NEW YORK—People issues can hinder a company’s move to the cloud just as much as technological hurdles, three finance and asset-management technologists said at an industry event Tuesday.
Cultural challenges can emerge when a company makes the shift to cloud-based applications and processes. Finding and cultivating the right technology talent can lead a company to look beyond their own IT teams, and a lack of clarity around what the shift means for a company can lead to misunderstandings.
Luigi Mercone, managing director at Bank of New York Mellon Corp., warned against wishful thinking regarding the capabilities of the cloud or any other technology.
“There is a lot of chasing the shiny object,” he said during the panel discussion, hosted by enterprise-technology venture-capital fund Work-Bench.
Business executives’ unrealistic expectations of the cloud can contribute to unnecessary strain for technologists, said Bill Murphy, chief technology officer at private-equity firm
“They hear ’cloud,’ they hear Amazon is going to run it for one penny a terabyte or whatever the hell it is today and can we have that by next quarter,” he said.
By moving to the cloud, companies are outsourcing their computing needs. Cloud infrastructure services such as
’s Amazon Web Services and
’s Azure use their own data centers to provide companies with the raw computing components that have traditionally been run in-house.
Information-technology departments need to resist the pressure to chalk up short-term gains and convince the business that moving to the cloud is a journey, not flipping a switch, Mr. Murphy said.
“You need to convince them to overinvest for a period of time,” he said.
People issues related to cloud adoption also can affect the IT team itself, starting with finding talent. Identifying cloud-capable talent inside and outside the organization can be challenging.
“It’s no surprise to anyone that hiring in technology is really hard right now,” Mr. Murphy said.
In addition, IT personnel will need to adopt a different culture and get on board with new processes associated with the cloud.
“How do you wrap your head around it and get your own people to actually change?” asked panelist Alla Whitson, chief technology officer at lender
CIT Group Inc.
“I think the challenge is for the organization to commit to it, to really, really commit to it and actually drive it through.”
Banks have been slower to shift to the cloud, remaining particularly cautious when it comes to moving consumer data. The recent Capital One Corp. hack, which exposed information about roughly 106 million past, present and prospective customers that was stored on Amazon Web Services, illustrates some of their reasons for hesitation.
Security is the top obstacle to cloud adoption, Mr. Mercone said. Securing numerous devices is difficult but important. “Better be able to map your endpoints,” he said.
By 2023, banks are forecast to spend more than $53 billion on public cloud infrastructure and data services, up from $24.3 billion this year, according to market-research firm International Data Corp.
Aside from security concerns, the decision of whether or not to adopt cloud processes could be determined by more pragmatic considerations, panel participants said.
The question isn’t primarily one of infrastructure, Ms. Whitson said. Rather, it is often about applications. Some legacy applications run just fine as they are. Companies should start by defining the business problem and take it from there, she advised.
In many cases, buying technology is the best decision. Companies should build technology in-house only when it offers capabilities that cloud services can’t, Ms. Whitson said.
The panelists said that startups have a role to play in their IT strategies, something the roomful of attendees, many from New York’s enterprise startup scene, were pleased to hear.
BNY Mellon’s Mr. Mercone had some words of advice for startups seeking enterprise customers: “This isn’t Tinder, this isn’t speed dating. Selling into the enterprise is easily a 12-to-18-month sustained campaign.”
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