February 2014 Archives

T-Systems UK wants its identity as network becomes king

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I met up with the new UK head and the outgoing head at T-Systems today to get a bit of an update.

Sam Kingston leaves T-Systems today and is taking on the role of COO at Ukraine based software services supplier, Ciklum. I will give a bit more detail about Ciklum later but will focus on T-Systems UK for now.

Casper Malig has taken over as UK managing director and it was interesting to hear his ideas. Another former EDS worker you won't be surprised to hear.

I think current trends such as cloud, collaboration and the internet of things all present opportunities to T-Systems. But it seems the company lacks an identity in the UK, despite having some very big customers.

T-Systems UK perhaps suffers because it is a small part of a huge German institution in Deutsche Telekom. It gets drowned a bit by its German counterparts and the UK business is also misrepresented because of its much bigger more extensive continental European operations.

He told me that he wants to let the UK market know exactly what T-Systems is because the perception is sometimes that it is an end to end IT services provider, due to its German business, when in fact it is very specialised in the UK.

He said it is focused on 4 areas, with networking services wrapped around them all. These four are cloud infrastructure; dynamic (on demand in the cloud) SAP; collaboration in the cloud with Office 365; and what it calls the "dynamic workplace" with desktop virtualisation.

"I think we have confused the market. Being part of a big group has put us up against everyone but we are actually very specialist," said Malig. He said in the UK he would describe the company as a specialist in cloud services.

It is a service provider that will help businesses take advantages of cloud technology. Malig said that businesses can plug into all sorts of cloud services but someone has to manage things like security and make sure it integrates to other systems.

The company has about 1000 staff in the UK with customers ranging from the likes of oil giant BP and EE to the Caravan Club. This I find interesting because only a specialist supplier operating in the cloud services arena could really have such a difference in customers. Most large outsourcers wouldn't look at small customers while small broad based services providers could not get into big customers.

If customers are paying for services as they use them per user, then the unit cost to the supplier, with a cloud infrastructure, is the same, therefore a user at a small company is as valuable as a user at a big company.

Another area that T-Systems is equipped for is the increase in the use of internet connected smart devices. In Germany it already has 10,000 connected cars that are internet connected and feed information to users and manufacturers.

It has some interesting tele-health services also. For example it created a pilot of a portal for diabetics to keep in contact with doctors. Rather than constantly visit medics to be checked out, patients can do the tests themselves using a device connected to a smartphone and send data to doctors. The doctors can monitor patients remotely and provide assistance to those that need it.

T-Systems UK is trying to get some of its offerings in the next iteration of the Government's G Cloud.

As for Sam Kingston, another former EDS executive, he will soon move to Kiev believe it or not. He is the new COO at Ciklum. A software services provider that does a wide range of stiff from SAP to Agile. It has a £100,000 turnover and employs 3000 people in nearshore and offshore locations.

Are ICT companies perfectly positioned to become banks?

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I have been writing quite extensively recently about how traditional banks are in trouble. They are unpopular and their IT estates are out of date. In this article I wrote recently a contact said if services such as PayPal, eBay, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter moved into banking, they would attract customers. Their systems already contain details about people and businesses and handle transactions and money.

Organisations in the telecoms sector are another potential for banking services.

Here is a guest blog on the subject from Pat Carroll, cybercrime expert and CEO of security technology company ValidSoft.

Why telecoms companies are poised to up the banking game

By Pat Carroll

"It's no secret that the telecoms industry has its sights set on the banking sector; it's an attractive proposition given the global shift towards a more digital approach to banking. Just recently, Canadian telco company 'Rogers' filed for a banking license so that it can issue its own credit cards and mobile wallets to its nine million-strong customer base . Rogers is also contemplating offering discounted monthly phone bills in return for use of its mobile wallet feature - nice touch! Similarly, Thai telco 'Tot' is developing a mobile based point-of-sale device. Just two examples of how telecoms companies are leveraging the mobile device to rise to the opportunities in the banking sector.

It's clear that the smartphone is already well on the way to becoming a primary device for payments - indeed 1 in 3 people are expected to do all their banking through a mobile device by 2020. However, success in this market will rely on solutions that are functionally rich, secure and above all, intuitive in terms of the consumer experience.

In the developing world, electronic exchange between mobile devices is already the primary means by which banking can take place. This is clear evidence of how telcos can successfully diversify, and an obvious expansion route for the future. The "last mile" has always the most difficult to conquer, and the operators are already in possession of this crucial delivery channel. Disintermediation will be rife and you can bet your bottom dollar that we haven't heard the last of how the mobile financial sector will eventually shape up.

