Leveraging context to unlock opportunities in financial services

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The potential emergence of the Covid pandemic will require a significant adjustment to difficult macro-economic conditions. In 2022, growth is
unlikely to return to levels predicted before the pandemic. But the biggest challenge for financial services companies will be maintaining and improving relationships with customers who are trying to adapt to their “new normal”.

A glimpse of this challenge is already apparent in the “big resignationwhich has created talent challenges for companies that have been less able to meet the demands of employees seeking to adapt. In turn, the disparity in outcomes for ISP companies that succeed or fail to adapt to customer needs will likely never be greater.

Context is king

To meet the challenge, companies need to better understand to the challenge. There is a general appreciation that data is fundamental to developing insight, but it is not enough. To get the most out of insights from data, companies need to retain and leverage
the context.

In the same way that language can become ambiguous without punctuation (e.g.,
Eat, push and leave), the same is true for data without the proper application of context. And with bad ideas, bad decisions naturally follow. For companies looking to successfully address their challenges in 2022, there are several immediate opportunities to improve and use context in multiple areas.

Holistic Enterprise Architecture

Companies looking to adapt to changing customer requirements need to make their operating model more flexible and develop new processes and ways of working – and
quickly. For large organizations and even those on mature digital transformation journeys, rapid and agile change is extremely difficult. An insufficiently holistic approach to enterprise architecture is often the root of organizational inertia.

The processes and IT infrastructure that support organizations are inextricably linked. Companies cannot implement strategic changes when they do not understand their costs. And they can’t understand their costs if IT functions don’t understand the impact of these changes on the IT portfolio and the costs of their ongoing support.

Siled views of process and IT portfolio information prevent organizations from realizing the inherent context between them and optimizing their results. They must create and expose a common vision of the IT portfolio
in the context of the business processes it supports and the business strategy these processes support. By leveraging this additional context, agility and operational efficiency can be dramatically increased.

Holistic enterprise architecture can reduce planning efforts for new transformations by up to 95% and ensure IT infrastructure development stays aligned with business strategy. Additionally, a contextualized view of the IT portfolio helps to quickly identify effective rationalizations, reducing longer-term infrastructure costs.

Improved decision making

Adapting to customer requirements will often require making new or improved decisions, which in turn requires careful analysis of business data. Thanks in part to the “big data” paradigm, many companies have become adept at collecting very large volumes of data, but are significantly less adept at managing and By using it. The fractured environments that accumulate over time obscure the existence of data, preventing the assessment of its quality, value, and subsequent exploitation to drive innovation. Misuse of data generally compromises a good customer experience or, less trivially, can increase systemic or regulatory risk.

Like IT infrastructure, businesses cannot manage data in isolation, but must understand it in the context of business goals. In the context of data, business goals are to understand “What’s going on?

the Data fabric concept as described by Gartner can provide a powerful architecture-agnostic approach that could
quadruple the efficiency of the use of data. Instead of treating the data estate as multiple single threads of data, Gartner advises organizations to recognize that these threads of data are intertwined and have context-dependent interrelationships.

Adopting a Data Fabric approach requires the creation of additional data stores to articulate relationships between data, which are updated frequently. This creates an environment where the business can regularly ask questions, and information about how best to answer the question is built into the infrastructure.

Application Management

Deploying services is usually the last hurdle to delivering more engaging customer experiences. For many companies, mature monolithic applications have always been a bottleneck. The shift to containerized microservices architectures has provided enterprises with greater potential to create more flexibility and agility.

However, there is no free lunch. These benefits have come at the expense of the significant additional complexity of managing the dozens, if not hundreds, of microservices instances that make up a modern microservices application. Slow development cycles have been replaced by much larger operational headaches.

Several technologies have been created to make it easier to manage containerized microservices applications. Container orchestration tools such as
Kubernetes manage the lifecycle of microservices to automatically prune dead instances or scale instances in response to increased demand.
Service stitches layer these orchestration tools with mechanisms to simplify common functions such as service discovery, communication, and security.

Amid the complexity of managing microservice instances, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important: the performance and behavior of the overall application. A
AppMesh provides an additional contextual layer on top of a service mesh to restore this application recognition. This approach allows application owners to gain visibility into usage and change application behavior through configuration rather than code, eliminating the need for unnecessary downtime or redeployment.

Finances, in context

Today’s competitive financial services industry sees large incumbents and more nimble start-ups vying for customers, and it’s imperative that all businesses optimize the way they manage their data and applications. By leveraging context across IT portfolios, data, and applications, more engaging user experiences can be created with greater agility and at lower cost.

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