If there is a prevailing theme that vendors are addressing in their demonstrations these days, it’s “openness.” In most vendor presentations, you can expect the interval between “good morning” and the first use of the word “open” to be about 10 seconds.
There is a reason for the focus – openness is a high priority for buyers right now. However, like many other phrases in banking (think “we’re your partner”), the term “open” has become so broad-based it loses any specific meaning.
What does open mean, anyway? At a high level it means a vendor has the technology, expertise, and willingness to interface its systems and data with other vendors and systems using agreed-upon standards and protocols. The benefits include automated transaction processing, automated sharing of information, simpler updates on both sides, easier use of systems, and lower cost of ownership.
Can’t argue the allure there, can you? Nope. Unfortunately, this simple, high-level scenario hasn’t exactly translated into reality. Banks seldom buy all the products they need from one vendor. They run multiple systems on multiple platforms and are still struggling to share data, eliminate redundant processing and, in general, translate the high-level picture into real, measurable benefits.
So when a bank hears a vendor’s “open” talk, I’m reminded of a suitor insisting to a young woman that the spiritual side of their relationship is far more important than the physical. Though it may be true this time, she’s heard it before and experience has shown her that his actions, ahem, are likely to prove otherwise. (Gonzo scribes are excluded from this stereotype, of course. Not one of us has ever found himself at a Scottsdale watering hole uttering the words, “It’s your mind I’m really attracted to.”)
Well, never mind that right now. The bottom line is that open systems, if leveraged, present a significant opportunity for banks to improve sales, service and efficiency. However, banks need to confirm that the openness is specific and real. How? Here are some tips to help you get the open systems design you need.
The technology tools are there, and everybody benefits from the correct execution. I, for one, am open to that idea.