12:46 PM
Steve Silberstein, SunGard
Steve Silberstein, SunGard

Love Story: Consumerization of Technology & Wall Street

Employees love their personal technology, but they don't feel the same about corporate systems. This must change, as workers are looking for the same UX in the workplace as they do on their phone.

Steven Silberstein, CTO, SunGard
Steven Silberstein, CTO, SunGard

In Spike Jonze's award-winning 2013 movie Her, Joaquin Phoenix's character falls in love with a new operating system that brings him out of a depression, elevating him to a state of bliss. While some may think it creepy or scary that a human being can actually develop romantic feelings for an operating system, it does make a strong point about the evolving role of technology in our lives and that it must ultimately win our hearts as well as our minds. Let's face it, had the voice of this OS not been Scarlett Johansson's but instead that of an unfriendly GPS, Joaquin may not have been so enamored. Think: "Recalculating."

Technology is so pervasive in our lives that we are conditioned to buy, sell, download, share and interact with the stroke of a few keys or the swipe of a finger. Everyone has high expectations for the technology we rely on, whether it is e-commerce sites, social networks or the smart devices we use daily. I venture to say that users do, in fact, build personal 'relationships' with their gadgets and apps. We demand functionality, size, utility, speed, reliability and convenience but we also demand intuitive and stunning design. The user experience is king.

What do these expectations mean for enterprises? Do the applications that we use at work offer something that we could fall in love with? Today we bring the rich expectations from our personal lives into the office, and the offices of financial services firms are no exception.

Having said this as a Wall Street veteran, I also know that there are good reasons why we cannot implement everything we use in our personal lives on trading desks, for example. Of course, the conundrum for most IT groups is how to harness new and emerging trends and technologies without exposing the enterprise to greater risks and costs. Accordingly, we have to work somewhere between heightened consumer expectations and enterprise IT reality.

I would like to share a few things that the financial technology industry is doing to harness consumer technology to enhance and create richer user experiences for financial services firms. These are things that I think financial services firms would appreciate, and maybe even love:

1. UX Matters: With artists and engineers working together as artisans and inventors, we are improving the aesthetics to core mission-critical technologies that service the financial services industry. In the past, you received the latest hardware and best software at work. That is no longer the case. Today we bring rich expectations from our personal lives into our offices. By investing in User Experience (UX) labs, financial technology firms can re-design existing products and create new, updated interfaces.

2. No Drama Allowed: We want our relationships with technology to be smooth and drama-free, just like our romantic relationships. Consumer applications are increasingly intuitive and require little to no instruction. If it is easier to use, it will be used. The creation of new visualizations and intuitive solutions can reduce the need for training, increase productivity and expose more functionality.

3. Get Smart: Let's face it, intelligence is attractive. Many firms are grappling with massive amounts of information and struggling to turn it into useful business intelligence. Applications for the financial services industry need to help users manage the information smartly and quickly. By integrating business intelligence functionalities into core transaction processing systems, financial technology firms can empower their customers' analysis and decision-making.

4. IT Dating Scene? For more agility and lower TCO, financial services firms may decide to tell their IT folks that they want to start seeing other people. Within most enterprises, it is just not feasible for a centralized IT function to be cost effective and move quickly enough to satisfy the needs of all its constituents, as these needs are often too disparate, specialized or dynamic. It is also not possible for IT to be the single source of technology innovation. Building on a global delivery model that embraces public and private cloud, technology firms can continue to provide financial services with versatile deployment options.

Beautifully designed, more intuitive and powerful applications that provide customers with smarter information faster: this is how we can build technology and applications that are easy to love, even without the help of Scarlett Johansson.

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Nathan Golia
Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
2/21/2014 | 3:48:58 AM
re: Love Story: Consumerization of Technology & Wall Street
Last point Gă÷ i don't know that's necessarily a bad thing. It may mean that people with certain skills move out of the enterprise to the vendor side. But they could probably be better compensated and given better tools to do their job in the process.
User Rank: Apprentice
2/18/2014 | 6:36:04 PM
re: Love Story: Consumerization of Technology & Wall Street
In this article I only saw suggestion for improvement through a UX focused strategy. When I think of UX it includes the total user experience including aesthetics, usability, security and more. I am not sure I understand your comment. I assume it is your belief that a company should not have a strategy to improve UX because it is too difficult for programmers?

Saying that a company should strive to provide a better UX in their internal and external products isn't pie in the sky. I understand the difficulties of change in large scale systems, I program every day (and night sometimes). If we were to build a wall to keep change out so bad things don't happen, we'd still be working on old DEC computer systems huddling in the corner scared of even the shadow of change and improvement and still end up exposed to security threats and the pressure of competition in the market.

There is a way to change, its hard (BI near rocket science :), but not impossible. We should strive for change or end up like DEC. We should have a healthy fear of change, but not an attitude that prevents innovation and improvement.

I applaud Steven on providing a direction for his company and a benchmark for his industry. It's up to the financial industry on how to achieve it, but it isn't something that should be dismissed because Target was hacked or you believe UX improvement is somehow virtual. In the end, its the users in the real world that matter and improving their experience should be job one.
User Rank: Ninja
2/15/2014 | 5:27:35 AM
re: Love Story: Consumerization of Technology & Wall Street
Written like a spreadsheet guy that's never written a stick of code here:) With complex system out there today, I tell folks sometime they have to wait as you want to think about Target right now? Security takes extra time to integrate and compile with the data platforms to work. I keep telling all that both government and consumes are learning a real cold hard lesson about IT complexities today and sure IT departments try to please, I always did but there's a time when you have to address the folks wanting algorithms fairies that there are none and it's work in progress..that's why I said I laugh when I read articles like this as they don't take the real world into consideration and this is written to address the virtual worlds.

By the way, I had a whole different take on the movie HER and it addresses the problems we have today with folks not being able to tell where the virtual worlds leave off and where the real world is. All models don't work in the real world too as people don't work that a nice rah rah virtual focused article here...

Articles like this when seen over and over in the news really are not fair to the average consumer a CIO today and have a big network to be responsible for ..and write a bit of code or sit next to one for about a week and watch how it works...I'll guarantee you will have a new focus and you won't see articles like this one anymore. Reality will catch up with you and you might see some of your own confusion with virtual versus real values:)
User Rank: Author
2/14/2014 | 9:21:09 PM
re: Love Story: Consumerization of Technology & Wall Street
To your second point here, I've heard about data and analytics solutions providers working to improve on the visualization aspect of their tools. This way they can make it so more people in the organization can understand and make use of the analytics tools, instead of only the data scientists being able to do so. It's definitely a worthwhile idea, as you mention, to put more information in the hands of more people in the organization. It helps employees feel empowered, and can lead to new ideas and innovation.
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