Banks and Cloud Computing
I spent a couple of days at the big annual event for bankers last week in Boston hosted by BAI. They also had some high quality speakers, two of whom, Jack Welch and Al Gore, I’ve had the brief honor of meeting previously. The third was Ram Charan, noted author and educator, and as this is the first time I heard him in person, I must say that he was excellent. All of them are plugging their books and writings including AL Gore’s latest, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis. But that is expected and I look forward to reading VP Gore’s latest.
What I thought was to a degree absent was a session on how cloud computing can assist banks, especially those that fall in the below $10B in asset range. These could be represented by banks, Savings and Loan’s (S&L) or Credit Unions (CU).
Here is what I thought was there and what was missing:
Some banks are using cloud computing for the traditional Software as a Service (SaaS) capabilities including sales such as Salesforce.com.
Some are using it to augment some of their infrastructure needs including data storage.
A few are using it to augment website capabilities.
What I didn’t hear was a bank or other financial or lending institution that started its core operations around cloud computing. And I think there are still a lot of valid concerns why this is not happening as rapidly as in some other areas of business. Let are my thoughts:
First, banking is highly regulated and likely to get more so, not less. Consumer and depositor data is closely monitored as part of the Gramm Leach Bliley Act. Cloud computing opens some doors to loss of data security.
Second, the OCC and OTS have considerable oversight in regular audits of large and small banks. Getting caught in a bad audit is not something anyone wants.Cloud computing may not lend itself well to an intense audit.
On the other hand banks, new, upcoming and traditional all can benefit from this approach. Traditional banks get to employ new services faster and quicker, while new banks don’t have to invest in a lot of Information Technology (IT) assets to get moving.
I would hope that next year we’ll hear more concrete stories of how banks are employing and deploying greater and wider services through cloud computing providers such as Amazon, IBM, Google, Oracle and Microsoft, as well as some of the outsourcers, Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) and bank services providers including FIS, Metavante, Harland and Jack Henry.
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