Cloud services transforming how value is created in the financial services sector

“Cloud in Financial Services”, a joint report by Reply and Imperial College Business School, provides a one of a kind, in-depth look at how the cloud is set to transform financial services.

“Cloud services are here to stay within financial services and the pandemic has only accelerated the move” – commented Nelson Phillips, Professor of Technology Management at the University of California (formerly Professor of Innovation and Strategy and Associate Dean of External Relations at Imperial College Business School) – “But financial institutions need to be strategic in the adoption and there are important questions that need to be addressed as firms progressively move more activity to the cloud. There are significant strategic and organisational challenges that need to be dealt with to ensure cloud adoption is successful and that firms derive maximum value from the move.”

Naturally, “Cloud in Financial Services” takes these strategic and organizational challenges head on, addressing the major topics that concern all c-suite executives, such as productivity, compliance and costs. Likewise, the piece will inform its readers of all the ins and outs of cloud transformation.

For the financial services industry the future is cloud, an affirmation supported in this report by its accompanying survey, conducted with nearly 300 financial services organizations. In fact, when asked to choose the top three benefits of the cloud, respondents to this survey identified on-demand scalability (60%), the possibility to speed up implementation of new capabilities (51%) and by its ability to enable innovation (44%), all indicators of a forward-looking mentality. Operational efficiency gains and increased cyber resilience as cloud benefits where not too far behind (29%).

That said, financial institutions do face a number of challenges when moving to the cloud. In selecting the top three issues here, respondents singled out regulatory and compliance concerns (74%), lack of cloud expertise or cultural readiness within the stakeholder community (59%) and dependence on third-party cloud service providers (47%). The need to balance the risk of (excessive) reliance on third-party suppliers (i.e., CSPs) was also a point of concern for many financial institutions. Not surprisingly, a lack of suitable suppliers and the business case not being compelling enough were identified as the least salient challenges.

Cyber security is perhaps the matter for which the “Cloud in Financial Services” report unearthed the most striking paradox. A large percentage of respondents noted that the cloud significantly enhanced their security positions versus the traditionally hosted systems. However, many respondents stressed that security concerns were among the most challenging issues encountered in transitioning to the cloud.

As noted by Freddy Gielen, Executive Partner at Reply: “This report will show that the speed and impact of cloud adoption are highly dependent upon the availability of the right people, the existence of the right culture, and the readiness of leaders. Getting the technology right without having the right people, culture and leadership in place will not result in the business impact and return on investment that is possible from a well-managed transition to the cloud.”

Indeed, perhaps the most revealing aspect of the survey was that experience matters: the more experience respondents had with cloud the more they recognised that a well-executed cloud implementation can improve business. And it is here that this report, by drawing on wisdom from more than 5,000 Reply cloud projects (1,000 of which in financial services), will provide the reader with concrete and decisive information that can help set the course for a pleasant journey to the cloud.

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