How financial institutions are transforming beyond legacy tech

Trends, challenges, opportunities and best practices

by René Dufrene, General Manager of Finance Industry Solutions, AT&T

Digital transformation is well underway in the financial services industry, spanning banks, credit unions, wealth management firms, insurance providers, and other financial enterprises using technology to enhance their business posture.

Adopting the right set of digital tools with the right timing has the potential to enhance the consumer experience, improve operational efficiencies, and more economically offer a broad set of integrated products and services across multiple channels.

Roadmap strategy

Legacy software and hardware platforms that served the industry for years, even decades, are undergoing modernization to enable business agility. A properly constructed multi-year roadmap strategy can wisely guide investment in future-flexible architecture and technologies. Such a roadmap can reduce risks and help achieve objectives in a cost-effective fashion through successive budget cycles. It’s a complex endeavor, though when done properly can lead to greater agility, risk mitigation, cost containment, and competitive advantage. A holistic and programmatic approach can especially benefit the transformation of:

  • Software-defined data centers
  • Hybrid WAN
  • Cloud services and orchestration


An avalanche of new technologies is being introduced across multiple business lines. They’re broad-reaching, network-based, and pervasive. A well-defined network architecture built with appropriate technologies is key to supporting digital transformation within your enterprise. Here are just a few industry trends driving the shift to digital:

  • The emergence of FinTech has altered consumer expectations and behaviors. According to GlobalData, 45% of consumers find FinTech services to be more convenient than incumbents. While FinTechs can be considered a competitive challenge, incumbents are also seeking opportunities to partner.
  • The customer base has become increasingly mobile in the last few years. Mobile apps have become commonplace as consumers do more and more business online. To accommodate the growth in mobile app data, incumbents are investing heavily to improve the online experience.
  • The brick-and-mortar experience is being enhanced in parallel with innovative marketing solutions in-branch and upgrades to core networking technologies.
  • AI and analytics are playing a larger role, particularly in call centers.


Beyond the obvious barriers associated with rearchitecting platforms that have been in place for decades, several other challenges exist:

  • Ensuring adherence to security and compliance requirements
  • Finding the optimal balance of public and private clouds
  • Optimizing the network in response to migrating workloads and performance requirements
  • Designing solutions that are flexible, resilient, and easy to integrate with suppliers/partners
  • Developing updated skill sets
  • Adjusting existing business processes and organizational measures
  • Orchestrating new workflows


Why endure the challenges? The opportunities are plentiful, and the results tangible. Tangible results enhance the investment cycle, which makes the journey worthwhile. When properly planned and executed, key opportunities may include:

  • Improved customer experience (online, mobile, and in-branch)
  • More agile, open, and flexible platforms with greater ease of management
  • Reduced time-to-market for new products and services
  • Cost savings by moving workloads to the cloud
  • Moving data out of customer-owned data centers and into multi-tenant data centers, hosting facilities, or the public cloud
  • Partnering with new suppliers to integrate internal applications
  • Increased talent retention resulting from skills development and progression
  • Increased insights from data for marketing, product enhancement, business efficiency, and tech evolution improvements
  • Better visibility into business operations
  • Greater efficiency to enable investment in other areas of opportunity such as repurposing branch offices

Best practices

Many of our customers are pursuing projects that revise or replace legacy systems as part of their digital transformation journey. Some notable takeaways:

  • Leveraging trusted advisors such as consultants, system integrators, and technology providers can be hugely beneficial. Engaging the right specialists and advisors can yield new results in areas like: business process, data center, security, compliance, workload orchestration, network (including virtualized services), cloud, DevOps, apps, and infrastructure.
  • Work directly with lines of business to ensure all requirements and future systems are factored in. Think of your enterprise marketing needs, for example. Are they looking to include cloud-based solutions like Digital Signage or Wi-Fi to help with product positioning and mobile adoption? If so, consider the impact to your new platform. Are new suppliers/partners in the works? What about eBonding to enable efficient procurement and trouble ticketing?
  • Given how critical legacy modernization is to business sustainability, third-party management assistance can help you focus on core business objectives.
  • Training your staff before, during, and after development can ensure your company has the right skills now, as well as down the road. Periodic security and compliance checks is a common practice. Evaluate post-launch performance and ROI to verify things are paying off as expected.

AT&T is a leading provider of integrated solutions for business, powered by a global network that secures more connections than any other communications company in North America. Our team has years of experience in the financial services industry, providing consulting and solutions for line-of business, marketing leaders, digital experience experts, as well as IT. If we can help you plan or implement security, network and data center transformation, digital signage, voice and unified communications, mobility, IoT, or project/program management, please let us know. To learn more about digital transformation in the industry, visit our Financial Services solutions page.