Advanced technology is key for industry leadership

Finance solutions GM talks shrimping, software, and DX at scale

by Kevin L. Jackson, CEO and Founder, GovCloud Network

Helping clients address the trends and challenges presented by the Financial Services industry is the main focus for René Dufrene in his role as General Manager of Finance Solutions at AT&T Business. His global responsibility includes Retail Banking, Insurance, Payment, and Wealth Management solutions. His background, the impact of digital transformation, the role of 5G, and what impact the “fast-to-market” model might have on the Finance industry was all fair game when Mr. Dufrene spoke with Dez Blanchfield on the “Conversations with Dez” podcast.

Born in Louisiana Cajun Country, René paid his way through college by shrimping on the Gulf of Mexico. After finishing his education in math and software engineering, he put that knowledge to use developing solutions for a number of financial institutions (FIs). After honing his skills developing highly resilient, highly secure capabilities for the finance community, he led the development of an advanced cloud networking solution, and finally landed his current position.

That background placed him in an ideal role to advise clients dealing with operational issues driven by changing customer expectations.

“Consumer behavior has changed... Some of this has been driven by emerging FinTech [financial technology] companies. A more important driver is the customer experience in other industries. For example, the apps you or I may use in a retail store influences and changes our expectations of what we expect, and are willing to deal with, at our financial institutions.”

According to René, this is a main driver of digital transformation across both small and large FIs. Although they may be in various stages of transition, a common nexus is enhancing the customer experience (CX), whether in-branch, in-office, online, mobile app or even contact center. The technology needed to implement CX enhancement can include digital signage, Wi-Fi, and other collaboration tools. An innovative possibility is the use of iBeacon technology that allows mobile applications to derive consumer context on a micro-local scale, enabling the delivery of hyper-contextual content to users based on location.

All of these services need highly secure software-defined networking (SDN) technology. This is essentially what René and his team help to provide. Mr. Dufrene shared specific in a recent whitepaper, ”The financial industry builds its networks of the future.

“In the financial services world, are IT networks up to the challenges of digital transformation? Motivated by the rapid growth and innovation of fintech, the industry’s established players are going for new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and blockchain—and in a big way. Their main aim is to create the new sources of value and efficiencies needed to compete effectively for the next decade and beyond. Getting the most out of the new tech requires on-point modernization of their IT networks, parts of which are not fit-for-purpose in the digital era.”

René leads the AT&T Financial Services Solutions team to integrate uniquely capable technology and expertise, Edge-to-Edge IntelligenceSM, and a highly-secure global network to help clients:

Client objectives have included:

  • Meeting the challenges of operating nimbly and more securely at a global scale
  • Helping to develop responses to changing cyber-threats
  • Managing the increasing mobile device types, capabilities, and numbers
  • Extending services to non-traditional customers in non-traditional sites
  • Delivering a contextual and personalized CX
  • Providing convenient access through the customer’s chosen channel and device

As René shared with Dez, “Being able to integrate at scale is a precursor to modernizing core financial systems. Some FIs have been around for a long, long time. In some cases, over 100 years… Now, they're modernizing, and that requires them to re-write the software, re-architect infrastructure, move workloads into public or private clouds, and rethink their data center strategy to do all of this in a highly-secure manner. It’s a multi-year journey in some cases.”

AT&T Business is a leading provider of Edge-to-edge solutions for Financial Services, and the largest SD-WAN provider globally. Achieve smarter, more trusted interactions with business solutions that integrate our unique ecosystem of technology and expertise with our highly-secure global network to obtain near real-time intelligence from every corner of your enterprise.