The rise of digital technology has dramatically altered the landscape in the financial-services sector. Banks offer financial planning and trading applications through smartphones and social media; cloud technologies are widely accepted, and in many cases robotics are already reducing cost and increasing quality. Since 2011, the number of startups in fintech (technology-based companies that often compete against traditional financial-services, or FS, firms) has risen more than 50 percent.
All this activity has provided new opportunities (and new competitive threats) for the industry. There is thus a significantly higher premium on the performance of the IT teams in FS institutions. To meet the demands of the new marketplace — to offer competitive, feature-laden, well-designed digital products and services, with a much faster speed-to-market, while lowering costs and continuing to support legacy systems — an IT function has to be flexible, efficient, and responsive. But those adjectives are not always applied to conventional IT departments. Many financial-services firms will have to do much more than merely reexamine their go-to-market strategies; they must also dispassionately reassess their IT operating model, and be prepared to jettison the approaches they have used for decades.