09.23.2019

Millennials Reshape Financial Firms’ Move to Cloud

The Millennial Generation Is Re-Shaping How Financial Firms Move to the Cloud

By Paul Ponzeka, CTO at Abacus Group

Paul Ponzeka, Abacus

The Millennial Generation is now the largest cohort of the American workforce and the Millennials are re-shaping the way most businesses think of IT – particularly when it comes to the Cloud.

The financial services industry was slow to embrace the cloud because of security and privacy concerns. Today, as older managers contemplate whether public cloud systems are the right move for their business, Millennials often push their employers to move quickly. There are many good reasons for why this is happening.

One is the recent movement to add coding and development into standard school curriculum. This trend began as Millennials were growing up and today’s high school are working on web development in the same vein that they are working on Math, Science and English. Coding is now less a unique skill and more of an engrained knowledge, and younger people are looking for opportunities to put these skills to test. Most job candidates are coming out of school with some level of technical proficiency on their resumes. More and more professionals are graduating with the ability to program and code, and IT expertise is no longer confined to a single department within a firm.

Another reason Millennials love the public cloud is its easy accessibility. The major providers offer free access tiers where users can try the public cloud systems relatively cost free. Where previous generations paid dearly for licenses to off-the-shelf applications, Millennials realize they can easily and cheaply access productive IT tools in the cloud.

Further, non-computer science-based majors are getting into the world of IT development to help their individual crafts. Take the fund manager who needs to create complex models for his investments. In the past he may have used multiple spreadsheets. Today, he can use a cloud-based database that enables him to pull more data dynamically into his models — in half the time.

All of this translates into businesses moving faster into public cloud adoption. Employers know that talent is a business resource, and good talent is hard to find. Companies are competing with each other not just on compensation, work culture and flexibility, but on the platform their organization operates from. Millennials want to work at a place that uses the latest and greatest technology, not some legacy applications that require dying skillsets. In their eyes that is the public cloud. Millennials want to increase their individual brand equity by ensuring they have the toolset available to them to be successful. Businesses are hearing this and they are reacting.

Of course, there are challenges for the firms to deal with in moving to the cloud. Larger companies likely will have an abundance of technology that they need to move to the cloud. Can they do it on their own or do they need the help of a service provider? In financial services, regulatory compliance needs to be a priority – including data privacy under new laws in both the U.S. and Europe. Smaller firms will encounter issues of cost vs. benefits.

And perhaps the biggest consideration for firms large or small is cybersecurity. Financial firms cannot afford data breaches that impact their assets and customers.

In the past, anything technology-related went through the IT department as a gatekeeper. If a user needed a server for some task, a request was made, the system was controlled, implemented and then used. The less-patient Millennials want to be able to dynamically jump in and out of different environments, and make the requisite changes on the fly. This is forcing firms to ensure that providing the expected level of access and freedom to their users also allows them to maintain control over the corporate assets within their required security footprint.

The push to use new cloud technology platforms is only going to accelerate. As Millennials and the following cohort (Generation Z) gain more voice in management, they will drive even more business to the public cloud. Firms will need to act faster than they may want to, and they will struggle with how to do it safely, securely and with scale.

About the Author
Paul Ponzeka is the Chief Technology Officer at Abacus Group, a leading provider of hosted IT solutions and service focused on helping alternative investment firms by providing an enterprise technology platform specifically designed for the unique needs of the financial services industry in the US and the UK. Paul was previously managing director of engineering at Abacus, overseeing 22 engineers in the areas of R&D, systems engineering, disaster recovery and networking. Before joining Abacus in 2012, he was head of engineering for Davidson Kempner Capital Management. Prior to Davidson Kempner, Paul was a senior engineer at Eze Castle Integration, responsible for high-level VMWare and SAN implementations, as well as serving as the company’s senior messaging expert. Paul earned a BS in operations management at the University of Scranton.

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