Finance sector needs to seriously consider the cloud to maximise innovation, says Aspect Software

BLOG: The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) proposed new guidelines for use of cloud in the finance sector will note that innovation is essential for building a strong, competitive financial services environment, for which a confidence in cloud computing will play a large part, says Aspect Software.

Keiron Dalton, Senior Director of Customer Strategy and Innovation at Aspect explained: “Cloud computing is a technology that’s now unquestionably part of the mainstream, and contact centre services are no exception to this. Firms using these solutions are able to benefit from features such as fast deployment, easy scalability and powerful workforce management tools. However, while these advantages are plain to see, some organisations are still wary about taking the leap into the cloud.”

In a 2015 survey from The Cloud Security Alliance, 61 per cent of respondents admitted that a cloud strategy is only in the formative stages for their organisation, while none of the respondents plan to host the majority of their applications or systems in the cloud.

Dalton commented: “The reason for this is simple – financial services is one of the most tightly-regulated parts of the economy, and given the nature of the information that is being handled, it’s also a prime target for hackers and fraudsters. Therefore, companies in this sector will demand strong security and a high level of control over their IT environment, and it is often assumed this is something the cloud is unable to provide.

“The consumer financial services industry deals with some of the public’s most sensitive data on a daily basis, and much of this needs to be accessed through the contact centre. As such, the industry is very heavily regulated, with a large number of rules and guidelines to be met.

“For instance, the Data Protection Act governs the use of personal information, and the penalties for breaching this can be severe. Such incidents are said to be on the rise as the amount of data financial services firms handle grow. According to figures from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), there were 585 cases reported to the regulator in 2014 – up from just 206 the previous year.

“Fines for such incidents from the ICO and other regulators can run into millions of pounds, while customer trust can be badly eroded by any breaches. Therefore, it is understandable that many firms look to minimise their exposure to such risk by keeping all their operations, including contact centre software, in-house.”

Despite these issues apprehending the finance sector’s embrace of cloud-based contact centres, Dalton argues that the key to a successful and secure system is correct implementation:

“The reality is that as long as it is deployed correctly, there is no reason why financial services companies should not be able to adopt a cloud contact centre solution that is just as secure as any they could build on-premise.

“The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is currently undergoing a consultation of proposed new guidelines for the use of cloud in the sector in order to clarify what is expected of companies when they turn to cloud services or other outsourced operations.

“They said that encouraging innovation is essential to building a strong, competitive financial services environment, and enabling firms to turn to cloud computing with confidence will have a big part to play in that.”

Dalton concluded: “It’s clear that any assumptions that cloud solutions will not be secure enough for the financial services sector are wide of the mark. However, businesses still need to take great care when moving to such services to ensure they remain compliant and are fully protecting their data. For starters, it’s vital that firms choose solutions that are able to meet requirements such as PCI DSS and ISO 27001. Supported by a strong cloud vendor, complying with relevant regulations must be a minimum requirement for protecting any data stored and accessed via the cloud.”