How do finance leaders make the most of cloud technology investment once budget concerns and compliance challenges are addressed?
Cloud technology has arrived in the finance space, thanks to the evolution of security measures that match or outpace on-premises solutions. According to Network World, even security-stringent organizations such as financial regulators are now using Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud solutions to analyze more than 75 billion trades daily, prompting other money-managing organizations such as banks and credit unions to adopt cloud solutions. The result? Many finance leaders now find themselves in an odd position: Substantial budgets for cloud investment and ample resources for cloud compliance, but shortfalls when it comes to making full use of this technology.
But beyond maximizing security, how can enterprises get the most from their cloud spending?
Security Beyond the Stack
It's no surprise that information security (infosec) drives cloud adoption across the finance industry, since the loss of corporate or client banking or trade data results in both PR and budgetary nightmares. The growing cloud marketplace has driven an uptick in public security solutions, with public offerings now experiencing the fewest number of security incidents when compared with the alternatives. But that's just the start: Clouds also offer substantial benefits to flexibility, efficiency and speed — meaning critical data spends less time in transit, takes less time to analyze and therefore provides finance leaders with more actionable information, more quickly. Put simply? While basic security bumps up in the cloud, it's the complete package that helps deliver security beyond the private stack.
The challenge for finance leaders? It's easy to frame the cloud as a security-first effort. This opens up necessary spending streams from upper management but isn't a long-term solution. So what comes next once cloud infrastructure is in place and compliance requirements are largely addressed?
As noted by Finextra, reducing total cost is always the go-to position when considering the cloud. Why pay for new servers and networking technology when cloud providers can bear the cost for those upgrades? Agility is another consideration for cloud spending. Instead of shelling out for extra server space in the event of sudden traffic spikes, the on-demand nature of cloud computing can ensure you always have available resources without breaking the bank.
While reduced overhead and improved agility are great starting points, C-suite executives likely don't view this as an endgame and finance leaders are likely always looking for ways to improve total cloud usage.
Here are a few next steps:
- Stay lean — It's easy for cloud deployments to get bloated with apps and services that don't add significant business value. Finance leaders are well-served by quarterly reviews to see what's working and what can be cut back.
- Plan well — As noted by ITProPortal.com, it's important to plan out cloud deployments rather than jumping on the newest tech bandwagon. By drafting a cloud adoption plan and sticking to it over the long term, enterprises can reduce overspend on "cutting edge" technology that turns out to be flash-in-the-pan failure.
- Outsource and automate — The cloud is more than security and agility. It's also a way to shift IT impact. Where possible, outsource monitoring and management tasks to cloud providers and automate data-heavy processes. This frees up time for in-house IT professionals to innovate, experiment and improve current networking technology.
- Take one step at a time — Once a cloud solution starts paying dividends, it can be tempting to go all-in and convert your entire infrastructure. The problem with that is there's a learning curve here for IT staff, front-line employees and the C-suite. Too much, too fast and potential savings can become extra spending as deployments are scaled back and emergency training sessions become necessary.
So what's the ultimate ROI for cloud technology when used effectively across the organization? Resiliency. The ability to handle sudden traffic spikes or security issues while simultaneously innovating in-house technologies and automating tedious processes. It's not a sudden cash back or profit scenario but a long-term build that offsets existing capital expenditure and IT spending, then replaces it with robust security and reliable savings.