Banking in the cloud: Accelerating transformation and innovation
By Suranjan Chatterjee, global head, Cloud Apps, Microservices & API for Tata Consultancy Services.
For any modern business operating in the 21st century, a commonly shared goal is “digital first” and banks are no different, offering customers more mobile banking solutions and café-style experiences than ever before.
For instance, Barclays UK embarked on a “digital thinking” transformation built on the cloud, considering it a paradigm it believes the rest of the industry should embrace. Essentially, it jumped on the Open Banking reforms that came into force in the UK in January 2018, which required big banks to open their databases and help customers share information on personal banking habits such as spending and payments with other authorized financial service providers. Barclays UK doesn’t consider banking regulation a constraining force, bur rather, urges industry professionals to realize that they and regulators are working toward the shared goal of customer centricity.
But, as progressive banks continue to evolve and consider digital technologies, the banking industry at-large remains cautious about embracing and integrating 21st century cloud platforms, which underpin these offerings. The apprehension from the c-suite oftentimes comes with questions about the readiness of the technology itself and how much reasonable risk the bank is willing to take.
The CIO, however, can and should play a vital role building the business case for cloud across the c-suite, including the CFO and COO. To get their support, the CIO should communicate the value in terms of business outcomes, which go beyond dollars and cents. These outcomes should include the impact on key constituents – customers and their satisfaction, partners and employees themselves.
Unlocking the power of cloud
Once there is buy-in from the c-suite to proceed, the next step is communicating the value of cloud to those who hold the most likelihood of being directly impacted by this change. But to customers, partners and employees, cloud needs to be synonymous with innovation and security. Customers need to be ensured their assets will be available and protected, the broader ecosystem of business partners who are essential to the bank’s continued success need to be ensured their joint offerings are air-tight, and finally, bank employees and executives need to see efficiencies in processes be to feel rewarded, do higher value work and deliver better results to investors and to the communities they serve.
The good news is during the last 18 months, the security and reliability capabilities of the best cloud providers have increased, reaching new levels of data protection that meet the new rigorous regulatory requirements of the banking world.
So, how are some of the world’s most progressive banks handling the move to cloud?
ABN AMRO created a secure portal to allow customers to access accounts and services through their smart devices, also enabling various third parties to connect through secure application programming interfaces (APIs). A variety of new business offerings are being created between third-party fintech and banks and unsurprisingly, some of these new digital offerings are growing faster than traditional banking business offerings.
And it isn’t just customers who stand to gain. ABN AMRO is delivering advantages to its employees as well. ABN AMRO, like some large banks, is experimenting with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to relieve bank employees of some of the time-consuming and highly monotonous tasks they often encounter, to focus more on creative work and customer engagement. Intelligent assistants are also helping staff conduct sophisticated risk analysis. Major banking institutions like ABN AMRO in Europe serve as testament that banks who embark on their cloud journey can see lower costs, faster innovation, and improved customer satisfaction.
So, where to next?
There are various business functions will benefit from the speed, efficiency, flexibility, and continuous innovation of the cloud more than others. Additionally, a variety of processes will become more efficient, such as customer-facing applications. For other applications, the deciding factor will be if the migration will save money, create additional value, or both.
CIOs need to help c-suite executives see the cloud as indispensable to the future of the brand. It is the key to delivering the revolutionary experiences that today’s stakeholders expect and tomorrow’s will demand.
Suranjan Chatterjee is global head, Cloud Apps, Microservices & API for Tata Consultancy Services.