In today’s fast-paced world, professionals in the banking and finance industries face many challenges. In 2017, Microsoft signed up Liberty Mutual, the TD Bank Group, and Deutsche Borse Group. What is the significance of this? All three companies operate in a highly regulated environment. Office 365 for finance institutions delivers features that banks need to take advantage of emerging cloud technologies, increase employee involvement and agility, and meet the requirements of financial compliance and security. In today’s world, the key to success in financial services is the ability to combine innovative technology with business.
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Financial industries face the following specific concerns:
• Security issues
• Cost optimization
• Customer service
Let’s look at each of these areas in more detail to learn how Office 365 helps finance industries.
1. Regulations and Compliance
One thing the banking and financial industries have in bucket loads is regulation. These regulations include minimum requirements for maintaining records in a non-erasable format that cannot be rewritten. They also ensure that entities such as the SEC can perform effective examinations on broker-dealers.
How can Office 365 help banks and financial institutions satisfy regulatory requirements? For one, your employees can continue to work on documents because they are kept in their original locations. But if the content is covered under the retention policy, a copy is saved and stored in a designated secure location for the time that the policy remains in effect. This is something that users do not consciously have to do in order to be compliant.
Timestamps become a part of the content’s metadata; once that occurs, the timestamp cannot be edited or deleted from that metadata. Since banks and financial institutions are required to maintain records for five years, a cloud-based data storage solution like Office 365 makes sense.
Retention policies in Office 365 use the standards built into Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure, which employs multiple layers of redundancy and information backups at the data center level. The primary goal here is to maintain multiple copies of data that is currently in transit or at rest and to provide means of recovering your data in a timely manner. In the rare event that your data is lost or corrupted on Microsoft servers, it can be readily restored. Importantly, as part of its standard policy, Microsoft does not disclose the locations of its data centers.
How Office 365 complies with regulations
You can check the Microsoft Office 365 compliance web page to get a comprehensive list of the compliance standards Office 365 has already met.
One notable feature of Office 365 is the Preservation Lock. Once a policy has been locked, no one—not even an administrator—can turn it off or even change it to be less restrictive.
Office 365 also provides audit logs that tell you who performed the action and when, what changes they made, which commands were used to perform the action, and whether the action was successful.
Besides HIPAA and PCI, Office 365 also complies with FERPA, CJIS, and other U.S. and international standards. Office 365 and Azure, two of Microsoft’s most popular cloud services, strive to uphold compliance regulations.
Microsoft’s commitment to maintaining compliance also comes in the form of newer features. For example, Microsoft introduced the Office 365 Customer Lockbox in 2015 to ensure that users have final access approval for their data; any actions performed are logged for auditing purposes.
2. Security Issues
Security issues have been around since the inception of the financial industry. But in today’s ever-accelerating digital world, security exploits have evolved and adapted to changes.
Small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that run their services on outdated infrastructure are at a greater risk of being breached by hackers who exploit vulnerabilities, putting customer data at risk. For that and other reasons, banks and financial institutions have been moving to the cloud in large numbers since mid-2016. Because of the way Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure is set up, user data protection is often better than what a small-to-medium-sized company could offer on premises.
Before migrating to Office 365, financial institutions should check for weaknesses in their infrastructure, processes, or security that have gone unnoticed. They should remove or upgrade outdated software, ensure that access by administrators is protected, and employ redundancy in their security methods.
Some of the tools used by Office 365 include eDiscovery, onHold, Archiving, Azure Rights Management services, Information Rights Management, and Azure AD Premium services that include identity protection, as well as Advanced Threat protection with encryption.
Microsoft employs cyber security experts to monitor customer data on a 24/7 basis. And to go even further, Microsoft’s security teams routinely simulate real-world data breaches to test and improve the cloud services they offer.
3. Cost Optimization
One of the best known advantages to using Office 365 is reduced overhead. The cloud eliminates the need to purchase hardware and mobile devices. This is possible because it allows employees to connect with their own personal devices while at the same time complying with standards and regulations.
4. Productivity and Mobility
Today’s businesses are no longer confined to the traditional on-premises office setting—many employees choose to work remotely or on the go. Office 365 provides mobile convenience, trusted services, and security.
Use of the cloud improves mobility. With apps like OneDrive, SharePoint, and Skype, your employees can stay connected and collaborate seamlessly from anywhere in the world. Office 365 also enables end-point management of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Users can also interact with and edit documents from their mobile devices.
Office 365 contains a built-in feature know as Mobile Device Management (MDM). MDM helps companies secure and manage their users’ mobile devices, like iPhones, iPads, Androids, and Windows phones. Companies can create and manage device security policies, remotely wipe a device, set up device policies like password requirements and security settings, block unsupported devices from accessing Exchange email, view a list of blocked devices, remove users from MDM, and view detailed device reports.
5. Customer Service
Today’s banks and financial institutions need tools to track, manage, and engage with customers. One such tool is Microsoft CRM online. This CRM allows banks and financial institutions to track their activities and interactions with their clients. When Microsoft CRM online is coupled with Office 365, it can provide enhanced customer service as well as improved organizational efficiency.
Microsoft is serious about ensuring that its products maintain compliance, security, customer service, cost optimization, productivity, and mobility. Office 365 reduces the demands on financial institutions’ IT departments for such things as hardware configuration, software installation, ongoing support, maintenance, administration, and capacity planning.
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