Kate Platonova, Chief Data and Architecture Officer, HSBC
Those organisations who were more invested in cloud tended to fare better at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. One example is HSBC, which uses a range of cloud technology to provide “scalability, resilience and innovation,” in the words of Kate Platonova, Chief Data and Architecture Officer at the bank.
She told Computing that the organisation uses as hybrid cloud model.
“We use a hybrid cloud model, so we have strategic partnerships with all three of the major public cloud providers; Google, AWS and Azure. We also consume a range of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions from a mix of providers. Whichever cloud provider we use, we maintain the same high level of standards for security and resilience.”
The choice around which platform to use for each need is made on a case by case basis.
“We select the cloud providers and services based on the best strategic fit for the particular workload. Our priorities are to always ensure we provide a secure environment, protect customer data, maintain service continuity and comply with all relevant policies and regulations globally,” said Platonova.
Whilst, like everyone else HSBC was unable to predict the pandemic, it did manage to roll out the tools to enable remote collaboration at a rapid pace.
“At the beginning of 2020, 64 per cent of HSBC’s global workforce were able to work remotely – and in a matter weeks our IT teams increased this to 85 per cent. To better support virtual meetings, Zoom was rolled out in 12 weeks – and in January 13 million people attended 4.3 million HSBC meetings on Zoom. 63,000 users in the UK, US and Hong Kong are finding it easier to collaborate using Microsoft Teams and last year over 20,000 laptops were delivered to colleagues at home.”
Platinova adds that regular communication has been key to ensuring staff wellbeing, as well as productivity.
“Throughout the pandemic, the wellbeing of our people has been our paramount concern. We have taken steps to enable our front-line colleagues to do their jobs safely and effectively. For all our colleagues, we have maintained a regular flow of communication and listened closely to their needs (including through a specific wellbeing survey to identify priority areas to address), providing the support and flexibility to help them manage their lives during the pandemic.”
Another common concern during these times of mass remote working has been security, with potentially compromised personal devices connecting to corporate networks in numbers never seen before. HSBC has used a number of strategies to mitigate these risks, in part sending out secure devices to staff.
“212,000 secure HSBC laptops and desktop PCs are currently being used by colleagues working remotely. And 60,000 colleagues are working using HSBC Virtual Connect – allowing them to securely connect in a number of ways, including from personal Windows and Mac devices. Our BYOD mobile service allows colleagues to securely access their work email, calendar and join Zoom meetings from any supported mobile device.”
Stepping away from the pandemic, the organisation continues to invest in the future, with its sights firmly set on exploiting quantum computing.
“We are excited about the potential benefits of quantum computing in banking for solving resource intensive problems and improving customer experience. We think applications could include risk analytics, machine learning and cybersecurity. We’re part of the European NEASQC (Next Applications of Quantum Computing) project to explore potential applications for quantum computing within the banking industry.”
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