Maintaining Cost Efficiency in Financial Services: Innovation Versus Operations

The financial services sector is experiencing a digital renaissance, driving financial institutions to reconsider how much wallet share (and thus investment) their technologies can be expected to deliver.

Digital transformation is now a business necessity, and more than two thirds of IT decision makers are planning to increase their cloud use in the coming years to achieve transformation goals. The technological landscape is also evolving faster than ever before, with new features and capabilities continually being developed, underscoring the importance of obtaining the relevant expertise to help understand the potential application and impact of each new advancement.

For those institutions with self-managed infrastructures, IT teams need to focus on availability, resiliency and performance while still keeping their eyes on the horizon for evolving security concerns, new regulations and the latest developments in technology. Keeping up with these advancements can be overwhelming, especially when customer demands for new services are increasing and continued innovation is necessary to remain competitive in the industry.

IT teams in the financial services space are often incredibly proud of their DIY builds — and rightfully so; they often overcome some of the largest hurdles around scale, security and integration on bare bones budgets. Still, the benefits of cloud migration (whether public or private) cannot be overlooked by financial teams pressed to continually decrease the bottom line and increase returns on the investment of every dollar spent on IT.

The accessibility of the cloud, with its nonexistent physical footprint, rapid deployment and provisioning models, unmatched scalability and the opportunity to shift from capex to opex, has an almost irresistible allure. Scores of institutions and organizations have started their cloud journey because they were drawn in by the promise of improved efficiency and flexibility, and low costs of entry due to minimal capital commitment.

Still, many of these early adopters have found that the promise does not always reflect the reality.

Measure twice, cut once – the importance of proper planning and execution

While, for many, it is possible to see significant cost reductions from outsourcing datacenters and hosting, some institutions struggle to realize the benefits. True digital transformation coupled with cloud migration can provide substantial cost savings when compared to traditional dedicated infrastructure, but for the best ROI, extensive planning and careful consideration of future needs are key prerequisites.

Shifting from legacy IT into a cloud-ready world involves more than recreating your on-premises environments in the cloud. Many find that existing applications and services may not be well-suited for migration, and need to be refactored or redesigned completely for hybrid deployment models leveraging the best of cloud flexibility and the security and performance of traditional on premises environments for optimal performance and the greatest cost-savings.

Firms exploring the promise of cloud often find that their existing IT teams do not have the time, energy, or skills to make optimal choices for re-platforming, and mistakes can be incredibly expensive. Cloud migration strategies are complex, requiring deep dives on existing workloads and integrations, security assessments, compliance risks, and application rationalization and refactoring. And, given the frenzied pace of the industry’s transformation, many teams have been frustrated to find that technologies in the market have often evolved and changed by the time they manage to get a comfortable benchmark and solution design.

Teams who get past this hurdle are faced with choosing from an abundance of complex tooling, emerging risks and new compliance requirements before they can even begin to create a migration plan and perform the actual migration. Successfully navigating each of these barriers takes a high degree of specialized skillsets, and these skills have to be reinvented in order for in-house IT operations teams to make sure everything continues to work and evolve to meet changing business demands.

Better together – the benefits of working with a managed services provider

After Rackspace commissioned a study to understand the enterprise’s cloud expertise gap, we found that 44 percent of IT professionals interviewed are spending more time managing their organization’s cloud than they expected. Doing so distracted them from their other duties and kept them from delivering efficiently. Meanwhile, three quarters of IT decision makers who responded felt their IT teams lacked the experience and expertise to successfully deliver on cloud projects. This disconnect leads to frustration, reduced performance and ultimately sours the perception of cloud wins for all parties.

Partnering with a managed services provider (MSP) with experience navigating the complexities of digital transformation can help financial institutions understand where the best value and earliest wins can be achieved. The right MSP can help you identify and avoid obstacles before they arise, guide you through the latest innovations, and provide the skills and expertise you need. This partnership can give your teams breathing room, allowing them to focus on their primary responsibilities and growing their skills in a direction more profitable to the business.

The revolution continues

The cloud is a juggernaut, and it shows no signs of slowing down. FinTech organizations may have played a major role in developing the latest disruptive financial services technologies, giving them a leg up on more traditional and long-standing institutions, but even they aren’t immune to the impact of the ceaseless stream of technological progress.

Nearly half of interviewed IT professionals and decision makers expressed concern over the increasing complexity of multi-cloud environments and the potential difficulties associated with understanding how to leverage new technologies. These advancements continue to expand an already impressive set of capabilities, and a desire to take advantage of everything that cloud and hybrid architecture has to offer has made the need for expertise a top priority for organizations already using the cloud.

An MSP can be an invaluable part of your team, managing your solution throughout its entire lifecycle, guiding you through innovations and helping you launch new products for your customers at the flip of a switch. Rackspace invests in the training and skills development to become thought and technical leaders in our field, so your organization won’t need to waste resources learning the intricacies of a tangential industry. Our breadth of knowledge provides more than just an understanding of the current state of affairs, it fuels an insight that helps us see where world is going so that you can hit the ground running when the next disruption occurs.

How to choose what’s right for your organization

Having your IT team manage the cloud, let alone design, deploy and migrate to a new platform, is a burden to this vital and finite internal resource. Instead of juggling infrastructure management and trying to keep up with and provision the latest in cloud enhancements, your technologists could be focused on creating new and innovative ways to engage customers. Imagine a world devoid of struggling through constant upgrades, compliance rules and migration paths. Imagine, instead, that you have the latest in processors, applications and services just a phone call or click away.

Partnering with Rackspace, an experienced and certified managed services provider, can lower TCO and reduce the strain on internal IT, allowing companies like Simple KYC, which provides business process management software to financial clients, to focus on their core business and innovation.

Learn more about Rackspace and what we do, or read about some of the work we’ve done with other clients in the financial services field.

Joni Williamson joined Rackspace in 2018 to build the financial services solutions group. With extensive IT experience and a focus on meeting the needs of diverse client teams and executive strategies, Joni brings a strong vision and strategy to the company. Prior to joining Rackspace, Joni worked in IBM’s Cloud division, managing the Financial Services relationships for North America. Before that she spent 12 years at Bank of America, focused on reducing IT complexity, increasing automation, lowering the overall costs of IT and building diverse teams to handle complex transformations. That work has given her a broad vision of IT for financial services and a practical understanding of how best to address concerns across people, process and technology. In addition to her experience, Joni is a Master of Managed Change, and holds ITIL, Design Thinking, Project Management Professional, and Six Sigma Master Black Belt certifications.

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