Whilst functionality will dictate the order of play, trust will be the delineating factor. Expect that the fraudsters will concentrate their efforts on infiltration of this key channel, so maintaining trust against such adversity will be crucial. Reputations in this new, massive channel will be won and lost quickly. Studies show that customers already trust their telco/ mobile operator, but this needs to move up a notch or two as the telco companies seek to establish their credentials in financial services. Industry collaboration stands to help here, especially to tackle fraud, which is one of the main industry issues standing in the way of greater consumer trust.   Industry bodies such as the Telecommunication UK Fraud Forum (TUFF), for example, are proving effective means of intelligence sharing, advising telcos to take a strong approach to security to meet consumer demand for fraud prevention.

Fraudsters target the weakest point in any payments process and they will see the movement of telecoms operators into this space as an opportunity to commit large scale fraud. The recent coverage of SimSwap fraud is just one such an example of how fraudsters have taken advantage of the discrepancy in security between banks and telcos.

Whether its telcos or banks that take control of the digital banking space the key will be to ensure security is up to scratch, and reassure consumers that appropriate measures are in place to prevent fraud across the industry.  By taking a layered approach to security, incorporating a number of different checks based on the risk associated with the transaction,  a solution can be achieved that offers very strong protection yet a totally intuitive and privacy sensitive customer experience. Rather than a cumbersome process of using passwords or tokens, security needs to be based on the smartphone and will likely include voice biometrics, so that customers can use their voice to authenticate and  secure a mobile payment.

If telcos take advantage of the digital banking opportunity in the right way, they are well placed to hold significant market share in the new e-banking world. I look forward to seeing what developments 2014 will bring."

Indian IT firms create more jobs in US than IBM

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I read this article recently and thought it quite interesting. It is from last July so not really hot-off-the-press, but worth noting.

Indian IT services forms are constantly criticised for taking the jobs of local workers in economies such as the US and UK. I don't doubt these claims, but when you read that Indian IT services firms have created more local jobs in the US over the last seven years than IBM it makes you think.

According to research from JP Morgan IBM created 138,000 jobs in the seven year period but they were all outside the US. In contrast Indian IT services firms created almost 40,000 jobs in the US.

I wrote an article back in 2010  about how IBM was considering reducing its workforce significantly. In fact a senior IBM executive at the time told Computer Weekly's sister publication at the time, Personnel Today, that it could reduce its workforce from 399,000 (in 2010) today to 100,000 in 2017.  The executive said IBM would re-hire the workers as contractors for specific projects and, when necessary, use crowd sourcing. IBM denied this and hasn't really started doing this, but it is the type of thing being discussed.

Combine this with the propensity of IBM and other IT giants to increase their offshore workforce and it might become the norm for Indian companies trying to increase local footprints in the US and UK, to employ more than local suppliers.

Banks get nervy about their Kiev based services

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The political unrest in in the Ukraine is beginning to worry major UK banks that have work carried out in the Easter European country.

I was chatting to a contact who works in banking IT and he told me that although there have not been any disasters banks are a bit nervous.

He said: "I hear whispers that some banks are getting nervous / suffering from the Kiev disruption. No serious issues or outages yet but I would say it's on the cards. Some firms only have development out there, others have some prod support. I hear some workers are having to rely on remote access and resilience is reduced."

The Financial Conduct Authority said it is the bank is responsible for the outsourced service providers, so if problems arise the banks will need a plan to act on.

Nearshore locations such as Ukraine are often seen as safer options than farshore locations, with close proximity, the abundance of IT skills and perceived political stability seen as a benefit. The attacks in Mumbai in 2008 made people look at their offshoring policies, but it didn't scare them off. The Ukraine will now face similar scrutiny.

IT services firms not focussed on revenue numbers

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IT services providers not focussed on maximising revenue or growing deal sizes. Whatever next? John Keppel president Northern Europe at Information Services Group explains in this guest blog.

Outsourcing profit margins will trump deal size

By John Keppel

"Service providers are no longer focused on maximising revenue from, or growing the size of each deal and the focus is moving towards the improvement of profit margins.

The traditional approach

Traditionally, service providers have delivered services to conform to the client's way of doing things, even if this is inefficient. The "customer is always right" mentality comes into play here and for the provider, it is more important to keep the client happy - the primary goal is to retain or grow the contract rather than simply to streamline processes.

