I was reminded of Christensen’s book at a financial services conference a few months ago. There was a panel of Chief Information Officers at top tier buy and sell side firms discussing “Cloud Computing and Big Data.” Ten years ago, no self-respecting CTO/CIO in financial services would have considered running core applications outside of their firewall. Yet at this conference, as is the case in most businesses, the Cloud was not only accepted, it is considered as an advantage. Some of the benefits noted include a shorter time to deploy, lower maintenance costs, continuous upgrades, and less impact on stretched IT staff. The Cloud FUD is gone, as long as the supplier passes the information security questionnaires.
Then the topic turned to Big Data. There was less FUD and more WH on this topic, and that is the case with many people I speak with. What do we use Big Data for? How do we use it? One panelist suggested downloading some open source tools and playing around with them, which is not a bad idea, but hardly strategic. These new Big Data technologies center on highly scalable real time architectures, structured and unstructured data, business intelligence and predictive analytics. These tools are starting to be adopted in everyone’s marketing department (and CMO’s are taking a lot of the CTO/CIO’s budget), yet have not started showing real impact on the way financial services firms operate. Not yet, at least.