Richard Ferrara, CTO & EVP, Woodforest National Bank
Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs in 2013 and expectations
Modernizing specific banking applications within the back office. It doesn’t really give you the “wow factor” in the branch world or at the customer level, but replacing applications that are getting a bit long in the tooth and improving some processes, make day to day tasks more efficient.
Another consideration is, of course, mobility. Mobility has been the front and center for the past few years and will continue to dominate. With mobility, you have the “consumerization” of IT. As mobile devices advance, I see those devices becoming more of a producer of information rather than a consumer of information. Just look at the new Surface from Microsoft and the capabilities the device offers in a more robust OS. That ties into some BYOD initiatives that we continue to explore. Not only does the customer want to bank anywhere at any time, but, to attract and retain a talented workforce, we need to accommodate employees wanting to use any device to complete various tasks. Security needs to evolve to enable faster, reliable and, most importantly, secure mobility for customers and the enterprise as a whole.
Other programs we are looking into is enhancing our digital presence/ marketing within the branch and bringing eye catching solutions/ information to the fingertips of our customers.
Technology trends impacting enterprise business environment
Virtualized desktop is something that we are moving forward within the back office. It gives us a few advantages. First, desktops are centralized within the data center. Second, no data resides on the desktop, thus improving security at the endpoint. If set up correctly, the virtual desktop can greatly enhance your business continuity effort. Combine those with application virtualization, and non-persistent desktop, your virus target is greatly minimized because the desktops are destroyed and rebuilt nightly.
Another, I would say, is virtualizing the servers, but we started that many years ago and we are 99% virtualized on the server side.
Of course, we can’t forget about the Cloud. We’ve looked at the possibility of putting some applications into the cloud, mainly on the infrastructure side, a few years ago. The arguments used to justify moving to the cloud didn’t quite fit for us, since we moved to a leasing model for our servers and storage five years ago. We will continue to review and perhaps move some systems just to dabble a bit.
The areas in business environment where solutions do not yet exist or not up to the mark, and which if existed, would’ve made job easier
In technology, we are always advancing and improving. Resource management has always been a pain point. We do a good job managing big projects, however, those little “drive bys’ (oh, can you do this one thing for me real quick) continue to chew up resources. Sometimes, while trying to move forward with technology, we are held back by 3rd party application. We continue to push vendors to enable us to move forward with the latest technology.
Lessons learned and advice for fellow CIOs
First, don’t be afraid to fail. If you are trying to innovate, expect setbacks. However, learn from those mistakes and failures and press onward. Test and learn, learn and test.
Next, when you hire good people, you need to trust their ideas, experience and methods. Combine that with keeping them challenged. True technology people love to be challenged and use it to drive innovation, and efficiency which drive the enterprise forward.