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Technology > Marketing Technology

Lessons From 10 Years in the Tech Trenches

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Back in March 2010, I was asked to write this monthly column sharing my technology observations and views, and giving advisors some helpful ideas and advice. It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, so it’s a bittersweet task now to deliver my last column.

As we all know, it‘s important to balance priorities and that’s what I’m trying to accomplish with everything on my “to do” list. However, here are some final thoughts.

My first column was about “cloud computing,” in which I said that advisors should evaluate and consider cloud-based systems for their firms. Funny to think about this today, when there are now only a handful of “locally” installed applications still around. However, back then, it was an important decision for advisors because installed applications dominated their technology stack.

Is there something similar to this today? Perhaps it is machine learning, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IOT), or 3D printing. The message for advisors is this: Continue to pay attention and watch for opportunities to leverage new technology.

Furthermore, as was the case with cloud computing in the early years, you might take your cue from how you use “consumer” focused solutions.

Cybersecurity certainly got a lot of attention in my columns during the past 10 years. This was necessary, but also disappointing, especially because it is still such a big challenge for our profession.

Unfortunately, cybersecurity has gone from being a nuisance and distraction with a computer virus a number of years ago to being a significant risk of financial loss and/or data corruption in today’s world.

The “fraudsters” also have become a lot smarter and more patient, waiting for the perfect time to execute their attacks. The days of being able to count on catching a fraud attack by noticing obvious misspellings or grammatical errors in an email are past.

The message here is to remember that both technology (software and systems) and continual staff training go hand-in-hand for providing the best defense.

Perhaps the most significant “user” change I noticed during the years of my column is that everyone now engages with your firm’s technology systems and infrastructure.

Essentially, the clearly defined distinctions between back office, middle office and front office systems, and even systems for clients, are often no longer obvious. In fact, it is more common (and expected) for several different roles and skill levels at a firm to use the same system and data sources with varying degrees of customization and access options.

Furthermore, now clients are active users connecting digitally with a firm through various systems. This ultimately has changed the regular “client meeting” from a sit-down to go over paper reports to a technology driven experience where you might not even be in the same time zone as the client.

Bottom line, your digital office has a much larger footprint than your physical office. Explore all the possibilities.

One advisor challenge that hasn’t changed over the years is how past technology experiences — especially negative situations — can get in the way of realizing success with future technology endeavors.

We all have our own technology habits, tendencies and impressions that directly influence how we evaluate not only new technology systems, but also how we leverage new features in our existing systems. No doubt that our history and experience with technology is important.

However, it is just as important to recognize when it is time to re-think and reevaluate our various habits and inclinations towards technology, regardless if they are positive or negative. Technology overall continues to evolve, and it is important for all of us to do the same to best achieve the technology goals for our firms.

Finally, I’m grateful for the time you have taken to read my thoughts, and for all supportive comments and insights I have received from so many readers during the past 10 years. It has truly been my pleasure to serve our profession through this column.


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