The first half of 2020 has demonstrated the remarkable adaptability of the financial services industry in the face of simultaneous disruption to economic, operational, and customer behavior conditions.

According to a recent survey conducted by Arizent, 88% of US financial services employees were sent home to work after a national emergency was declared on March 13th, 2020.  Much of the global financial services industry faced the same situation and responded similarly.  The subsequent speed and scale at which ‘work from home’ was operationalized was no less monumental for financial services IT organizations than the disruption that caused it.

Impressively, 85% of the companies surveyed rated their institution’s responsiveness as meeting or exceeding expectations.  For IT organizations, there’s no rest as normalizing new work environments and enabling a return to the workplace present new challenges which IT is uniquely qualified to address.

With a new appreciation of IT’s agility, many financial institutions are planning to accelerate transformation initiatives to become more competitive in an increasingly dynamic environment.  In this series of Cisco Financial Services blogs, we will examine how current industry dynamics are redefining ‘business resilience’ capabilities and why these new capabilities are an invaluable asset for financial services in uncertain economic times.

A watershed moment for financial services?

Consumers’ desire for greater convenience and personalization – preferentially on digital channels – has fueled financial services transformation in recent years.  In parallel, financial services workplaces are modernizing to become more operationally efficient and attractive to the next generation of financial services professionals.

While steady progress has been made, the unexpected scale of disruption has accelerated a future-state environment with lasting influence on consumer behavior and business operations.  There are many new questions to answer.  Will new digital capabilities and reduced branch availability create inertia for virtualizing interactions?  How will customers respond if safer branches are less efficient?  How productive are front-office staff working from home?  What are best-practices for the safe return to the office?  Some questions will take time to answer but others are already clear.  One certainty this that a significantly larger percentage of financial services professionals will work outside of the office in the future.

Not surprisingly, technology solutions that enable business continuity in this environment are in high demand.  The most relevant examples are videoconferencing, cybersecurity, collaboration tools, cloud-based computing, and communications platforms.

These investments are the foundation for business resilience in today’s evolving environment, enabling institutions to accelerate transformation at scale and with speed.  In subsequent blogs we will examine how the associated solution capabilities deliver experiences that improve top and bottom-line performance.

Cisco Connected Experiences

Financial services is a business built on trust and relationships.  In challenging economic times, consumers and businesses look to their financial institution’s advisors for guidance, assistance, and comfort.  The current environment has heightened awareness of the importance of connectivity – in both a human and technology sense – as institutions have relied more on digital capabilities to help customers.  This expanded nature of customer relationships – crossing between physical and digital channels – is the ‘new normal’ for customer experience.

In order to satisfy both the necessities today and the expectations of tomorrow, FSI institutions must focus on three main themes: connect your people, secure your business, and automate processes. These three areas of focus form the basis for Cisco’s Connected Experiences.  Encapsulating the end-to-end, next generation customer journey, Cisco’s Customer Experiences is designed to assist financial institutions in transforming their business to meet the demands of the world today and in the future.

Check back next week as we dive into the first of the three pillars – Connect – and discover how Cisco can assist your organization in connecting, whether at the branch or from the home office.

For more information on Cisco Connected Experiences or Cisco’s financial services solutions, check out our FSI site at cisco.com/go/fsi.



Al Slamecka

Global Financial Services BDM

Cisco Industry Solutions Group