By Michael Allen, VP and EMEA CTO, Dynatrace

Over the past decade, the speed of digital innovation in banking has been supercharged. The financial services market is now on a constant treadmill of pushing software updates to enhance online banking experiences and offer new ways for customers to manage their money. This technique of perpetual innovation is an important part of a business strategy for maintaining a competitive edge in today's digital economy, especially considering major e-commerce giants like Amazon have set the bar excessive, releasing new software updates every 11 seconds.

While most organisations aren't innovating on a single scale, recent research from Dynatrace shows the typical financial service organisation releases two software updates every working hour. However, 90% of CIOs during these organisations believe they'll be necessary to do so even faster in the future. As banks look to innovate at previously unimaginable speeds, it's getting harder to make sure the software that powers digital banking applications works perfectly, each time. The checks and balances needed to assess the effect software updates dress in performance are becoming increasingly difficult due to the complexity of technology stacks. Paradoxically, this can impair the very customer experience the banks are trying to enhance.

Cashing-in on agility they are driving change

To support the drive towards greater agility, financial services organisations must first lay solid foundations to aid the process of delivering an increased amount of software updates, at a faster pace than ever before. Many have identified cloud as the best way to achieve this and are increasingly migrating their services and infrastructure to hybrid, multi-cloud environments spread across on-premises data centres and third-party services. They're also taking further steps to improve agility by reengineering banking applications into dynamic microservices and containers, to attain even greater speed and create more flexibility to innovate.

However, whilst an agile infrastructure is without a doubt crucial to driving faster innovation, it needs to be coupled with an equally agile culture to become truly successful. Employees in all areas of the organisation have to be running at the same speed and working towards the same objectives to make sure digital banking innovation initiatives are successful. This helps prevent project overlap, clashes between processes, and unanticipated problems that create poor user experiences. If everyone has the same clear goals in your mind, it makes it much easier to achieve success across the entire business.

Streamlining the culture of banking innovation

The process of driving rapid innovation demands close collaboration between your development and operations teams within the bank's IT department. One way to achieve this is to implement DevOps, an application engineering culture and practice that aims to unify the program development (Dev) and software operations (Ops) teams. While DevOps adoption helps banking institutions facilitate speedy innovation without putting digital banking experiences at risk, there are steps that need to be taken to feel the full benefits. Firstly, DevOps should be given ample resources to execute to a high standard. Our research showed over three-quarters of CIOs within the banking sector believe DevOps efforts can often be undermined by the absence of shared data and toolsets, which makes it extremely difficult for IT teams to obtain a single view of 'the truth'.

To combat this, DevOps teams need constant access to digital experience management insights and real-time AI intelligence that can pinpoint problems in the performance of digital banking services. These details must be democratised and unified so that everyone has a single view of the reality and is speaking the same language, working in tandem to drive the business forward. This approach is central to the true spirit of a DevOps culture, helping to remove inefficiencies in development processes, strengthen the chance that updates will be a success, and mitigate the possibility of developers having to go back and rectify errors instead of pushing on with innovation projects.

Putting the customer at the front of the queue

The need for speed is more important than ever for financial services organisations looking to keep up with mounting customer demand for new and improved digital banking experiences. Having processes in place to deal with this is crucial when trying to achieve rapid innovation without compromising the consumer and customer experience. IT teams must therefore combine the agile infrastructure supplied by hybrid, multi-cloud environments, with the collaborative culture championed by DevOps.

This drives innovation in a dynamic environment, both technically and operationally, mitigating any risk that rapid innovation in digital banking can have on the user experience. Ultimately, that gives financial organisations with the confidence to operate as quickly as the business and its customers demand, without living in constant fear of any unforeseen consequences.

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