In reference to the recent article concerning the fact that the finance sector is not convinced by the cloud, despite spending more on IT than other industries, Hugh Scantlebury, managing director of Aqilla, expresses surprise.
The findings of the survey were surprising, as I know several senior managers in investment banks that are already investing in on-demand business intelligence in preference to traditional on-premise, mainframe-powered systems, and left me wondering exactly which professionals from the sector had been surveyed and where the resistance is coming from.
IT people, for example, have been notoriously resistant to change from time-to-time, and the results of numerous surveys looking at the uptake of SaaS mirror those around the adoption of other technologies - many of which have become fundamental tools that are widely used in the workplace. Very often, one of the first hurdles a business must overcome is to convince its own IT department. Fear of loss of control and security (and resources) has threatened the adoption of many key modern technologies, including Windows, the internet, client server computing, wireless networking, mobile telecommunications, e-mail and even desktop productivity tools such as Microsoft Excel and Word.
But it is not only those in IT who are cautious. Earlier this year, a study by Kelton Research of more than 500 C-level decision-makers across 17 countries in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific found that by a 5:1 ratio, executives reported that they trusted existing internal systems over cloud-based ones due to fears about security threats and loss of control of data and systems. That said, the same respondents reported that their current internal systems were too expensive, whereas the majority of those early adopters of cloud computing surveyed reported that they were increasing their investment in the technology after seeing reduced up-front IT costs and improved agility to respond quickly to market conditions.
There are, of course, legitimate business concerns around implementing any technology for the first time, and chief among these are likely to be security concerns, particularly when outsourcing core systems and data. What is seldom understood is that it is possible to make online systems more secure than those held locally as long as the supplier adheres to industry standards such as ISO 2001. But buyers are advised to rigorously examine potential partners in terms of what security and guarantees they offer regarding things such as availability before signing up for anything.
With 80% of IT executives in the US believing SaaS solutions reduce up-front costs, cloud computing represents a new model for business and one that cannot be ignored. It is not always about the money, but when it is, it is the responsibility of IT teams, despite whatever natural reticence may exist, to support the business in achieving any potential gains. Equally, businesses should be proceeding based on the answer to business problems, not the views of people internally who have a vested interest in supporting systems that promote fiefdoms and obfuscation.