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Cloud sense … dollars and cents

Talking of cloud computing, I’ve spent years backing up my various PCs and photo libraries. Invariably, a labour of love, I didn’t trust public cloud services like Google and Microsoft to look after my stuff properly.

Then, gradually, over time, more and more of my stuff has moved online. It started with getting fed up with trying to replicate my desktop and PC drive each time I changed PC. I used to change PC’s once every three to five years. Now, I switch laptops almost every year. It’s because the hardware is cheap, and the switch has become easier.

It’s still not a true breeze, but the difference from 2009 and 2019 is tremendous. In 2009, you had to carefully take every file, back it up, install all the software from CDs, reload every file and finally check into all services and see that they run ok. Then you had to delete all the stuff off the old drive and put the PC on eBay as it still had a high value.

Today, you buy a new laptop. You boot it up and download any software you specifically use. Login and away you go. It takes about ten minutes. Ten years ago, it took ten hours or even ten days.

That’s the beauty of cloud. Cloud computing is private. It has secure logon and terms and conditions that guarantee the data.

The same with photos. I’ve been a digital photographer for almost twenty years now. My first camera was pretty awful. The quality is poor and the pictures really basic. Over the years, my digital photo library has grown and grown, as has its backups.

Now, every photo I take automatically backs up to the cloud, gets indexed and is retrievable, downloadable and printable, anywhere, anytime from any device. The net neutrality of file storage is here. Everything is available everywhere, if you know the password.

I’m pretty sure that over time, the access will become more secure and the storage even more robust. Obviously, if some photos or files were lost or, god forbid, the whole service went down, then I wouldn’t be so happy about that … but we assume it won’t happen.

This is maybe where it gets interesting, for three reasons. First, I want that insurance policy for my data. What are my memories worth? What are my ideas worth? What are my songs, films and contracts worth? Only I can decide that, but a digital insurance policy is critical.

Second, what happens to my data when I die? Who can access my cloud files? What level of access can they have? We need digital wills to manage our digital lives.

Third, can a financial institution offer a service here? If the institution offered the digital will and digital insurance, would you buy it? Or would you rather buy it from Google or Facebook?

On the last point, I think I’d rather buy it from BigTech, but I do think there is an opportunity for FinTech and banks to step in here. Let’s say the data is access to my financial accounts. Do I trust a BigTech giant to store that information? The fact that usernames and passwords and account numbers are still in vogue for most, means that my cloud drive has information that is sensitive if I leave it there. Shouldn’t I leave that data with a financial firm?

This goes back to the old message of terabytes of data being produced every day but only a little of that data being valuable. My memories in photographs are worth more than my tweets. My latest contract online is worth more than my photographs. When I look at the granularity of that data, and the scale of its value, there needs to be a scale of cloud services that match those needs and, today, it’s sorely lacking.

Finally, talking of cloud, if I can change hardware and systems in minutes thanks to zero transfer required, what state is a banks’ systems in? If a bank still uses old hardware and old software, that requires backups and transfers and maintenance non-stop, and is competing with a bank that can switch systems during the day, on-the-fly, which bank do you think is going to win?

No wonder my digitally transformed banks are so cloud-based. It just makes sense.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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