This article was written by Roger Camrass, Director of Research for CIONET International, and is based on the conversations held during an event on 12th July sponsored by Dynatrace and entitled ‘Optimising the digital experience in today’s complex, multi-cloud world’
Virtually every financial organisation has a complex mix of on-premise, private and public cloud infrastructures supporting their customer facing digital channels. Operating in a multi-cloud environment presents challenges such as end-to-end service visibility and rapid incident resolution. All these factors are especially important within the financial services sector given customer expectations of their digital experience in conjunction with regulatory requirements.
According to the Dynatrace 2022 Global CIO survey, financial organisations are under pressure to find better ways of managing such complex environments. The discussion during the event focused on three challenges that are familiar to most digital leaders:
- How to gain visibility of the end-to-end digital customer journey running through complex, hybrid architectures
- How artificial intelligence can simplify operations, reducing the volume and time required to fix critical faults.
- How to improve customer and employee experience by integrating intelligent observability across multiple cloud platforms
Clearing up the legacy
Delegates drawn from the financial services sector admitted that tooling associated with infrastructure and service management had been left largely unchecked for many years pre the current cloud era. Most large banks and insurance companies have a legacy of up to sixty different software tools that provide different versions of the truth about operational performance. In the modern world of online and mobile service platforms, this hampers both internal productivity and revenue growth.
The traditional focus has been on infrastructure management, especially as it affects internal staff productivity. IT Service Management tools can identify outages across a private network and help call centre staff to rectify faults that cause staff downtime. But in an increasingly digital environment, this is only part of the story. Performance monitoring tools must reach up the full IT stack, from infrastructure to applications and end-user channels. With the recent efforts to migrate applications and workloads onto public cloud, tooling needs to embrace multi-layers of the IT stack and provide dashboards that help manage end-to-end performance.
Removing current barriers
Many of the issues relating to fragmentation of data and consequent limited visibility of performance arise from information silos. These have different sources:
- Each line-of-business may employ different tool sets to manage operations and customer experience
- Tooling up and down the IT stack may also differ, with different software operating at the infrastructure, applications and customer service layers
Taken together, organisations have great difficulty piecing together an end-to-end view of their operations. Few can adopt a single pane of glass approach to dashboarding. The answer according to Dynatrace is to break down the technical and organisational silos by introducing an integrated platform that can monitor activity at every layer of the stack, and at the same time cross organisational and functional boundaries to provide a comprehensive view of performance.
From information to insight
Data alone does not deliver business value. It is the insights that can be drawn from such data that helps to enhance business performance. Digital leaders such as CIOs and CDO are now working closely with their business partners to solve historic problems and create the necessary speed and agility to compete in the modern digital world. Migration to cloud offers both parties the opportunity to improve speed and agility in the marketplace, be this about onboarding and retaining customers, or innovating products and services. But such migration also increases complexity, especially when multi-platforms are involved such as AWS, AZURE and Google Cloud.
By integrating all sources of information onto a common platform, Dynatrace has been able to introduce artificial intelligence and machine learning to move beyond the traditional task of monitoring performance to a new world of intelligence and insight. This enables organisations to identify shortcomings in current applications and processes and to resolve these well ahead of issues occurring at the customer level. It also helps to track individual customer behaviour and provides guidance on how to enhance the customer’s experience. This can have a direct effect on customer acquisition and retention.
Competing in a digital economy
As organisations modernise their applications and processes through multi-cloud adoption, they are building the foundations of a fully digital business. Central to such modern business architectures is the underlying digital platform that manages end-to-end customer experience and operational performance. Removing the legacy tooling that limits visibility becomes a vital task in such a fundamental transition.
Delegates during this event spoke about the specific challenges experienced within financial services such as the move to online and mobile banking and insurance channels. This has placed a special emphasis on the look and feel of software-based applications as seen by the end customer rather than inhouse staff. Success in such digital environments relates directly to one’s ability to develop end to end visibility across internal and external cloud platforms.
This is certainly the case for many other sectors such as telecommunications and media services as well as retail and hospitality. IT needs to recognise its pivotal role in helping its business partners accelerate their journey to cloud-based organisational structures. Integrated information management lies at the heart of such a transformation.
How to unlock business value
Delegates agreed that traditional monitoring techniques have little value in a hyper-connected, digital economy. The consensus was that certain actions need to be taken:
- Take a full inventory of current monitoring tools with specific attention to end of lifecycle issues
- Develop a road map to create an integrated platform for intelligence gathering based on AI and Machine Learning techniques
- Work with business partners to align dashboards to support continuous improvement in customer experience and product innovation.