The Reality of the Cloud and Company Culture for Financial Services – Part 2

The Reality of the Cloud and Company Culture for Financial Services – Part 2

Cloud transformation impacts more than just tech. It also requires a significant shift in company culture.

This is the second post of two in this series. The first post can be found here: The Reality of the Cloud for Financial Services.

The introduction of new technologies impacts workflow, changes the way your teams go about doing their jobs, and how they communicate with each other and customers. Your teams need to understand the day-to-day value of transformation, and they need to feel like part of the process.

Preparing your teams for potentially radical culture changes is especially critical for financial services organizations, which have historically been hesitant to adopt new and innovative technologies due to the heavily regulated nature of the FinServ industry.

  • Technical Preparedness: It’s common for IT teams to feel a loss of control due to cloud transformation. John Dodge of CIO has said that in-house IT can start feeling like a service broker without a sense of ownership. IT will confront a learning curve with interfaces, APIs, and provider management. Technical training and growth must be prioritized.
  • Skills Building: IT isn’t the only department that will have to acquire new skills. Technical skills are a given, and will be increasingly vital, but your team will likely also need to learn new project management skills and develop a keen understanding of the new realities of security and compliance in the cloud.
  • Frequent Communication and Transparency: Some IT departments can be very resistant to change. During a cloud transformation, there can be tension when your IT team is used to getting under the hood and having total control. Frequent, transparent communication, however, can mitigate resistance in IT. A simple email won’t do the trick. Your IT team needs to know what’s happening – and, more importantly, why— far in advance of it happening. Transparent communication can and should be part of a positive feedback loop that informs the track of on-going training.

Considerations in Cloud Transformation

Proper planning enables a successful project.  Here are some key considerations to discuss internally and with your partners:

  • Compliance and Security: This is at the top of the list for a reason – third-party and government-mandated security requirements for financial services companies leave little to no room for error. Your organization, partners, and cloud service provider must all understand your regulatory and compliance requirements and address your overall cloud security posture so that you can maintain compliance. This is literally Job One.
  • Performance: Performance is of key importance to financial services, who frequently need high performance compute to power their transactions and data analysis. You need easily deployable, easily scalable high-performance processing resources for simulations and modelling, machine learning, financial analysis, and data transformations. This requires a detailed ROI and financial analysis to understand costs and avoid sticker shock.
  • Intellectual Property: What is more important to financial services than their intellectual property? Putting that anywhere outside of your own systems is a hugerisk, but a properly architected cloud solution can ensure that your data is safer in the cloud than it is in legacy solutions.

Transitioning to the cloud can give your business a competitive edge. For financial services lacking large, experienced in-house IT teams, it’s worth considering a partner and leveraging their expertise to make your transition a success.

Robb Allen is the CEO of effectual, Inc.

The Reality of the Cloud for Financial Services – Part 1

The Reality of the Cloud for Financial Services – Part 1

According to a report from Markets and Markets, the financial services cloud market is set to reach a total market of $29.47 billion by 2021, growing 24.4 percent.

The study further found that most of this growth will be right here in North America. At the forefront of this trend, Capital One has made public declarations around their all-in cloud, all AWS strategy. Their significant presence on the expo floor at AWS re:Invent was further evidence of this commitment. The growth of cloud adoption in this sector is driven by a simple truth: Financial services are being transformed by the cloud.

Still, some Financial Services companies struggle with the challenge presented by the maze of legacy services built up over decades of mergers and acquisitions. It’s all too common for financial services organizations to still be using IBM mainframes from the 1960s alongside newer technologies. This can make the prospect of cloud transformation seem daunting, to say the least.

However, the question is not if your organization will transition to the cloud, but when. Cloud transformation benefits greatly outweigh the risks — and your competitors are already moving. The longer you wait, the further behind you fall.

