New technologies for financial planning – Cloud computing
What is cloud computing?
“The Cloud” is a collection of servers, networks, storage facilities, development tools, and applications (apps) delivered through the internet. Businesses can access these “cloud” services saving them the cost of servers, engineers, programmers and related staff.
The Cloud can store and make available (almost immediately) enormous amounts of data. It is dominated by the big companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google who provide the IT infrastructure, services and security.
Edge computing refers to data that is processed on devices like smart phones. These are becoming powerful enough to do the processing themselves rather than outsourcing to the cloud using up valuable bandwidth. If every security system uploaded all their surveillance data to the cloud it would impact bandwidth for minimal return. Its better to store and process the data on the surveillance equipment.
Another important feature is “scaling”. Organisations using the cloud only pay for what they use which can be seamlessly scaled up or down. Instead of owning and maintaining servers which may often run at low capacity, they access servers owned and maintained by others, only paying for the capacity they use.
Examples of cloud services we all use
- Uploading your photos, videos and documents to GDrive or Drop Box.
- Using Microsoft’s Office 365 and Adobe’s Creative Suite
- Pictures and video on social media
Amazon’s AWS is the market leader in cloud services. For example, somebody using an Amazon Alexa device (like an Echo Show) in Sydney may ask (using voice) for a weather update. The device turns the request into a “JSON” (text) file which goes to an Amazon server in the US where the JSON is read and “computed”. The result (weather update) is returned via a new JSON to the Alexa device who converts it into voice. All in a fraction of a second.
- Cost. As your usage grows so will the cost of using cloud services. This may rise to a level greater than what you would have paid had you owned and operated your own infrastructure.
- Security. Your business could be severely impacted if the cloud service does not manage security properly and your data is compromised.
- Reliance. A business may become totally reliant on the cloud service. If the service fails, so will their business.
How could financial planning use this technology?
“Robo advice” has already arrived for investment services and will expand beyond this. Users complete an online questionnaire about their investment time frames and ability to handle investment risk and algorithms (AI) construct asset allocations based on their answers.
This is bound to expand into other areas and an insurance company in the US has a life insurance quote system that is totally automated and voice based.
Amazon’s Alexa allows developers to build skills and Finchat has a financial planning skill using their cloud services you can access here.