Sunday, July 06, 2008

Banking as a Platform

Searching for "Business as a Platform", I come across a post by Tom Steinthal, the Financial Services chief of nGenera, called Some Thoughts on Platforms in Financial Services.

Tom lists a few criteria of a good platform.
  • extensibility, open
  • utility beyond utility envisioned by the designers
  • foundational (not sure what he means by that)
  • simplicity, focus
  • powerful, scaleable
  • open
  • incorporating, facilitating and/or leveraging collaboration
  • accessible and/or leveraging the Internet (reachable via Web Services and/or SaaS?)
In a later post (more on platforms ...), Tom states that platforms don't always justify the cost and risk. "There will be many cases where making the solution a platform will not be worth it."

Tom suggests that financial services might learn something useful from platforms like Amazon. Sure they could, but will they? Are they? There are loads of services that I'd like my bank to provide me with, and I can see exactly how the platform concept would give an innovative bank a cost-effective and powerful way to provide me with services like these, but (sadly) I don't see much evidence that banks (at least in the UK) are interested in that kind of innovation.

I really like the idea of a bank providing services to its customers that are flexible and secure, allowing the customers (or their financial advisors) to compose these services into customized solutions. I also like the idea of financial advisors actually doing some real work, rather than simply earning commission by selling me some fancy investment plan. There may also be opportunities for social provision - voluntary agencies and community groups creating easy-to-use customized banking services for selected target groups.

But is that going to happen? Browsing further back in Tom's blog, I find a link to an article by Penny Crosman called The Future of SOA on Wall Street (Wall Street and Technology, Feb 2008). Banking platforms are mentioned, but only as a means to internal flexibility, reuse and interoperability, not yet as a mechanism for providing radical improvements to customer experience and service.

However, I live in hope.

Related post Banking as a Platform 2

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