What is the Silver Lining in Cloud for Financial Services?

This was a great week of excitement and innovation here in San Francisco starting with the San Francisco Giants winning the National League Pennant for the 3rd time in 5 years on the same day Saleforce’s Dreamforce 2014 wrapped up their largest customer conference with over 140K+ attendees from all over the world talking about their new Customer Success Platform.

Salesforce has come a long way from their humble beginnings as the new kid on the cloud front for CRM. The integrated sales, marketing, support, collaboration, application, and analytics as part of the Salesforce Customer Success Platform exemplifies innovation and significant business value upside for various industries however I see it very promising for today’s financial services industry. However like any new business application, the value business gains from it are dependent in having the right data available for the business.

The reality is, SaaS adoption by financial institutions has not been as quick as other industries due to privacy concerns, regulations that govern what data can reside in public infrastructures, ability to customize to fit their business needs, cultural barriers within larger institutions that critical business applications must reside on-premise for control and management purposes, and the challenges of integrating data to and from existing systems with SaaS applications.  However, experts are optimistic that the industry may have turned the corner. Gartner (NYSE:IT) asserts more than 60 percent of banks worldwide will process the majority of their transactions in the cloud by 2016.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the challenges and what’s required to overcome these obstacles when adopting cloud solutions to power your business.

Challenge #1:  Integrating and sharing data between SaaS and on-premise must not be taken lightly

For most banks and insurance companies considering new SaaS based CRM, Marketing, and Support applications with solutions from Salesforce and others must consider the importance of migrating and sharing data between cloud and on-premise applications in their investment decisions.  Migrating existing customer, account, and transaction history data is often done by IT staff through the use of custom extracts, scripts, and manual data validations which can carry over invalid information from legacy systems making these new application investments useless in many cases.

For example, customer type descriptions from one or many existing systems may be correct in their respective databases however collapsing them into a common field in the target application seems easy to do. Unfortunately, these transformation rules can be complex and that complexity increases when dealing with tens if not hundreds of applications during the migration and synchronization phase. Having capable solutions to support the testing, development, quality management, validation, and delivery of existing data from old to new is not only good practice, but a proven way of avoiding costly workarounds and business pain in the future.

Challenge 2:  Managing and sharing a trusted source of shared business information across the enterprise.

As new SaaS applications are adopted, it is critical to understand how to best govern and synchronize common business information such as customer contact information (e.g. address, phone, email) across the enterprise. Most banks and insurance companies have multiple systems that create and update critical customer contact information, many of them which reside on-premise. For example, insurance customers who update contact information such as a phone number or email address while filing an insurance claim will often result in that claims specialist to enter/update only the claims system given the siloed nature of many traditional banking and insurance companies. This is the power of Master Data Management which is purposely designed to identify changes to master data including customer records in one or many systems, update the customer master record, and share that across other systems that house and require that update is essential for business continuity and success.

In conclusion, SaaS adoption will continue to grow in financial services and across other industries. The silver lining in the cloud is your data and the technology that supports the consumption and distribution of it across the enterprise. Banks and insurance companies investing in new SaaS solutions will operate in a hybrid environment made up of Cloud and core transaction systems that reside on-premise. Cloud adoption will continue to grow and to ensure investments yield value for businesses, it is important to invest in a capable and scalable data integration platform to integrate, govern, and share data in a hybrid eco-system. To learn more on how to deal with these challenges, click here and download a complimentary copy of the new “Salesforce Integration for Dummies”

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