Banking system vendors have prospered by building and selling proprietary, closed systems. Fiserv ITI has been downright unfriendly to anyone attempting to integrate or interface non-ITI products. To be fair, however, these policies — while frustrating — have likely prevented many community banks from information technology disasters.
The era of the closed approach is over, and a few remaining vendors are struggling to compete using outdated products. Internet banking, asset-liability management, bill payment, CRM and a multitude of new applications have taxed vendors’ ability to develop and integrate new features into their product offerings.
Joint ventures and partnerships have historically been used to fill product gaps, but the sheer number of system choices available to banks continued to require integration with core systems. Vendors have been overwhelmed trying to support their customers’ choices.
I’m not sure when the towel was thrown in, but it seems to have occurred in the mid 1990s. M&I Data Services, now Metavante, offered a product called IDK to its customers. Metavante has always been a traditional service bureau provider that offers a complete, integrated solution for its customers. A single set of code is run in a single data center for every user.
IDK, now called Connectware, defined an interface into most of the Metavante core systems. Customers desiring to use a non-Metavante product could license Connectware and use it to interface directly into the core system. In most cases, the third party software provider does the integration work. The first time I saw Connectware and its capabilities, it seemed as if the Information Roundhouse, described by M ONE in the early 1990s, was soon to become a reality.
I recently observed several major vendor core system presentations and discovered that each of these systems has a similar capability. Some appear more robust than others, but the message is the same: integration of unique third party products into the core system is now fully supported.
In your next serious, sit-down discussion with your core system vendor, get answers to these questions:
If your current vendor cannot provide these tools, be sure your next core provider does. -caf