The end of the PC…

The mortgage market cannot resist the cloud, argues Paul Hunt, managing director of Phoebus Software

This month, Steve Jobs, denizen of the insightful prediction, said the days of the PC are numbered. He predicts that as memory requirements are going to be increasingly transferred to the cloud, mobile platforms will become so popular (and powerful) that they completely replace the PCs. The idea isn’t all that far fetched – even within the mortgage industry.

If you don’t understand why cloud computing is the future of computers, you’re not alone. In its simplest form, the ‘cloud’ simply refers to the Internet. ‘Cloud computing’ refers to software and services that run over the Internet. Webmail like Gmail and Hotmail are considered cloud computing. You can access cloud computing services and data from virtually any web connection allowing users to free their data from the confines of hardware and the PC. Apple have suggested that their iCloud will become the ‘centre of your digital life’.

If the PC’s days really are numbered, you could be forgiven for thinking users of mortgage software would be among the last to leave them behind. After all, mortgage administration is an office-based business process which requires considerable hardware and software resources, as well as a sizeable labour force to use it. Furthermore, you have to be particularly careful about the transfer of data and its security in financial services. Imagine if the loss of data that Sony suffered recently were to happen in the mortgage industry&hellip but cloud computing has come along way in the last 12 months and it now looks safe enough – in the right hands – for the financial services industry.

A move to the cloud would be a big one for the mortgage industry. Currently, lenders and servicers use software loaded onto PCs to assess which borrowers are likely to become risks and to administrate payments. It’s a sedentary process which requires large numbers of staff working in a large central offices at their PCs.

Mobile information platforms could change this fundamentally. If software is compatible with tablets like the iPad and even smart phones, employers may be able to use staff on the move, allowing more face-to-face contact with borrowers and making genuine hot-desking possible. That will reduce the need for large and expensive offices.

The key is to ensure all parts of this process are compatible. That won’t always be the case. As a writer of bespoke mortgage software, Phoebus is working hard to ensure all its software is compatible and works just as well through the cloud as it does through specialised servers. This means our clients wouldn’t have to change their underlying software if they wanted to move their databases into the cloud.

It’s not just the desktop PC that’s under threat. Even the work laptop may be about to be superseded. Products like the Motorola Atrix are now capable of content creation themselves. Samsung and Acer will be bringing out their own Chromebooks to take advantage of Google’s operating system and these will significantly increase the power and flexibility – as well as choice of products – for mobile users looking to operate primarily through the cloud.

Of course, there are limits to this. The death of the PC is by no means the death of the office. Having a centralised base of operations has plenty of advantages that have nothing to do with the mobility of the technology it contains. And there are still concerns that with sensitive data such as that held by mortgage servicers, security in the cloud is not yet proven. But whatever concerns persist, businesses must wake up to the fact that immobile and inflexible PCs should no longer be seen as expensive necessities.