Mark Keepax, SVP, ASG Software Solutions
When any new technology arrives there are those that embrace the developments and those that are content to continue with old systems and outdated platforms – often attributed to the logistics and time (wrongly) associated with adoption.
The latest in this conveyor belt of new technology is cloud adoption, which has seen rapid acceleration as enterprises realise the numerous benefits it offers them. These include reducing the complexity of the IT environment, lower operating costs, simpler application management and increased business efficiency.
The financial services sector has often approached such topics with caution, but times are changing with the industry now beginning to understand the long-term business benefits new technology can offer – none more so than cloud computing.
While legacy IT systems, sometimes decades old, provide familiarity, their outdated nature actually poses more risk than comfort to financial firms. Despite the general opinion that legacy systems are a cost effective tool, they can compromise data when being moved and cause problems that may affect overall business efficiency, particularly when a business undertakes acquisition or expands internationally.
Despite there being no ‘one size fits all’ cloud solution, the technology offers agility and flexibility in what is now a competitive and cut throat industry, where efficiency is often the top priority in the monthly executive meeting.
Furthermore, despite the popular belief that it is the IT department’s sole responsibility, the introduction of cloud services may bring the overstretched team some relief. Cloud platforms provide a single user interface so that almost all enterprise applications can be managed with a simple click of the mouse, meaning business managers are now increasingly involved in the decision making process.
So with all these obvious perks, what is holding the financial industry back from the adoption of cloud? In short, it is what probably causes the majority of CIOs restless nights.
A recent survey from IDG Enterprise revealed that two thirds of key IT decision makers viewed security concerns as the biggest barrier to cloud adoption. Loss of control and data management were also mentioned as serious issues facing financial organisations when considering cloud services.
While these issues certainly need to be considered, the reality is that cloud infrastructure is extremely robust, with services like data backup, disaster recovery and secure login processes. Businesses implementing a sturdy cloud infrastructure can reinvent and reinvigorate business processes, helping the organisation become more agile, responsive and, most importantly, more cost-effective in everything from data management to customer outreach.
For example, enterprise app stores provide sufficient and managed access across departments as well as devices. As BYOD continues to become a standard aspect of the workplace, an enterprise app store provides “data on the go.” This delivers on demand by a target set of business critical secure applications, securely requesting access to products that have been identified to support the mobile business strategy.
Many financial firms have fully embraced SaaS, while others are planning long-term cloud enablement strategies, of which there are two opportunities:
Private cloud – offers a solution to critical business data security concerns, whilst hybrid offers a scalable and flexible business solution.
Private and hybrid cloud – offers control and containment over companies’ most sensitive data, in line with regulatory requirements and overall business goals. With multiple solutions available it is important that organisations understand what is available to them and how these systems can be integrated with long-term business objectives.
Cloud adoption is no small feat, particularly for the financial services sector. It requires a rigorous assessment to understand the business requirements, with short and long term objectives needed. Regulatory and compliance issues also need to be one of the first steps when considering a move to the cloud, making the internal risks and concerns known at an early stage.
Cloud is not a technology that is going away any time soon and cloud adoption rates are only set to increase, as security concerns become little more than a myth. The implementation of cloud is enabling businesses to gain a market foothold overnight and react to rapidly changing market trends.
The real danger now is being left behind and becoming a victim of the legacy IT model, which poses the threat of losing your business and your employees.