Meet…Chris Stirrat

Eagle Investment Systems’ Head of Cloud Engineering is overseeing 
Eagle’s ongoing transition to cloud-native architecture. 
Here, he shares both his philosophy around the cloud as well as how he envisions serving both existing users and new clients amid the transformation.

Q:   You recently joined Eagle after roughly two decades at Microsoft and Microsoft-affiliated companies to now lead the engineering team in spearheading the development of Eagle’s cloud-native architecture. Can you talk a little bit about your philosophy around the cloud?

A: The cloud should be viewed as an enabler for products and technology rather than a product unto itself. It’s really about how solutions are delivered and how the cloud allows users to consume software differently than they have in the past. With cloud delivery, users can access applications more quickly; the software is updated far more often, as enhancements are developed; and through continual iteration, the cloud also accelerates innovation.

So with this in mind, I really view my role as helping to improve the customer experience through making our solutions easier to use as well as seamless to consume and adopt. It also fits in well with what our parent BNY Mellon is doing around NEXENSM, their next-generation technology platform, and BXP, which is BNY Mellon’s secure, private cloud.

Q:   Can you touch upon how Eagle’s work around the cloud is aligned to NEXEN and how that will benefit clients?

A:  NEXEN provides a common platform for both clients as well as other technology vendors, and it delivers both consistency and value through the use of APIs. Our work with BNY Mellon, for instance, allows us to leverage the investments in its API framework, which will extend Eagle’s open architecture and allow clients to access multiple sets of functionalities that fit their specific needs and preferences.

As we go through this transition to adopt a cloud-native platform, the NEXEN platform will be fundamental to our efforts.

Q:   From your prior experience, taking part in technology transformations, how do you deliver value while limiting disruption?

I’ve gone through similar transitions in the past. One of the biggest questions is how to serve your existing customers while adopting a cloud-based delivery model. It’s not an option to simply go dark for a few years, so it’s a parallel process in which you build new functionalities alongside existing systems that you continue to enhance and upgrade. Essentially, creating a digital twin or parallel offering that adds value. You have to continue down these parallel paths until the transition is complete. It’s absolutely critical that we deliver value through a low friction customer experience.

Q:   What are some of the biggest challenges that come with a transformation like this?

A:  That’s a good question. From an internal perspective, it’s far more than just re-engineering the technology. There is also a need to balance the tension between the long-term strategic investments and the need to deliver near-term customer value. While balancing these needs, a broader transition also has to occur as it relates to the company culture. Beyond just developing new technology, we have to think about how we service it, how we sell it and what a subscription model may look like—and then how we continue to innovate through a DevOps model. It really touches every part of our business and these other areas are just as important as the technology itself.

As far as the technology goes, it’s critical to secure successes early on. We are initially targeting some discrete solutions and working closely with clients to gain constructive feedback. This will allow us to demonstrate the “what” and “why” for our chosen path and then we will scale over time to take on bigger projects, all while continuing to add value to our existing systems.

One example that we’re currently working on relates to information delivery and how clients consume the data that resides in the Eagle system. We’re working with certain clients now to develop and refine business intelligence solutions that offer rich, interactive dashboards. We will be publishing our APIs as we deliver a platform where clients can use their preferred business intelligence tools to access Eagle data and do their own data modeling, discovery and visualizations.

Q:   One of the other benefits of the cloud-native architecture is the ability to co-create alongside clients and quickly iterate solutions over time. Can you talk a bit about what that looks like?

A:  That’s really one of the often-overlooked benefits, as the ability to adopt an agile development model will augment and accelerate our efforts around innovation. Of course, we’re already collaborating with clients today. The ability to rapidly validate new functionality with clients throughout the development cycle and accept constructive feedback that informs new iterations, all while delivering quality solutions, is a great benefit of this model. Co-creation is critical to support the quick-release cycles that we have in mind. We can provide clients with sandbox environments in which we can work side-by-side in our innovation centers to understand how they’re using our software or want to use it. That will allow us to continually innovate and improve our solutions rather than being constrained by longer release cycles.

Q:   So the move to Eagle represents a change of coasts for you. Any initial takeaways so far?

A:  This may be less about geography, but when I look at the wider fintech landscape there has always been this conventional wisdom that financial organizations are years behind as it relates to software and new technology. Moving into the fintech industry, I see that’s quickly changing, with a high level of disruption taking place right now. To help, we’re bringing some of the West Coast mentalities around innovation to Eagle, looking at financial services through the lens of disruption. I’ve had the fortune of working in a West Coast culture of innovation with a long track record of disruptive technology innovation, a focus on quickly bringing solutions to market, and a desire to disrupt the status quo. I’m excited to bring this experience and culture to Eagle and BNY Mellon.

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