May 31, 2013

You don't hear the old saw from the 1980s and '90s, "People are our most important resource," too much anymore -- even though in many ways it's truer than ever. It's not that people no longer are valued in the workplace (although victims of downsizing might disagree). Rather, in banking, the human factor has become too complex, dynamic and, frankly, costly to reduce to a platitude. The ways IT professionals do their jobs, the ways in which workers interact, their expectations around their jobs and careers, and the skills required to do those jobs all have changed dramatically in recent years, paralleling developments in technology and in the banking industry at large. People in banking IT are trending younger, with a growing number of digital natives bringing their reliance on mobile and social tools and their expectations of work-life balance to a business that's challenged by new kinds of competitors, less-loyal customers, stricter regulation and less budget flexibility.

While no self-respecting banktech executive would admit to reducing a financial institution's IT employees to mere "resources," that same executive no doubt is trying to figure out how to get the most out of those employees -- how to tap their creativity and passion, while also keeping them focused on mission-critical projects and making sure that this work is done efficiently and economically. There are choices and trade-offs that have to be made in relation to automation, vendors and partners, outsourcers and contractors, remote work arrangements, regulatory requirements and shifting technical capabilities. Making the right choices about those trade-offs and investments is the focus of Bank Systems & Technology's 2013 IT Resource Management Guide, a special report that analyzes evolving workforce strategies along with new approaches banks are taking (or should be taking) around other complex activities on the CIO's priority list, such as outsourcing, vendor management and collaboration.

With technology unquestionably the foundation of everything from compliance and risk management to marketing to customer service and retention, the ability not only to economically manage IT resources but also to secure the best of those resources -- whether employees or software or business partners -- will be a critical, highly visible and scrutinized capability of bank CIOs and line-of-business managers. Executives who take that for granted and are unable to think beyond the platitudes and buzzwords either need a reality check or are in the wrong business.n

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & ...