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Social, Mobile and Cloud: The Next Seismic Shifts in the Way Financial Services Firms Tap Technology

By Stacey Goodman, EVP & CIO, CIT Group

Stacey Goodman, EVP & CIO, CIT Group

It’s been years since the advent of online financial services, but consumers and business owners would be hard-pressed to identify another financial industry innovation that has made their everyday lives more convenient. Today, you can check your bank and investment accounts, pay your bills and send money to friends or suppliers with the click of a mouse, touch of a button or a swipe of your finger.

“Social, mobile and cloud technologies are helping industry participants meet there needs in a variety of ways - not as isolated solutions, but as an integrated platform”

As transformative as this era has been for financial services providers and their customers, a wave of corporations using these same technologies is underway that promises to be just as productivity-enhancing. Social, mobile and cloud technologies are fundamentally changing the way financial services firms and their employees and customers operate and interact with each other. Consumer and enterprise technology are converging in ways few expected, with workers escaping the confines of a 9-to-5 physical setting and setting new marks for speed, efficiency and responsiveness.

The financial industry’s adoption of these technologies is as much about attracting and engaging new talent as it is about being more productive and efficient. Just as consumers have increased expectations of their financial services providers, the generation joining the workforce has certain expectations of their work environment. They want the same information available to them on any platform or device, and for that information to be accessible from anywhere. And they want to toggle back and forth between work and personal interactions.

Social, mobile and cloud technologies are helping industry participants meet these needs in a variety of ways not as isolated solutions, but as an integrated platform.

Social

Time was, when you and I wanted to communicate about something work-related, one of us would pick up the phone. Over the years, email replaced some of those conversations. Today, both forms of communications are seen as increasingly antiquated. Texting and social networking are the protocol du jour, and companies that don’t enable these types of communication risk failing to connect with Millennials and others who will be the leaders of tomorrow.

owever, this is not just about appealing to Millennials. It’s about creating a corporate technology environment in which employees can thrive and freely share their ideas. At CIT, we recently installed instant messaging, softphone and video conference capabilities on employees’ desktop computers to enable these kinds of interactions. At any point during the day, a CIT employee can initiate a chat with a colleague, set up a group chat to discuss a project, or remotely join a meeting using their desktop video or phone capabilities.

It’s early in our implementation, but we’ve seen some exciting results already. Employees are interacting more over these channels than ever before, helping them to be more efficient and productive.

Mobile

For many people, the smart phone and tablet are indispensable to their lives: tools for communicating with friends, absorbing new information or just passing the time while standing in line.

Increasingly, smart phones and personal devices are also helping us work more efficiently and effectively. In an industry where responsiveness is critical, people need to be able to work from any where. Fortunately, technology providers have developed a range of applications to enable employees to access their desktop, email and other applications over the Internet and cellular networks. At CIT, we have implemented technologies that give employees the ability to get what they need, from almost anywhere and on almost any device.

Of course, our businesses are keen to access information and provide services on mobile devices as well. We have developed applications that run on mobile devices, taking advantage of this growing channel for our businesses.

Cloud

The cloud is another technology that is changing the way we do business. There are several benefits of moving to the cloud: I can be out of the data center business—even the hardware business—by allowing cloud providers and vendors to host our software, and then paying for what we use. This model can have cost benefits as well as reducing time to market for new applications and services. We can effectively manage demand by only using what we need, allowing us to grow or shrink our environment as required.

For these reasons and others, CIT is moving to a private, off-premise cloud environment. We simply made the decision to get out of the real estate business and move one step closer to a managed service for our infrastructure. We will have a lower cost base and be better positioned to respond to emerging business demands without worrying about capacity or resource constraints.

Furthermore, we are moving to a virtual desktop, so any employee can access their desktop and the data they need from any where, at any time. Virtualization of the desktop has security and disaster recovery benefits as well. If our building has a water main break, our employees can work from home or anywhere there is a network.

To be sure, there are some issues that we and other financial services providers continue to wrestle with when it comes to adopting these technology solutions. Most of them center on the legal, regulatory and security aspects of these technologies’ use.

Ultimately, though, I am confident those issues will be worked out to the satisfaction of employers, employees, regulators and customers. The benefits of social, mobile and cloud technology are simply too valuable and widespread for these issues to derail progress. The nature of work and customer service is changing before our eyes, and it’s the kind of change that will only yield greater success for the industries that embrace it.

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