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Microsoft drops the C bomb on financial services – 'compliance'

Windows giant know exactly how to get these types fired up

Microsoft is looking for a share of the financial services industry's wallets, talking up new features and a "compliance" program for its industry cloud in the run-up to next week's Ignite 2022 show.

The features in preview in the US and UK include new data models for property and casualty insurance, wealth management, and small businesses, and an application for streamlining the onboarding of products that includes automated document workflows and AI analysis.

The goal is to "equip every financial organization with the digital capability required to succeed in today's challenging economic and regulatory environments," Bill Borden, corporate vice president of worldwide financial services at Microsoft, wrote in a post this week.

Borden pointed to an IDC survey of CEOs released this year that found 41.1 percent of those in the financial services industry are pushing to speed up the delivery of digital financial services as well as the shift to the cloud.

"In this context, delivering technology that speeds time-to-value and improves customer outcomes is vital – and this is exactly where Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services and its latest updates can offer compelling business value," Borden wrote.

The financial services-focused cloud is part of Microsoft's growing list of Industry Cloud offerings, which kicked off in 2020 with the launch of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.

Everything to play for

The global cloud infrastructure provider space is very lucrative, with spending in the second quarter grow to almost $55 billion. Microsoft remains in the number two spot with about 22 percent of the market, behind AWS at 34 percent. Microsoft is looking to grow enterprise adoption of Azure as one way to close the gap.

The Industry Clouds – which now includes seven such clouds in healthcare, financial services, retail, manufacturing, nonprofits, sovereignty, and sustainability – are based on Azure, the Power Platform, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365, which give them a common foundation. Atop each are more industry-specific tools, standards, and policies.

In 2021, CEO Satya Nadella said industry customization was among the four pillars driving the adoption of Microsoft technology, adding that since 2014 the company has operated a cloud designed for the US government.

"Every industry is unique," Nadella said. "Our aim is to deliver solutions tailored to their specific needs. We … employ experts who bring industry perspective to all stages of our product development as well as our customer engagement."

A report in April from Info-Tech Research Group said that more than 500 industry clouds have been created around the world and that revenue in the space will grow to more than $20 billion by 2023, prompting principal research director Ted Walker to say "the industry cloud market represents one of the largest vertical growth opportunities for technology suppliers."

The Industry Cloud program will be a focus at Ignite, including a panel whose participants will discuss "why industry matters to Microsoft and how it enables organizations to unleash value quickly, build for the future and exceed expectations," according to the agenda.

The data models being previewed in the Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services introduce new attributes for such areas as policy, coverage information and claims (for insurance companies) and financial goals and investments instruments (wealth management), and will enable the linking of small businesses to individual financial holdings.

Also in preview are the onboard application for retail banking and other verticals and a unified client profile for wealth management firms.

Microsoft also is making its Compliance Program for Microsoft Cloud part of the financial services cloud initiative, giving organizations support for their risk, audit, and compliance teams. Included are such features as cloud risk assessments and Ask-the-Expert, where firms can talk to Microsoft subject matter pros.

Microsoft also is making an intelligent appointment feature generally available, giving banking customers the ability to self-schedule meetings.

"It easily and quickly matches customer financial product inquiries with banking experts," Bolden wrote. "Customers can find contacts with the relevant skills and availability for virtual or in-person appointments."

In addition, the company is expanding the reach of Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services to Brazil, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and adding Brazilian Portuguese and traditional Chinese to its list of languages. ®

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