It’s not unheard of, that a CTO might have to grill some staff at audit-time, and that line of questioning to take some oddly specific turns. “Why is our hosting provider billing us for this server ORCL-001A? What’s it doing here? Weren’t all our backend systems moved to SQL Server? Weren’t all these virtualized?” Whether it’s an internal or external audit, and whatever the small or large technical reasons that lurk behind odd discrepancies in the technical layer, even the smallest of financial firms have to understand what they’ve got, what they’re using it for, and most importantly what value their technical layer is delivering to the business now and in the future. If that anomalous machine is the only one providing a specific needed function critical to the business, it might well be strategic to leave it in place. From the back office, to the branch (even Andrew’s branch at the Starbucks), to the data and hosting center, it’s clearer than ever that business needs must drive technology requirements and strategy.
This is the essence of enterprise architecture, and even for smaller banks, keeping an eye on specific and measurable business results when driving technology changes is critical. When we help financial institutions work on transformative initiatives such as bringing multiple channels together (channel convergence) or implementing a mobile wallet, both near and far term business goals have to drive decisions. It’s not a mystery that those goals are usually around profitability, or growth in the amount of deposits, or efficiency in transaction speed for our customers, but creating an architecture that supports those goals now and in the future is where the rubber meets the road. Not only do we as technologists need to understand the technologies that are already in place functionally, but we need to examine where that fits in the business goals as well. Does the non-compliant or aging piece of technology deliver the business goal? Does it do it within the targets for costs? Can something else deliver the same goal more effectively? Will it be able to meet those goals on the more distant horizon? Recognizing the strategies and technologies that best drive growth and productivity and executing those plans will help drive success in meeting both business and IT goals.
Image credit: Forrester Research