Inside outsourcing interview: Banks moving to open source software and need control

Today I interviewed Jonathan Charley, who is a partner in financial services at IT and business consultancy Bearingpoint. He was a CIO at Lloyds Bank previously.

I asked him what trends he was seeing in the banking sector. I found what he is seeing around the use of open source software very interesting. He said the company’s CIO advisory is supporting banks on their use of open source software.

There is a problem. “Increasingly people are using open source software but they don’t necessarily know how much they are using, whether they have paid for a license and whether they are using it effectively.”

Charley says Bearingpoint is engaging with customers on the subject and identifying risks. “Many customers have duplicate versions and some are not paying enough and others are paying too much.” He said there are also security risks because malware can find itself on the corporate network if open source is not properly managed.

Bank IT departments are turning to open source in areas where they are limited by proprietary systems and  bring your own device (BYOD) programmes are bringing open source through the back door as workers chose their own applications for work.

Charley also said banks are opening up their APIs to the developer communities to enable them to build open source software products for them. I spoke to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) last year about an experiment it was doing around creating an app store for banks.

Other areas the company is seeing a lot of IT activity is associated with meeting the plethora of regulatory requirements facing banks. With over 140,000 pages of regulation published in the last two years this is not a surprise.

Charley says meeting regulations is a good opportunity for banks to really understand their data and how it all joins up. “It is a good opportunity to rationalize data from source to report,” he said. “IT has a critical role to play.”

He said part of the drive to better understand data will be a move to utilize big data.
“Big data is a buzz word but banks are looking into its application to the business. He says for example big data strategies can help banks better understand customers to meet regulatory requirements and can also support measures to identify fraud.

Banks are also looking much more closely at how they use the cloud. He says this is to drive down costs and improve productivity. He gave an example of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia moving its online banking to the Amazon cloud. See this article on his blog.
Charley also talked about the finance sector’s continued appetite for outsourcing to cut costs See this blog he wrote a year ago about why outsourcing so often disappoints the financial services Industry.