The Dawn of the Age of the Platform


Editors Note: The days of disparate digital banking solutions are over. As technology continues to evolve, and users interact with their banks via multiple-touchpoints, it's crucial that financial institutions have a consistent user experience across these various touchpoints. In this blog, we discuss platforms, and how creating/using a platform solution can create the consistent experience that users demand.

In previous blogs such as What your Digital Strategy (Or Lack of One) Costs, Digital Multi-Channel Strategies are Failing to Deliver Results, and Fintech's Answer to Digital Banking is Unsustainable, there has been a considerable amount of data presented on why financial institutions must consolidate their disparate digital banking products. At the time these three blogs were written, it was still typical to hear industry reporters, research analysts and bankers use the terms "online" and "mobile" when talking about this area of their business.

Today, "digital" has replaced these words because most of those in our industry now understand that from consumers' points-of-views, the experience they have interfacing with their bank via the internet is not channel based but comprehensive. This comprehensive view is not just about the type of device (laptop, smartphone, tablet, wearable) but also the type of service (bill pay, digital financial management, account opening, remote deposit capture). 

Many banks and credit unions have a long way to go in presenting a consistent experience across all these, much less also at the branch, ATM, or call center. However, most know that this is a journey they must make if they are to retain and attract customers, especially as the Baby Boomer generation sunsets and the rise of the Millennials continues. Those who do know are now looking for assistance for sources different from those they have used in the past to help them address technology challenges.

Specifically, instead of turning to large legacy solution providers or to their core providers, institutions are considering smaller, newer companies who are typically digital banking specialists with more modern, flexible technology stacks. A recent Gartner report entitled "Digital Banking Initiatives will Fail Without Strategic Investments in Emerging Technologies" chronicled this phenomenon and Celent in its report comparing digital platform solutions vendors follows this same vein.

The Celent report documents the rise of vendors who provide platforms that offer the kind of comprehensive view consumers want:

Digital Channel solutions providers are evolving to make a unified digital banking experience more attainable by creating a "digital banking platform." Celent defines a digital banking platform as the following:

A solution that includes at a minimum, a unified and integrated online banking and mobile banking offering under a single platform, but which often includes functionality, and extensibility of the user experience to additional channels like kiosks, ATMs, or branches.

These platforms aim to become more than just a single channel offering, moving toward a unified experience that operates independently of a consumer device. This "anytime, anywhere" promise of digital channels is moving closer to reality.

This trend is favorable to banks and credit unions that want to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. For some, it will represent a viable path for competing with the largest banks in the United States. For all, it will mean the ability to deliver the kind of experience customers have grown to expect when they interact with organizations online. This latter achievement is key since most bankers responsible for their organization's digital strategy are aware that it is no longer enough to be better than the bank across the street.

Now a financial institution wants to keep and grow deposits, it must offer digital customers the same high level of experience they get from all other companies they interact with online. That is very, very hard to achieve a strategy built on the Celent definition of a platform.