Matt Nidd discusses application modernisation with The Informer's Michael Ray.
Michael Ray: Chief Delivery Officer at global digital business DB Results, Matt Nidd is a program delivery specialist with experience across multiple sectors specialising in Financial Services, Energy, and Utilities. Now, Matt has key expertise and extensive experience in the delivery of large-scale enterprise projects, while navigating complex compliance challenges. Matt has worked extensively with clients to help them assess, deploy, and manage world-class technology solutions. Today we're talking with Matt about the finance industry and what challenges businesses face in the current climate. Welcome Matt.
Matt Nidd: Morning, Michael, thanks for that introduction.
MR: It's okay, now the finance industry, there's a lot of compliance in this. How does DB Results address this?
MN: DB Results spent a lot of time obviously pouring over the changes in compliance and legislation, speaking with regulators, and basically working to provide advice to our customers on how to navigate complex compliance changes in the context of their specific business and technology challenges.
MR: Now, as with most business, but even more so in the finance sector, technology is playing a bigger and bigger part in this. How does an organisation go about making sure that they're up to date?
MN: Well, it's a long answer and a complex question. The organisations that we deal with are generally characterised by large amounts of legacy technology infrastructure applications, and ultimately what we call technical debt, which is the complexity that's locked up in those systems as a result of them being aged, and not necessarily well suited to being changed or providing information in such a way that can meet customers digital online expectations.
In short, it's very complex and becomes more and more complex over time for them to respond to changes, both in compliance and customer expectations. We work with customers to look at those technology architectures, work out ways to make them secure, manage that total cost of ownership whilst also maintaining almost a two-speed strategy where we build. We assist them in building and designing digital solutions, which continue to run at a speed and in such a way that abstracts the complexity away from the customer and the age of those underlying systems away from the customer, and leaves them with a more contemporary view of their data and the functions that those companies provide to them. Whilst obviously being able to make changes to that experience that let them remain compliant and contemporary in the market.
MR: So, organisations with old systems and platforms, is the advice to scrap them, throw them all and start from scratch, or integrate them into new systems?
MN: Look, there's been a big shift. I think the business case to consolidate into a fresh set of enterprise systems or an ecosystem is one that's become more and more challenging. Particularly in the FSI industry where there's been large amounts of merger and acquisition activity over the last decade. You know, the goalposts keep moving because you're acquiring other customers with aging infrastructure and applications as well. So having a business case to collapse, you know, two, three, four hundred applications onto an ecosystem of 25 Target funds, it just doesn't stand up with the time taken to do that sort of a consolidation. So, what we're now seeing and what we're advising our customers on is, as much as possible, modernise the legacy applications and keep those assets secure and able to serve data. Then where you've got strategic products on those, move a subset of those to a more contemporary set of applications. So, we're seeing people sweat assets for longer as long as they can move those into the cloud and secure them and reduce the cost of ownership. And then move the products, and services, and processes, onto a newer and more contemporary, more digitised ecosystem.
MR: Now, cybersecurity is another big cost or at least cost of doing business now for organisations. How does DB Results play into that?
MN: Well, interestingly, cybersecurity in the increasing role of the Exec and the Board and making sure that customers data is protected. Obviously, we had changes in making breaches portable over the last five years. It's sharpened people's focus, especially the Boards’ with that liability, you know, progressing all the way through to the organisation to the Board. Now means that it really has exponentially impacted that business case that I mentioned before around modernising that legacy architecture. Obviously, new applications are generally built to today's security standards. But what we find is those hundreds of legacy applications generally are much, much harder to secure and as we look at those and continue to test them when they're moved or upgraded, we find more and more vulnerability. So it's part of the modernisation process for those applications where they can’t easily be moved, migrated on, or transformed.
We assist customers in assessing how to modernise and how to make them secure, without changing them and compromising in other ways materially. So, the concept of modernisation we see is multifaceted. Firstly, obviously we need you need to get them into a situation where they can be hosted on shared infrastructure and in a cloud type situation. They need to be having the end-of-life or end-of-support issues addressed so that it's supportable, and then that needs to be made secure as part of that process. So, we assist and advise customers on how to address those three points, which effectively makes the application both… it gives it a longer lifespan and it means that it's secure in its new home. It is able to be moved while we work on transforming those customers in those products and moving them over time onto contemporary secure applications and platforms.
MR: Now Matt with the rate at which technology changes what’s your expert advice when somebody like myself, sees well, this is going to change, it's a new thing coming up. Do we jump into the stream now? Or do we wait for that next big thing that we've read about that's going to make the current one a little bit less, less productive?
MD: Look, having worked with some sort of compliance changes that were fairly leading edge across both the Utilities and Financial Services sector this is a challenge that we face regularly. Obviously, huge investment at the bleeding edge for compliance would be something we would advise against unless people absolutely have to.
However, where there are technologies which are going to drive significant benefits for customers and consumers, often that's the way our customers are pushed. What we know though is if you break those problems up, they're generally just an aggregation, or these new solutions up, they're generally just an aggregation of existing technologies and problems and there is expertise out there. So, if you do face into these problems and you don't have an alternative, then there's some very cutting-edge decisions having to be made around payments. For example, at the moment with the proliferation of the likes of Afterpay, changes to payments that are driven through phones, customers are having to be made to move on to very progressive technologies probably before they're comfortable. The key is to not go out on a limb too far. With anything that's very, very, new to market, engage some good Enterprise Architecture advice, have a good look at the market, make sure you still assess those investments based on the principles you would any other investment for your organisation. Most importantly try and find some specialist skills in the underlying technologies. So, you can make a decision that you are going to be able to work with, you know for the duration of the project that might take two or three years, but also as that asset matures over time.
MR: I suppose that's exactly why people come to experts such as yourself with DB Results, to weight these things for them, rather than make the decisions on their own.
MN: Yeah, look, it's not it's generally not people's core business, and it's where we can help.
MR: Alright, Matt Nidd from DB Results. Thanks so much for your time.
MN: Thank you, Michael.