April 26, 2020 - 1904 views|
Here are the common missteps banks should avoid to successfully enable remote work and digital operations, during the pandemic and beyond.
Before COVID-19, banks’ disaster plans typically covered outages affecting 10% to 20% of their workforce. No bank had a scenario for 100% disruption. But with the pandemic closing offices and branches around the globe and requiring nearly all employees to work from home, the need to enable employees with remote access has overwhelmed even the most detailed continuity plans.
As retail and commercial banks manage an array of pandemic concerns, they’re striving to balance risk and security with employee productivity and customer service. Equally important, they’re beginning to cast an eye toward plans and platforms that enable end-to-end digital operating models that could emerge much more quickly than anyone – banks and consumers alike – had anticipated.
Smartphone batteries and home WiFi
There’s no doubt that many bank leaders are losing sleep over the large swaths of their operations running on smartphone batteries and home WiFi networks – elements that, at best, are beyond their control and, at worst, unsecure. Worse, thanks to Downdetector.com, banks’ service issues and outages make headlines just as cloud-based gaming platform and streaming provider outages do.
Slowly but surely, however, banks are finding their footing in the new world order of working from home (WFH). One bank I work with recently went ahead with its annual general meeting, hosting it online for the first time ever.
Some clients tell us they view the wide-scale remote work as temporary, and expect their business to return to pre-shutdown norms once the crisis abates. An equal number see the current crisis as a tipping point. Their ability to conduct business during the shutdown is the proof they’ve been waiting for that the transition to digital banking – including the work of subcontractors, third-party suppliers and call centers – is real and permanent. To them, branches are relics of the past. The lure of digital operating models’ ability to reduce expenses and improve their cost-to-income ratio and continue to serve their customers is too great to ignore.
Potential risks in the rush to remote work
As they seek to stabilize remote-access operations, banks are working through an array of policy, process and architectural factors that affect remote workers’ productivity. Challenges run the gamut from wide-scale provisioning of laptops to security obstacles, including managing the onslaught of newly issued two-factor authentication devices.
In the rush to get everyone working remotely, it’s been tempting to permit employees to share Excel worksheets and even email containing proprietary information, whether customer- or banking-related, over home WiFi networks. Some employees request two system IDs, keeping one as a spare in the event that a network overload forces them to use an alternate entry point.
Missteps to avoid
By avoiding common missteps, banks can transition more smoothly from crisis management to an end-to-end re-evaluation of their digital capabilities:
From the 'Now' to the future
Getting secure, remote access right is a challenge for banks. The key is to balance workable, short-term solutions with an eye toward creating an overall, permanent strategy for digital operations. Banks can then focus on the next two stages: improving their WFH collaboration platform to drive productivity and a better experience for employees, partners and customers; and designing the end-to-end digitization of their business.
Solving the COVID-19 challenge is the ultimate digital use case for banks because its operational impact will live on. To emerge in a better place once the virus recedes, banks must step up their digital thinking and execution to enable employees to operate from wherever they need to be.