Technology has always redefined organisations, irrespective of their economic sector and/or maturity level. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, associated with generation-linked behaviours and cutthroat economic conditions, has further put into the limelight the need to invest astutely in technology. The choice to embrace the digital transformation process, mindful of the human factor, is not an option – it’s an obligation. Cloud computing can play the role as key catalyst in this transformation.
What is Cloud computing?
Cloud computing refers to the process of maintenance, storage, management, processing, analytics, and security of data by exploiting a network of Internet-based servers and can be broken down into three categories:
Digital transformation is today making a difference in the competitive landscape, powered by cloud computing in the setting up of frameworks, with an unrivalled level of agility, security and scalability. Though concerns around security and organisational structures are still being raised mainly within the banking and financial industry, the secure cloud technology options which are available are allowing financial institutions and organisations to leverage newer platforms to offer high-level customer experience, and to differentiate their strategy and solutions over those of competitors.
Leveraging cloud solutions is first and foremost part of an overall digital transformation strategy, designed to better serve customers and bring products and services to market more quickly. An online survey recently launched in 2021 through MCB Consulting's LinkedIn page towards a general audience, clearly highlighted that strategy (70%) was the key ingredient to consider for digital transformation, but showed very low ratings for technology (10%), risk management (9%) or even change management (11%) programmes (other available options) though we believed the relative weightage out of 136 votes could have been higher.
In fact, cloud computing was already making its way gradually within organisations and financial institutions, including central banks, but its adoption was accelerated in the wake of the global pandemic situation. A targeted survey, which we carried out in February 2020 before the COVID-19 surge involving 50+ financial institutions over 4 different continents, revealed an overall 55% to be in favour of cloud adoption, with the remaining 45% identifying regulatory constraints, IT migration complexity, risks and security as their main concerns. Even regulators themselves were not against cloud computing, but wanted to approach this new "business animal" with caution. We decided to repeat the same targeted survey in September 2020, months into the pandemic, to measure any change of opinions or actions which might naturally have been triggered towards cloud-based solutions.
Although most of the respondents clearly indicated that the solution resided in Cloud computing and that such disruptive events had favoured its adoption, they did so more from a business continuity perspective than for the sake of cloud technology itself, and this was still a sign of struggle and insecurity.
The trend is clear. Moving to Cloud, while embarking on a digital transformation process is a reset that most organisations are definitely but slowly seeking, a greenfield opportunity to launch innovative business models. Yet, over and above designing the strategy and the frameworks, the road through change and people management (including training and reskilling initiatives) remains crucial, particularly when Fintechs and other challenger banks are slowly nibbling at market share.