Cloud Transformation: Best Practices for the Financial Services Industry

 

There’s a common misconception of why companies stall when moving to the cloud. Many questions like “What?” or “Why?” hinder the move. However, the unanswered question of “How?” is often what paralyzes an organization and, ultimately, delays its cloud transformation. The financial services industry is no stranger to this unknown.  

As more financial services organizations set out to move their customer experience (CX) to the cloud, questions of where to start and next steps often get in the way. For many, the task might seem so monumental and complex they completely forgo the cloud transformation. Because of strict government regulations and cyberattack concerns — as well as operating outdated systems — financial services execs remain unsure of how to begin on the cloud transformation path. Together, these factors often lead to a delay in cloud adoption — and the value it provides. 

There are many best practices to help the financial services industry not only take a confident first step into a cloud transformation, but also maintain that momentum throughout the duration of the project to ensure the integrity of their critical operations and data.  

Let’s take a look at three key prerequisites for a financial services industry cloud transformation: migration effort, transformation responsibility designation and the “Definition of Done.”  

  1. Migration Effort

The effort required to migrate workloads generally falls into three phases for each workload:  

  • Assess workloads 
  • Develop workloads 
  • Release workloads  

Organizations can maximize the return from each phase — from workload to production. Keep in mind: Staff experience and workload complexity significantly affect timelines and migration velocity. The following provides an overview of the phases of this process:  

Assess Workloads: Evaluate cost, modernization and deployment tooling. This process focuses on validating or challenging the assumptions made during earlier discovery and assessments by looking more closely at rationalization options. This is also when user patterns and dependencies are studied more closely to ensure workloads will achieve technical success after a move to cloud.  

Deploy Applications and Workloads: After applications and workloads are assessed, existing functionality is replicated (or improved) in the cloud. This could involve a lift-and-shift or re-hosting to the cloud. But more commonly, financial services companies will modernize many of the assets that support these workloads to capitalize on the benefits of the cloud. Be cognizant of timing when migrating applications or workloads to the cloud. For example, it might take an experienced migration team two weeks to migrate two to five workloads of low to medium complexity to the cloud. More complex workloads will take longer.   

Release Workloads: Once functionality is replicated to the cloud, workloads can be tested, optimized, documented and released for ongoing operations. It’s critical during this process to review the migrated workloads and hand them off to governance, operations management and security teams for ongoing support of the workloads.   

  1. Responsibilities During the Cloud Transformation

Roles and responsibilities are crucial to a successful cloud transformation, especially in the financial services industry. When considering these roles, you should not only determine the scope of responsibility for the roles but also the people or group of people within your banking hierarchy whose responsibilities implicate their ability to effectively handle the role. 

 Key roles include the following: 

  • Business sponsors  
  • Project manager 
  • Infrastructure expert 
  • Genesys Cloud CX administrator 
  • Contact center administrator 
  • Data analysts 

Key responsibilities include the following: 

  • Business outcomes (shared with Genesys) 
  • Deployment and adoption (shared with Genesys)  
  • Network connectivity and security 
  • Voice and data carriers 
  • Genesys administration 
  • Data migration 
  1. Definition of Done

In the cloud, scalable environments can skew the “Definition of done,” which is an Agile term for the set of conditions that must be met before an assignment or project is considered complete. Because of physical dependencies on testing and go live, legacy on-premises technology projects have clear start and end points. But these physical dependencies are removed in a cloud environment. This allows partial testing and go lives throughout the project. It’s important to define transformation prerequisites from starting points to end points — and keep that separate from adoption to new cloud functionality. Prerequisites are completed when the following are true:  

Business Readiness: The cloud strategy team has defined and prioritized a high-level migration backlog representing the solutions your financial services organization is migrating in the next two or three releases. The cloud strategy and cloud adoption teams have agreed to an initial approach for managing change.  

Culture Readiness: The cloud adoption team, cloud strategy team and business users have agreed on the roles, responsibilities and expectations of workloads you’re migrating in the next two or three releases.  

Technical Readiness: The cloud environment that will receive the migrated solutions has appropriate feeds and permissions for the next round of workloads.  

Caution: Preparation is key to the success of a cloud transformation. However, too much preparation can lead to analysis paralysis — spending too much time planning can seriously delay a migration effort. The processes and prerequisites defined in this section are meant to help you make decisions; don’t let them block you from making meaningful progress. 

Choose a relatively simple workload for your initial cloud migration. Use the processes discussed in this section as you plan and implement this first migration. The effort will quickly demonstrate cloud principles to your team and familiarize them with how the cloud works. As your team gains experience, integrate these learnings as you take on larger and more complex migrations.  

Accountability During Prerequisites: Before you begin any migration, prepare your target environment for the coming changes. In this case, “environment” refers to the technical foundation in the cloud. It also means the business environment and mindset driving the migration.  

Many top financial services companies have indicated their highest priorities are about simplifying the tech stack, maintaining a flexible cloud environment, emphasizing security, and protecting or leveraging assets to achieve maximum value. For these organizations, a holistic — and successful — cloud transformation hinges on keeping these objectives in mind throughout the entire process.  

The environment also must encompass the culture of the teams that are executing the changes as well as those receiving the output. Lack of preparation for these changes is the most common reason for failures in a cloud transformation project. After your financial services organization has determined its motivations and expected outcomes — and taken the necessary steps to prepare — you’re ready to begin the cloud transformation process. Then you can start maximizing the value you’ll inevitably gain. 

Trevor Reese, Strategic Sales Intern, Financial Services team at Genesys, assisted with this article.

 

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