Up to a point, this model works for both sides. Clients inherently will experience some savings, because service providers are good at what they do. Providers, meanwhile, are able to grow revenue by delivering more and more resources to meet the client's increasingly complex and customised needs.

A shift in dynamics

However, this traditional approach is rapidly changing, since standard service delivery models are fundamentally transforming the nature of IT outsourcing relationships. Specifically, clients and providers are beginning to recognise the benefits of using standardised processes for IT service delivery and of taking a collaborative approach. Clients are also acknowledging that their way of doing things isn't necessarily right, and that they can achieve significant savings by implementing "vanilla" processes across business units.

This shift is hugely significant as it disrupts the traditional outsourcing model, with clients no longer dictating terms to a service provider who then customises service delivery on a per-client basis. Instead, clients are becoming more aware of the benefits of process optimisation and why this is more valuable than just reducing short-term costs. Consequently, the onus of delivering savings lies no longer solely with the service provider.

As a result of this, service providers are no longer focused on maximising revenue or growing the size of each deal (by adding more people to run inefficient operations). Today, the priority is shifting to improving profit margins. While it may seem counter-intuitive, providers are embracing the concept of standard services, as it gives them greater control to leverage economies of scale across multiple clients and to demonstrate their expertise in delivering services efficiently.

Pace of change

When we started talking about this trend a few years ago, sceptics argued that this was the stuff of ivory tower theory, and that providers would never accept shrinking revenue. Today, in the real world, we're increasingly seeing providers move toward this higher margin/lower revenue model. Some recognise the inherent benefits and are leading the charge, while others are grudgingly responding to competitive pressure.
This year, we expect the pace of change to accelerate as social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies enter the mainstream, and as operational transformation increasingly becomes the rule rather than the exception.

Technology and outsourcing

Automation is also playing a key role in revolutionising the traditional model.   While traditional outsourcing derived cost efficiencies through labour arbitrage and moving jobs to low-cost labour centres, today's emerging model employs labour automation largely to remove wages from the equation altogether.

We are already witnessing the integration of discrete automated solutions in a wide range of functions, such as help desk and infrastructure support, as well as in a variety of sectors. For example, consider how x-rays are reviewed. Currently, U.S.-based radiologists ship digital x-ray images offshore to be read by Indian doctors who conduct a preliminary evaluation and send the results back. This division of labour produces savings in two ways - first, by allowing the initial evaluation to be conducted by a lower-cost resource, and second, by making the U.S.-based radiologist more productive. Today, automated software tools are increasingly being deployed to evaluate x-rays and automatically generate reports, thereby bypassing the step of the initial human review. The result: higher productivity (the automated tools read x-rays much faster than the Indian doctor) at lower cost (after the initial investment, the tools don't have to be paid).

Needless to say, these developments further undermine the traditional deal size and revenue maximisation model. 2014 promises to be an interesting year indeed."

The dangers of long term IT outsourcing contracts - the BBC way

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The BBC is now planning its future after a ten year deal, originally with Siemens Business Services (SBS), comes to an end next year.

Back in 2004 the BBC signed a massive IT outsourcing deal with SBS which included the IT services firm, now part of Atos, acquiring the BBC's IT infrastructure and taking on 1400 of its IT staff.

The BBC is now moving to lots off contract covering different parts of IT. Ads a BBC spokesperson told Computer Weekly: "We are moving from one monolithic contract covering everything to multiple contracts with a number of specialist companies. This allows us to get better value, greater flexibility and access to new technology as it emerges."

This has been a trend for quite some time in the private sector as companies such as BP run highly efficient multi-sourced IT services ecosystems.

The BBC had a bad experience in this contract. Over the years I spoke to several people that told me the BBC was desperate to get out of that contract but simply couldn't.

Perhaps the BBC was being innovative back in 2004 by having a huge deal with a single supplier and offloading its IT infrastructure and IT staff. But time change and that was a commitment too far.

Cloud not all doom and gloom for IT jobs market

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Like any major technological advancement the use of cloud computing will drastically change the employment landscape. In this guest blog post Kalyan Kumar, chief technologist at Indian IT services provider HCL Technologies, talks about the changes in employment that the cloud brings, and it's not all doom and gloom.

Is there a cloud over the IT job market?

By Kalyan Kumar

"As perhaps the biggest disruptive technology trend in recent times, cloud computing is steadily permeating throughout businesses across the world. The adoption of cloud computing is so widespread that Gartner predicts that it will be a $207bn industry by 2016, growing at a rate of over 100%. Compare this to the general global IT market growing at around 3% and cloud computing's popularity is clear to see.

