Saturday, April 23, 2011

End-users drive modernization! Surprised?

With so much being discussed on the topic of modernization and with so many vendors stepping up to help out with products and tools, have we ignored the role end-users are playing?

The weather in Boulder swung somewhat unexpectedly and did an abrupt U-turn. Yesterday it was cool but sunny, with windy conditions I could have done without but nonetheless, it took me outdoors. Today I awoke to snow, yet again.

Like many of my neighbors, I really have had it with winter. It’s time to move on! It’s time to get out of the house and enjoy the sunshine! The continuation of winter, however, allowed me to attend to maintenance. In my house this always includes taking the cars in for service. After a harrowing experience in our AWD Skyline a few weeks back, I opted to have the car checked out and, sure enough, after 17,000 miles the summer performance tires were well past their prime.

When I took the call from the dealer advising of the need for replacements I thanked him, and then while I continued with my coffee, pulled out my favorite tablet PC, and did a quick check of TireRack, a popular site for ordering tires. Sure enough, they carried a set of all-season tires and at prices well below that proposed by the dealer. Clicking away, changing the shipping address to reflect the dealer, pulling payment from my PayPal account I completed the purchase and new tires were on their way. Then it was back to my latte …

This year, unfortunately, I missed attending EBUG, the big European event for BASE24 users held this year in Berlin. According to Thomas Gloerfeld of comForte, who did participate, one of the standout presentations was that of Brett King, author of the book “Bank 2.0 - How customer behavior and technology will change the future of financial services.”

The presentation by King, Thomas related, was “very good, interesting and an entertaining presentation about change in consumer behavior due to rapid advances in consumer technology (smart phones, iPads, etc.) and the internet. He expects that mobile will be ‘channel #1’ ahead of internet, ATM, call centers and branch offices.” Thomas that added that for this audience, made of BASE24 customers, it came as a “wake-up call for the banks; do they have the infrastructure in place to capitalize on these changes? Are they winning the race with the telcos for the mobile customer?”

For several weeks now I have been creating posts and writing feature stories on modernization. A big part of this story has to do with the pressing need to reduce the amount of legacy technology we support, to free up more time for our creative people to pursue innovation. In reality, pursuing modernization has a lot more to do with simply staying in business, I suspect.

After all, IT has never really driven business agendas, but rather, demonstrated their leadership when they have responded more quickly to changing situations and circumstances than their competitors. Nothing frees-up budget more quickly than being out-maneuvered by a competitor and losing business to a company that has tapped into a trend more quickly!

Perhaps the BASE24 users who were present have picked up on King’s message and I hope that they did – it’s hard to miss the uptick in mobile device usage of late; and it’s not going away! At any rate, the vendors who were present didn’t miss the significance of King’s observations and I have to believe we will see many more products released in the short term, as part of system and application modernization, supporting what’s clearly destined to be financial channel #1!

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