Power to the People

John O'Hara Operations, Technology

In a period of extraordinary technological innovation, it’s still people that make innovation a reality.  The people in the middle and back office who manage the supply chain, answer calls at the service centres and create workflows to handle the exceptional requests. But these people need to become even more efficient, and quickly without disrupting the current business. What can be done?

In a period of extraordinary technological innovation, it’s still people that make innovation a reality.  Not just chief executives, founders and management teams but also people in the middle and back office who manage the supply chain, answer calls at the service centres and create workflows to handle the exceptional requests.  I believe that without these ‘back-office’ contributions, many innovative products and services would not materialise.

This is true of any industry, including investment banking which has historically seen itself as an exception to most rules. Today, investment banks are facing the reality that they’re not so different after all.  Shrinking profits highlight an urgent need for ‘soup to nuts’ process efficiency. Luckily, some of the technological advances of the past decade are paving the way for ‘utility-lite’ approaches to help banks achieve back-office efficiencies.

Long gone are the days when investment banks can design and sell a product and worry about the supporting internal supply chain later. Efficient processes and flexible service models are now required to meet client needs on a sustainable basis.  Regulatory changes are also putting extra pressure on operational processes and any failings are being exposed and penalised like never before.  Banks can no longer afford to invest in more people or new infrastructure to get ahead of the problem.  Successive waves of technology and new organisational structures have, by and large, failed to cut costs, create utility solutions to common headaches or reduce headcount costs to any meaningful degree.

We cannot stay the same. We cannot change. What to do?  Building efficient highly automated supply chains based on common standards is the ideal in the long term.  In the short-term it’s possible to identify efficiency gains that do not involve lift-outs or multi-year legacy system replacement projects.  Utility-lite solutions based on the collaborative, analytics-focused technologies are emerging to improve existing processes without reinventing them.

From an operations perspective, I believe that greater control, capacity and flexibility can be achieved at low cost by empowering staff – give them the skills and tools to handle the inevitable outages, exceptions, and unexpected requests more quickly and collaboratively.  This is where Taskize can help.  Our platform provides transparency on breaks and creates a common window – ‘the bubble’ – to view and flag issues in one place.  This enables operations colleagues, clients and counterparties to clearly see where the breaks are in the process and get on and fix the problem.

In my twenty-plus years in the operations departments of global investment banks, the contribution of people to efficient operations has proved a constant. Taskize optimises processes helping to improve the management and control of resource, giving individuals time to focus on value adding activities.  Activity can be tracked and monitored by the system giving stakeholders and clients transparency on transactions and allows for the continuous improvement to operational processes.

When it comes to building flexible, sustainable, scalable operations capabilities, throwing people at the problem is no longer an option. As technology-based innovators have shown, throwing solutions to the people just might be.