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Why DEM Matters More Than Ever in Financial Services

February 28, 2020 No Comments

Featured article by Joe McCarthy, Technical Evangelist

Remember waiting in line at the bank? Banking customers are doing a lot less of that in the digital era, which has revolutionized the way financial services function. Live tellers and bankers have been replaced by online transactions and digital currency. Insurance, mortgages, investments, and more are also mainly handled online.

Waiting is no longer an option for today’s financial services customers, who now expect instant and accurate transactions conducted on a website or mobile app. This has given rise to a new technological discipline called digital experience monitoring (DEM).

A clear user interface and real-time account details, stock prices, premiums, and more are part of today’s customer experience, but availability and speed are equally important components. A slow performing website or app, or one that doesn’t provide current data, will have a negative impact on the user experience and ultimately on your brand’s image.

In conducting DEM programs for financial services providers, we’ve identified four of the key pain points that IT teams face in providing an excellent customer experience:

The Cloud: Financial services providers’ increasing dependency on the cloud makes monitoring end-user experiences complex, as this major performance-impacting variable is injected into the equation. On more than a few occasions, cloud-dependent enterprises have been painfully reminded that the cloud is not immune to performance slowdowns or outages. Even though the major cloud providers have expanded their infrastructure to comply with rigorous financial institution requirements, public cloud implementation requires detailed plans and processes, as well as close SLA monitoring, to avoid disrupting customer-facing services.

Adding to this dilemma is the fact that some DEM approaches advocate monitoring cloud-based services from the cloud. Enterprises that go this route must make sure they’re not monitoring from the same cloud supporting their services. Otherwise, if the entire cloud goes down, so does your monitoring. You’ll be blind, with no way of knowing that your cloud-based services are down.

Mobile Constraints: Mobile finance has been steadily increasing in recent years, with statistics showing more than three quarters of Americans used a mobile device the last time they checked account balances (1). Mobile banking gives financial services providers a direct channel to consumers; to differentiate themselves, these providers are focusing on offering customer-centric products, services, and features. Customers can now apply for a mortgage on a bank’s mobile app or online and receive conditional approval within one day.

The load time and availability of mobile banking apps and sites require particularly close attention to end-user performance across a wide number of geographies, mobile networks, and device types. The constrained nature of mobile networks naturally increases mobile sites’ and apps’ susceptibility to performance degradations, far beyond what desktop devices typically experience. These constraints must be factored into the mobile versions of applications to ensure fast load times.

Software Development: Many financial services providers are opting for rapid digitization to keep up with customer demands. They are rolling out new functionality faster than ever before, but high-quality performance must be built into the equation. There is no point in arriving first to market with a cutting-edge application, if the application is slow or crashes.

So don’t treat performance testing and monitoring as an afterthought. Rather, DEM needs to be a focus from the earliest stages of product design and development. Using previous IBM studies (2) as a reference, the cost of fixing a defect in production can be as much as 30 times higher than addressing it in the design or development phase.

APIs and Third-Party Services: Financial services rely heavily on application programming interfaces, or APIs, to provide extensibility, making their services compatible across other platforms. APIs function as the glue holding the digital world together. In Europe, APIs are vital to the PSD2 Open Banking Initiative, paving the way for developers from multiple organizations to build fully integrated applications and services. Performance problems with APIs can disrupt services and bring financial transactions to a standstill. It is therefore imperative for DEM strategies to include a close watch on APIs, making sure they are consistently fast and reliable.

Today’s advanced features require an understanding of user behavior, which means providers are increasingly using third-party tags to gather user-specific data. A third-party tag that is slow to load or experiencing technical issues will, in turn, create a bottleneck within the application. The application may slow significantly because of the third-party tag, resulting in a poor end-user experience.

Conclusion: Financial services will continue to undergo dramatic technological changes, adding to the complexity of IT systems supporting them. With these new technologies will come increased expectations for performance.

As you can tell from the categories above, many of these services depend on outside resources and infrastructure. DEM can ensure that every piece of the puzzle, whether internal or external, is operating to support the customer. This will not only prevent problems from occurring, but also provide a stellar end-user experience that can become a competitive advantage.




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