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Pandemic post-mortem: The 1-2 technology punch for financial companies

Pandemic post-mortem: The 1-2 technology punch for financial companies

View the original article published on November 30, 2021 in the AIMA Journal – Edition 128.

The beginning of the pandemic forced many companies to sprint toward achieving remote working capabilities to ensure business continuity. Remote access has traditionally been viewed as a luxury to be used essentially on weekends, nights, or in the case of necessity. We are in for the long haul of remote working and collaboration, and now, more than ever, financial companies must create a competitive advantage in this paradigm shift in the workforce.

According to PwC’s US remote work survey of 50 executives and 144 employees at US financial services firms, before the pandemic, only 29% of employers had at least 60% of employees working from home once a week. Today, 69% expect at least three-fifths of their workforce to telecommute at least once a week.

The knee-jerk reaction to moving business operations off-site quickly at the beginning of the pandemic didn’t account for the possibility of a long-term solution. This caused hedge funds to leverage specific sets of application stacks that weren’t designed for remote access. Now with the initial remote workforce setup hurdles behind us, quick thinking, technology enablement, and agility previously used are still vital for financial firms to remain competitive and move forward.

The initial onset of shifting to remote work uncovered critical gaps in business operations and collaboration capabilities. So, what does a sustainable remote environment strategy that can have a positive impact look like for the financial industry? The answer is a 1-2 punch of SharePoint and Microsoft Teams in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem with an extra jab from Microsoft Power BI. This powerful combination of technology tools is already in place at many financial companies. The difference is the power of utilisation to tap into the true potential of achieving seamless and real-time collaboration with enhanced financial business processes.

Pre-pandemic businesses were accustomed to ‘prairie dogging’ – where you’d pop your head over a cubicle for banter and a mini collaboration session. However, that method of ‘getting on the same page’ has since been sophisticated and institutionalised over the past year and a half. But, we’ve only scratched the surface.

For example, financial services companies have an abundance of files nested in folders, emails, and Excel spreadsheets, which can slow down the relay of information stored. Those systems began to migrate to modern toolsets to accommodate the distributed workforce, however, now the real work is beginning, and financial firms are starting to realize the muscle of the Microsoft stack.

Data is ever-changing and financial services companies are stepping up to ensure access to tools that display and unite information discreetly. Microsoft Teams in the Microsoft 365 suite powers collaboration by serving as the window into all data with customised applications specific to your business.

Within Microsoft 365, businesses are able to view, edit, and share data in real-time with permission management to protect critical financial data. In SharePoint, employees can transform Excel files into a modern cloud workplace application by eliminating multiple inputs and increasing the speed to drive business decisions. SharePoint also relieves time and fatigue by extrapolating data and communication from countless email threads to enhance business decisions.

Teams and SharePoint are revolutionizing collaboration, task management, and approval process workflows. However, there is one critical piece of the puzzle needed to transform businesses – that is often underutilised. The game-changing component to a financial business’ IT infrastructure is tapping into Microsoft Power BI, a data analytics powerhouse that enables companies to capture, visualise, and analyse data that matters to most.

With Power BI, you can scrap the lengthy reports and access current data that is readable and understandable with eye-catching charts and graphs at your fingertips. No more waiting on figures, using data from old reports or being unable to find specific data sets. Power BI leverages its business intelligence technology to retrieve data and reports quickly using the most current data without tedious file searches and human error. The robust tool enables reports to be built on the fly and embed them in almost any place within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Connecting to live data sources like SharePoint, Salesforce, or most other third-party apps and tools, enables businesses to take action using that data, identifying issues, trends, and opportunities.

Financial businesses recognise the urgency of unleashing the full potential of the Microsoft stack and go beyond just accessing the tool. However, this digital transformation journey to modernise business processes and data isn’t an easy path. An expert partner can help identify the key features of Microsoft 365 – whether it be Teams, SharePoint, Excel, Power BI, or more -to maximize your return on investment, empower a distributed workforce, and catalyse your financial business.

It’s important to note that remote workforces aren’t the only ones to reap the benefits of embracing technology innovation to achieve superior collaboration and performance. Businesses are embracing hybrid, on-site, and remote workers or a combination of all of the above. Whether it be fully remote, hybrid, or in the office, these Microsoft tools and power apps increase efficiencies in financial businesses – no matter what your workforce looks like. This forward-thinking IT architecture is a foundation that solves common challenges in modern workplaces and is a vehicle to untapped business processes and data that drive decisions financial companies can bank on.