In a recent conversation with a large retail bank, a comment by one of its business leaders perfectly summarized what so many financial institutions are experiencing today.  When asked if the current disruption was creating a full plate for the bank, he simply said “It’s not a plate, it’s a buffet”.

There’s a good bit of positivity in that comment despite the on-going disruption to normal business operations.  It reflects a genuine optimism and active effort across the industry to reimagine the delivery of financial services even as it reflects on continuing changes to the business environment.  As mentioned in the first blog in this series, we are likely experiencing a watershed moment in financial services where innovation arising from new customer and employee experiences will become the new sustainable ‘muscle memory’ for many institutions.

These new customer and employee experiences are defined by two interrelated shifts in the way financial services is being conducted – a location shift from office to home environments supported by a channel shift from physical to digital.  Even as physical offices and customer channels reopen, the impact of these shifts will be felt in the form of new norms for occupational safety and new opportunities for physical / digital channel integration.  These business dynamics call for integrated capabilities that enable the creation of sustainable new business practices and form the new definition of business resiliency.

Cisco Connected Experiences identifies three functions that underpin modern business resiliency:  Connect, Secure, and Automate.  As this is the third of our Connected Experiences blogs, we will walk through the importance of Secure in the current financial services environment.

The operational shifts previously mentioned have expanded internal and external exposure to risk.  As business execution has shifted from inside the walls of the institution to employee homes, so has the need to protect against breaches, data loss, data misuse, and internal fraud in unfamiliar home environments. In fact, according to a survey released by the Information Systems Security Association, there has been a 63% increase in cyberattacks related to the pandemic. Simultaneously, the expansion of digital channel capabilities often involves the integration of cloud services, distributed data sources, 3rd-party applications, and agile development cycles each presenting a different risk and unique security requirements.  We can even apply the idea of Secure to office space which must ensure occupational safety when employees and customers return.

This is why security is at the heart of two important business resiliency solutions from Cisco:  Secure Remote Workforce and Trusted Workplace.

Extending business execution outside the walls of the institution is a primary use-case for ‘Zero-Trust’ security which ensures that users and applications only have access to the corporate resources they need.

For home workers, DUO Beyond – Cisco’s zero-trust multi-factor authentication (MFA) solution – enables financial professionals to access applications and data on corporate computers or mobile devices.  This easy-to-use solution validates users via their mobile device allowing bankers, wealth managers, insurance agents, or even home-based contact center agents to connect to the applications and data specific to their roles.

DUO Beyond also secures remote workers who increasingly connect to cloud applications directly.  These cloud native applications consist of microservice workloads running on distributed containers potentially accessing information from a variety of data sources.  Cisco Tetration – a key component of Cisco Application First Security – enables zero-trust policies between container services, data sources, and other application elements ensuring they remain safe to use.

Lastly, our latest innovation – Cisco SecureX – is an industry-first SaaS platform which unifies visibility and threat intelligence across all information security domains for security operations teams.  SecureX provides the fastest time to threat identification with an intuitive yet detailed view of the scope of active threats across both Cisco and 3rd party security solutions.

The sum of Cisco’s security capabilities highlights why many financial institutions trust Cisco to help them address today’s expanding risks across workforce, workplace, and workloads.  Without a robust, intelligent, and intuitive Secure pillar, it will be challenging for financial institutions to capture the ‘buffet’ of possibilities that will define the differentiated Connected Experiences on the horizon.

Check back next week as Cisco FSI Business Architect Brian Velazquez discusses the third key pillar in our Connected Experiences series: Automation.



Al Slamecka

Global Financial Services BDM

Cisco Industry Solutions Group