Complexity – in the form of legacy architectures, system silos and un-orchestrated applications – was one of the biggest challenges that the banking sector had to address en route to a digital future. Now it seems that we might inadvertently be cloning digital versions of some of those very same complications into our digital ecosystems. What got me thinking was our recent study, jointly with Cornerstone Consulting, about digital capabilities in credit unions. Without exception, every participating credit union was offering both online and mobile banking services to its retail members. But a very large number were also actively looking for a unified platform to manage their online and mobile offerings.
The piecemeal addition of technologies, processes and applications to the IT landscape was one of the biggest contributors to complexity in the previous banking model. So, approaching digital banking as an aggregation of channels has the potential to recreate the same challenges that banks and credit unions once faced. More importantly, digital does not end with online and mobile. As emerging concepts like wearables and IoT mature, applying a discrete development strategy to those opportunities will only result in another fragmented under-performing technology ecosystem.
For credit unions, the concern is not merely about the seamless integration and orchestration of new digital opportunities. Consider member business services, an as yet underleveraged growth opportunity. Will online and mobile banking services for business members also be structured in architectural silos?
A brand new banking experience is the fundamental promise of the digitally empowered credit union. In order to fulfill that, credit unions need to adopt a simplified application and technology strategy that allows them to effortlessly add new digital capabilities without compromising the cross-channel experience of their members. The focus should therefore shift from deploying channel-specific technologies and processes to creating an enterprise-centric digital banking platform.
The aforementioned study says that a lack of fully functional solutions in the marketplace might explain the slow pace of adoption of unified digital platforms among credit unions. But today there are platforms available that can deliver a great digital experience without complicating the IT ecosystem. A unified architecture delivers the agility required to quickly launch additional channels and offer new products across all. It also enables a unified real-time view of customer relationships, which is essential for creating personalized services and solutions. Most importantly, end-to-end solutions help credit unions accelerate the ROI on technology investments by ensuring they are aligned with their strategic business objectives.