I recently heard a banker refer to his institution’s core banking platform as a “zombie core.” They’re not alone; the core system landscape is littered with platforms still in use but with no hope of reanimation.
As we know from a variety of movies and TV series, zombie cores can come in different forms:
Like the undead in the granddaddy of zombie movies, zombie cores can infect the living cores around them. Major vendors with multiple core solutions in their portfolios can turn off bank and credit union clients to the entire brand because of staff attrition, declining service levels, and a lack of product evolution in an aging zombie core division.
The title of this year’s hit HBO series should resonate with financial institutions remaining on some zombie cores. Scrounging for what few enhancements are available, banks and credit unions have experienced the loss of familiar, knowledgeable vendor resources to rely on for support and are finding themselves with scarcely any peers to collaborate with.
This zom-rom-com told the story of R, a zombie, and Julie, an uninfected girl. Some zombie core vendors have loyal followings who, like Julie helping R hide his rotting flesh with layers of makeup, keep their core usable through customization and the implementation of middleware to integrate complementary solutions.
Vendors may roll out a new user experience (UX) in an effort to extend the life of the core, but unless this fresh makeup is accompanied by meaningful product enhancements and architectural upgrades, the effect is simply postponing an inevitable “living dead” state.
Here are five key identifying signs of a zombie core:
Rules for surviving the zombie apocalypse were sprinkled throughout Zombieland. Similarly, if you are on a zombie core, there are ways you can more effectively manage the system and the vendor until you decide to migrate off the platform.
Being on a zombie core doesn’t have to end in an apocalypse – your particular situation may not require immediate action. Core conversions are expensive and disruptive to a bank’s operations and may not always be a necessary strategy.
Is your institution on a zombie or does your core have a long, healthy life outlook? Are you somewhere in between? Cornerstone Advisors maintains extensive research on the core banking market that includes vendor wins/losses, migrations, solution road maps and talent movements within the industry. Our framework allows us to evaluate each market vendor along a momentum spectrum and which core best fits with a bank’s or credit union’s strategy, operating model and financial appetite.
Financial institutions are invited to join Cornerstone Advisors on Halloween for an exclusive webinar when we will share objective perspectives on the high-growth players in the market and which cores are falling into the zombie category.