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Getting over the cloud hurdle in banking

Across industries, conversations around the use of cloud are commonplace. The benefits around lower costs, access from anywhere on any device and ease of implementation aren’t new. And yet, from talking with banking leaders, we know that there are still significant challenges when it comes to consuming and implementing public cloud services within our major banks.

When we consider the context, it’s not really surprising. Senior banking leaders are facing a conflict whereby they must drive innovation in their businesses through improved use of technologies, particularly with new, agile challengers entering the market. Yet at the same time, the regulatory environment is more of a force than ever before. So whilst the IT team may be given leave to investigate innovation on one hand, regulatory concerns may quickly stifle any cloud based ideas. When you also consider how regulation can change based on the country you’re operating in too, it’s certainly not a straightforward process for any international institutions, or any business looking at cross-border transactions. Not only this, but often legal contracts are also designed for the “old world” of business IT, causing further headaches for financial services CIOs working to drive change. It’s certainly a complex situation, so how do we move forward?

The reality is that vendors, banking institutions and regulators must work together to find a path forward. Within banking organisations, further inclusion must also take place, particularly to draw in the IT, legal, compliance and security teams, to ensure that everyone has a clear view of innovation in the business.

One key advantage of cloud is to standardise IT across an organisation, making it more straightforward for regulators to have a clear picture of any organisation. Let’s be clear, standardise doesn’t mean centralise, but it can remove organisations from being trapped in IT refresh cycles which may differ across business units or countries, often as a result of M&A activity.

If you look closely at any organisation, there are likely to already be pockets of public cloud usage, often linked to specific use cases. These can be seen as use cases for broader roll outs, but ensuring that all suppliers are checked at length to review their security protocols is essential before developing plans around implementations, even within specific business units. To support this, it’s essential that regulators develop new techniques and measures for IT business to progress too. To do this, they must understand the challenges being faced by banking organisations and work closely with their teams to find a way forward.

A further benefit is also in fact related to the added scrutiny placed on cloud implementations. With new architecture leading to lengthy discussions around policies and compliance and with the involvement of more internal parties within the decision making process, the cloud environments could actually become the most secure environments within the business. As businesses look to implement new cloud solutions to support their employees and customers, along with migrating legacy applications to cloud environments, a clear and structured process will be the key to securing approvals from across the organisation and regulators.

Doing so requires a culture change and greater collaboration between teams with a unified end goal. Team structures must also reflect the changes in the market, to ensure that any IT team has in place specialists who understand risks, but also employees who work to reduce roadblocks and find innovative solutions to move the business forward. It’s also essential that the management team puts in place clear objectives and has a long term view for innovation, rather than looking solely at short term gains or complications. Ensuring compliance with any cloud implementation is essential, but ensuring that the full senior management and IT team has a clear goal and strategy to execute on it, along with support from the regulators and vendors, will streamline the process for cloud adoption and the benefits it promises. 



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