But just as the disposal of paper and the rise of IT changed the way that staff worked, the shift to cloud computing looks to have the same effect. As IT infrastructure and operations are moved to off-site hosted locations, there will be inevitable reverberations in the job market. It means that new and updated skillsets will be required, while others will have to adapt and be redeployed.  In fact, a study recently commissioned by Microsoft found that the cloud will create nearly 14 million jobs worldwide by 2014. So what is this transition likely to look like?

Out with the old

As the uptake of Infrastructure-as-a-Service increases, in-house infrastructure related jobs such as system administrators or operators may find that their primary tasks will be moved to the cloud. This means that fewer traditional data centre managers will be needed internally as IT becomes hosted offsite by someone else. The same will be true as more businesses use Software-as-a-Service: an organisation that is looking to implement a new ERP system can take advantage of a hosted service, which means that a specialist in-house application manager may not be necessary.

Many research organisations have predicted that the number of these technology specific roles will shrink by up to 75% by 2015 due to this effect. But, while this may seem like doom and gloom, the reality is that cloud computing will also lead to tremendous job opportunities elsewhere.  For example, in the traditional outsourcing sector the growth of cloud will in the long term lead to less technical infrastructure management work; however, those in these types of roles will be transferred to other areas as new business dynamics are created.

In with the new

Cloud computing will mean that new areas of specialisation will be required; areas which have yet to be filled and will only increase in size. New IT systems will demand new skills, which means that IT professionals have the opportunity to upgrade their existing skillsets and qualifications.

While the traditional roles diminish or merge with new roles, new jobs will evolve which will require a mix of both technical and business skills to provide valuable insights into cloud-based business solutions. For example, those that have the technical skills to address services and technologies whilst being about to analyse and consult will be in high demand.

Cloud specialists will be required - both in-house and at service providers, ranging from cloud product managers and consultants, to network managers and engineers - to help businesses shift to, and maintain, their cloud environments. Businesses are likely to need cloud specialists with the ability to project manage in line with business requirements, while cloud providers will need staff with technical cloud skills to maintain service levels. A huge number of these job opportunities are on the horizon; opportunities which if capitalised on now, can reap huge rewards in the future.

As highlighted earlier, the outsourcing industry will feel this effect too. As the number of cloud providers, resellers, integrators and distributors increase, an ecosystem of cloud parties has started to develop. The complex relationship of these businesses will need to be nurtured by an entirely new role - the cloud broker. A cloud broker adds value not only by managing the use, performance and delivery of cloud services but also by negotiating relationships between cloud providers and consumers. They also provide various services such as integration, aggregation and arbitrage.

This is an enormous task and needs an army of qualified people to manage. Organisations can have their internal staff manage this ecosystem but they can lack the commercial skills to broker these services. The benefit is that organisations can save money by handing these complex services to cloud brokers which, through partnerships leading technology providers, can provide a cost-effective and cutting-edge value proposition.

Evolution not extinction

Cloud computing won't be the death knell for modern IT professionals. It won't necessarily eliminate jobs; but rather, it's likely to combine multiple roles together while opening up new job opportunities for others. Naturally, there will be some degree of labour displacement as the way that businesses use technology evolves, the skills required to support that will evolve too. But in redefining how IT is used, staff need to undergo the same level of transformation to develop the necessary skills to help all involved make the most out of cloud computing."

Low morale in IT departments increases with outsourcing and is causing problems

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Banks are haemorrhaging jobs at the moment. Only yesterday Barclays announced 12,000 cuts in 2014.

IT is usually hit hard when these cuts are made. This is worsened by the fact that at the same time banks are outsourcing work, very often to low cost offshore regions.

I have recently written lots about the IT problems at banks. Lloyds Banking group suffered a major IT glitch last month and RBS has had numerous problems recently. 

I have looked at how these problems are related to the use of 40 year old legacy systems. I have also looked at the fact that job cuts and offshoring jobs has an impact. But I have not really looked at how offshoring and cutting jobs means staff are overworked and morale is lowered.

This leads staff to be less committed to the cause and probably look for new jobs.
As a bank IT contact of mine told me: "They keep cutting people and outsourcing IT roles. This is making technology problems more common and harder to fix."

"When you cut half a team the other half have to work twice as hard. They begin to look for new jobs and up for the current job anymore."

So the combination of legacy IT systems, job cuts, offshoring and low staff, morale could be the reason. All this falls under management. So who or what is to blame?

