E-banking viewpoint: embodying creativity

September 16, 2011

In 2011, Etronika joined a social initiative organised by a national association of IT companies and Microsoft. 

The company shared experience and knowledge about professional perspective, studies and everyday work in the IT sector with high school students. We learned how quickly and drastically relationships between people and internet technologies are changing. Students today see themselves more as consumers of technologies, which are an integral part of their life and serve only as a tool to materialise their creative thoughts instantly. This poses a challenge for financial institutions, both to serve them as customers and in some cases integrate them into their own companies in such a way that their creativity is amplified and transformed into innovation by proper technologies, processes and people.

Today many of us use social networks, visit news and other websites with highly dynamic content, sophisticated personalisation and continuous introduction of new features that are tailored based on personal feedback and usage patterns. The very same experience is expected while using electronic banking services. No matter which channel is used to access these services – internet or mobile banking – the customer wants their electronic banking to be simple and pleasant yet provide sophisticated and personalised financial services. Trying to meet these expectations, financial institutions face a great challenge in enabling a continuous delivery of new e-banking services across all electronic channels and sustaining superior user experience and a high level of security. The challenge is even greater considering the ever-growing complexity of backend systems and the burden of legacy systems. So how do we deal with this challenge and continuously deliver the right experience? How do we choose the right technologies and processes? And how do we find the right people that understand the increasingly dynamic needs of customers? We at Etronika help our customers to deal with this challenge and believe that success is achieved by embodying creativity that is supported by flexible technologies, agile processes and joint teams of clients and our specialists.

As a technology partner to our clients we concentrate on providing the right technology that enables materialisation of innovative business ideas and integrates them with the whole solution to sustain a high level of security, usability and other similarly important quality requirements. Etronika’s clients that are changing their core system or launching a new electronic channel for financial services want these changes to be delivered in a continuous, incremental manner and avoid ‘big-bang’ scenarios with overnight revolutions of their most important systems. This usually transforms into the need for an online banking platform to have the flexibility of continuous software delivery and in some more technically challenging cases requires the ability to work with different core banking systems simultaneously. Furthermore electronic banking solutions are expected to provide a unified look and feel and seamless experience for the end user, wherever their data is and no matter what electronic channel is used to access financial services. These requirements are fulfilled by employing advanced workflow mechanisms, single authentication systems and sophisticated integration layers with synchronous or asynchronous messaging and data caching abilities. Another important aspect is the ability to see where a client’s investment can be leveraged by alignment of their business needs with current ongoing research and development by major technology providers. One of the cornerstones of successful and continuous delivery of the right customer experience is the smooth transition from implementation to operational mode. From a technological perspective this is enabled by a sophisticated monitoring system for measuring SLA requirements, optimising the incident resolution process and a fraud prevention system for preventing security breaches and identity thefts.

Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods and interpretations. But the question is how can we enhance this ability and integrate it with the process of continuous delivery of new features? As the topic of the method of enhancing creativity is very wide and in some cases controversial, we just want to share our belief that the most important motivator is the ability to see that your ideas, your insights could become successful innovations that your customers and your fellow colleagues value and like. This visibility of your ideas crystallising can be achieved by employing agile software development methods, which are based on thorough prioritisation and incremental and continuous delivery of new features, as well as the consistent gathering of feedback. Judging from our experience, there is a need to emphasise the value of proper feedback. It should be differentiated and come from the analysis of users’ actions and market analysis, as well as informal feedback from the community and a bank’s employees. There is one particular technique that has demonstrated good results –comparing self-perception about the quality and value of financial services with customers’ perception will give good indicators where the process is not working.

The team
So how can we choose the right people that understand the needs of today’s customers? How can we form a team that isn’t constrained by traditional thinking and has both the persistence and skills to drive the evolution of financial services? We don’t have a silver bullet to solve these problems permanently, yet we believe that closer cooperation between client and vendor specialists is an untapped reserve for improvement. To achieve this, we encourage the creation of joint teams of client and vendor specialists, thus eliminating physical communication barriers. However, care should be taken to ensure that client and vendor specialists share the same values and cultures in order to achieve successful teamwork. Even the same sense of humour can become an important amplifier of teamwork and creativity. Furthermore by employing agile processes that create visibility of the benefits of working together, companies can create a solid background for building trust within team. As technologies become more and more sophisticated and integrated into our life, the unique human ability of creativity is becoming the main source of creating great service, superior products and a driving force of the business. Thus a company’s technology partner must provide the right technologies, processes and people to embody and spark creativity.

Guide to Microsoft Parners in Financial Services 2011/2012

Kęstutis Gardžiulis, Director and Co-founder, ETRONIKA
Paulius Morkvėnas, Project manager, ETRONIKA