The banking community in APAC has a few new victories to celebrate this year – their digital maturity has reached a new high and adoption of digital services, solutions, and platforms among all segments of customers has soared. While there is no doubt that the pandemic has been a catalyst for this shift, this momentum is likely to be sustained going ahead.

This success has in turn brought focus on the need for ‘observability’ in the industry, which is not only critical to delivering a stellar customer experience but also (and probably more importantly) key to business continuity in this new normal. This is largely a new concept so let’s try to visualize what it really means by peeking into the work we are currently doing for a prominent bank in the region.

Delving into the world of observability

We are all familiar with the concept of monitoring application performance and understand how it works in the case of traditional applications.

However, new-age applications, especially in a highly regulated space like banking and financial services, are complex. They live on the cloud while keeping data protected in hybrid cloud environments, their customers access them from anywhere using any network and any device. In addition, they face the risk of being the target of cyberattacks in any environment, and at any stage of the transaction.

A breakdown in any of these segments can cause an outage of the bank’s application, preventing users from accessing their accounts. With digital being high on the agenda of finance ministries around the world, downtime is scrutinized by regulators and not only hurts the credibility of the institution in the eyes of the customer but also the governments.

Existing monitoring tools make it possible to identify what caused the outage. However, they don’t provide any context and don’t tie the data to business outcomes. As a result, IT teams need to put in a disproportionate amount of effort before the organization can get the slightest hint as to what went wrong.

This is where observability comes in.

Observability – at its core – is designed to provide end-to-end visibility to customers about their applications. It taps into the entire digital ecosystem from the application itself to the datacenter, cloud vendors, right up to the network, to generate a great deal of data.

What really makes the difference for customers, including in the financial services sector, is the ability of observability platform to tie that data to outcomes – like transactions, or tangible goals. This means the IT teams can gain insights that provide the right context. This, of course, takes the pain out of detection and analysis and keeps everyone focused on fixing errors and delivering seamless experiences to end users.

As a result, mean time to repair (MTTR) is also minimized. In fact, most observability suites worth their salt make it possible to proactively analyze applications and their ecosystems to prevent outages in the first place. Cisco’s solution, comprising of AppDynamics, ThousandEyes, and Intersight, has the added advantage of driving forward the organization’s security agenda thanks to the ability to defend against even new-age runtime vulnerabilities using inbuilt Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) capabilities.

Single pane of glass view to drive business results

Our client has a great digital application but doesn’t have control over everything when it comes to ultimately delivering the experience to its customers. Everyone has a role to play – from the datacenter it owns, to its cloud services provider, and even the customer’s own device and network.

Observability provides a single pane of glass view of the entire digital environment and allows the bank to proactively spot issues and anomalies, determine how they will impact the experience and hence, the business, and thus prioritize accurately which issues need the attention of the team since resources are finite.

Since the client has built its infrastructure using Cisco hardware, stitching together its various systems to feed into the suite of observability solutions is seamless. For clients who have worked with other vendors to build the infrastructure footprint, getting onboard Cisco’s observability platform is quite easy as well. In fact, it gives them an additional benefit – that of the ability to gain deep insights into their hardware and the entire digital environment for the first time.

If you think about it, observability is truly critical for banks. It is almost like they should be the first ones to deploy it across their organizations. In the modern era, everything from core banking modules to treasury and operations management, and even the ATM networks are all application driven. Their ‘business as usual’ relies on a portfolio of integrated digital tools, software, and solutions all working together seamlessly.

Hence, it is easy to see the value that observability can bring to them. It is the best route to solving most of their application performance and optimization issues, in the right order of priority, and delighting customers with smoother experiences, no matter when, where, and how they interact with the bank’s applications.

At the end of the day, there is a lot of demand for observability today because organizations are waking up to the reality that monitoring tools don’t provide them with the insights they need, to make decisions in the hybrid multi-cloud world we now live in. Since observability can be tied to business objectives, the conversation in every industry is different – but at its core, it is all about doing business seamlessly in digital environments without interruptions.