Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Do We Need Better System Integration or Fewer Systems to Integrate? (Gonzo Banker)

I read an article ”Do We Need Better System Integration or Fewer Systems to Integrate?” by Terence Roche, co-founder of Cornerstone Advisors and contributor to Gonzo Banker. In the article he says, “If I were to go to most bankers today and ask them what one thing they would do to improve their systems environment, a large number would say better integration of the systems they are using. Ten years ago, if I had asked them that same question, the majority probably would have said - hang on to your hats here - better systems integration. Despite a lot of focus on middleware, application programming interfaces (APIs) and other tools, this issue has never stopped being top of mind with system users.”

He goes on to suggest that the solution is not better system integration, but rewriting systems following the design principle of other industries - customers and employees use a common system and the front-end experience is the start point? He cites Amazon, Uber and FedEx as examples of other industries to follow. 

I accept the author’s premise that banking systems need to be built around the front-end member/customer experience first and then the back-end that credit union and bank employees access and use to support the member/customer. From that point forward I will argue the opposite as it relates to the solution he proposes, rewriting the many banking technology solutions into a single platform. 

He rightly points out that back-end banking systems (their core processing systems) were written 20 to 40 years ago and are based on antiquated technology. They were designed before self-service or member/customer facing solutions were even a twinkle in the eyes of the developers. They were batch systems designed to process transactions. 

Unlike Amazon, Uber or FedEx, the level of innovative solutions (third party and homegrown), complexity, high level of expertise required to create and deliver these solutions and the ongoing regulation that must be overcome is limited, compared to what banks and credit unions face.

To expect a company with a single banking technology platform to develop, deliver and support all the technology solutions to meet the needs of their customers, regulators and employees is not practical. There are several core data processing companies that have gone down that road with very limited success. 

Why not build a single member/customer and employee user interface (UX) platform that accesses all these diverse systems and databases and let the diverse systems and databases do what they do best, process transactions? The result is a single member/customer and employee UX with integration to all of the credit union’s/bank’s front-end, back-end systems and supporting services. How data is input, retrieved and used would be dependent upon how the credit union or bank design their user interface (UX). Designed around business rules, workflows, and decision matrixes, this UX using today’s technology can be built around drag and drop and customization menus. Work that can be done not by credit union/bank IT programmers, but by the new banking team of the future:
  1. Data analyst - Google has even created a new name for this position, Data Scientists
  2. User experience designer - Must be able to tell your story in a simple and in an intuitive way
  3. Algorithmic risk specialist - Identifies risk through multiple data sets without requiring input from the users
  4. Predictive analytics - Provides services, solutions and expected responses at just the right time, "the magic second" of opportunity.
  5. Behavioral psychologist - Must understand your members or customers, their desires, buying and behavioral patterns. The future of bank marketing is behavioral patterns not demographic profiles
  6. Social media expert - The person that develops the message and engages your members and customers
The sheer complexity, services integrations and number of technology front-end and back-end banking systems make a single rewritten system with the required specialization and ongoing regulatory compliance almost impossible. A single system is a utopia that will not happen.

Credit Unions to their credit are actively designing a standard interface protocol “Credit Union Financial Exchange” (CUFX) led by the CUNA Technology Council that will help facilitate integration between technology solutions. A UX platform integrated with the credit union’s or the bank’s front-end, back-end and outside services have a much higher probability of success and is a realistic goal to achieve omnichannel implementation than a rewritten single technology platform.

For your enjoyment, a fun cartoon about and OmniChannel Banking. It hits the mark. 

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