Cloud9 recently hosted a webinar with executives from Point 72 Asset Management and Amazon Web Services titled “The Cloud Catalyst: Driving Competitive Edge in the Financial Markets.”
- Seetharam Gorre: CIO of Point 72 Asset Management
- Nitin Gupta: Global Head of Financial Services Partners for Amazon Web Services
- Greg Kenepp: President of Cloud9 Technologies
The panelists contributed to an engaging conversation that touched on how the cloud creates competitive advantage for financial institutions. The also discussed where and how firms can integrate cloud into their environments, and touched on key industry concerns related to security and compliance when migrating to the cloud.
The audience, which consisted of brokers, traders, and IT managers from a number of top-tier financial institutions, also shared their views on how they currently use cloud solutions as well as how the cloud is viewed at their firms.
During the call, three key insights emerged:
- Firms are most likely to implement cloud for data processing and voice services.
- Security and performance are top concerns among firms in the capital markets when migrating services to the cloud.
- Key drivers in terms of cloud adoption include driving shareholder value.
Voice is Second Behind Data in Terms of Cloud Implementation
Out of the audience surveyed, 52% said that they were most likely to implement cloud for data processing, with 33% saying they would consider the cloud for for communications services.
As Nitin Gupta commented, many firms are turning to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to manage analytics dashboards and databases as well as large business intelligence processes. For firms in the financial markets, the ability to process this data using cloud technology revolutionizes their workflows.
In addition, firms are already shifting to cloud-based platforms as modern, reliable, cost-effective voice communications become necessary in today’s enterprise environment.
To make the full shift to the cloud in the financial markets, fintech firms often have to compete against established mindsets, a challenge that Gupta spoke about during the webinar.
“When we talk about transformation, it is less about technology, and more about change in philosophy and change in culture in an organization,” said Gupta. “I would even say it’s 20% about technology and 80% about how to drive agility and automation, how to change the governance structure, how to get in a devops mindset, and even how to change the revenue model.”
Seetharam Gorre emphasized the overall digital transformation in both the enterprise and consumer space as a motivator for financial services firms to transition to the cloud: “So much transformation has happened in the last 5-10 years in the cloud and the open source community. That is driving culture and that what is driving digital.”
Security and Performance Were Key Concerns
40% of attendees considered Security as the biggest concern when moving key processes to the cloud, followed by Performance, at 24%.
It’s no surprise that security is top of mind for financial services firms, but reliable cloud providers like Amazon Web Services mitigate the risk through advanced security practices as well as the benefit of a robust community. With over 2 million customers in a wide variety of industries, AWS customers receive the same degree of security as any other user on the platform.
As Gupta explained, “When a customer moves to AWS they inherit all the best practices of AWS policies, architecture, and operational processes built to satisfy the requirements of our most security-sensitive customers, whether it is FINRA, NASDAQ, Capitol One, the CIA, or the SEC – all of these customers are on AWS.”
Another security benefit of AWS is the shared responsibility model, in which AWS is responsible for the security of the cloud – including infrastructure and storage – and the customer is responsible for security in the cloud – including customer data, access management, and network configuration. This model enables fintech firms as well as financial firms using cloud solutions to focus on building better products.
This is something that the Cloud9 team has certainly benefited from in getting our products to market. As Greg Kenepp commented, “When you think about it [in terms of shared responsibility] I think the sky’s the limit on what you’re able to achieve and the type of service that you can deliver to your customer base.”
The Main Advantage of Cloud Lies in Expanding Shareholder Value
85% of attendees responded that cloud was essential to maintaining competitive edge. As the panelists explored throughout the webinar, key to this competitive edge is creating value for shareholders.
Cloud enables firms to build solutions quickly, get to market faster, and at a low cost. By lowering the barriers to innovation, firms that use the cloud are able to deliver a better customer experience, a better product, and deliver more value for their shareholders.
“If you have a new strategy and it’s going to take 6 weeks to procure hardware and test, total time to market is going to be two months,” said Gorre. “With the cloud it should only be a few weeks. At that rate we can test new strategies, deploy it sooner, and generate more money for the firm.”
By reducing the time it takes to get to market, as well as the time it takes to deploy, financial services firms are able to reap the rewards from cloud services much faster and without significant business interruption.
Kenepp commented on this experience from the perspective of Cloud9 customers: “When you think about traditional deployment cycles for communications equipment [in financial services], it could take up to a year from the time you decide to move to a new floor to installment. We can do that in a matter of hours now, which has been a remarkable change for our business and a real eye-opening change for our customers.”