Community banks continue to embrace technology and remain committed to investing in new technologies and services this year. In fact, according to the 2017 Community Bank Information Technology Outlook Study, a survey conducted by Safe Systems in the fourth quarter of 2016, nearly 77% of respondents claim they are spending more on technology today than they have in the past. The challenge however, often lies in trying to keep pace with the rapid rate of change that is influencing and impacting the banking industry.
It seems that the one constant in our industry is continuous change as new systems, new hardware and new techniques are being developed to improve uptime, increase efficiency, control costs, assist with compliance issues, and generally help banks run more smoothly. This rate of change pushes virtually every institution to regularly perform system upgrades and technology modifications to improve its IT environment. According to the survey, the driving factor for change among community banks is business strategy, with 28% of survey respondents naming this as their primary reason for investigating new resources or services to enhance their institution. However, rather than making large, wholesale changes that can deplete valuable HR energy and resources, IT administrators stand to benefit more by making targeted, incremental improvements to support their bank’s overall IT strategy.
2018 Community Bank Information
Slow and Steady Wins The Race
The IT industry is built on innovation that fuels revolutionary change. Perhaps the most notable example, Apple®, essentially redefined consumer electronics starting with the Macintosh®, then the MacBook®, the iPod®, the iPhone®, the iPad ® and the Apple Watch®, each building on the other, usually attracting lines around the block of consumers turned brand evangelists.
While technological evolution can yield incredible results, it can also be extremely hard on financial institutions by forcing them to change their entire network or IT plan to accommodate a new innovation. This is particularly relevant for small community banks with limited resources. Additionally, charting the future path of innovation can be an unreliable and unpredictable undertaking. Are you going to innovate this year, next year or in three years? It is very hard to manage and predict. On the other hand, by making smart, incremental changes, it enables the bank to set manageable goals and actually see those goals and improvements come to fruition more rapidly.
Evolutionary Change to Save Time and Improve Efficiency
One proven example of an evolutionary change is automated patch management, software updates designed to fix known vulnerabilities or security weaknesses in applications and operating systems. All software applications require updates from vendors, including third-party software programs such as Microsoft®, Adobe®, Adobe Reader®, Adobe Flash®, Chrome ™, and QuickTime®. Too often, though, IT professionals are relying on a manual process, requiring staff to update each machine and workstation individually. This also requires them to stay abreast of all changes essentially in real-time, which is unfeasible. Increasingly, banks are automating this process, which delivers quick, accurate, and secure patch updates to all workstations and servers and mitigates the multiple risks associated with running unpatched programs. The time the IT department saves on managing patch management enables them to instead focus on more profit-generating activities for the financial institution.
Making Evolution Part of your Company Culture
Banks should make continual service improvement a key part of their overall corporate culture. These changes can be identified by a single resource or through a committee focusing on operational improvement. Allocating time and resources to focus on the right aspects of new technology and process improvement is key as even the smallest incremental changes can have the ability to provide a significant positive impact.
For more information please download our complimentary white paper, 2017 Community Bank Information Technology Outlook.