As we enter the second week of the 2017 Men’s NCAA tournament, it may surprise you that my bracket is still holding strong. Even with #1 Villanova and two #2 seeds Duke and Louisville cracking under the pressure. I will concede I didn’t see #3 seed FSU decide to lay a complete 66-point egg in their second round game; FSU, you did know you had to play twice right? “One and done” doesn’t mean you are crowned the champ after your first game!

How’s your bracket holding up?

According to Forbes you have a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance of filling out the perfect bracket. A math professor at the university of DePaul suggests these odds could be as good as 1 in 128 billion. Either way, don’t hold your breath if that’s your expectation. I tend to look at a team’s foundation when I fill out mine, how’s their defense, how’s the ball movement, did this team evolve with the game or are they still trying to jam the middle with huge bodies? Yes, UC Davis, I’m talking about you! Just so you are aware the 3-point shot isn’t going away, maybe you should get some shooters and join the party!

A strong foundation is vital to the success of these teams. Yes, they can win a few quarters or even games and succeed momentarily with a single star player or a single innovative scheme, but to sustain a winning formula they need more than that. Truth be told, this is important in any aspect of life, sports or business. Financial Services is by no means an exception to this rule. Can we really look at a financial services firm the same way we look at NCAA basketball teams? Let’s adjust my questions above and see:

How’s their defense?

The Financial Services Industry is built on a very important concept; trust. It is estimated that cybercrime will cost financial institutions $1 Trillion, I was even recently told by a large international financial institution that they are experiencing over 19 billion threats per day. 19 BILLION! So just like ISU’s Deonte Burton driving from mid-court past all five Purdue defenders to dunk in their collective faces, where was your defense on that one Purdue?! If your financial institutions security is breached, it may cost far more than just money, it could cost trust, and that’s a hard one to overcome.

How’s the ball movement?

So maybe your financial institution isn’t out there dribbling a basketball, but speed, agility, and visibility are all needed by your institution. Over time the network has grown complex and financial institutions are spending 2-3 times more, which is unsustainable in a digital world with a growing number of devices, apps, users, threats and static IT budgets. You need to be able to get a branch up and running within days rather than months.

Let’s just tweak that last question a bit from the start:

Are they evolving and innovating?

Digital demands businesses to differentiate customer experience and re-define models quickly. Yet only 30% of digital projects will succeed [Cisco study]. This is partly because IT processes are slow and costly and new technologies are being developed faster than they can be adopted. Again Davis, shoot the darn three ball!

In today’s digital world, financial services firms are experiencing massive changes in customer expectations and a constant disruption from Fintechs and Insurtechs alike, all while having to continually manage risk and maintain regulatory compliance. You need to have a rock steady foundation to stay ahead of these constant transformational pressures. Cisco Digital Network Architecture is the core technology foundation for financial institutions that revolutionizes how you design, build, and manage your networks to accelerate and simplify your IT operations. Allowing you to focus on innovation. Innovation that drives business value and key networking automation, virtualization, analytics, and security. Innovation that helps streamline branch and corporate operations, manage risk and compliance, and personalize the customer experiences.

Transformation in financial services takes guts and ambition. Setting a transformational plan is hard enough, especially for financial services firms long used to the conservative approach of under promising and over delivering. However once the proverbial shot clock starts counting down that’s when the real work begins and plans many times go awry. The right foundation is often the separation between a great quarter or two and finding your institution winning the game.

To learn more about how Cisco can provide an exceptional foundation to your org/institution: Cisco DNA


Danny Vicente

Global Lead - Sports, Media, and Entertainment

Global Private Sector Industries