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Hey bank, get onto my cloud!

I’ve seen a few big deals signed this month to get banks onto the cloud, such as National Australia Bank (NAB) switching to Microsoft’s Azure, and Deutsche Bank moving to the Google Cloud.

McKinsey expect that cloud usage will rise from less than a quarter of banks business being cloud-based to anything between 40 and 90 per cent of banks’ workloads globally moving to the cloud over the next decade. Bankers believe coronavirus will accelerate that shift dramatically which is why companies like IBM made a big announcement of renewed Cloud for Financial Services offer yesterday.

This is a development building on when Bank of America and IBM announced their collaborative efforts in creating the first public cloud specifically designed to address the requirements of financial services institutions late last year.

Bank of America’s Cathy Bessant, Chief Operations and Technology Officer at Bank of America described the new partnership with IBM as “one of the most important collaborations in the financial services industry cloud space. This industry-first platform will allow Bank of America to use the public cloud, putting data security, resiliency, privacy and customer information safety needs at the forefront of decision making.”

Interesting.

There’s a number of interesting points here.

First and foremost is why didn’t they do this before? They didn’t do this before because it was too risky. They worried about security and how data in the cloud would be protected.

Second, why are they doing it now? Because of COVID19. Plain and simple, banks are being forced into the cloud because their staff are all stuck at home. Tough.

Third, why Google and Microsoft? Because everyone else is really busy. I spoke the other day to a leading cloud services provider, and they said: every bank is knocking on our door to move to our platform now, but we are too busy and told them to join the back of the queue? Cool.

However, in the press releases, the picture is different.

“For more than 150 years, Deutsche Bank has been an industry pioneer, with a strong record of innovation in the financial services sector,“ said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet. “We’re excited about our strategic partnership and the opportunity for Google Cloud to be helpful to Deutsche Bank and its clients as they grow their business and shape the future of the financial services industry.”

This is the bank that’s worth less than half a Stripe, has completely lost its way, has taken serious body blows in the last decade and has a questionable future.

Nevertheless, the new Deutsche Bank leadership team is at least committed to technology and may see a way out. It announced a strategy in 2019 with a key line I use in all my presentations today:

At its heart, our technology strategy empowers our businesses to control “what” is produced, while technology has control of the “how”.

In other words, banking is what we do but technology is how we do it.

This is a critical statement and it encourages me that the new Deutsche Bank leadership team has finally got it.

“[This announcement] demonstrates our determination to invest in our technology as our future, [and] is strongly linked to successful digitisation. It is as much a revenue story as it is about costs.” Christian Sewing, CEO, Deutsche Bank.

Neat.

But then I sat back and thought cloud. When was cloud first being discussed as a thing in banking?

The Finanser, October 2009:

We released results of our Cloud Computing survey today which finds that there is a clear need for Cloud Computing in financial institutions, especially capital markets which are highly technology driven.

ELEVEN YEARS AGO.

ELEVEN.

11.

Jeez. It took a pandemic with everyone locked in at home to disturb most banks to finally wake up and make a decision about cloud … because they have to.

This is just like my blog the other day about 2030 delivered in 2020. Banks have finally woken up to the need to digitise and move to cloud, which they had been thinking about for over a decade and in discussion to do for half a decade. They finally signed the contracts.

What amazes me is how they didn’t do it before, but it doesn’t really amaze me. It’s just what banks do. They relied on a physical structure and don’t get digital. Their backup plan for their head office was … another office. Then we find all staff locked down at home, unable to get into the office, and move to cloud.

Finally.

What’s interesting here is that some banks were already in the cloud. Many had moved shared services to the cloud. Payroll, marketing, CRM, sales and such like. But payments, transactions, customer data? Oooooooh no.

That’s why most banks I spoke to over the past few years are ten or twenty percent cloud. DBS is 80% cloud. It’s been a determined strategy they have taken, as detailed in their case study in my newest book Doing Digital.

About time banks woke up and shook up to follow their example and, oooooh, the pandemic is making them do it.

About time.

 

Postnote: this blog title inspired by David Birch

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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