The financial services arena is fraught with challenges… Ongoing regulation, increasing competition, an unstoppable demand for digital services, whilst all the time internal demands to drive down operating costs – and this is just a high level summary! Whilst everyone is aware that culture is very important, the fundamental ingredient to overcoming all of these obstacles to create a sustainable business, is of course, technology.
For years most banks have acquired and implemented IT systems and solutions in the same way, generally involving high price tags and lengthy delivery programmes. Even today, their IT’s strategy to become more digitally relevant is often to first invest hugely in building technology foundations themselves, trying to replicate the stacks of digital leaders in other industries. However, stacking up fancy next generation (open source) components does not magically provide a bank-grade digital platform. In the meanwhile, they miss critical time windows and many opportunities by doing what is actually not their core business.
Their main focus should be on how to become a faster and more nimble financial services provider that can deliver a timely stream of top-notch and highly relevant digital solutions to their client base. How can technology support firms to continuously transform and stay competitive through successful and appropriate innovation? A few suggestions…
Build next generation business services while leaving legacy systems untouched. Adopt new paradigms for creating responsive processes that can handle the complexity related to the digital engagement with the customer. Managing the rich context and the many possible events that can happen during the customer journeys is no longer possible via the traditional structured approach.
Implement an API strategy that allows to easily connect a broad set of internal and external parties, information and processes to underpin the creation of digital services. This strategy should be open and shared but also very controlled, subject to consent and highly secure.
Manage data in a transformative way. Lift and integrate data from the backends without increasing the load on the systems or creating huge data replication pools. Combine this core data seamlessly and securely with new ‘digital related’ data (which is very specific to the new business services and models and subject to privacy regulation) to support highly intelligent customer interactions. Allow this data to evolve.
Roll-out an agile micro-services architecture that allows the accelerated building of next generation solutions by the assembly of such self-contained, reusable and scalable building blocks.
Embrace more rapid and more agile methodologies and development methods to outpace and outmaneuver competition. Adapt how to; design, build, deploy and run next generation digital solutions. More importantly, transform mindsets to start designing for incremental change, question and tweak implementation approaches, learn and adjust fast.
By themselves, these are not novel ideas, but having a bank-grade platform that truly combines them from the ground up and that is based on the newest technologies is the cornerstone for success.
Consider Apple when they created the iOS operating system. This was ground-breaking and has transformed the way humans communicate and manage their everyday lives. iOS doesn’t just allow us to make calls, we can email, take pictures even play games all from a single device. This has been achieved by providing one platform populated with a wide range of solutions, or ‘Apps’, to create a multi-facetted operating system. But Apple didn’t stop there – they have built the system in a way that it can be seamlessly updated to evolve in line with our needs and the latest trends.
It’s no secret that financial services organizations are in a race to innovate. Those who will prosper are the ones that act strategically and leverage on a digital banking platform that empowers them to continuously evolve through visualization, creation and innovation of customer centric digital solutions, over and over again.