Financial services firms lack the culture to innovate fast

Finance firms appear to be struggling to release new software quickly, a study from Contino has found

By far the biggest barrier to the execution of a digital innovation strategy is “too many competing priorities”, an online survey of financial services companies has found.

Of the 165 IT professionals who took part in the Contino survey, 50% placed this factor at number one. A lack of agility received the second highest level of responses, at 19%.

According to Contino, this confirms the presence of the classic contradiction of digital transformation: trying to keep the lights on while carving out space for transformational work.

Given that almost one-fifth of respondents cited a lack of agility as the main barrier to digitisation, Contino said that not only were respondents struggling to find the time for innovation, they also felt it was tricky to execute due to the nature of the organisation they worked for.

The survey found that only 14% of respondents were able to deliver new software in three months or less. The majority (39%) said their business took 12-18 months to deliver new software. Of those requiring 12 months or more to release new software, 63% cited competition as the leading driver for transformation.

The survey, the results of which were published in Contino’s The state of DevOps in financial services report, found that positive attitudes to DevOps and cloud were clear among those who innovate rapidly (time-to-market of less than three months).

They use more advanced cloud services, with nearly 50% of innovators using serverless computing and 37% using artificial intelligence. They also deem DevOps to be less risky, with 50% saying it’s not risky “at all”. Those who take 12 months or more to release new software see DevOps and cloud as “very much” risky (55%) and have only “a few” of the skills required (54%).

The survey found security and compliance remain a problem area for delivery teams. A sizeable majority (58%) of respondents said they found ensuring security and compliance “very” or “extremely” challenging. Only 4% said they found it a breeze.

Overall, respondents cited a lack of investment as the least important barrier to digitisation. Contino said digital transformation was motivated by something more fundamental than next quarter’s revenues. 

The study also found that a lack of technical skills was not considered a major barrier to innovation. “Skills can be acquired, but the main barriers to innovation are the things that money can’t buy: time and energy, on the one hand, and an agile organisational structure, on the other,” said Contino. 

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