Reimagining the banking experience with enhanced connectivity

The networking infrastructure found in many banks is not built to handle remote workforces, multiple video meetings or online banking.

By Thomas Sweeney

Banking is changing. According to a study on U.S. banks’ digital transformation, the pandemic pushed customers to interact digitally with banks nine times more than in previous years, and technology upgrades improved employee approval ratings by 10 percent.

Banking leaders are under greater pressure to implement innovative solutions to difficult marketplace challenges, from increasing competition from fintech companies and now big tech to mounting regulation and compliance pressures to evolving threats, changing business models and multi-generational service expectations.

The next few years will mark an abundance of watershed moments for the banking industry. Yet, surprisingly, many of these and other banking industry challenges can be resolved by the very technology that’s enabling this digital disruption: enhanced connectivity.

Banking on bandwidth for better services

Habits, expectations and preferences have changed over the years for both external and internal customers (think employees). Now, more than ever, customers expect information instantly, and dealing with their bank is no different. Convenience and the ability to communicate with banks via multiple channels such as video, chat and SMS are top of mind for customers – and equally important for bank employees in today’s work from anywhere world.

All of this requires an agile network that can scale as the business transforms and has enough bandwidth to support enhanced connectivity at the branch and headquarter level. Yet, the reality is that the current networking infrastructure found in many banks was not built to handle remote workforces, multiple video meetings or the amount of online banking that is currently happening. This is especially true for financial institutions that rely on more traditional telecom connections that can lock banks based on the bandwidth offered to them.

For many banks, software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) can provide the connectivity foundation for new digital banking services to enhance customer experience, as well as support future migration to the cloud and enhance network speed and reliability for employees.

Achieving greater digital agility, cybersecurity with SD-WAN

With the need for increased bandwidth comes the need for secure and safe infrastructure. However, security and agility traditionally have not been mutually achievable. Often , one was sacrificed for the other. That will not work in today’s digital environment, where customer experience is the top priority.

SD-WAN can help financial services organizations achieve network agility and security. Its design provides fast, efficient movement of data on the network while ensuring security and data integrity.

With SD-WAN, network administrators can segment and route traffic across the network. And, because it’s centrally managed, administrators can determine the most intelligent path for their applications to push, manage and update policies for optimal application and network performance across branches.

Additionally, SD-WAN can easily be paired with advanced security solutions, such as next-gen firewalls, secure web gateways and zero-trust network access which can help banks remain vigilant against security threats.

What banks should look for in a managed service provider

Banks that want to upgrade their networks but lack the resources to handle this extensive project in-house are turning to managed network service providers to provide technical expertise and take some burden off internal IT teams.

In the past, banks have been reluctant to use managed network service providers because they wanted control over their networks. But banks now see a need to manage costs and to rely on a provider to manage certain areas of their business.

For banks, the most critical thing to look for when choosing a managed service provider is ensuring their understanding of the financial service sector and the regulatory requirements that banks are held to. However, this isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a provider.

Banks also need to look for:

  • Business results. Look for a partner who not only wants to provide the best service but provides the right services to meet your business goals.
  • Support for both your network and security. As network and security become more integrated, having a managed service provider that can support on both fronts is ideal.
  • 24/7/365 remote monitoring and management. The need for reliable connectivity and security brings the need for complete threat monitoring and remediation.
  • Advances in security, real-world expertise. The current skills gap and ever-evolving threat landscape increase the need for a partner that has the expertise, without a learning curve.
  • Ability to serve both legacy and modern systems. As enterprises modernize, the need to integrate and service legacy systems remains.

The entire banking enterprise is affected by technology modernization from executives, employees and customers. With increased connectivity, bandwidth and cybersecurity, banks will see many benefits such as lower costs associated with maintenance, innovation and operations, resiliency to any issues that may arise, scalability and agility to support growth and high demand, and decreased cybersecurity threats. To transform banks of the present into banks of the future, robust and reliable connectivity is needed.

To support a bank’s strategic vision, enhanced connectivity and bandwidth are the foundations for enabling transformative, digital experiences. Connectivity that allows seamless, uninterrupted banking is built on flexible and integrated frameworks.

Thomas Sweeney is the executive director of the Strategic Client Group for Comcast Business.