In July I attended the Microsoft Inspire 2018 conference in Las Vegas.
The event was pretty impressive, not so much because of its size (and, yes, it was huge), but more so because of the clear and consistent strategy that was evident in everything.
And that strategy has direct relevance to the trajectory of banking software: to the way in which product strategists should be envisioning and architecting banking customer experiences (CXs).
One of the main themes of the conference was the concept of ‘ubiquitous computing’. This is the notion that computing capability is moving from a locally-distributed network of independent devices to an underlying ‘platform’ that is pervasively supportive of user applications.
Microsoft’s strategy around this is, of course, it’s cloud computing platform, Azure; and, as it was repeatedly referenced at the conference, the ‘intelligent web’.
Azure (and other cloud computing platforms like AWS and Google Cloud) are essentially distributed platforms that support not just ubiquitous hosting of applications and data, but also the provision of cloud-based systems and services off the back of this infrastructure.
Creating software piece by piece
This creates an assembly of tools, services and modules that solution developers can utilise as wanted, picking and choosing the pieces that are needed to support their requirements. Examples include data storage, processing, AI, business intelligence, cognitive services, DevOps tools, etc.
In a sense, solution developers are assembling a solution set the same way you or I might build something using Lego: choosing the pieces we want, laying them out, locking them together and constructing an overall outcome.
Moreover, the intelligent cloud allows solution developers to do all of this in ways that are more efficient, secure and scalable than could be achieved elsewhere; it’s a compelling proposition.
This modular approach to cloud computing does more than allow banks and banking software providers to assemble the ‘platform’ capabilities that they need.
It also supports a modular approach to constructing banking CXs: what you might call ‘Lego Banking’.
In this way of thinking, banking software and services are assembled in a modular fashion; as interchangeable components that can be swapped in and out as needed.
Payments, budgeting, transaction management, investments, onboarding: all these can be thought of in the same of way as Lego building blocks: i.e. parts of a larger construction.
CX practitioners can select and assemble the modules needed for any particular experience as needed; adjusting and changing the modules (and the module parameters) as needed.
Why is this so important?
It’s important because the pace of banking software development has evolved beyond the level which can be supported by bespoke coding; instead what we are seeing is the rapid progression of platforms that support lean design and agile development using the sort of modular components I’ve described above.
CXs can be rapidly constructed, reconstructed and deconstructed as needed using these reusable components.
And the benefits of Lego Banking are not limited to CX practitioners. If Lego Banking components can be swapped in and out to create different CXs, they can also be swapped in and out to adjust individual CXs: directly benefiting individual customers.
Lego Banking + AI
Where might this go? Adjustments to Logo Banking components can be undertaken either at the behest of the customer, of through the application of rules and algorithms based on data and driven by AI.
For instance; why should my internet banking experience be the same as yours? Indeed, why should I have to formally undertake the practice of ‘internet banking’? If cloud computing represents the evolution of computing practice to a service that is globally ubiquitous and transparent, why should banking not offer the same ubiquity and convenience?
Indeed, I suspect that the day is not far off before we see the advent of AI-powered CXs, tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of individual customers: Lego Banking + AI.