Generative AI and Cloud Integration Keep Mainframes Alive in the BFSI Industry | Blog

Though a recent Everest Group survey revealed the pressing need for mainframe modernization, the technology is far from dead in the banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) industry. The rise of generative AI (gen AI) will encourage more BFSI firms to adopt a comprehensive technical architecture, integrating cloud and mainframe technology at its core. Read on for insights from the survey or get in touch. 

Are BFSI firms really ditching mainframes? The BFSI industry is indeed grappling with the prospect of abandoning this approach. According to an Everest Group survey, about half of the respondent firms have shifted their peripheral tasks away from mainframes.  

Concerns about mainframe system scalability loom large for more than 50% of sizable BFSI firms, while about 60% of smaller firms struggle primarily with finding talent skilled in older programming languages such as COBOL.  

Operational complexity with mainframe systems is also reported as a challenge by over 90% of BFSI respondents, underscoring the pressing need for mainframe modernization. Evolving priorities such as building data-driven workflows, digitalization, and enhancing customer experiences further fuel this urgency. 

Cost efficiency and talent unavailability are the main drivers for mainframe modernization, closely followed by the imperative for innovation. North American firms prioritize core banking and CRM workloads over modernization, while European players emphasize digital channels and payment infrastructure. 

Despite these challenges, mainframes are expected to remain integral to BFSI operations. A significant majority, about 60% of the respondent firms, have not yet started modernizing their core systems. In the coming years, non-core applications will continue to have a higher migration rate than core applications.  

However, industry research underscores that BFSI enterprises optimize and enhance their mainframe ecosystems, presenting a promising opportunity for service providers to assist. Let’s explore this further.  

Capturing cloud value through a hybrid infrastructure

With mainframes here to stay in the BFSI industry, enterprises can gain a competitive advantage by investing in the private cloud to capture the underserved and large demand for hybrid IT. Hybrid cloud is a constant across all our BFSI industry enterprise conversations.  

Of the respondent BFSI firms, 35% utilize private cloud for their modernization initiatives — mainly in a hybrid cloud environment — while 65% rely on a multi-cloud strategy.  

IBM’s focus on transforming the mainframe’s interface to other environments validates this trend. The launch of z15 and z16 is the company’s answer to the age of cloud computing. It is an evolution to meet the needs of hybrid cloud deployments, leveraging investment in data, generative Artificial Intelligence (gen AI), and applications, adding features and functionality to complement this strategy. IBM is focusing its messaging on rightsizing over downsizing. The strategy to provide more flexibility, predictability, and cost-effectiveness is evident in the company’s push for tailored fit pricing.   

The survey reveals many firms believe the disconnection between mainframe environments and new cloud-native systems and applications is a big challenge. Further investments in technologies like application programming interfaces (APIs), in collaboration with technology and service providers, will help bridge this gap in the coming years. 

Will banking’s AI revolution enable cloud-based modernization? 

We expect a symbiotic relationship between gen AI and IT modernization, each complementing the other’s growth. Cloud computing is the foundational block providing the right computational power to run AI applications, while AI’s enhanced speed and efficiency will support cloud migrations.  

BFSI firms are channeling investments into gen AI, crafting use cases to support their modernization initiatives and business operations. The survey found that 40% of the BFSI firms have proof of concepts or use cases for gen AI to support mainframe modernization.  

Firms have moved beyond experimenting with gen AI. Goldman Sachs and Deutsch Bank have started using gen AI to generate code and refactor their modernization initiatives, closely watching the impact. They are building and rolling out use cases to improve operational efficiency. We believe that the banks poised for future success are identifying use cases that solve specific business problems aligned with their organization’s strategy. This can enable them to measure the results easily and encourage leadership buy-in.  

With mainframe modernization services growing at a steady 4-5%, the ability to adapt and innovate using newer technologies such as gen AI will drive more BFSI firms to adopt a more robust and holistic technical architecture with both cloud and mainframes at its core. 

However, the question remains: will gen AI bring exponential change in the next three years? There is one certainty: the need for a strong IBM, service provider, and hyperscaler value proposition will continue to grow for BFSI clients. 

To discuss mainframe modernization further, please contact [email protected] and [email protected]. Understand more about the future of the enterprise mainframe, or watch our on-demand webinar on the future of generative AI implementation at enterprise level.

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