Many companies are rethinking technology spending plans amid tighter budgets, as they look for ways to serve customers in the age of social distancing.
Vast Bank, a Tulsa, Okla.-based lender with a dozen branches across the state, has put a number of back-office IT projects on hold in order to redirect spending into digital-signature and document capabilities, said Stephen Talyor, the bank’s chief information officer.
The move allows personal and commercial borrowers to complete the entire loan-application process without entering a bank, something they could not do before the pandemic, he said.
Last year, the bank launched an ambitious project to install an SAP-developed banking platform as the core of its expanding digital services, including the use of advanced artificial-intelligence tools.
“We were in the middle of that when the pandemic struck,” Mr. Taylor said, “and we had to reprioritize.”
New coronavirus cases in Oklahoma have risen 26% over the past week. The state has so far recorded 4,675 cases, including its governor, and 428 deaths.
Among the bank’s new initiatives was to enable remote working for its staff—in part with collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams—while building new apps to serve customers with far fewer employees at the bank, he said. That meant shelving IT plans set out earlier in the year, he added, such as upgrading helpdesk software or developing self-service password resets.
Worldwide information-technology spending this year is expected to decline by 7.3% to $3.5 trillion, according to IT market research firm
Tighter budgets will have many CIOs shopping for more cloud services and subscription software to lower upfront costs, Gartner says.
“But the improvements in IT spending, as CIOs strive to become more digital than planned, come at the expense of many other spending lines,” said John-David Lovelock, Gartner’s vice president of research.
Mr. Lovelock said Covid-19 is forcing banks, department stores, movie theaters and other businesses to find new ways of using IT to stay afloat without physical locations.
Large enterprise IT providers, including
and SAP SE, say corporate customers are postponing major technology projects as they race to install collaboration and business-continuity software to support remote employees.