Rising costs and greater demand for efficiency are prompting many Hong Kong banks and financial organisations to invest in growth-enabling technologies as a way to retain existing customers and attract new ones.
Whether electronic document management systems (EDMS) or customer relationship management (CRM), technology is seen as a way to conduct business more effectively and efficiently. Successful CRM relies on the use of technology tools that enable banks to learn more about their customers' needs and behaviour in order to develop stronger relationships with them.
In the banking and financial environments, EDMS technology can help integrate numerous disparate information systems that would otherwise work independently of each other. Banks and financial enterprises rely on EDMS technology as a method for scanning and archiving paper document images, as well as the ability to track and store electronic documents.
Describing his organisation's ongoing investment in technology as a journey, Stewart Carmichael, JP Morgan Investment Bank chief technology officer for Asia Pacific, says technology helps provide consolidation between business operations and best-in-practice solutions for products and solutions platforms. "As markets continue to change, using technology to bring products and services to market in a timely manner is critical to maintain a competitive advantage," says Carmichael.
In the front office, he says technology also plays a vital role in connecting with clients, allowing them to stay in touch with the markets while providing reliability and accuracy.
In the back office, where scale, volume and large-scale transactions generate pressure, technology plays a key role in processing millions of messages each day.
"The growth and sheer volume of data that is used in the industry each day means we continually need to develop new user-friendly solutions," Carmichael says.
JP Morgan aims to hire the finest technologists who want to continue to learn through professional development programmes and on-the-job training, he says. Preferably, technology candidates would have an interest in the financial markets as they are perceived to add more value if they understand the business.
"With more than 7,500 technology staff spread globally throughout the investment bank, there is a diverse range of opportunities for those with a passion for technology," says Carmichael.
According to Stephen Lau Ka-men, JP, president of the Hong Kong Computer Society (HKCS) and Hong Kong's first privacy commissioner for personal data who held office in 1996 to 2001, Hong Kong's technology landscape has become so wide-ranging the industry needs a clarification system to identify areas where IT professionals with specialist training are required.
"Currently, there is a misconception that IT is mainly about programming, rather than a huge area the industry encompasses. These days, the IT profession is a diverse industry that requires many different types of specialists with differing skills such as security, data, systems analysts, and technology architecture and project managers," he says.
Lau adds that the HKCS plans to launch a road map project to track different areas of the IT sector and identify specialist competencies needed for a successful career.
"We believe this is the first project of its kind and will be valuable to a variety of stakeholders. For example, by using the roadmap matrix we will be able to assist students by letting them know in which areas there is a demand for IT professionals and the competencies they need to develop to advance their careers," Lau says.
At the same time, from a recruitment perspective, businesses will be able to decide which type of specialist they require to match their IT needs. Professional bodies and universities will also be able to use the matrix to identify skills gaps and determine where relevant training programmes are necessary.
Lau says the current hot areas for the IT industry are security, personal data privacy and cloud computing.
He says the HKCS is working with the Hong Kong Privacy Commission to develop a set of guidelines for IT professionals, particularly on privacy and data protection.