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Financial Cloud Summit 2023: Exponential change is coming

Financial Cloud Summit 2023: Exponential change is coming

Kicking off Finextra’s inaugural Financial Cloud Summit, former Dragon’s Den dragon Piers Linney, entrepreneur and investor, founder and CEO of Moblox, set the scene for the day, focusing on cloud strategy, migration and optimisation.

Linney spoke to an audience and explored what financial institutions need to do to succeed, how performance can be measured and how banks can be a part of the ecosystem. After 10 years in the cloud industry, he spoke about innovation curves and stated that innovation – mostly – increases at a gradual pace, and then accelerates as the technology matures.

Linney explained that he has spent a lot of his time and experience in banking and finance fighting what he refers to as “FUD: fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Is cloud secure? What does it cost? Can you migrate to cloud? Do we have to wait for cloud to save the world before we choose the cloud?”

He went on to explain that change is not longer linear and is now exponential. The world is now changing at a different pace and the customer is now dictating how banks decide to add value with their tech stack, which should be an enabler and technology decisions should not direct what financial institutions can and can’t do.

It is evident that cloud provides scalability and allows infrastructure to grow with banks. If financial institutions attempted to experiment with old models, this would create more technical debt and could even result in an individual or a group losing their job. With the cloud, as Linney explained, the industry can be different.

Successful cloud usage will separate the winners from the losers. By considering competition and establishing a holistic strategy, a migration plan or a rebuilding of infrastructure will ensure competitive advantage. However, “there is no end date on a software development project.”

Discussing the first Build: Strategise, Avinash Kumar, product director, Temenos Banking Cloud, referenced a recent study where 72% of IT bank executives revealed that the cloud supports their organisation to achieve their business priorities.

Providing an inside-out and outside-in perspective, Kumar said that every organisation in the world wants to increase the top line and optimise the bottom line. “What puts banks in a different position is that they are trying to achieve this while they are at the doorstep of modernisation.” He added that banks have recently seen a flat trend on return of assets, what he considers a “flat decade”.

Kumar reiterated that the cloud opens the door to stay differentiated, go to market with unique propositions and fight commoditisation. For the bottom line, the cloud also helps to operate with predictable cost and reduce total cost of ownership, which includes operating cost.

Turning to the topic of banking as a service and embedded finance, Kumar explored how the real challenge for incumbent and traditional banks is that they own the entire banking value chain, which has historically been a closed system. However, the reality is that adults spend six to eight hours online and they are no longer interacting with their bank.

“Cloud and SaaS sits at the heart of any new banking model,” Kumar said, and went on to explain that banks must increase their top line and tap into new business propositions. Further, the only way that they can do this is by adopting open technology, which supports their intention of being secure, scalable and resilient.

As a final comment, Kumar concluded with the statement that “every bank will have their own path and banks need to adopt a progressive banking model.” With cloud, banks will adopt a platform that is built on modular capabilities, have the ability to go to market faster than ever and pave the way to progressive modernisation.

Orlando Fernández, senior technical specialist, recovery, resolution & resilience, Prudential Policy Directorate, Bank of England, then explored the best cloud migration model: rehosting, replatforming, repurchasing, refactoring, retiring, or retaining? This session was under Chatham House Rule.

For the final keynote of the day, on hybrid cloud strategies and doing more for less, Ben Scowen, VP of cloud and core enterprise, Kyndryl UK & Ireland, covered the tangible things you can do to optimise IT, making it a value engine for the business, rather than a cost that inhibits growth.

Scowen brought clarity to the event and stated that transformation is “getting more complex by the minute and moving at a hell of a pace. We are creating technical debt, using software and hardware that is now out of date, and the in-fashion technology that was in is now not in.” Therefore, with the problem being extremely large, we must do more for less.

Painting a canvas on which to have this discussion, Scowen takes a similar view to Kumar and explained that the core objectives for most businesses is to grow revenue, optimise cost, manage risk and promote sustainability. But how do we affect change? The answer, as Scowen mentioned, is transformation, but “it is an agile process.”

While business transformation will allow banks to pivot into new markets and reimagine your business in a digital age, hiring engineers for seven teams in parallel will create more technical debt, as the institution will not be able to avoid similar tasks being completed by each team. “IT transformation is your get out of jail free card, and will allow you to scale up your digital business and industralise that process.”

Scowen finished with 10 points on how to reach cloud optimisation success:

  • Own and master your transformation
  • Unify your hybrid cloud by bringing hyperscaler technology into your data centre
  • Take a conscious multi-cloud approach
  • Take a platform approach to scale your digital productivity
  • Embrace low-code and SaaS
  • Be driven by data, insights, and observability
  • Embrace modern security practices
  • Create a strategic approach to talent building
  • Automate, codify, software engineer wherever possible
  • Establish a modern culture and operating model

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