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By Todd Gottula, CTO, Advent Software
The whole industry is aware of Cloud, and majority of the industry players have gone through the process of figuring out what this technology means for their business. Talking about implementation of cloud, organizations used to be dependent on in-house software and services as well as run them either on a co-location provider or a public cloud provider, such as Microsoft Azure. However, such a scenario has turned a thing of the past.
I am a firm believer of the power in cloud computing. Also, Advent has been excited about leveraging the elastic utility computing enabled by the cloud. Our clients, mainly belonging to the Investment Management realm, face significant data-intensive challenges such as daily reconciliation of trading activity against counter parties or quickly cross-referencing data mined from numerous research reports, and many others. These tasks require hi-end computer power; however, end up being a periodical activity. Often, such tasks are taken care of weekly, or monthly. Since, this being a peak load problem, there is significant reliance on Cloud as a practical solution.
In the foreseeable future, we would be providing our clients with an opportunity to rely on someone else to run their infrastructure, by giving them a scalable and efficient methodology to take advantage of peak load processing. The end-result of the process is that we would be able to ‘answer the questions even before they are asked’.
Balancing Productivity and SecurityIn this connected world, I find that it is a constant challenge to ensure maximization of productivity. Mobiles have become more than common as tools that enable people to carry out office work, anywhere. It is imperative to constantly balance the desire for mobility with the IP policies and data security rules that firms are supposed to follow. It is often a big question as to how do firms make sure they have the right corporate governance in place and are properly enforcing their policies while supporting remote work from home, office or mobile device?? We are yet to find a magic solution that addresses both productivity and security.
"It is imperative to constantly balance the desire for mobility with the IP policies and data security rules that firms are supposed"Along with balancing security and work, we are faced with the challenge of information privacy, which has always been a major topic of discussion at Advent. Talking from our perspective, we provide services to our clients including asset managers, hedge funds, independent financial advisors and others, who, in turn, offer services to investors who, understandably, have significant privacy concerns regarding their data. A European investor doesn’t want their data to be accessible in the U.S., for example. So, we are continually working to make our platforms infinitely accessible, while respecting the unique and often conflicting information security and discovery requirements of different geographies. It’s an incredibly difficult challenge, and there is currently no provider out there to manage and guide us through the maze of global privacy rules.
Keeping Pace with Technology
The biggest challenge, with respect to my current role, is keeping pace with technological trends. The need to align with technology is much more prominent as compared to 10 to 15 years ago.
It’s a constant battle to remain updated on the right technologies to serve our clients’ needs, and judge whether a particular trend is going to gain the adoption and critical mass required for major enterprises like our clients. For firms struggling with the ‘buy vs. build debate’, the truth is that the more you can buy in a trusted way, the better your firm is going to be.
Another responsibility of a CTO is to build solutions that add value to the process. At Advent, the on-going efforts are aimed at creating solutions that solve problems relevant to financial services, rather than merely focusing on application servers and databases.
We are aware of these challenges and invest in our team to stay ahead. I handle a dedicated advanced R&D team who remain updated on the industry’s latest happenings and constantly evaluate other technologies worthy of leveraging on behalf of our clients.
A Business Leader’s Dilemma
Today’s business leaders have to beat extreme levels of competition. They are expected to find better strategies capable of increasing revenue while ensuring the required level of profitability at all levels.
The key is to be highly selective about the problems which you try to solve and be aware of implications for the entire business. For example, entrepreneurs have to understand and balance the growth-oriented strategies so that they don’t impact an organization’s ability to manage data privacy concerns, deploy technology to support employee productivity in new ways, and take advantage of the cloud in a cost-efficient manner. All in all, it’s a never-ending battle.
We have been a part of the industry for the last three decades. In these years, we were focused on meeting our client’s requirements. We judge the prospects for our employees and investors, based on our client’s success. We didn’t take much time to figure out that innovation is fostered when people understand the benefit they are asked to provide, are empowered to make decisions, and feel their contributions are going to be recognized and valued.
We spend a significant amount of time linking the fundamentals of company policies with individual contributions. It’s all about bringing in proper alignment in understanding and clear communication. Therefore, my primary responsibility is to link what we do to the overall corporate wellfare.