Cloud technology is one of the biggest trends in data storage and data processing. It also involves uncertainties and risks that are significant to highly regulated sectors and public organizations. In an open conversation between Simone Frömming, Director Enterprise Customers at Microsoft Switzerland and Thomas Bolliger, Partner, Information Management & Compliance at KPMG Switzerland, we take a closer look at the importance of cloud solutions in the age of digital transformation. We also discuss whether Swiss firms are ready for the cloud, and compare Switzerland’s position to other countries.
Thomas Bolliger: We've identified cloud technology as a major digital trend – how much importance do you attach to this technology?
Simone Frömming: As IT operating model of the future, the cloud is naturally of great importance to us. Cloud solutions are currently widely distributed across many business process models. The cloud offers a considerable agility and significant cost-saving potential, among other things, which is of crucial importance for the development of businesses.
What does this mean for Swiss firms?
Large Swiss companies – especially in the financial sector – are often very internationally oriented. But if we look at small and medium-sized businesses, the pandemic may provide an opportunity to review distribution structures, data management and, more generally, IT infrastructures. In this respect, we see great potential for the cloud-based management of corporate data.
Switzerland must use its independence and agility to find its place on the market autonomously.
How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your business?
The pandemic has caused human suffering and economic damage, yet this unforeseen and extraordinary situation has also opened up opportunities. Firstly, businesses and public organizations alike have discovered that home office is a valid alternative, or a complement, to office-based working that we’re used to. Secondly, the pandemic has boosted innovation and accelerated projects. Many businesses and public organizations had already acquired a license for our MS Teams videoconferencing application before the pandemic, with roll-outs planned over months and years. The pandemic meant that these projects sometimes happened within 48 hours, which is proof of how tangible pressure can speed up the implementation of IT projects.
Do you feel it has also boosted usage of your Swiss cloud?
Yes, absolutely. In Switzerland, businesses, and to a certain extent public organizations, put great importance on data security and customer-owned data. Strongly regulated industries such as financial services or public bodies are subject to clear requirements as to where and how data must be stored. Naturally, our Swiss-based computer center is indispensable in this regard. In recent years and months, our clients have also worked very closely with FINMA to obtain the appropriate authorizations. Banks got involved early on and we now see an accelerating process among insurance companies. We really can say that Swiss businesses are ready for the cloud.
What does the cooperation between you and regulatory authorities such as FINMA or industry associations such as the Swiss Bankers Association look like?
Building trust is what matters most. We have made contact early on with FINMA and with the Swiss Bankers Association. Naturally, there was still a lot of skepticism and hesitation at the beginning, especially from individual businesses. This is understandable as client data is a highly sensitive subject for banks and is a basis of their core business. Several risk assessments were carried out and, little by little, we were able to come closer together and share the conviction that we can ensure data security even better in the cloud than in traditional server structures.
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