Today’s post was written by Jo Ann Boylan, Chief Information and Operations Officer for First Midwest Bank.
First Midwest Bank is a “bank with momentum.” When I joined First Midwest, I walked into an incredible opportunity to help the bank create a modern, collaborative workplace for our colleagues. Our new headquarters near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport—with open spaces, cafés, and informal meeting areas—facilitates flexible work styles and sets the tone for a new work environment at First Midwest Bank. We selected Microsoft 365 productivity tools to complement this modern environment, and the tools play a key role in making our vision for a highly secure and better-connected organization a reality.
I’m passionate about making First Midwest Bank a more agile, efficient, and enjoyable place to work across our more than 115 bank branches and offices. Embracing a cloud-first strategy, however, is about meeting customers’ needs as much as it’s about empowering our workforce. Today, banks must respond efficiently to clients and colleagues who expect to access their information on the go and prefer self-service options. We saw an opportunity to better serve them in a rapidly changing industry, with technology front and center.
Security is also top of mind at First Midwest Bank. It’s crucial that we control and protect our data. Microsoft 365 satisfies our cloud-based security as well as risk and regulatory compliance requirements, and we use Microsoft Intune and conditional access policies from Azure Active Directory (AD) to prevent accidental or malicious data retention on personal devices.
In our new email environment, we rely on the robust reporting capabilities of Microsoft 365 to alert us to phishing, and we’ll be deploying Azure Information Protection to scan documents for confidential information. This will be a boon for our customer care and loan operations groups, who work with documents that contain customers’ sensitive information. With all these capabilities in one integrated environment, I don’t have to add more tools on top of an existing framework—we’re saving time and money in IT while ensuring that everyone is up to date.
Microsoft 365 arrived at a pivotal moment in First Midwest Bank’s history. Over the past five years, we have evolved from a community bank to the third-largest independent bank in Illinois through a series of mergers that increased our workforce and our reach. Going forward, we will be using Microsoft Teams to streamline how we expand our business. Many different groups—from IT to operations to facilities—need to collaborate and share information during a merger. By using Teams chat, meetings, and calling to gather input, we will keep disruptions to a minimum throughout this complex process.
We’ve begun introducing our early adopters to Teams and are starting to move our colleagues from their personal drives to OneDrive. We’re in the early stages, but I’m excited about the interest and enthusiasm our colleagues have for these and other Microsoft 365 tools. As we expand our training throughout the organization, I expect Teams to become the primary collaboration tool across the bank.
The built-in accessibility functionalities across Microsoft 365 such as speech-to-text dictation, live captioning, read aloud, and real-time translation are just a few capabilities that allow First Midwest Bank to further enhance our commitment to inclusion and engagement on all levels. We strive to create a workplace where people of all abilities can do their best work every day. Microsoft 365 helps us do just that.
The leading-edge productivity tools and mobile device management capabilities in Microsoft 365 also make bringing new employees up to speed vastly more efficient and stress-free, especially for newer hires who are used to consumer-level capabilities. Making agile, efficient digital tools available in the workplace will help us attract and retain the best and brightest talent in our industry.
Microsoft 365 is an integral part of our roadmap for transformation at First Midwest Bank, which is illustrated by a role that we created to drive adoption: Microsoft 365 Relationship Manager. Part of this role involves matching user groups with the productivity tools that are best suited to address their needs. We’re already seeing interest in Microsoft 365 artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, and we are exploring the use of chatbots in our internal helpdesk to take pressure off our IT staff.
We’ve always had an incredible team at First Midwest Bank, and our current transformation is all about giving our people the resources they need to continue being successful in an evolving industry. Our vision is to be the partner of choice for financial services in the markets that we serve. We must be fast, digital, and responsive to colleagues’ and customers’ needs, and with the help of Microsoft 365, our momentum shows no sign of slowing down.