Sharryn Napier, Regional Vice President for Australia and New Zealand at New Relic
Australia going back into a series of snap lockdowns is a sharp reminder that we’re never going back to the way things were. Remote working is here to stay, which is good news for the 94% of Australians who want to continue doing so for at least one day a week, according to a recent survey from Employment Hero.
When it comes to enabling a remote workforce, the financial services sector has done relatively better than others. According to KPMG, banks generally managed the mass transition to remote working in a highly effective way. Some staff carried on manning branches, and small teams of key personnel maintained a presence in offices for vital functions. So, what are the enablers to supporting successful hybrid work?
1. Redesigning systems and infrastructure
Banks traditionally aren't designed around the concept of remote working. Regulatory compliance, monitoring and security have all been obstacles to a distributed workforce. Much needs to be done from an infrastructure perspective to support the shift to remote working. This means a move to the cloud, investing in collaboration platforms and unified communications, and providing tech teams with tools that give them oversight and enable them to manage remote systems and a distributed workforce.
In addition, legacy platforms that traditionally worked in an on-premises setting today pose unnecessary roadblocks to financial institutions. They need to rapidly digitally transform to fully reap the benefits of hybrid- and multi-cloud environments.
The pandemic has forced banks to rethink their historic investments in technology that aren’t built to scale, and struggle to dynamically manage the new complexities of modern technology architectures and applications.
By moving away from legacy systems and leveraging cloud technology to support work from anywhere, banks can provide their employees with greater autonomy, while ensuring security, productivity, and seamless communication.
2. Creating a secure workspace for remote workers
Cyber-crime continues to rise, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and vulnerable remote workers located outside of office networks. ANZ CEO Mark Whelan has said that ANZ alone sees eight to ten million cyber-attacks every day, and that the situation is likely similar for other Australian banks. As well as investing in technology, the bank also carries out extensive education for staff and customers, and even runs phishing tests.
Legacy security services such as VPNs are vulnerable targets for cyber breaches, and best of breed security protocols need to be implemented so that remote working is as secure as possible, while also enabling people to work as seamlessly as possible. Robust "cyber hygiene" policies must also be in place.
3. Leveraging the cloud
As banking networks become more complex, it has become much harder for tech teams to identify issues. Data silos, with inaccessible data, as well as an overload of irrelevant data, are both problems. They prevent tech teams from getting the visibility they need to manage and maintain systems. Having to support a distributed workforce, and using a wide range of devices and access points provides another layer of complexity.
What tech teams need are cloud-based tools and platforms, accessible from anywhere, that provide them with better visibility into the systems they are managing. Technologies such as machine learning and AIOps promote real-time visibility across the entire technology stack. They also help detect, contain, and fix problems earlier, including some forms of cyber-attack.
For many financial services organisations, remote working is challenging. It requires a major shift in mindset and a rethink of workflows and resources. It means investment in training, technology, and security. But according to McKinsey & Company, finance, management, professional services and information technology have the highest potential for remote work, with three-quarters of time spent on activities that can be done remotely without a loss of productivity. For banks who need to drive continued efficiencies while improving services, effective hybrid working is the future.
Sharryn Napier is the Regional Vice President for Australia and New Zealand at New Relic. With over 20 years of experience in the IT industry, she has worked in senior leadership roles at Qlik, Serena Software and CA Technologies.