On 6th May, FINOS hosted an expert panel as part of the TechCity Connect industry event to explore the cloud processes changing the way firms do business – especially when it comes to managing and using data.

As part of the event, we spoke to James McLeod, a Director of Community at FINOS, to get his perspective on cloud adoption and why he’s keen to keep large firms talking about, and contributing to, open-source software projects. Below is an extract from that discussion.

What conversations should firms be having around cloud adoption?

With cloud adoption skyrocketing (especially as people log in from home), it’s important for firms to explore how they approach it and what they aim to achieve. James is optimistic that the current situation is encouraging organisations to make bold progress in this area.

“What we’re currently proving is that not only can the cloud be used to rapidly scale infrastructure within finance but that it allows people to develop against that,” he says. “Financial services firms are finding various ways to develop new products using the cloud while collaborating and sharing working experiences remotely.”

However, he believes that the conversations around cloud adoption and delivery need to go a step further. “One key topic is the idea of starting software engineering ventures as a cloud-first concept,” he explains. “As we’ve moved into this socially distanced environment, firms need to be asking themselves: are there ways for engineering and governance teams to work together to make cloud adoption faster?”

“If you don’t adapt fast, it won’t be your competitors that disrupt you; it’ll be your ability to engage at all”

How is COVID-19 affecting our approach to cloud security and risk?

On security in the cloud, James points to two scenarios that have an effect on how firms approach risk. “There’s Digital Transformation, which is a vision for where you need to be,” he says. “What that gives you is the privilege of building your backlogs and understanding your future state – reducing risk by building it into your wider story.”

“What we’ve actually entered is the second scenario where we’re not in control,” he continues. “In fact, you just need to adapt fast because, if you don’t do it, it’ll disrupt you. It won’t be your competitors; it’ll be your ability to engage at all that’ll disrupt you.”

So, how can firms adapt to this? “With Digital Transformation, you build your future state then create your backlog items to reach that goal,” says James. “When you bring that goal forward (as all firms have had to do), you need to understand that your scenario right now might be chaotic, but that you can prioritise the chaos and refine the situation as you go along.”

“Large firms are joining open source to collaborate, so teams across the industry can work together to solve common problems”

What are your thoughts on how the world of open source is moving?

Financial services firms are quickly moving into open source, but what’s driving this shift? For James, there’s “a massive understanding that there are better ways to work together as teams. Firms recognise better ways to do things quickly, better ways to improve the quality of software engineering, and ways to reduce costs by solving problems together.”

According to James, the financial services sector has been leveraging open source in the cloud to increase the capabilities of their teams. But now, they’re pushing further. “Firms are realising that they can create products to support areas such as standards or modelling financial objects,” he says. “Also, many large firms are joining open source to collaborate, so teams across the industry can work together to solve common problems.”

James sees this approach as a positive step forward but is clear about what open source needs to continue its growth. “What we need to do is to continue to talk about it, so we have more engineering contributors into those teams to build the momentum,” he explains. “We have the engine, but we need an injection of fuel to keep it going at pace.”

Read the full interview with James McLeod to discover how open source is shaping the future of finance. Download our Panel Insights paper and watch every event from TechCity Connect on-demand, here.

FINOS is a non-profit organisation whose purpose is to accelerate collaboration and innovation in financial services through the adoption of open-source software, standards and best practices. Find out more about their mission at finos.org