In 2013, Microsoft started using the slogan - “Empowering us all.” 5 Years on and Microsoft is doing just that. Office 365 is the bridge to business continuity and efficiency, bringing organisations closer together through enhanced workplace collaboration and modernising an increasingly mobile business world. This advance in technology has become something of a wakeup call for financial services. An industry which, due to regulatory disruptions, rising customer expectations and competition from emerging FinTech groups, is under considerable pressure to embrace digitalisation.
“The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t really notice it, so it’s part of everyday life” (Bill Gates). For your average consumer, that’s enough said. For businesses however, it’s important to highlight those technological advances. Only then can we truly appreciate its value to business growth. This series of blogs will illuminate those seamless benefits, illustrating why Office 365 should become “part of everyday life” for financial services and indeed, how it can unfetter businesses from the restraints of legacy IT systems in today's rapidly evolving digital landscape.
The need to embrace digitalisation
In the world of finance, digitalisation is the talk of the town. It’s also the elephant in the room. The CIO’s equivalent to a root canal. You don’t want to face it, but you know it’s the right thing to do. Embarking on any major transformational IT project is a daunting prospect. It entails elements of risk, which in the case of banks include moving from generally stable systems that, despite their limitations, have largely ensured continuity of service to customers, to new systems where long-term reliability has still to be proven. Further risks include as-yet unknown vulnerabilities in new technology and the threat that poses to firms' networks and to the security of customer data and commercially sensitive information.
However, recent backing from the FCA over cloud computing has prompted financial institutions to take a more proactive stance towards migration. Firms that were previously hesitant are now recognising digital transformation as a necessary trajectory into the technological era. A path that promises improved customer experiences that meet the expectations of millennials. A one-way street to enhanced efficiency, productivity and ultimately a business that is future-proof. What was once a question of how to thrive, is now a matter of how to survive.
Enhanced Workplace Collaboration
One way of ensuring survival in this increasingly mobile business world is through effective collaboration. According to IDC research director, Wayne Kyrtzman, “Collaboration is hot. It will stay hot,” And the digital age is only making it hotter. Cloud is opening the door to greater mobility. With new technologies it is possible to break down communication barriers, enabling remote workers to share ideas, work together in focused and productive ways and liberate business from the restraints of physical location.
With Office 365, access to emails, SharePoint sites, and corporate files, as well as endpoint management of mobile devices and tablets are accessible via the cloud. Microsoft Office 365 syncs all your documents, allowing end users to interact with and edit documents whilst seeing the changes that are being made in real time. No longer do you have to worry about one employee making changes on one version of a document whilst several others are left working on an obsolete version. This is facilitating instant forms of collaboration, keeping employees quite literally “on the same page” and boosting business efficiency.
In a world where Instant Messaging is the new face to face, team chats are central to collaboration in the 21st century. Integration into the entire Microsoft Office 365 suite allows for easy and seamless sharing of all assets. Content and chat history can be made available to the entire team or kept private. A fully integrated calendar feature automatically updates status. Notifications are customised and fully integratable with multiple third-party applications.
Mobility in the workplace is creating happier, more satisfied staff. Research shows that offering employees greater flexibility with the option of working from home nurtures greater workplace satisfaction. Flying high in the cloud with Office 365 means you are not confined by geographical constraints whilst nurturing collaboration in bucketloads. Essentially, the digital revolution is fostering greater efficiency, innovation, and growth. Those that are embracing it are heading for cloud 9, and their data is going with them.
Increased Business Agility
Banks have been around for decades. Unfortunately, so too have the systems in place that run them. Financial services is feeling the pressure of legacy IT infrastructures that have grown exponentially beyond maintenance. Intricate patching and modifications has lead to a lack of synchronisation between isolated systems and resulted in an IT bottleneck. In essence, core banking systems are no longer sufficient and the costs involved in purchasing, managing, and maintaining those infrastructures have become unrealistic.
Making the leap to Office 365 removes the need for onsite infrastructure. Without the need for all the servers and software required to run the software, you can focus on the more important issues affecting your business. Need to create a new SharePoint site collection? You do it from within the Office 365 interface. Need to create retention rules for e-mail? Again, the Office 365 management screens for Exchange are where you will find it. Microsoft engineers perform all the difficult responsibilities that go into keeping the lights blinking green on the servers. In a nutshell, Office 365 removes the burden of having on-site infrastructure, whilst still achieving the competitive advantage that comes with using the software.
Undeniably, cloud computing has brought turbulence to financial services. Those surging into the cloud as the foundation for digital transformation are subscribing not only to a price plan but a revolution. One that is changing the way users work - the way IT works - preparing for a cloud-centric future. At the eye of this storm is Microsoft. Empowering the global economy with platforms that give greater IT flexibility, nimbleness and security, Infrastructure with levels of soaring performance and downward prices, packaged in elegant, powerful and modern applications that define how we do business.
Compliance, collaboration, and agility are three words to take away from this blog. They are central to answering “why” you should move to Office 365. To find out “how”, stay tuned for our next blog in this three-part series, which will walk you through the process of moving your business to the cloud and Office 365.