implementing advanced technologies to streamline their operations, ensure compliance, and deliver better services. However, the resulting intricate IT infrastructure, comprising diverse applications, databases, interconnected systems and devices is obscuring issues within the IT estate, making it difficult for tech teams to pinpoint and address all manner of system failures.
Whether it is keeping abreast of the various apps that employees use and their efficiency or understanding device performance, it is easier said than done without full visibility of the entire IT environment.
Moderated by Jon Oglesby, customer strategy and delivery architect at Lakeside Software, a recent online event hosted Mark Wayt from the strategy, architecture and innovation team at Tesco Bank and Marcus McCran, head of end-user services at ABRDN; they explored how and why the financial sector must get a handle on IT visibility and move toward proactive IT.
A new system is needed
Financial institutions can’t solve for what they can’t see in their ‘dark estate’, meaning the hidden areas in their IT environment. For instance, crashing apps, slow load times, and poorly performing devices often go unreported by frustrated employees who instead ‘suffer in silence’ and lose valuable work time.
Additionally, under-provisioned devices can cause long processing times and delays in productivity while over-provisioned hardware translates into costly resource waste. Plus, unused software licences can quickly add up across large IT estates.
No longer is it financially viable to deploy the defunct ticketing systems that form part of outmoded reactive IT models. Many employees get frustrated, queuing and waiting for fixes. Likewise, assessing software licences once a year or replacing all devices automatically every five to six years can have a poor business impact.
However, through better IT visibility, teams can quickly detect and fix issues before they occur, so (re)building positive dialogue between employees and IT departments.
Importance of employee device battery performances
Mark Wayt explored how gaining an overview into employees’ device battery performance meant that IT teams could proactively extend the life of underperforming devices, boosting employee productivity and providing a better experience. Sweating assets such as laptops and replacing only underperforming parts avoids costly hardware replacements. All while employees feel that their firm is looking out for them.
Integrations between technologies like ServiceNow and SysTrack provide the necessary granular level of detail to support changes.
Wayt explained: “We can use that data to make smarter decisions. When do we replace devices but also how can we improve the experience for our own end users? We ran the battery analysis on all our end points and found that the batteries of 70 devices gave our colleagues less than a 40% charge. We can go to the SI and ask them to reach out to these 70 people and find out if they want the battery replaced under warranty. Now they get a call from IT that says we think your laptop is not performing and suddenly it delights them.”
Essential cost savings
Replacing or fixing components on company devices instead of automatically replacing entire devices delivers vital cost savings and is also a more environmentally sustainable way to manage IT estates. Feeling looked after in turn has a positive impact on employee satisfaction and staff retention.
This same philosophy can be extended into software. Often organisations will purchase software licences in bulk and have little insight into who is actually using what. With a detailed picture of an IT estate, it suddenly becomes easy to identify this software bloat and related costs. For example; a global bank recently saved $4.8million in just 12 months by shedding more than 66,000 unused software licences.
Another EMEA-based financial services firm with more than 50,000 employees removed unused software to uncover a cost-saving opportunity of more than $4.3million.
It’s clear that ‘right-sizing’ software, also known as ‘profile management’, will yield measurable returns. With hard metrics on employee usage (or non-usage) of software and hardware, or data related to groups of users, resources can be configured to be more efficient and cost-effective. It’s important to note that usage data is related to software or apps being used on the endpoint device itself (not to actual user content).
Improving digital employee experience scores
But insights into hardware and software usage is not the only benefit of IT visibility. Marcus McCran explored how to turn reactive into proactive IT using telemetry and how this in turn improves digital employee experience (DEX) scores.
DEX is how employees perceive, interact, and engage with the technology they need to get their work done. To raise the bar, McCran said: “it’s recognising that it’s a journey that you can’t necessarily overcome overnight.” For success, he believes a weekly user experience group is key to determining how to increase data presented to the service desk and other relevant teams and how to use data in identifying blind spots and performance through major projects, such as Windows migrations.
Wayt also agreed that a culture change is required, and working closely with HR and communications teams can help to recognise the tech initiatives that will delight end-users.
Shifting from traditional support to improved digital employee experience requires preset ideas to be challenged and is reliant on enhanced end-user monitoring technology, which Wayt explained: “[The tool] has to be embedded front and centre into everything you do. The more you embed it into the operations, the more buy-in you get from different teams, the more likely you are in succeeding.”
Proactive IT and improved digital employee experience are the only ways to address the constantly moving tech landscape in the fast-paced and competitive financial services vertical. It is vital to proactively address and resolve tech-related issues to ensure uninterrupted business operations and productivity. Here, data holds the key and provides immense value.
Both Tesco Bank and ABRDN are using it to build better platforms, understand how new technology implementations impact users, rightsize their operations and throw some light on ‘dark estates’.