From software islands to connected systems

Software Islands to Connected Software

Digitization of processes is not an option today. Even small businesses today need to be dependent upon computational power of devices to run and manage operations.

Large enterprises have different departments of operations, and each department has their budgets. And each department needs software, to smoothen out its processes, and the cost for the software comes out from their budget. This disconnection between different departments often results in various problems, including disconnected systems and redundant software islands.

All departments have many similar needs e.g., task management, content sharing, knowledge management, authentication, etc. which can be served by same enterprise-level software systems, instead of procuring different software systems for each department. Organizations can re-use software systems across departments to reduce costs and management efforts.

I am writing this article to bring forth a more significant problem which arises due to software islands. In recent history, India has seen some banking frauds. Referring to this issue, where the bank had different systems working correctly (in their work area) were disconnected with each other.

The Letter-Of-Undertaking system was disconnected from the core banking system. Both the systems kept on running without alerting anyone about the mismatch in data.

The manual process of entering the data output from one system to another system could easily have been automated. Humans can make mistakes. Humans can miss out a prescribed process. And humans can intentionally skip a step in a series of procedures for some benefit. But computers cannot. Machines are designed to follow instructions. If a piece of operation can be defined logically, computers can be programmed to support it. There is no escape from it. (unless instructed otherwise)

If the bank, would have designed the system to automate communication between the systems, this problem could have been avoided.

Banking industry (or any other sector which is highly governed) have a must need of systems which are connected. A software system which orchestrates the information between different systems reduces not only manual efforts but also makes sure that all the steps in the defined process are followed.

Such a system should also check different systems at regular intervals for validating the data between different systems.
Each enterprise has its own backbone of processes. Hence it is good to invest in a custom software which is dedicatedly built for the organization.

Getting closer to the customers – the omnichannel way

The traditional banking system is changing fast in India. Indian banks are not the same anymore as they used to be ten years back. If I think about the banks of the past decade, the picture that comes to my mind is a small room full of people lined up to do tasks like updating passbooks or depositing/withdrawing money.

The same banks today are using the power of technology not only to reach out to the customers but also helping them invest or spend their money intelligently. 

Due to the increasing competition, it is essential for the banks to reach out to the customers, rather than asking them to connect with the bank. Banking is a crucial aspect of everyone’s life, and in today’s world, no one wants to get in the queue to do simple but critical tasks like checking account balance or transferring money. Customers now want to access their account at a place and with the pace of their comfort. It is their hard earned money, after all!

With a wide range of customers that banks have, there is no “one size fits all” solution to the different mediums or channels that banks can focus on to reach customers. Banks today mandatorily need to cater via multiple channels.

Moreover, all those channels should coordinate with each other seamlessly.

Reaching customers via multiple channels

An omnichannel environment allows banks to always stay connected and serve the needs of their customers. 

A customer would want to have complete control over his money, although it is stored safely in a bank account. He would like to access the money any time of the day including holidays or odd night hours. Giving this feeling to a money holder is very important. 

Imagine, you are waiting for the cab to arrive to go to the office and in those few minutes, you need to apply for a loan or to check your eligibility. While you were doing the calculations in your home desktop and had semi-filled the loan application form, the cab arrived, and you had to leave the house. It would have been a delight if you could continue completing the form on your way from your mobile app. It would save so much of time and effort.

The feature, as mentioned earlier, is something which Gmail does very nicely with emails, where a user may resume writing an email from a different channel (mobile/web). However, this facility is not prevalent in the financial sector despite the long forms that spread across multiple pages.

Disconnected channels in banks may cause delays in implementing updates (e.g. a change in government policy or a new exciting offer) as these updates need to be reflected across different disconnected channels individually.

The solution for connecting channels is investing in an omnichannel platform. This platform is a software application, that is deployed on the client-facing end of a bank’s existing software architecture. The omnichannel platform would orchestrate the requests from different channels to a common pathway, which can then be controlled and modified at one place.