By Paul Ponzeka, CTO at Abacus Group
As financial firms contemplate whether public cloud systems are the right move for themselves and their business, there is a growing population that is forcing these businesses to make the decision sooner — their staff. Millennials, now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, are pushing their employers into the cloud.
Why? Well, for several reasons.
First, we are seeing efforts to get coding and development into standard school curriculum become a reality for the younger generation. High school students are working on web development in the same vein that they are working on Math, Science and English. As coding becomes less of a unique skill and more engrained knowledge, people are looking for opportunities to put these skills to test. The interest level of the younger workforce in technology in general, and specifically with coding, has increased dramatically. It’s no longer a skill regulated to a specific team or department. Most job candidates are coming out of school with some level of technical proficiency on their resumes. More and more professionals are coming out of school with the ability to program and code. This is especially significant for financial firms, where complex algorithms and analytic models are the tools of the trade.
Next, public cloud providers provide easy accessibility. Almost all of the major providers have free access tiers where users can try the public cloud systems relatively cost free. Gone are the days of having to pay $500 for a license of Visual Studio, and then try to find some environment to hook it up to. Further, non-computer science as ed majors are getting into the world of development to help their individual crafts. For example: financial analysts that need to create complex investment models. An analyst may question the wisdom of using individual spreadsheets when a cloud-based database enables pulling more data dynamically into models and in half the time.
How does this translate to business and their push into private cloud? Talent is a business resource, and good talent is tough to come by, especially in financial services. Companies are competing with each other not just on compensation, work culture and flexibility, but on the platform their organization operates from. Millennials don’t want to work for a firm that has outdated, on-premesis technology that they see as obsolete. They want to work at a firm that uses the latest and greatest technology, which in their eyes is the public cloud. They want to increase their individual brand equity by ensuring they have the toolset available to them to be successful. Businesses are hearing this and they are reacting.
But firms will still face challenges in cloud adoption.And large businesses will face hurdles that differ from smaller firms. Large companies likely will have an abundance of technology that they need to move to the cloud. They will need to consider how they meet stringent financial regulations in the public cloud. Smaller firms need to assess whether they move to the cloud on their own or if they will need the help of a service provider. And the biggest consideration for firms large or small is cybersecurity.
Traditionally, anything technology related went through the IT department as a gatekeeper. If a user needed a server for some task, a request was made, the system was controlled, implemented and then used. But Millenials are not that patient. They want to be able to dynamically jump in and out of different environments, and make the requisite changes on the fly. This pacing is forcing firms to ensure that providing the expected level of access and freedom to their users also allows them to maintain control over the corporate assets within their required security footprint.
The reality is that this push to use the new technology platforms is not going to slow down. As the younger workforce continues its push into mainstream employment, so will their voice to drive business to the public cloud. Financial firms will be forced to act faster than they may want to, and they will struggle with how to do it safely, securely and with scale.