I am going to write an analysis about how outsourcing affects the morale of remaining staff and how this impacts the running of IT. If you have any views let me know.

Outsourcing's role in bank IT failures continued...

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I have blogged recently about the role of IT outsourcing and more specifically offshoring in recent IT failures at banks.

A contact of mine had this to say on the subject. "Most of the issues I've seen have been due to human error, equipment failure or in recent years errors made by outsourced firms who are more distant than they were historically. More work has gone abroad as a result of cost pressure and that has led to a drop in standards across the industry.

Outsourcing and offshoring development didn't hurt production but now that more production support is both offshore and outsourced, the scope for live problems is much higher than a few years ago. All too often human error by a junior person at a 3rd party somewhere half way round the world who did not understand or follow a process properly."

I have since been contacted by a number of people on the subject and it appears that the failures at banks are a combination of legacy systems, outsourcing/offshoring and cost cutting. See my analysis here. 

I also received this comment from a reader:

"In the banking business, the legacy systems have been very reliable in the past and as the management thought that if it is not broken do not touch them. So the expertise of these systems has never been maintained or at minimum.

In addition, some new generations of programmers have never develop systems based on these technologies or language.  In fact we had the perfect example with the Y2K bug, we had to hire former programmers.

In terms of outsourced services, although the language of communication is the language of the customer, some of these environments have been supported by people who have difficulty being understood or to understand you.

One time, I've heard this situation when you ask to close down a particular application and the guy has understood to drop down the entire system...
And as you say, even if they have SLAs and penalties, the damage is done.

Also, with my experience, in many cases, companies prefer to keep in-house critical systems (example, Trading Systems). Also they keep or bring back in-house services provided directly to customers to keep a better reputation and image in front their clients.

The problem is also due to the fact that companies think reducing costs without affecting services and on the other side, outsourcers want to have the best profit and be able to charge low fees but watch out, when you are out of your negotiated services, costs could become higher.

Also outsourcers have to be closer to the need of their clients, sometimes they try to sell 'one size fit all' solutions.

They have to be more flexible to the needs without asking very high costs.

And now I think new technologies can answer these concerns."

Could Project Cook spell the end of RBS IT head "Offshore Errington"

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We are hearing in financial services IT that RBS tech head Mike Errington will be a casualty of RBS's cost cutting plan, known as Project Cook.

Errington is nicknamed "Offshore Errington" due to his propensity to send IT jobs to low cost offshore regions.

When I contacted RBS they said that Mike Errington's position had not changed. Sources say that Errignton is one of the "old guard" and has managed to survive amid fierce cost cutting and technology problems.

One source said it seems likely that Errington will be sacrificed as part of Project Cook later this month. This view is no surprise given the views of RBS CEO Ross McEwan, back in December. He said the failure of systems was unacceptable and blamed years of underinvestment in IT for the issues.

"For decades, RBS failed to invest properly in its systems. We need to put our customers' needs at the centre of all we do. It will take time, but we are investing heavily in building IT systems our customers can rely on," he said.

So perhaps he will want new leadership.

But what about outsourcing?

Will Offshore Errington be damaged due to offshoring? Since RBS acquired ABN Amro in 2007 there has been the offshoring of UK IT jobs to India. In 2009 an IT contractor, who worked for the RBS as a mainframe technician for a number of years, told Computer Weekly business-critical work had been moved to India to cut costs.

"RBS started moving the work we were doing to its datacentre in Mumbai, known internally as Indian Datacentre. I had to train Indian workers to do my job."

"This was to cut costs and not about filling a skills shortage. They move the jobs to India because it is cheaper," he added.

Industry sources believe problems with RBS's IT are the result of offshoring critical work.
In 2012 problems with IT systems at RBS left customers unable to access their accounts for days.The glitch in the CA7 batch process scheduler ended with 12 million customer accounts being frozen. Customers were denied access to funds for a week or more as RBS, NatWest and the Ulster Bank manually updated all account balances.

Then, in December 2013 - on the busiest shopping day of the year - IT problems stopped customers making online and card payments.

I recently blogged about a conversation I had with one senior IT professional within a major UK bank and although he acknowledged that systems need to be upgraded the actual problems that are occurring are the result of increased IT outsourcing/offshoring.

