No executive in the financial services business wants to be in a position where their customers yearn to do something digitally but cannot. Be it opening an account, compliance with prevailing know your customer (KYC) guidelines, executing a transaction, generating a report, or even communicating with support staff to get help with something.

It is clear in today’s world that failing to do everything digitally leads to lost revenues, lost loyalty, and ultimately, lost customers.

Even in the digital space, customers want to be able to do things on their mobile devices instead of their desktops. With plenty of traditional and new-age players competing for the same customer – irrespective of the size of their wallet – the customer is truly king.

One of the customers we work with sees this every day. They’re an established player in one of Asia’s most demanding markets and see customers constantly pushing the boundary when it comes to using digital to transact on-the-go.

In their market, organizations cannot afford any downtime when it comes to their digital operations. Unless scheduled in advance, downtime causes a loss of confidence among customers and a loss of reputation in the market. If this downtime is during market hours, it also invites unwanted attention from regulators who want to know the organization is investigating the issue and will take steps to prevent it from re-occurring.

In the new era, digital is not just about delight – it’s about uptime and availability.

Modernizing infrastructure and applications

Most financial services organizations today provide, at the very least, a basic minimum of digital products and services with the help of a digital team comprising of technology specialists, product managers, and more.

The customer we worked with recently was fairly advanced in the digital space. They had made efforts to patch up their legacy applications, to create connections to front-end workflows, and to deliver efficient and engaging experiences to customers.

They also understood the need to modernize their infrastructure and applications – but while in the midst of putting together a roadmap, they suffered an unforeseen outage that caused them severe damage in terms of revenues, reputation, and more.

The company’s leaders worked with Cisco to accelerate their plan to build a hybrid cloud. This not only allowed them to support the upcoming features and capabilities that would be delivered digitally but also helped upgrade their applications and enable a shift to microservices.

Working with our team enabled them to combine a few solutions that naturally work better together. One of the most prominent tools in the new technology stack is Intersight which enables the company to get data center, networking, as well as infrastructure management insights on a single dashboard. For their team, this means being able to monitor their blade and physical servers, their hyperconverged infrastructure, and more – all without too much effort.

What leaders in the client organization really appreciate about Intersight is the fact that it not only gives their IT team insights into overall functionality but also generates proactive alerts to predict and remediate upcoming hardware issues.

This means, issues with uptime and availability are a thing of the past and downtime can be avoided almost entirely. Or – at the very least – customers can be informed in advance and a planned/scheduled maintenance slot can be announced.

On the other end of the spectrum, they’re also able to deploy solutions to monitor the performance of applications, pin-pointing issues leading to poor digital experiences and finding ways to solve them before they impact too many customers.

Managing data centers and disaster recovery architecture

For the financial institution, setting up the data center wasn’t the only concern. They intimately cared about building the right disaster recovery architecture and setting up the right network across the organization so that workflows, internal or for customers, would never be affected in any way whatsoever.

In the case of our client, the move to modernize its infrastructure was well thought through and involved a combination of bare metal and virtualized workloads. Setting up disaster recovery for this configuration could have been challenging without technology solutions that work well together.

With Cisco’s solutions, for example, the IT administration team can use a number of templates and policies to manage applications and data seamlessly, no matter where it sits.

What this also means is that when data needs to be moved from the data center to the disaster recovery site or vice versa, the switch is easy and needs only a few clicks thanks to the programmability and API capabilities Cisco’s solutions offer.

To put things into perspective, think of it this way: The financial institution decided to host different pieces of information in different locations. Thanks to the infrastructure and networking capabilities they chose to deploy, they have uninterrupted access to each piece of information. Further, they have put checks and balances in place to avoid losing any of this information and using our technology, can manage everything on a single dashboard.

Security is never an afterthought

For a financial institution, security cannot be an afterthought in the digital space.

As a result, the leaders set up granular micro-segmentation policies to create borders between workloads to ensure only the right people in the organization have access to the information they need, when and where they need it.

They’ve also deployed next-generation firewalls to protect workloads across the organization from all kinds of threats.

However, that’s not all. Modernizing the financial services organization’s infrastructure and applications means preparing for a future-forward state that allows for deploying interesting security solutions such as Security Access Service Edge (SASE) to protect those using their applications.

Today, the client provides a digital experience it can be confident about.

The customer’s own trend analysis suggests that most consumption happens on the digital side – and thanks to their work with Cisco, they have built a strong foundation focused on uptime and availability. With the house in order, it’s time to up the ante.

In the coming months they have plans to make a deeper impact on the market by providing richer, more delightful digital experiences to customers and even to their own staff.