Benefits of Cloud Migrations from Legacy Solutions

There are specific benefits to financial services organizations migrating legacy environments to the cloud:

  • Efficiency: A cloud migration offers opportunity for increased efficiency at decreased operational costs. For financial services organizations looking to revolutionize their IT procurement model, a cloud migration from legacy environments is a quick and easy win, opening the door to more modern tools and services.
  • Decreased Storage Costs: The regulatory requirements for data retention can create enormous costs for financial services. Moving to AWS cloud storage solutions can significantly reduce costs, while still meeting stringent data security requirements. A well architected cloud storage solution will meet your needs for virtually unlimited scalability while improving cost transparency and predictability.
  • Increased Agility: To improve their competitive edge, Financial Services organizations are seeking ways to become more agile. A well-planned cloud transformation will result in applications and platforms that effortlessly scale up and down to meet both internal and customer-facing needs. What’s more, a successful cloud transformation means access to new and better tools and advanced resources.
  • Improved Security: Cloud solutions offer access to enterprise-level equipment and the security that comes along with that. This is normally only within the budget of very large organizations. Cloud services provide increased redundancy of data, even across wide geographical areas. They also offer built-in malware protection and best-in-class encryption capabilities.

In my next post, we’ll discuss the “culture transformation” that will enable Financial Services to maximize the return on their cloud transformation investment.

Robb Allen is the CEO of Effectual, Inc.

Adopting DevOps Methodology

Adopting DevOps Methodology

The successful adoption of DevOps is about much more than accepting a new methodology – it means embracing a new culture.

This is the third post in a series of three by effectual CEO, Robb Allen. The first two posts can be read here:
     • Embracing DevOps to Solve IT Tension
     • Defusing the Tension

DevOps methodology requires seeing engineering and IT more holistically. They work together throughout the product lifecycle, with some organizations merging them into a single team.

DevOps culture decreases time to market while increasing reliability, scale, and security through closer collaboration between development (engineering) and operations (IT). It can require a sea change in your company’s culture, but again — the costs of not adopting DevOps can be far greater.

DevOps methodology requires seeing engineering and IT more holistically.

Fostering Communication and Cooperation

  • Create a unified reporting structure for DevOps teams. Set clear expectations and guidelines, driven by fundamental values.
  • Build cross-functional teams including both engineers and IT technicians.
  • Leverage engineers to assist IT technicians in understanding complexities involved in delivering business features.
  • Leverage IT technicians to help engineers understand how involved 24/7 support of those features is.
  • Automate repetitive tasks, freeing up engineers and IT technicians to perform more creative, value-adding work while reducing human error.
  • Make feedback a fundamental feature of workflow to encourage communication-driven action. Create a culture of data sharing.

Driving Improvements through DevOps

While DevOps is generally part of product development, it can also be an invaluable tool during cloud migration. No less an authority than Bina Khimani, Global Head of Partner Ecosystem (Cloud Migrations) at Amazon Web Services, made this case in late 2017. A survey of 450 C-level and VP/director-level executives in the United States, Canada, and the UK found 54 percent already leveraged DevOps methodologies.

This is not an easy direction to move in, even with the best circumstances. It requires unwavering leadership in the truest sense of the word. However, the rewards are wide-ranging, including:

  • Continuous development with shorter development timetables.
  • Decreased complexity.
  • Faster problem resolution.
  • More productive teams with higher morale and engagement.
  • More opportunities for professional development.
  • More time spent creating and innovating, as opposed to fixing and maintaining.

The Undeniable Benefits

The 2016 State of DevOps Report from Puppet found DevOps adoption resulted in a 200-fold increase in deployment times, 24x increase in recovery times, and a 3x decrease in change failure rates.

Cloud deployment can be the perfect time to start adopting these changes in your organizational culture. Successful adoption means that not only does everyone win, but everyone will feel like they’ve won as well. That’s a value you just can’t put a price on.

Robb Allen is the CEO of Effectual, Inc.

DevOps: Defusing Interdepartmental Tension

DevOps: Defusing Interdepartmental Tension

Knowing the source of interdepartmental tension isn’t enough.

This is the second post in a series of three by Effectual CEO, Robb Allen. The first post can be read here: “Embracing DevOps to Solve IT Tension“.

A conscious and concerted effort is required to get everyone on the same page, pulling in the same direction.

  • Complementary Missions
    IT and Engineering have different purposes, but their mission statements can and should complement one another, rather than causing them to butt heads. Involve both IT and Engineering team members when crafting mission statements to make sure that one team doesn’t dominate the other. The purpose here is gathering their input and voice to create mutually beneficial missions.
  • Open Communication
    You need to encourage open, clear, and direct communication between departments, especially during disruptive periods. There’s nothing wrong with formalizing this diplomatic process. Having regular meetings where the two departments can hash out disagreements and sticking points can be worth its weight in gold, helping to diminish or eliminate tension altogether. Remember the Agile principle that face-to-face communication is the best.
  • Complementary Needs
    Emphasize points of agreement. Where they don’t exist, try to find needs and wants that are complementary. When it’s not possible to make everyone win, it might be possible for each department to feel like they’ve won enough.
  • Cooperative Culture
    Create a culture where one department sees the victories of another as successes by fostering a workplace where departments see themselves as part of a greater holistic whole rather than competing factions. Encourage self-organization in keeping with Agile principles.

