Accenture Banking Blog

A year or so ago, I wrote that moving to cloud was non-negotiable for middle market banks. My reasoning? Cloud enables everything banks want (and need) to do to compete with digital players.

Flash forward to today, and most middle market banks have by now dipped their toes in the proverbial “cloud pool”. I’m certainly not saying that full-scale adoption is the norm in the middle market. However, there are some fruitful approaches and new relationships being made with cloud hyperscalers. I’m glad to see these changes, and I expect them to continue in a slow and measured way.

Here’s what hasn’t changed

When I wrote in 2020 about the myths getting in the way of middle market banks’ adoption of cloud, one of them was the fear that cloud isn’t secure enough. It still is today.

Uncertainty clouds leaders’ thinking

Although the speed, scale and cost savings that cloud offers are so critical as middle markets banks navigate such uncertain times, decision makers remain wary about cloud security.

These leaders aren’t alone. Accenture’s latest cybersecurity report reveals that this ambivalence is a problem across industries—the relationship between cloud and security is inherently complex. Consider this: While most chief information security officers (CISOs) we surveyed believe in “secure cloud” as a concept, 32% say that security isn’t even part of the cloud discussion. I find this stunning.

Consider too that many of the reasons CISOs aren’t implementing cloud relate to security. The report indicates that leaders worry about the complexity of secure cloud, the lack of internal skills to implement and maintain a proper cloud security framework, and poor security governance and compliance processes.

Not only do middle market bank leaders share these cross-industry concerns; their concerns are amplified by how security is hard-coded into banks’ DNA. There’s no other option but for banks to be the best at security.

Secure cloud isn’t an oxymoron

While it’s true that banks have unique security needs that stem from the nature of the data they must protect as well as regulatory requirements, this doesn’t mean that cloud is “not secure enough.” It’s time to let go of this myth and embrace cloud as an instrument of cybersecurity, not an impediment.

The report highlights a group that has already done this. These “Cyber Champions” are among the top 30% in at least three of four cyber resilience criteria: which include experiencing the fewest attacks, excelling at stopping them, finding breaches, fixing breaches faster, and reducing their impact. They view cloud as fundamental to their cybersecurity defense and invest to enhance their secure cloud foundation.

Do what Cyber Champions do

There’s never been a better time for middle market banks to follow the Cyber Champions’ playbook. One of the fundamental things they do differently is align cybersecurity practices with the business strategy, and not just when it comes to cloud investments.

What’s key too is that in their cloud journey they focus on security early and often. Eighty-three percent move to the cloud with security in mind, compared to just 70% of the overall study sample. Here’s the irony for middle market banks. They think so much about security—early, often, yesterday, today and tomorrow—that it can derail them from progressing their cloud agenda.

To break free of this dynamic, middle market banks need to get away from the “us vs. them” mentality that often characterizes their cloud discussions. It goes like this. The technology team says “yes,” while the chief security officer, legal, compliance and regulatory teams say “no.” Even if the dynamic doesn’t exist, the very perception that it does is paralyzing.

All for one and one for all

Thankfully, it’s possible to do things differently.

The solution sounds simple, but it’s exactly what national banks have done to push their cloud agendas forward. Middle market banks can make traction toward secure cloud by bringing all the stakeholders together, from the earliest strategy conversations all the way through implementation.

This is how you turn “us vs. them” into “we.” I can’t say enough about how powerful it is when a multi-disciplinary team works in an agile way toward a common goal—one that middle market banks can’t ignore. Because cloud infrastructure is essential for your bank’s digital future and its cyber resilience.

If you’d like to contact me, please do so here or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors. Copyright© 2022 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture and its logo are registered trademarks of Accenture.