One year after the beginning of the NSA affair, its repercussions are still present in the cloud business, as the current cloud monitor of the branch association Bitkom shows. The number of companies in Germany using cloud-based services or cloud resources is on the increase. However, growth has recently been diminished. Security concerns are the biggest obstacle for companies that are planning to migrate their IT into the cloud. Despite these challenges, respondents appreciate the advantages of the cloud in terms of efficiency and costs. Altogether, this development has changed the view on the cooperation with IT service providers and has entailed new IT requirements.
Efficient cloud solutions
An efficient IT also lays the foundation for economic success in the financial and insurance industry. Its importance has significantly picked up against the backdrop of the current challenges. As on the one hand, increasing regulatory provisions force IT administrators in banks and savings banks to consider the requirements in processes and systems. Data protection and security are only two aspects of the increasing regulatory provisions. Industry-specific requirements for risk management (MaRisk), Basel III, provisions of the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) and amendments to the German Banking Act (KWG) have to be fulfilled. On the other hand, increasing margin pressure as part of the low interest rate phase and the changed customer behavior makes innovative and efficient adjustments of the business processes necessary. Thus, the issue of a sustainable and future-oriented IT strategy is currently being put into the limelight of banks and insurance companies. While some institutions rely on insourcing, others ask for solutions from industry-specialized partners and not only take the use of dedicated servers into their consideration but also outsourcing into the cloud. Prior to the NSA affair, the issue of costs often was the central point of contract talks. However, nowadays the legal form of companies and the shareholders have become the focus again. All this suggests cooperating with a specialized service provider, that aligns its IT towards the needs of the financial industry in compliance with regulations. Furthermore, these service providers have gathered significantly more experience in dealing with audits of supervisory authorities, such as BaFin, in relation to implementing regulatory provisions of an industry. Thanks to the close contact, these service providers get to know the view of the regulatory authority on audit-relevant issues early on and can align their services towards current criteria of the supervisory authorities. At the same time, the customers as well are well prepared for audits concerning IT outsourcing management. Another advantage: As part of the focus on the industry, these providers can still offer economies of scale to their customers by allocating the costs of regulatory compliance to different stakeholders thanks to standardization. In comparison, IT service providers that don’t focus on the industry face an increasing cost pressure for specific legal issues resulting from stricter regulations. The technical maturity of cloud solutions is out of question. It is rather up to the IT providers to guarantee comprehensive transparency in the day-to-day business and to not make any compromises in terms of complying with regulatory requirements. The strict rules for data protection are proof that the use of personal data is of paramount importance—an expression of a distinctive data protection culture in Germany. Compared to the international environment, the issue of confidence between IT providers and companies plays a bigger role in Germany. In particular the financial industry is obliged to save and process data exclusively in Germany. But also international banks, that are active in Germany, use data centers in Germany, although corporate servers are available in London or Dublin. Another argument in favor of the cloud is that it helps CIOs to abolish undesired Shadow IT solutions, such as private e-mail accounts or storage services. As in the banking sector as well, consultants in customer support fall back on unsafe, but simple private communication ways. Sophisticated cloud solutions can avoid this and thus increase the acceptance of corporate applications.