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Resiliency is a significant challenge for finance organizations, and during the current COVID-19 pandemic, financial service providers need the right mix of security, compliance and agility to stay flexible. 

A previous article from Lisa Choi and Luke Thomas outlines the importance of the cloud in building elastic infrastructures. To follow up on that topic, I recently spoke with Michelle Unger, EY Global Technology Officer, who outlined her organization’s experience enacting the cloud transformation at EY and how it impacted their operations and their ability to drive transformation for their clients. EY is one of the largest professional services organizations in the world, providing assurance, tax, strategy and transactions, and consulting services to companies globally. 

What was the initial thinking behind the digital transformation at EY? 

MU: We tried to accomplish three goals: get our data into a secure cloud, get the tools we needed to build cloud offerings for our clients and to transition to a managed services model in the cloud. Today, we have global technology and data platform underpinned by public cloud to provide technology at speed and innovation at scale for EY clients. About 80% of our businesscritical products and applicationare running on almost 40,000 cloud workloads, contributing to billions of dollars of cross-service line revenue across 160 countries. 

Our initial drivers focused on business agility and how to better leverage managed servicesThe approach positioned us to transform our internal processes, while shifting our offerings completely to the cloudThis positioned us better to serve our customers, many of whom were ready to make their own cloud transformations to maintain competitiveness. 

People are a company’s most important assets, whether its employees or clients they have relationships with. Can you talk about how EY brought its people along the transformation journey? 

MU: We’ve always put people first in EY, so we’ve focused on creating a learning culture that’s accessible to everyone. This helps our teams stay skilled on all our products while maintaining resiliency against skill silos across the company. 

We’ve prioritized certification, and we’ve leveraged platforms such as Microsoft Learn and the Cloud Skills Challenge to incentivize learning up and down the organization. We also launched our own EY Tech MBA program to ensure that EY people can stay on top of technology and articulate its value to EY clients. 

These investments in people have directly enabled our ability to build products and accelerators for  clients, such as  the EY Cloud Governance offering, which provides real-time risk monitoring and report visualizations to abstract and aggregate cloud control data across multiple platforms. 

Let’s talk about the results you’ve seen from the investments you’ve made and let’s use the current COVID-19 crisis as the backdrop for those results. How has the work you’ve done enabled your business and enhanced the overall employees’ experience? 

MU: First, we were able to transition over 280,000 EY professionals to remote working almost instantaneously, 70% increase from pre-COVID-19. We helped enable access for over 4,000 clients to Microsoft Teams and our business applications to actively collaborate in newdigital way. 

From a client standpointwe were well positioned to respond quickly and early in our COVID-19 responseIn a matter of days, we were able to launch the EY CARES PPP Forgiveness (Paycheck Protection Program) platform, which was instrumental in helping several clients support the forgiveness process for PPP loans, a new concept to SBA lending. 

Additionally, we were also able to very quickly launch our COVID-19 Enterprise Resilience Tool, which helps enable firms to evaluate their risks and levels of preparedness to deal with the pandemicThe tool helps businesses identify where to adapt their operations to increase resilience and begin to consider how to reframe their future. 

What have you learned in this journey, and what do you think could be applied to the financial services Industry? 

MU: We made several mistakes and learned a lot of lessons. Early on, we built a complex ecosystemso we didn’t get the agility we wanted. Wbuilt a fortress around a cloud environment. We learned you can’t redeploy your old infrastructure without taking away from what you’re trying to do with the cloud. 

It forced us to break down organizational silos and think more about agile DevOps and reskilling as resiliency measures, while still adhering to security and compliance needs. 

Conclusion 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for business resiliency, but it can be achieved even in highly regulated industriesThrough her experience with the transformation at EYMichelle Unger showed that the cloud plays a significant role in providing resiliency and COVID-19 put all their lessons learned in this area to the testThe speed with which EY was able to move to working remotely, as well as how they were able to transform their lessons learned into tools to benefit their clients, is a great example of the agility they have gained with the cloud. 

How well is your company positioned for business resiliencyThe EY Enterprise Resilience Tool may be a good next step. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ernst & Young LLP or other members of the global EY organization.