The Record - Issue 19: Winter 2020

88 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om F E ATUR E W hile the Covid-19 pandemic plunged the majority of the global financial services industry into disarray, a number of well-prepared banks had the digital infrastructure required to not only keep their heads above water, but to accelerate the reimag- ining of their workplace. “Banks have been considered the economy’s first responders to the pandemic,” says Jon Farmer, director of financial services industry marketing for Microsoft 365. “And those with a modern infrastructure have undoubtedly been best positioned for success.” It’s something that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was quick to praise when he took to the mic at the recent Sibos event, which took place digitally. “This pandemic has clearly caused massive constraints and chal- lenges, and business have had to dig deep to respond, recover and reimagine core parts of their business – all in parallel,” he said. “Digital tech has become one of the most malleable resources to help continue operations – frankly I’m stunned with the level of economic pro- ductivity that’s been maintained.” These thoughts have been echoed by Microsoft’s senior leaders. “Very few banks had a global pandemic in their contingency plan,” says Chad Hamblin, Microsoft director for the worldwide financial services industry. “Just to keep the lights on, banks have had to empower their employees to work from home almost overnight – and enable them to continue to deliver an experience that their customers have come to expect. What’s miraculous is many banks have been able to achieve that by lever- aging the power of technology. It’s stressed a lot of infrastructure, yes – but it has also expedited the transformation that many banks have been wanting to achieve for years.” Dutch bank ABN AMRO is a case in point. As one of the earliest pioneers of virtual client ser- vice models, it already had the infrastructure in place to enable geographically independent service, anywhere and anytime. This has only improved since the arrival of the pandemic – with bank branches closed, suddenly a large group of customers discovered the value of the bank’s video banking solution, and many became converts. “Covid-19 accelerated the BY L I ND S AY J AME S With help from Microsoft, leading financial institutions have not only equipped their staff with the tools necessary to deliver continuing customer satisfaction, but they’ve also expedited the digital transformation that they have long been waiting for to recovery renewal From