Continual Digital Innovation is Both a Sprint and a Marathon


Editor's Note: When planning to embrace a fully digital transformation, banks should consider the responsiveness of DevOps and the versatility of continual innovation. In this week's blog, we discuss why digital transformation is an ongoing process. 

“Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt,” said Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.

In the banking world, financial institutions have to continually adapt because digital transformation is perpetual. Historically, financial institutions (FIs) approached a new online or mobile banking platform as a project: upgrade the technology for a better customer experience and then come back in three to four years to reevaluate the system, also known as “set and forget.” 

As the digital revolution continues to accelerate, set and forget is an obsolete and high-risk strategy. It’s now about how fast each institution can move and how they can adapt to change more rapidly.

DevOps, an industry approach that streamlines the processes between software development and IT teams, has boosted FinTech innovation in the last three to five years allowing companies to build, test and release software in months, weeks and, if applicable, days.

Tracking Customer Impact

When considering what they want in a digital platform, banking executives tend to focus first and foremost on customer impact. The customer experience is a critical component but for one of the few times in history, banks and credit unions are not the ones defining what a good digital experience should be. Digital experience for consumers has been defined outside of the finance industry by tech giants.

Think about Apple’s Siri as well as Amazon’s Alexa, and most recently, Echo, “an intelligent personal assistant.” Any institution that has not begun to discuss how these voice interface options are going to impact their customer experience is already behind.  Most banks and credit unions find the challenge of keeping up with that level of innovation very difficult.  No, this isn’t because they are clueless or staid.  It is because the IT landscapes within these institutions are sitting on a foundation of aged, legacy hardware and software. The components in this foundation work very well, but they are difficult to update or enhance.

This is where new development practices and technology stacks come into play.  These methodologies and tools materially improve time to market allowing FIs to respond to changes in consumer expectations, digital devices and new features or functions in a timeframe that will help them retain and attract customers and members. This need for speed and desire by consumers to enjoy the convenience provided by the latest digital options is why the set and forget approach simply doesn’t cut it.

By utilizing an integrated, collaborative process, new software functions are brought to market in a fraction of the time with legacy solutions. Thus allowing FIs to cater to varied consumer demands and introduce new capabilities to satisfy their needs. The best news is that this approach is scalable and repeatable. Institutions can continue with this pace of change as long as they do what is required to optimize their operations for this type of methodology. The banks, credit unions and technology providers that are making these changes are reshaping the competitive landscape in our industry, making it possible for regional and mid-tier institutions to successfully compete with much larger organizations.  

CSO has asserted that DevOps is the most important innovation for the IT sector since the invention of the personal computer. Any tech providers that are not constantly making the necessary adaptations to their process, so that the power of DevOps can be harnessed, have a limited lifespan as do FIs that fail to do the same. The play on words is inevitable, if a bank or credit union wants to win the digital marathon, it is going to have to learn how to sprint.