I have had a number of interesting chats with IT, information security and risk people about BYO (bring your own) technology and devices, and collaborative social sharing software, lately. (they were part of the non-editorial part of my job, so I can't spill
the identity beans-yes, I know, it pisses me off too)
Anyway, we all know the considered and conservative pace of technology evolution within the financial services is frustrating for some. But an interesting debate emerged between two IT heads yesterday, that I found hopeful.
A conversation peppered with considered thoughts and curious enthusiasm produced the question:
"Shouldn't it be us, the techies, who introduce and encourage early adoption of innovative technologies?"
The question came at the end of a conversation mostly about BYO devices, cloud computing and social networking.
BYO devices are a common and growing IT risk issue. Staff (most likely senior staff) are using iPads and iPhones in their personal lives and want to bring those devices into work and integrate work email and data. Sounds simple, doesn't it, 'let the MD have
his iPad, for f*&k sake!'
However, despite the rash of banks jumping on the iPhone bandwagon, Blackberry got its marketshare in the corporate world by offering enterprise control and push email.
(As a Crackberry user myself, I know well the Siren call of the blinking red light).
Apple's iPhone doesn't really offer that level of enterprise control. When you enter the world of financial services and banking, access and control over proprietary data is serious business, not only from a reputation point of view but from a regulatory
point of view as well. (However, I think if Apple really want to usurp Research In Motion in the corporate space they do need to address issues companies face - such as data access, remote control and mobile phone recording, but I digress).
Many firms are also looking for a 'Facebook for banks' type of internal, collaborative tool in order to solve back office technical issues (as well as foster more social media type interaction within the firm). One firm I spoke to said they are facing enormous
storage issues based soley on email usage. If someone sends a document to five people in email, that document eats up space five times. However, if that same staff member posted their work document on their internal 'Wall' in order to share with their colleagues,
data storage becomes less of an issue.
These were real conversations between 'FinTechies' welcoming the march of innovative technologies, but conscious of the constraints of the industry they inhabit.
What better IT risk management risk strategy is there than to predict the iPad request from the CEO and be ready with an internal cloud platform that solves Apple's enterprise control problems? Or why buy up yet more *space* to store redundant emails, when
you can present your bank with an internal share centre for collaboration, announcements, presentations, documents and work place social interaction?
Consultants, media, analysts, commentators etc... like to harp on about a shift in attitudes around IT innovation. But far more impressive to me is that fact that there are at least two men in the City of London, watched over by paintings of men in stiff
1940s suits and handlebar mustashes, who are discussing, debating, and working the small, incremental steps towards bringing 2011 technology into their firm.