The world of mobile technology and app based technology has completely changed the way all of us obsessively monitor our phones. Let’s be honest, some of us spend as much time “playing” with our phone as we do working on it. These app based technologies have changed travel, social media, news, and entertainment. Financial Services and banking have also been affected by this radical change. I will not fall victim to spending my blog post talking about ApplePay, but let’s be honest … it is stealing the payments headlines and looks like it will continue to do so for a while. Financial services, payments, and bank and credit union technologies companies are being pushed into an API based environment, where they control everything in the user experience versus the standard single sign on to the technology provider, regardless of how elegant their new “look and feel” is. The bigger question is, how do these companies compete in this world of technology where they are asked to be behind the scenes and can’t differentiate what they do.
That leads me to the other buzz word (other than ApplePay) that is growing in the world of financial services: OmniChannel. If you have spent any time researching your internet bank and mobile strategy you have heard one of many companies tell you about their omnichannel strategy. For those of you looking it up on Google right now, it’s simply the blending of your internet banking, mobile banking, ATM, teller branch kiosk, and other services into one. A cross blend of everything you interact with that makes your experience meld together. It’s a great idea and something you will see all online banking channels move towards (if they haven’t already). So herein lies the dilemma for technology companies everywhere. How do they make their product better and different and interesting to you, the bank or credit union, when they are relegated to being the back-end API to the omnichannel approach? How does the individual technology company prove a “best of breed” model, when you don’t know they are there?
Please don’t misinterpret my statements to be anti-omnichannel. As a matter of fact, as a user, I think it is a great approach (if done correctly). But my background has always been with start-up, privately held technology companies that wanted to be disruptive in the marketplace and break through the all in one package to show that companies should buy the best of breed. Leaders in banks and credit unions are doing this today. You look at all your options for core, online, mobile, bill pay, RDC, etc. You want the best product for your users at the best price for your FI. It makes perfect sense. And there are many companies out there today successful because you buy in that way. The best of breed mindset and approach is what launched the mobile banking revolution. If not for this thought process, FI’s would all just buy whatever their core gave them for online, mobile, etc. But users are asking for more, right? And while every core and online provider is working to provide their own best of breed model, this thought process opens the door to start-ups to be successful.
So that’s where we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. Do you sacrifice the newest, brightest, and boldest new release or launch of a mobile banking, online banking, or bill pay product? Or do you go “all in” with the ability to pull all these together for one beautiful look and feel? There are a lot of companies betting you go “all in”. My answer is simple, do both. If your institution is looking for an omnichannel experience, dig beneath the look and feel of the product. Look for the companies being leveraged to make the “magic” happen. Make sure those are companies you would be doing business with if you were shopping best of breed. Because your omnichannel vendor should be doing that due diligence for you to make sure they are providing a best of breed backend to your omnichannel experience. Then, at the end of the day you get the experience you want, while doing business with the companies you want. Seriously, how would you feel if you found out your favorite five star restaurant was serving you the frozen food out of the box at the grocery? Even with the five star label and presentation, that wouldn’t be the experience you were buying. The user experience for your FI shouldn’t be any different.