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Société Générale Global CIO Carlos Goncalves has put continuous delivery at the heart of the bank's operating model and expects to have some of its core applications running out of a public cloud by the end of the year.

Speaking at the 2017 Gartner Symposium in Barcelona, Goncalves said that the French multinational bank's transformation stood on four major pillars targeting agility to enable fast and flexible value creation for its customers. These pillars were continuous delivery in its operating model, the digital transformation of its architecture, moving its infrastructure to the cloud and having agility in its resources with smarter talent management.

[See also: Societe Generale CIO's 6 top tips for a successful business transformation]

Goncalves, who was named European CIO of the Year in 2015, said that the bank had worked closely with European banking regulators and public cloud providers at every step of the journey to ensure hosting core applications in the cloud was fully compliant.

"Cloud is no longer the question, cloud is the answer," Goncalves said.

Public cloud compliance

SocGen had been in pilots with Azure and Amazon Web Services, Goncalves explained, with the bank's legal team liaising with European Central Bank regulators and compliance officers from AWS and Microsoft. "At the end of the year we should have some of our core applications in the public cloud," he said.

The CIO has set a target of 80% of its Global Banking and Investor Solutions arms - comprising Corporate & Investment Banking, Asset Management as well as Private Banking and Investor Services - in a public or private cloud by 2020.

"Cost is divided by two from virtual to a public cloud, and by five from physical to cloud," he said. "But the real benefit is agility, and accessibility and provisioning in a matter of minutes rather than weeks or months."

Indeed, an agile approach to business and technology methodology is a cornerstone of SocGen's transformation.

"An Agile approach offers fast value, lowers stress risks and lowers IT costs while providing transparency and flexibility," Goncalves said. "You are delivering small pieces of value each time you go into production. You can fail because you are delivering small pieces of your product and you can try and generate innovation.

"Continuous delivery is at the heart of our operating model so we can adapt and innovate faster than the competition while attracting the best talents to continuously deliver value to our customers.

"You need to learn fast and innovate faster, which shortens time to market. Accept that you will fail, and rethink the partnership between the product owner and the feature teams."

From IT transformation to business transformation

The CIO said that over the journey since 2011 the bank had been able to halve the IT total cost of ownership, trained 1500 staff in Agile and DevOps and had seen a 45% reduction in the time to market. While transforming from monolithic applications to services, Goncalves said that they had now moved from an outdated model and strategy of perimeter security to embedded security across the business and its applications.

Previously the Deputy Global CIO at Société Générale who specialised in Artificial Intelligence when studying IT engineering, Goncalves said that if he had been able to communicate more clearly from the start the project was a business transformation rather than an IT or technology transformation then the programmes of change at SocGen could have progressed more smoothly.

"I thought at the beginning it was mainly an IT transformation, but it's a business transformation," he said. "It took me almost a year to realise. I should have sat down with the business side earlier and if we had them on board from the start we would have moved a lot faster.

"You have to share the vision between the business and IT; if you don't it will fail. Get strong sponsorship from top management and appropriation from end users.

"You can't do if it's not taken on by the top level of the organisation. Try to find the people who, when you share the vision, they are ready to go with you. That is what will make you a success."