Cloud migration is about more than just “lifting and shifting” applications and data or modernizing applications for the cloud, it’s about transforming the culture of your entire organization.

Cloud migration is about transforming the culture of your entire organization.

How a Cloud Migration Can Inspire a DevOps Culture

You can use your cloud migration as an opportunity to implement Agile development principles. Defusing tension is an important element of a successful cloud migration. Once you have the broader strokes squared away, you can start drilling down into the specifics.

  • Automation
    There’s at least one thing both IT and DevOps immediately have in common: they both want to identify and address manual, inefficient, error-prone tasks. Automating these tasks can free up engineering and IT to focus on more creative and value-adding work. Embracing automation is often the way to gain cross-departmental wins that increase cooperation and morale amongst these teams.
  • Framing
    How you frame a cloud migration can go a long way toward garnering goodwill from both departments. Cloud migrations can be framed as the inevitable march of progress, something we all have to “deal with,” or they can be framed as a challenge requiring input from both departments. The former is a quick way to create resentment, but the latter is a valuable way to inspire the best in your people, including healthy competition and creative cooperation.

In my next post, I’ll explore the adoption of DevOps methodology, which sees engineering and IT not as opposing factions, but two parts of a greater whole.

Robb Allen is the CEO of Effectual, Inc.

Embracing DevOps to Solve IT Tension

Embracing DevOps to Solve IT Tension

Tension. It can be uncomfortable, disconcerting, even a bit scary.

This is the first post in a series of three by effectual CEO, Robb Allen. The rest of the posts can be read here:
     • “Defusing the Tension
     • “Adopting DevOps Methodology

But it’s not unusual for the team supporting your digital infrastructure (IT) and your team developing new applications and refining legacy apps (software engineering) to exist in a state of tension at the best of times. Cloud migrations can heighten this tension to the extreme.

The needs and wants of Engineering and IT often come into conflict during a cloud migration. What’s more, the heightened tension can linger around long after the migration is done. That’s not just unpleasant. It can seriously impact your bottom line. So how do you mitigate the tensions between IT and Software Engineering?

Embracing DevOps methodology is a good way to move toward a world where Engineering and IT are seen as two parts of a more cohesive whole. This might require significant change in your organization. But the cost of complacency can be much higher.

Embracing DevOps methodology is a good way to move toward a world where Engineering and IT are seen as two parts of a more cohesive whole.

Understand IT Tension

Common causes of IT tension include:

  • Conflicting Missions
    The distinct missions of IT and Engineering can put them instantly into conflict. Engineering is focused on innovating and getting new applications out on time. IT is focused on providing a stable and secure environment for everyone from accounting to the front desk. So, while Engineering is one of many balanced priorities for IT, they believe they should be the top priority. This belief isn’t entirely unjustified. Satisfying clients and developing software are first on the list of Agile Methodology for a reason.
  • Lack of Communication and Understanding
    Different missions, scopes, and priorities can make communication difficult even during the best of times. In some cases, there may not even be enough of a shared language for communication. Disputes between IT and DevOps are often communicated and “negotiated” through third parties, adding further opportunity for creating tension. Lack of communication frequently leads to the blame game when things go wrong. This, in turn, deepens mistrust and animosity between the two departments.

Interdepartmental animosity between IT and Engineering doesn’t have to be a fact of life. Management can take steps to move two adversarial departments onto the same page. There might still be rivalries, but that can be healthy. Rivalries that are tempered by mutual respect inspire harder work and greater creativity. Organizations capable of this level of honesty, self-awareness and accountability, will gain a significant competitive advantage over those that are not.

This is the first post in a series of three that discusses the benefits of moving to a DevOps methodology. Next time (Defusing the Tension) we’ll explore some of the ways DevOps can address and defuse tensions within IT departments.

Robb Allen is the CEO of Effectual, Inc.