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Is Financial Services IT Leaving the Wrong Kind of Legacy?

  • Manasee Dash By

Plagued with legacy applications, security and compliance issues, we explore how IT teams in banking and finance can build a bridge between outdated systems and next-gen digital workspaces.

There’s an old saying in software application development:

“Legacy software is fine. It’s just old software that still works.”

In banking, “legacy” has made financial services IT leaders cringe for years. The word conjures visions of aged IBM mainframes and green screens, piles of COBOL program printouts and entire floors of disk drives. In practice, most of that old tech is long since gone. But in truth? Legacy systems continue to have a place in financial services, where a significant number of institutions still use legacy Microsoft Windows applications to power their businesses.

Mobilizing Legacy Applications

With the enterprise mobility management (EMM) market expected to reach a valuation of $510 billion by 2022, businesses all over the world are sparing no costs. In today’s businesses, “going mobile” means far more than offering mobile email or browser capability. Mobility means offering anytime, anywhere mobile access on any device to all the apps they need such as Windows-based legacy and corporate apps, native apps, Web apps, Saas apps, etc. to get their jobs done

In financial services and banking, this anytime-anywhere access has real, tangible benefits:

  • A Wall Street firm’s CEO or Chief Risk Officer who, as she prepares for a meeting with regulators, needs the relevant facts available on her mobile device in real-time.
  • A commercial-lending CEO who, while en route to a meeting, needs to approve a credit line extension for his most important client.
  • A top wealth-management advisor who, while offsite recommending new investment options to a client, needs to be able to review that client’s portfolio’s performance.
  • An insurance broker who, while meeting with a new prospect to discuss a home/auto policy, needs to be able to provide rate information in real-time and begin the prospect’s onboarding process.

But Challenges Persist

Mobilizing legacy apps is about much more than making the user interface touch-friendly. It’s a whole new state of mind.

Most Windows legacy apps were designed for an era before mobile platforms like Apple iOS and Android, when employees accessed information within the financial institution’s four walls.

Rewriting thousands of legacy apps for mobile is simply not a practical option. Banks have invested a lot of time and effort into building applications tailored to their way of working. Because of these investments, it can be very difficult (and expensive) to re-engineer long standing legacy applications for mobile platforms.

And then there’s the element of user experience. While users want all the comforts of their tried-and-tested apps on a smartphone or tablet, legacy applications are built around PCs with very specific operating systems (OS), drivers, libraries, etc. Mobile employees, such as financial advisors, lenders and corporate treasurers, end up either frustrated with the hobbled together mobile interface or lugging around extra hardware to support using the applications they need.

Ultimately, the burden is on IT management to ensure that mobile access to legacy apps is provided while ensuring security, privacy and compliance. According to IDC’s 2015 Mobile Enterprise Software Survey:

More than 50% of financial institutions report that their mobile deployments have been met with security and compliance issues.

Adding Value to Legacy

So how do you get legacy applications to users who expect to work anywhere on any device, securely and in compliance with regulations? VMware offers two ways to make this possible for financial institutions:

  • VMware AirWatch Secure Browser and Tunnel: Internal legacy apps can be accessed on both managed and unmanaged devices. Secure Browser allows corporations to take advantage of mobile browsing and reduce security risks
  • VMware Workspace ONE: The new digital workspace platforms helps users access an enterprise catalog with one-touch, mobile single sign-on (SSO). Further, the risk of data leakage is greatly reduced, because information is stored in the data center or cloud, not on the employee’s mobile device.

Your Legacy Is In Your Hands

Giving employees the ability to work from any device at any time allows financial institutions to stay competitive and drive growth by creating a more productive, efficient and agile environment. There are hundreds of core business and legacy applications that financial institutions have not or would not even contemplate mobilizing. But it’s starting to make more sense to do so, and the technology has evolved to a point where new possibilities are continuing to emerge.

Here are a few additional resources to help financial services IT leaders:

Manasee Dash

Manasee Dash

Manasee is the senior product line manager for financial services solutions, End-User Computing, at VMware.

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