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HSBC has gone live with its first major cloud deployment, revamping a number of its back office processes using Oracle Cloud.

Joanna Fielding is the CFO for HSBC Global Services, an organisation that employs more than 60,000 people globally to serve the major bank's staff with key internal functions such as technology, operations, management of real estate and procurement.

Fielding has led a shift to cloud-based solutions for department staff since joining the bank just over two and a half years ago. "We wanted to keep our technology current, and the cloud forces us to do that," she said during Oracle's Modern Business Experience event in London this week.

HSBC is already using the public cloud for some purposes, with a project to shift its app development to Amazon Web Service (AWS) announced in November last year. However this looks like the first major cloud implementation for key internal systems for the bank.

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Fielding is driving a change in the way the services arm of the bank operates, moving from "here is the cost for your data centre," towards "better transparency around what it costs to open a mortgage or run a current account."

The project, internally named Velocity, includes a full implementation for financials, "so the ERP, fixed assets, expenses, procure to pay, inter-company planning and BI," Fielding explained. Procurement and inter-company planning be rolled out across the whole bank, not just Global Services.

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Working with Oracle and implementation partner Deloitte allowed HSBC to shift global planning to the cloud in 7 months for its UK staff. This was soon followed by ERP one month later and on Monday the bank went live with procurement. Billing is next in line, set to launch in April and then the bank will roll these cloud-based systems out globally. Speaking about launching in the UK first Fielding said: "We chose the hardest country first."

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In terms of selecting Oracle Cloud the CFO said she did not want to build "on bought and changed technology."

"If we had done it on premise we would have done it the HSBC way and probably recreated the legacy on a new technology," she said. "We needed to do it quickly and even though we run some pretty large data centres ourselves we couldn’t have stood up the environment as quickly as we did with the Oracle Cloud.

"In addition we wanted to adopt best practice. We didn’t want to take technology and change it to the way HSBC had always done things, we wanted to take a technology that will change HSBC to do things differently."

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Finally, Fielding advised any other enterprises looking to shift major processes to the cloud to focus on change management. "It is about being creative and thinking about doing things differently and being creative in how you bring people along on that journey with you," she said. "There are over 150 years worth of legacy and people think their way of doing things is best, even if they didn’t like it to start with."

Naturally executive sponsorship is a huge advantage when it comes to projects of this scale. "This was the first cloud implementation for HSBC and it isn’t a small one. We are moving at pace so having very senior leaders standing behind me saying this is the right thing to do is important."

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