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We’ve all altered workplace protocols, bolstered and tested business continuity plans and shifted to remote working to ensure the safety of employees and the continuation of services to customers. 

Across all of this, the pros and cons of our increased reliance on technology have been amplified.

To explore this, and the technology challenges the wider industry is experiencing during the pandemic, Bipsync partnered with Celent – a leading financial services research and advisory firm – to poll its member-base during their recent Insight and Innovation day and produce a report of the findings.

You can download a complimentary copy of the full Celent report, here.

It covers the effectiveness of work-from-home (WFH) shifts to date; what challenges Covid-19 presented for productivity, people and processes; key technologies being used for WFH; and how the pandemic might have changed plans for future technology investments including cloud and SaaS (Software as a Service).

Below, we cover some of the key insights and findings from the 400+ person poll…

Firms Adapted Quickly and Effectively for the Immediate Shift to WFH

The shift to working from home with little to no notice – in conjunction with extraordinary volumes and volatility across global markets – has raised many questions about our industry’s digital preparedness.

The majority polled here, however, stated they’d managed well, demonstrating a rapid response to adapt to the new distributed environment.

  • Half of all financial firms polled pushed out new software to employees.
  • 31% provisioned new hardware to employees. 

This largely echoes what we, and Celent analysts, have heard from across our client base, whether it’s Sovereign Wealth Funds rolling out Microsoft Teams to all in week 3 or a Pension Fund provisioning hundreds of new laptops and screens in days, reacting to the immediate-term was quick and effective for many.

Questions Remain Over Sustainability of Solutions for the Medium to Long Term

Celent warns of the sustainability of stop-gap solutions; as we move closer to whatever a new normal may be, immediate technology measures put in place will need to be re-evaluated, and technology strategies adapted.

Some may become new norms, but some will serve to highlight capability gaps that firms will want to implement for a post Covid-19 world. 

Indeed, one fifth of financial firms surveyed, recognized they will need to make further changes to their technology infrastructure from here and, perhaps more telling, the industry’s attitudes to the cloud and SaaS have shifted.

Firms Actively Changed Plans to Accelerate Cloud and SaaS Adoption

During the last few months, the dangers of relying on outdated systems have become all too real for some, while others have pointed to their ability to leverage cloud infrastructure and collaborative digital processes as a critical part of their resilience. This results of this poll echoed that sentiment:

  • More than half of firms polled, said that covid-19 has changed their future plans when it comes to SaaS and cloud. 
  • The majority said they will actively alter their stance toward the cloud and look to increase usage.

As the situation evolves, many are also looking for ways they can foster workforce collaboration and are preparing for remote work arrangements to extend after restrictions end. Here, we all know it will be equally as important to look not just at infrastructure, but to the technology challenges impacting people, processes and productivity. 

To that end, the top three challenges firms cited in this poll revolve around finding effective solutions for communication, coordination and collaboration:

  •  Sharing information and collaborating across teams (28%)
  • Pipeline, project and task management (24%)
  • Keeping track of content and ideas for cross referencing, and aggregation (21%).

Of course, it goes hand in hand; all of this is harder to accomplish without a digital foundation in place or modern software-driven solutions with the flexible, cloud infrastructure needed to scale and adapt.

Key Takeaways and Insights

The results of the poll are positive; they show an industry that has on the whole successfully adapted to the immediate shift to a more distributed environment and, perhaps even more positively, one with a firm focus on future-proofing technology for the long term.

Noteable Insights from Celent, include:

  • WFH seems to be working well for now, although many technology changes will need to be implemented in the future.
  • There’s a low level of concern about compliance and security. Celent suspects that firms are perhaps being a little too nonchalant here and should likely pay more attention to these two important areas.
  • The pandemic has accelerated consideration of cloud and SaaS technologies in financial services; Celent hypothesizes that the opportunity is perhaps even greater among smaller firms

In the full report, available here, Celent analysts offer further hypotheses and takeaways, in addition to key areas to watch. Of note, is to recognize that employees are an important constituency; companies typically say that their employees are their biggest asset; now is the time to prove that.

Look beyond the near-term. With six weeks under our belt, begin to plan for medium- and long-term strategic changes. Take some time to ask the big questions, like, even if we could go back to the way we worked before, would we?

Celent Report: Polling the innovation and Insight Day Audience During the Pandemic

The findings of this poll offer a small but positive snapshot into an industry that has been resilient and proactive and, positively, indicates many companies are on their way to removing the impediments of legacy IT across their estates to meet not only changing needs we’re experiencing now, but those for the longer term.

Of course, research technology and processes is only one part of this puzzle, but if you’d like to discuss modern and agile approaches to future-proofing your investment research-stack, you can get in touch to speak with one of our team here.