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Continuous Integration: The Unsung Hero of 2020

Catching Up with Linedata's Paul Stanczak, VP of Sales & Account Management

Paul Stanczak

Paul Stanczak, VP of Sales & Account Management gives credit to CI/CD technology.

As 2020 draws to a close and we reflect on all the lessons learned in order to best prepare for what the next year holds, one essential factor comes to mind – technology. Since the onset of the pandemic, the limits of digital transformations have been tested like never before.

Overnight, companies were forced to enable remote-first working to ensure minimal disruption, safety and security. But were they ready? Did they have the right processes in place to make it happen? And are they going into 2021 prepared to continue doing business in a digital world?

Paul Stanczak, VP of Sales & Account Management for Linedata discusses the latest industry trends and the importance of continuous technology integration.

Q: What has 2020 taught us about technology in the financial services industry?

A: The short answer is that the world has changed; customers are interacting with financial institutions via self-serve and digital channels more than ever before. The circumstances of 2020 have created an environment in which customer expectations are changing in a hurry, and now digital transformation is the top priority.

Looking ahead, the question for financial institutions is not whether to integrate technology, but rather which route best suits the timeline, budget and competitive goals: build in-house or buy from a vendor. Based on my research, the case against building is heavily supported by industry experts and financial institutions that have tried it.

However, there are cases in which a financial institution’s technology group can become a revenue center by building and selling technology solutions. For well-resourced companies, with IT teams in the tens of thousands and budgets in the billions, the tech department can generate revenue and that’s attractive. Still, for most, finding the right technology partner is the faster, easier and less expensive route.

No matter the path an institution takes to get there, the risk of not having some of the latest technologies is tremendous and can have devastating effects during unprecedented times.

Q: Is there a seamless resource or way for companies to ensure their technology offerings are up-to or above customer expectations?

A: When reflecting on lessons learned over the last year, it is clear that the unsung hero of 2020 is Continuous Integration (CI)/Continuous Delivery (CD). When CI/CD software is done right and deployed within the cloud, it eliminates time-consuming traditional upgrades and delivers new features and enhancements immediately.

Moving to a continuous integration and delivery model is one of the most meaningful digital transformations a financial institution can make. The path to CI/CD will require work at the onset – investment, internal bandwidth to support the update, and buy-in from senior leaders – but it will also help future-proof the company’s technology. Implementing CI/CD technology will be the last major update that needs to be made, especially if those vendors are managed like a true partnership.

 

Moving to a continuous integration and delivery model is one of the most meaningful digital transformations a financial institution can make. 

Q: How can companies be sure that Continuous Integration (CI)/Continuous Delivery (CD) is right for them?

A: Change can be daunting and only made worse during times of extraordinary pressure, like the pandemic. To ensure that your business can support the evolving needs of customers, it’s pivotal to be thinking one step ahead, providing customers with best-in-class service.

Instead of taking on the transformation internally and working to navigate the new normal in a silo, share the stressors, gain new perspectives and revamp outdated systems by partnering with an expert in the technology sector.

CI/CD capabilities support businesses by:

  • Replacing legacy systems – While familiarity is a natural draw, it’s not what’s going to move the needle in the financial service industry and/or during a time of need. By replacing legacy systems, organizations can offer the latest innovation by utilizing real-time updates, foregoing complicated integrations and performing at the highest of standards.
  • Offering the latest advancements for clients – This cloud-based system empowers financial institutions to stay up-to-date, meet growing customer expectations, increase efficiency of users and offer the latest in security enhancements, without major overhauls to update technology.
  • Making a strong business case for the future – By working closely with the potential vendor, you will be able to develop strategic priorities that align with CI/CD offerings to ensure company goals will be met, which in turn develops strong businesses cases and exciting opportunities for the future. Together, you’ll find plenty of wins in scale, efficiency, cost savings and a lower total cost of ownership.

To ensure that your business can support the evolving needs of customers, it’s pivotal to be thinking one step ahead, providing customers with best-in-class service. 

Q: For companies that are deciding between building technology in-house or leveraging software from a vendor, what factors should be considered?

A: Again, change is challenging. There’s no way of getting around that. But, by implementing forward-thinking initiatives and taking advantage of the ever-growing field of software solutions, the challenges of change will quickly become a distant memory. The following factors showcase how a decision to purchase software rather than build internally best supports the needs of the ever-evolving industry:

  • Configurable solutions – Vendors used to have a one-size-fits-all mentality, but given the evolving nature of the industry and market, that’s a thing of the past. Many vendors now provide offerings that are adaptable, nimble and self-sufficient to ensure companies can adapt as quickly as the changes come.
  • View vendor selection and vendor management in a new way – With technology at the forefront of not only the financial services industry, but the world, there are many options to consider. Financial institutions should use their goals and desired results to narrow down the options. By going beyond the surface and focusing on factors like security, regulatory compliance, configurability, culture, etc., the right partner will shine through the clutter.
  • Use internal resources at a higher level – By offsetting the workload amongst the partnership, internal IT teams will now have the bandwidth to support overarching company initiatives and leverage their skills to bridge gaps between business line solutions.
  • Weigh costs beyond on-paper expense – When weighing the options of buy vs. build decisioning, several costs need to be considered: implementation, long-term IT support, ongoing enhancements and more. One glaring competitive disadvantage with the build option is the effort needed to keep the technology up-to-date. Vendors are constantly innovating for their own competitive survival. It’s hard to imagine financial services putting the same priority there.
  • Be part of the vendors’ roadmap – Now more than ever, technology solutions are developed with flexibility and scalability in mind. Sharing expertise, experiences and intel as it relates to new challenges and/or customer trends with vendors influences the way product roadmaps are built.

Q: As a professional in the financial services sector, what are you most looking forward to in 2021?

A: I’m most looking forward to seeing investment in transformation. Thinking strategically while so much seems uncertain can be daunting, but the future is becoming much clearer. People and organizations are capable of doing extraordinary things in challenging times. Strong organizations are accelerating initiatives that were previously on the backburner and are now seen as key to profit and shareholder value. We already see that companies like Disney deferred its special dividends in order to invest in innovation and the market applauded that decision. I’d like to see the same prioritization in financial services. It is time to invest in best-in-class customer journeys, from personal and small business to large and complex commercial.

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