aircraft mechanics

By Brad Powell

Banks and credit unions often ask me if they can achieve the results they need by modernizing their existing system, or will they need to throw out the old one and bring in something entirely new. So I found this article in the OnApproach blog interesting because it compared legacy systems to dinosaurs.

The piece said "legacy systems are a hindrance" for credit unions, and "keeping these dinosaurs alive is a huge resource drain."

I would propose that you can understand legacy systems better with a different analogy – instead of comparing them to prehistoric life forms, let's compare them to airplanes.

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smart watchesBy Brad Powell

How do I give my members the experience they want, on the devices they want to use, both now and in the future? That's a question we hear a lot. Terence Roche wrote a blog post for GonzoBanker recently that addressed that question:

Do We Need Better System Integration or Fewer Systems to Integrate?

You should read the post ─ Mr. Roche offers some great insight. And, at the risk of oversimplifying, his answer boils down to "less is more." Taking a cue from other industries and the mass adoption of mobile devices, he writes that wherever possible, banks and credit unions should move to a single system and single interface, so there are fewer interfaces and less integration.

I agree with much of his piece. And I'd like to describe a slightly different alternative to his "single-system" proposal; one that I believe will prepare a financial institution for the future. In the future, credit union members will likely have a new set of expectations, based on the technologies they'll be using at that time. Those technologies might be smart watches, or breakthrough features in mobile apps, or some device that simply doesn't exist yet.

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By Brad Powell

One of Axiaware's credit union clients recently found itself facing an uncomfortable reality: While the loan origination system this credit union had relied on for many years was still getting basic tasks done, the basics were no longer good enough. 

The system could process loans, create reports, run approval queues and accomplish the other functions a traditional financial institution needed. But it wasn't as efficient as it needed to be, and it didn't integrate with other platforms very well. And at the same time, the system's front end – the elements that members and customer service staffers used every day – was not up to modern standards. 

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By Brad Powell

Dropbox grew from 2,000 to more than 40,000,000 users in three years. To most of its customers, the service is just a convenient way to save and retrieve their digital "stuff" in a virtual "cloud."

They don't know how much time and effort goes into making sure it works. They don't care.  As long as it works. Which it does.

But from the perspective of a startup which suddenly explodes, handling that much growth without crashing (with an IT staff of 1 to 3 people) is a small miracle. This is especially true considering that their entire business depends upon a robust, smooth-operating IT infrastructure and bulletproof software – all of which had to be expanded at an absolutely blistering pace. Dropbox's approach to planning and growing its IT infrastructure contains important lessons for any business contemplating IT expansion or technology changes of any kind.

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Let's face it: No one is passionate about their work email.

The average person spends hours a day processing their inboxes, studies show, often letting non-essential messages get in the way of productivity. For some people, clearing that inbox is a productivity obsession.

And then there's the spam.

But email isn't going away, despite what occasional "Email Is Dead" articles and blog posts might predict. Instead, this workhorse of electronic productivity is constantly adapting. And, like email, many older software systems have likewise learned to adapt as well

So, is your aging core system, or that outdated piece of software on the chopping block? Just as with email, the printing press and snail mail, think twice before pronouncing it dead.

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Is it time to upgrade your legacy systems?

The answer isn't a clear-cut "yes."

It's not "no," either.

It's "maybe," with an addendum: Whatever you decide, make sure you've carefully considered all of your options. There are more than you may think.

That sounds obvious. But, as I wrote about in a prior post, there's fierce debate and often a surprising amount of emotional involvement amongst the IT professionals you depend upon to advise you. Understanding your options and their relative value to your business can get very tricky.

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A quick Google search of the term "customer-centric banking" will yield a wealth of whitepapers, dedicated websites, case-studies, research and plenty of marketing material all designed to leverage an industry in flux.  Much of the rhetoric sounds the same, with similar conclusions.  But all of it is predicated on a need for the banking industry to start focusing on customer service again – but unlike ever before.

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IBM announced this week that it is retiring its Lotus brand.  OK, your organization may not be affected by the demise of this famous marque.  Your leadership may not be suddenly considering the complicated, costly options for its replacement.  In fact, everyone has seen this coming for years. But the discontinuation of a brand, once so dominant, should serve to remind us that in the world of software, nothing is forever.

You may not be losing any sleep.  But, if IBM's flagship products are vulnerable to the vagaries of a constantly changing, constantly challenging environment, what about the software products you're running on now?  How confident are you that they'll be around tomorrow?

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An increasingly common challenge for credit unions is facing the need to upgrade or expand their software packages.  Perhaps your core banking system, or one of the many other software packages available, such as teller systems, internet banking, mobile banking, lending and mortgage packages may be in need of replacement, addition or update.  Of course, every vendor will tell you that their product is the best for your needs.  But how will you judge for yourself which is really the best investment?

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Should your organization migrate away from Notes and Domino?

It's a question that is becoming more and more common as large companies that have relied on their legacy systems for years seek to move to the cloud, become more nimble, or just in general upgrade to newer technology.

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