Security, productivity inform the evolution of communications platform

David Gurlé

Remote meeting technology can be dressed up, or clothed as business casual. David Gurlé is founder and CEO of Symphony Communication Services, a remote team platform for business, launched in 2014. Gurlé told BankBeat why enterprise-level technology is necessary for remote teams and how COVID-19 has accelerated the evolution of this technology.


What do banks require of chat or video services?

David Gurlé: Our customers operate in a highly regulated industry and getting the technology right that fits with their constraints is key for them to run their banks without interruption. 

Security and compliance are at the top of mind of our customers. What institutions need is a secure and compliant collaboration platform and a trusted community where they can build and automate conversational workflows and connect to their counterparts with confidence. 

We provide end-to-end encryption, on-premise key ownership and enterprise-class administrative control. 

COVID-19 has certainly shed light on the importance of secure communication tools, whether chat or video conferencing, particularly for businesses and regulated industries. Prioritizing security over rapid growth is especially important in the enterprise space, and of course this is now paramount as more people are working from home and exchanging increasing amounts of information over chat and video.

Can banks ensure security just with the standard platforms we’ve gotten to know?

D.G.: They can’t. They have to be more cautious in terms of what technology they would allow for their employees to use, especially when working from home.

Where do strictly business apps start to pull away from something like Zoom?

D.G.: The first distinction is, who is allowed to use such an application? In social use, the security capabilities are not tailored for the required grade of authentication requirements for business users. The second distinction is how you build an application that is trusted and designed for enterprise use, offering a much wider range of functions that drive efficiency into the workflow. These functions can include app integrations, screen sharing and chat bots that automate manual processes. In comparison to a video conferencing app designed for social use, our users don’t necessarily leave the platform when the call is over. They can continue to communicate.

When COVID-19 hit, was your platform slammed?

D.G.: The world’s top financial institutions … were using Symphony before the COVID-19 pandemic. When COVID-19 appeared in Asia and started to spread to the rest of the world, we were able to support our customers as they all transitioned to split and remote operations. 

The swift transition to remote work did result in large increases in usage on the platform, as financial professionals required a way to stay connected with their teams and across their contacts outside of their firm.

Since then, what have you been hearing from bankers? This crisis has surely created a demand for things we hadn’t really thought about yet. 

D.G.: There was a lot of sudden interest in business continuity. Some of our customers actually asked to see our own business continuity plan. Collaboration technology has become mission critical, but it’s not only in the chat function where we’ve seen spikes; we’ve also seen that people are using screen sharing and video capabilities more now.

What can those who prefer face-to-face interactions expect ahead?

D.G.: COVID-19 and remote work exposed opportunities and vulnerabilities in the financial system infrastructure, and we’ve seen a massive acceleration of the digital transformation process across banks and firms. We’ve seen that mobile usage is on the rise as people continue to work remotely. Like other crisis situations this industry has faced, [banks] will emerge with a much stronger infrastructure, much more digitized, and better prepared for the next unexpected event. 

There already is a new version of normal. COVID-19 jump-started the conversation around longer-term work-from-home policies and what the future of this could look like, and we’ve learned that companies need to be better prepared with the right technology in place. Many of us have also learned that we are actually able to function just as well — if not better — working remotely. Overall, people have come to expect more flexibility, which is good for humanity. Organizations will hopefully be productive because they will have happier employees