He said: "Most of the issues I've seen have been due to human error, equipment failure or in recent years errors made by outsourced firms who are more distant than they were historically. More work has gone abroad as a result of cost pressure and that has led to a drop in standards across the industry. Outsourcing and offshoring development didn't hurt production but now that more production support is both offshore and outsourced, the scope for live problems is much higher than a few years ago. All too often human error by a junior person at a 3rd party somewhere half way round the world who did not understand or follow a process properly."

There was an interesting story about Swiss bank UBS losing £1.4bn due to a rogue trader which could have been avoided had a computer used to detect unauthorised trading been more effective. Reports claim the service used to detect suspicious trading is run from an offshore location in India. A source in India told Computer Weekly that the problem occurred in a USB captive in Hyderabad.

At the time I was talking to a contact of mine  and he told me that the problem occurred at a UBS captive centre in Hyderabad.

He told me unlike suppliers, who have processes that must be adhered to, captives are less stringent. He told me that the reason the rogue trading was missed was because data had been deleted as part of a system upgrade. "If there had been a process, like that of any supplier, this would not have happened."

It is not just RBS that has IT problems. Banking giants are experiencing major outages, magnified by customer complaints on social media.

Most major UK banks have thousands of roles carried out offshore. If RBS for example identifies this as a cause of IT problems it will be interesting to see if it and other banks re-shore jobs to the UK.

The PM would like that after his speech at Davos about getting British companies to bring offshored jobs back to the UK.

Outsourcing IT itself not the cause of bank IT glitches

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I recently blogged the views of a banking IT professional in regard the recent major IT glitches at UK retail banks such as RBS and Lloyds Banking Group. He felt that outsourcing was a major contributor to the problems.

In this guest blog Neil Kinson, Vice President EMEA at Redwood Software, discusses how outsourcing is itself not the problem and looks at how process automation can help prevent problems at banks.

Service Error? Then don't bank on keeping your customers

By Neil Kinson

"The recent spate of high profile IT disasters should serve as a wakeup call for the retail banking industry. Business processes are more connected now than ever before and poor customer service poses a real reputational threat, not least because customers often take to social media to vent and amplify their frustrations. RBS and Natwest learnt this the hard way, having been thrown into the media spotlight when customers were unable to use their credit and debit cards on Cyber Monday - the busiest online shopping day of the year.

When back-end failures have such a dramatic knock-on effect on frontline services, retail banks need to take action to stop system errors snow-balling. As the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine - if banks can prevent problems happening in the first place, they will avoid greater complications further down the line, which require more effort to fix. So, what steps can retail banks take to future-proof their customer service?

Think about your legacy

We hear a great deal about 'legacy IT systems' causing bank glitches and outsourcing has often taken the blame for its associated problems with slow response times, lack of visibility, and human errors.  But, outsourcing itself is not the problem. The real issue is the siloed and fragmented approach we are seeing from banks towards their core processes. While outsourcing certainly brings problems such as slow response times and lack of visibility, these issues would not exist if businesses had the right processes in place. That is to say, where back office functions take place, whether that be on British or international soil, matters much less than how these processes are executed.

Your reputation precedes you

With reputations on the line, banks would do well to look back 200 years to the Industrial Revolution; a transformation from dependence on slow, manual effort, to a streamlined, automated assembly line process. By tightening up and automating core processes, such as billing and credit checks, retail banks can achieve greater control over operations and be confident in their delivery of consistently good service - there is simply less room for error.

Audit your business processes

Of course, banks could spend billions replacing mainframes, which are often aging and combine many legacy systems bolted and 'patched' together. However, it would be far more cost-effective for them to focus on 'smart' updates to their existing technology to meet overall business and customer expectations. If large banks are to protect their customers from the impact of IT failure, they need to carry out a critical audit of their business processes - get them working efficiently 100 percent of the time, both at the front end and the back end, and they'll reap the rewards in accurate and reliable results.

Managing error by exception

Businesses hinge on having up-to-the-minute, accurate data and if retail banks are to prevent further technology mishaps, they need to automate manual checks for their systems in order to reduce the likelihood of human errors. If mistakes, such as the delivery of incorrect transaction information, can be easily detected then banks can act fast to resolve problems before they escalate. With IT teams focussed on winning back consumer confidence, tightly automated processes offer the solution by providing back-office stability to keep business and IT processes running smoothly so technical glitches only have to be handled on exception.

Ultimately, if banks are to sustain market confidence, collaboration across the business model will be essential. Maintaining customer loyalty relies upon delivering top-quality service, and system failures will only serve to break this trust. With all banks priding themselves on efficiency, transparency and reliability, reputations hang in the balance - act now, or pay the price later."

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