Some common-sense tactics for staying informed on the IT and IS front

Apr 13, 2021

By Anne Benigsen

For at least two decades, community bankers have talked about information technology moving quickly. For almost 10 years we’ve seen information security moving at the speed of light. How can we bankers and working managers learn all we need to know given the impacts on our departments, our banks, and our lives?

For starters, we should be at least knowledgeable enough to question what’s going on.

Few if any professionals in our industry could put their primary responsibilities on hold while they build in-depth IT and IS knowledge. But bankers do need to devote some time to learning where the gaps are. How much time should you carve out for this? I would suggest 15 minutes a week or one hour a month. That’s the equivalent of one webinar a month, or a few articles or podcasts each week from a trusted source. Seek out reputable information providers—sources that will allow you to ask questions, enhance your performance, and positively impact your bank.

Next, seek out good, pertinent articles and webinars. Not all IT and IS subject matter is relevant to our industry. Narrow the field to sources you trust: If a company you’ve never heard about asks you to attend the greatest webinar about the coolest new product, you could end up wasting an hour in a group pitch. Instead, consider utilizing your trusted vendors and trade associations. Keep regulators in mind as well, because they often offer webinars on curated topics that apply to our industry. Following such industry-focused entities on LinkedIn or Twitter can lead you to articles and resources of interest.

Remember too that being part of groups like the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) can help you find resources and connect with community-focused financial institutions across the country.

Another powerful strategy for staying informed —and at the top of your profession—is to attend conferences. With the needs of community banks in mind, Bankers’ Bank of the West and CivITas Bank Solutions will hold a conference exclusively for community banks April 27 through 29 in Westminster, Colorado. The program will focus on both payments and cybersecurity education because the needs of bank operations, payments and cybersecurity are becoming increasingly intertwined—especially in the areas of fraud, cryptocurrencies, faster payments, and central bank digital currencies.

In short, then: To stay informed enough to question what’s going on in the IT and IS space, devote some time to furthering your education in those areas. Follow reliable sources of expertise, and make it a point to participate in relevant webinars and conferences.

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