Crisis-ready and resilient IT for the people, by the people

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Schuberg Philis
jul 11, 2022 · 9 min lezen Engels
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Strikingly, many of our customers didn’t just perform well in 2021. They found themselves thriving. We aren’t surprised by this. Last year when we spoke with our customers about 2020, we heard how many were in fact crisis-ready.

Reflections from Schiphol Group, CCV Group, and Achmea Investment Management, in particular, described being culturally, organizationally, and technologically prepared to deal with pandemic and its lockdowns. As we wrote in our 2020 annual report, “in many cases the companies had already, albeit at a limited scale, organized their work processes to be free of time and place restrictions.”

So, for this past year, we certainly wanted to know: how did our customers’ readiness for unexpected, dynamic situations age? Were their organizations and, specifically, their technology up to 2021’s ongoing pandemic and more – alas, new – crises? To find out, we spoke with representatives from multinational bank and financial services company Rabobank, principal Dutch railway operator NS, and the Netherlands’ Ministry of Finance.

Not close, but still personal

More than ever, organizations have been pressed to provide access to large groups of people while ensuring that each and every end user still gets attention that feels relevant and speaks to them personally. Achieving that balancing act is something many of our customers are committed to. But nowadays it’s far from easy. There are simply more people to serve, more organizations to compete with, markets have become more diversified, and end users themselves don’t have as much time to be doted on, let alone to stay loyal to one brand.

This tension was illustrated by Dennis Janssen, senior vice president at Rabobank. “Private banking always focused on the wealthy. People in a nice suit would come by the actual office, be received by our reception cordially and served a cup of coffee by the secretary,” he recalled. “Yet today, we also have very young internet millionaires as customers who don’t care about this special treatment at all. They don’t want a private banker or someone like that. They just sit down at a Starbucks, grab a juice, log in

“If secure and human-centric technology enables our customers to reach broad audiences, then it is inclusively designed IT that lets them reach diverse audiences.”

Digital and physical inclusivity

If secure and human-centric technology enables our customers to reach broad audiences, then it is inclusively designed IT that lets them reach diverse audiences. In a digital-world-meets-physical-world example, NS is applying digital innovations to improve the accessibility of its website and app parallel to improving the accessibility of its trains. NS “uses technology today to be able to facilitate what we call barrier-free travel,” explained Wim Liet. This entails the development of IT that lets passengers with mobility impairments use a trip planner to identify which trains will be accessible for them. Some of this information technology has already been implemented – as seen, for example, during the COVID pandemic, which gave riders the chance to check on crowd indicators and register for a seat in advance – though further iterations will help increase inclusivity and accessibility and thus better include customers of differing physical abilities.

Another facet of inclusivity concerns the creation of technology that can be effectively used by people of differing levels of literacy and, specifically, digital literacy. More and more, public websites and other communications materials are changing their tone, format, and usability to attract and include more potential readers.

Tanja van Burgel noted that although her unit of the Ministry of Finance has less direct interaction with the public than other government departments, there’s still a drive to improve the legibility of its communications. “The last few years have been quite bogged down by too much official language,” she said. “Instead, we should make sure that things are just better legible and more accessible for everyone.”

Rabobank has taken these considerations into account as well. “There will always remain a general segment of the population who is just less digitally inclined,” said Dennis Janssen. But to ensure that no one is left behind, the company has initiated programs that offer customers basic training to use certain products or that are developed for more app-wary generations or communities. “Bottom line: we always seek opportunities that let us remove barriers for our customers.”

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