“Who owns the NY Post? 20th Century Fox. Talk about vertical integration.” –Joe PantolianoWhen you have been in the industry for a while, you become familiar with certain sayings that are used so much they tend to become almost throw-away parts of a conversation. While they might very well be true, you hear them so much in so many meetings that they tend to take on a life of their own – people will nod in agreement, but there’s really no thought given to them because they are just plain worn out. You probably already know what some of them are:
This is important. Vendors are spending a fair amount of their R&D dollars on integration via middleware investments, system-to-system programming and re-design. Front-end redesigns had the display of integrated back-end systems in mind. Bank employees are spending a lot of time defining field-to-field and functional specs all in the name of integration. Yet most bankers still say, and believe, that systems are not integrated to the extent they need to be.
So, here’s today’s question. What is “tightly integrated”? What would we need to see in systems in order to agree that they are well integrated? What capabilities would they need to have?
Let’s answer this from the perspective of the front-line employee charged with the sales and servicing of customers. Here’s a starting scorecard for deciding if systems are integrated (“We agree our systems are integrated if….”).
1. Capabilities we already have (the ante)
If you don’t have these capabilities by now, you probably don’t have time to finish reading this article because you’re already late for the opening night beer bust at this year’s abacus convention.2. Capabilities that are here or darn close
3. Things that will really seal the deal
For those of you, vendor or banker, who read this and says “I’m there!” on every one of these – no, you’re not.
For those of you who think we have missed some important pieces of the integration definition – good, add them on and agree about them as a management team. The point of all of this is that it’s time to step back and agree specifically, and with examples, on what exactly the aim point is of system integration. There is really no other way to do it than to get specific with examples. First, the bank needs to do it. Then the bank and the vendor need to do it.
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