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Some things not only change, but go away

In the banking industry there's a distinct sense that nothing ever goes away.

ATMs and online banking were supposed to replace brick-and-mortar branches. Uh uh.

 Debit cards were supposed to do away with checks. Please.

 The meteoric rise of all things mobile was supposed to supplant everything that came before. Forget about it.

But that's the banking industry. Those in the technology field happily, blithely, and cavalierly say goodbye to things, and then make it seem like they are doing everybody a big favor.

The latest news from Microsoft illustrates this extremely well. It seems that on April 8, 2014-one year from the date of this announcement-support will end for Windows XP and Office 2003. That means for all the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of users out there (fairness alert, me included)-Microsoft customers and partners who have for years relied on automatic security updates, patches, and other tech support, are out of luck.

Here's how Microsoft sugar coats this: "It's the end of an era, but for businesses that still have PCs running Windows XP and Office 2003, it's also an opportunity to make their IT more secure, mobile, and productive to meet the demands of the modern worker."

Put another way, we all now have the opportunity to go through the expense of buying new computers with at least Windows 7, and preferably Windows 8, installed, as well as enduring the soul-draining experience of transferring all our old work onto the new equipment.

Or, as Erwin Visser, general manager, Windows Commercial, puts it: "Moving away from Windows XP to a more modern platform in Windows 7 and Windows 8 will ready your IT infrastructure for future technology solutions and growth of your company. Windows 8 is the modern [operating system] for modern businesses, building on Windows 7 fundamentals such as speed, reliability, and enhanced security, while creating a modern platform designed for a new generation of hardware options."

Hoo boy.

In the long run it's probably not as arduous as it sounds. It's progress. It's not only computers, though.

PricewaterhouseCoopers says in a recent report that the wireless industry is poised to do away with antiquated technologies, or at least scale back. Ironically, one of the lagging areas is the old-fashioned practice of actually calling somebody and speaking to them.

"The report finds the continuing trend of declining mobile voice usage as subscribers consume more data services. The average minutes of use per postpaid subscriber decreased from 720 per month in the previous survey to 673 per month in the 2012 survey," PwC says.

It finds that eight of 12 carriers it polled have plans for, or are currently in the process of, decommissioning network assets. "Driven by the complexity and cost of maintaining multiple technologies, more carriers are preparing to decommission their older networks as more subscribers continue to upgrade more quickly to new devices," says Shara Slattery, PwC partner.

Back in the banking industry, Oracle gushes about "enabling transformation of retail banking" through its highly touted Oracle Banking Platform. It does make the cogent point that "modern banking requires modern systems," and points out several problems that probably sound familiar:

 The inability to deliver a consistent cross-channel customer experience because of different channels being implemented with little commonality in architecture and design.

Protracted cycle times for implementation of new capabilities that affect new channel capability, new product development, or innovation in general.

Limited or no practical upgrade paths for heavily customized vendor solutions and in-house developed legacy banking platforms.

It's all true, but these are headaches for the C-suite. When the phone in one's pocket and the nicely broken-in laptop or desktop are retired, everybody has headaches.

It's not just inconvenience, either.

A company called Shred-It-which has a vested interest in this-warns about the security issues involved in getting rid of old hard drives and electronic devices.

"Fifty-four percent of American businesses think that erasing, wiping, reformatting, or degaussing old electronic devices is enough to protect their confidential information from being retrieved. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The most effective way to permanently destroy all information is to crush the hard drive or electronic media device," it says.

Back to Microsoft, Gartner offers these suggestions to prepare for the demise of Windows XP and Office 2003:

Understand the risks involved. Not having support means that organizations' PCs could be vulnerable to attack. Organizations may be on their own to resolve issues and problems, which could result in system downtime.

 Assess position. Organizations that are not almost or completely finished migrating off Windows XP and/or Office 2003 should reassess their position by reviewing their project plans and ensuring that they are on target to meet the deadline.

 Classify applications and users, and work on critical ones first. Organizations must conduct several analyses on their application portfolios to help safeguard the organization after XP support ends, and in preparation for Windows 7 or 8 migrations. For critical applications that can run on Windows 7, consider moving these users first.

For those of us who just use technology, and don't much care how the technology works, we'll just bang our heads on the wall and then muddle through.

Sources used for this article include:

Prepare Now for the End of Windows XP and Office 2003 Support

Dawn of Windows 8 Brings New Device Opportunities as Sun Sets on XP

Oracle Banking Platform: Enabling Transformation of Retail Banking

Maturing wireless industry reaches saturation, turning carriers' attention to new growth areas, according to PwC US survey

Old data may create new risks for businesses  

John Ginovsky

John Ginovsky is a contributing editor of ABA Banking Journal and editor of the publication’s TechTopics e-newsletter. For more than two decades he’s written about the commercial banking industry, specializing in its technological side and how it relates to the actual business of banking. In addition to his weekly blogs—"Making Sense of It All"—he contributes fresh, original stories to each TechTopics issue based on personal interviews or exclusive contributed pieces. He previously was senior editor for Community Banker magazine (which merged into ABA Banking Journal) and was managing editor and staff reporter for ABA’s Bankers News. Email him at jginovsky@sbpub.com.

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