John P. Sullivan is senior vice president for technology at Washington Trust. He manages the company’s technology initiatives and functions, including hardware and software, IT risk and security, disaster recovery and systems support.
Sullivan has 16 years of experience in information technology.
PBN: What are the biggest technological challenges facing the banking industry?
SULLIVAN: A constant challenge is to stay current with the ever-changing landscape of technology and the needs of our customers, while staying one step ahead with data security and fraud prevention.
PBN: What are the key criteria you use in purchasing new technology?
SULLIVAN: There are so many options with technological advancement today. The criteria are based on assessing the risk of the technology, how it will directly benefit the customer and the organization and spending wisely. Ultimately, technology should improve a situation and stay relevant for more than just a few years.
PBN: How important is technology training for employees of an organization?
SULLIVAN: Technology training for employees is essential - without it you simply have technology that is not fully utilized and an organization that could be exposed to avoidable risk. It is imperative to keep employees up-to-date on training and industry trends, including new releases of software. It is also equally important to have an effective training approach that addresses a variety of learning styles.
PBN: Is there one word of advice you can offer bank executives when evaluating new technology?
SULLIVAN: Have a solid understanding of your needs and requirements. It’s important to realize that you can never ask enough questions. Do your homework before a demo and, if possible, obtain feedback from trusted peers who have used the technology you are considering.
PBN: As more and more people conduct their banking via non-branch channels, such as smartphones and tablets, has the technology area been more involved with new product development?
SULLIVAN: Absolutely. Our success is predicated on meeting and exceeding the needs of our customers. Today, that includes smartphones and tablets. Tomorrow it will be something different. It does not take long for technology to become outdated. The pace of technological advancement over the last 10 to 15 years is astounding. The only thing that is constant is change. The challenge is in determining which changes are trends and which ones are here to stay.