Mike Wilens has worn many hats at Fidelity Investments, and today the former president of corporate technology operations spends most of his time as a coach and advisor to multiple parts of the organization.
Cloud technology is one area where Wilens has worked extensively, and Fidelity itself has built much of its newer infrastructure in private clouds under new standards that have arrived with Linux stacks, Apache Web servers and other open source advancements.
“Open source has really become a huge force and the cost structures in general are coming down if you adapt to these things,” says Wilens. “Whether you use public clouds or build your own private cloud, the standardization is a big part of what you are getting benefits from.”
In one example, Fidelity has built custom private clouds with the human resource departments of Fortune 200 customers where employees can access trading technology and manage their 401k investments alongside their corporate benefits.
Another business called Fidelity Charitable lets a user essentially create and manage a charitable trust fund through a Web application. “It’s like setting up an account at a bank, though the money is no longer yours,” Wilens says. “With a donor advice fund you get a tax deduction immediately and then you can grant money to IRS sanctioned charities, and the account is also invested for you like a small foundation.”
Mobility is adding a whole new dimension to application development across Fidelity, calling for more standardization and uniform service layers across all its products, because mobile apps will demand that, Wilens says. “Sorry, but you don’t get to put nine of your mobile apps on their phone.”
Quotable: “There’s an old saying that when your ability to change is slower than the environment you are in, you are not long for the world. So I always worry about the balance between the correct level of governance and safety and getting things done at a reasonable speed in a highly regulated environment. It’s tricky to find that balance and the cost of mistakes is very high.”
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