Driven by fintech competition and the challenges of COVID-19, the credit union industry is seeing a trend among executives who are becoming less curious and more committed to exploring the adoption of secure cloud technologies. There is a shift toward agile cloud adoption—especially as executives discover the cost benefits from a reduction in maintenance expenses and a faster time to market for new applications and services for members.
As cyberattacks and ransomware become daily events, and members demand more digital banking experiences, credit unions can no longer afford to focus resources on sustaining legacy infrastructure and the expense to build and maintain on-premises data centers.
There is a shift that must happen sooner than later. With safety and security at the forefront, it’s all about secure cloud adoption and digital transformation as we enter this new decade in a post-pandemic era.
Common Challenges of Secure Cloud Adoption
So, what are the top challenges that are driving a cloud-first strategy in credit unions across the globe?
- Infrastructure is at the end of its life and needs replacing.
- There’s no accurate inventory and monitoring of technologies and servers in use.
- It’s budget-prohibitive to hire internal talent to effectively build, manage, and maintain infrastructure and ever-changing security challenges.
- There’s an increased need for resiliency and secure disaster recovery (DR) platforms.
Common Benefits of Secure Cloud Adoption
To dive into this deeper, what are some of the benefits credit unions experience with a cloud-first strategy?
- Internal IT teams can now focus on making their core applications more efficient and effective for members.
- It leads to a decrease in time to market. The cloud provides the opportunity to build new infrastructure for new applications and products in an astoundingly reduced time, such as 72 hours instead of 3-6 months.
- It provides the agility to adapt as needed including the ability to rapidly and securely transition to remote work without major operational issues.
Risks, Benefits, and Levels of Cloud Readiness
The credit union industry has been slow to adopt a cloud strategy due mainly to analysis paralysis. Fortunately, there are enough successful case studies from every industry. Other banks and credit unions have paved the way, creating best practices for digital transformation to a secure cloud strategy.
Partners who are familiar with the shared security model as well as the credit union industry—including what the regulations are, what the examiners are looking for, and what questions they’re asking—can help educate board members and ultimately ensure their buy-in. When credit unions embrace innovation and minimize the cost of failure, they allow for experimentation and iteration to develop solutions to business challenges.
Threats are occurring and changing every day. Legacy equipment drives vulnerability, requiring tremendous resources internally. With the cloud and external partners, credit unions with a cloud-first strategy have instant access to accurate information about servers and data. The cloud allows credit unions to respond quickly and securely to cybersecurity breaches or natural disasters.
With any great innovation also comes great responsibility, and during and after cloud migration, credit unions must remain acutely focused on their role as secure custodians of member data. Like any technology, the cloud is a tool, and credit unions need to understand where their responsibilities start and end.
Perks of a Cloud-First Strategy: Scalable, Cost-Effective, and Smart
The cloud will deliver powerful computing resources, storage, databases, and networking along with hosting locations, DR possibilities, and a huge selection of tools and services. The credit union is ultimately responsible for everything else and needs to make sure its teams and vendor partners clearly understand their roles and risk exposure so they can secure all aspects of their operations.
A cloud-first strategy can be extremely cost-effective with some organizations reducing infrastructure ownership expenses 30-50 percent. The cloud offers an economy of scale with providers such as AWS sharing the burden to assist with security and compliance and monitoring for new opportunities, which allows internal credit union IT teams to focus efforts on building new applications and developing new vendor partnerships for which they previously didn’t have the time or budget.
A cloud-first strategy not only allows an organization to scale up to take advantage of new technologies but also to quickly scale down. If a situation such as the COVID-19 pandemic affects an organization’s budget, it can easily scale back to decrease costs by turning off servers or decommissioning test and dev environments.
More and more credit unions are realizing the benefits of a secure cloud strategy, including:
- Improved collaboration
- More secure remote work capabilities
- Transformation of internal team focus from infrastructure to building new applications and bringing on new partners
- Ability to jump into new opportunities sooner
- Flexibility to innovate without massive investment into physical infrastructure that can’t be easily eliminated
- Confidence to address future uncertainties, whether it’s delivering a new digital experience or responding to a global pandemic
- Reduced threat landscape
Attitudes Toward Cloud Adoption: Curious, Committed, Considering
You are no longer clueless in your secure cloud adoption journey. In fact, you aren’t alone in this knowledge journey at all. With more than 10 years of experience, our team is always available to help and provide additional information or support along the way. Download a real-life example of how Think|Stack’s partnership with a credit union created a platform from which technology continues to keep them secure, innovative, and confident.
About the Author
Chris Sachse, CEO
Chris started Think|Stack in 2011 to serve organizations who serve their communities. Chris saw the important role tech and cybersecurity played in the financial services space. For over a decade Chris and his team have made it their mission to support, secure and empower credit unions to innovate through continuous technology improvement. He is an educator at heart and passionate about helping leaders and their teams understand how technology can support their goals while delivering seamless, enjoyable technology experiences to their people. As a cloud and cybersecurity leader, Chris is proud to sit on the MD Governor's Workforce Development Board as Vice Chair as well as the Cybersecurity Association of MD as Treasurer.