November, 2019 | digitalML
Big Tech Companies expanding into banking and finance – TechTrends Weekly Roundup 6 Reading Time: 5 minutes
Welcome back to our TechTrends series where we’re rounding up industry news from across sectors. This week, we’re taking a look at how big tech is entering into financial products.  

In TechTrends Week 5, we discussed how the buying habits of Millennials and Gen Z has increased the need for large banks to digitally transform and create new and innovative products for today’s market, especially if they want to become future-proof.

However, large banks have been slow to transform, and tech companies have been watching. They’ve already disrupted other industries, and those markets will never be the same. Netflix redefined the home video industry, Apple re-imagined the music sharing industry, and Uber reinvented the ride-hailing business, to name a few. This gave consumers digitally innovative products they didn’t know they wanted, and set the standard for future business models. 

Not only are these big tech companies built differently than large banks; i.e. no legacy systems and silos to slow development down, but they are at the front-lines when it comes to delivering on new-age technologies with great front-end experiences. We’re now seeing big tech make their way into the financial services sector with products like the Apple Card, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, but this is just the beginning. If banks and financial players want to stay relevant and beat new insurgents, be that big tech or startups, they need to act and operate like technology companies. 

Let’s take a look at how some of the tech giants are re-imagining banking and finance by using their exceptional technology to create digitally innovative products: 

Uber announces deeper push into financial services with Uber Money 
Uber’s move is the latest sign that tech giants are looking to make inroads into finance.

Many consumers already have Uber’s credit card, but now the ride share company has announced a new division of the business for their employees: Uber Money. This will include a digital wallet and upgraded debit and credit cards that will help expand Uber’s efforts of making ride sharing smarter, painless and superior for their 4 million-plus drivers and couriers around the world by giving them access to a mobile bank account so they can get paid right away after each ride. 

Why banks must be wary of Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook 
New research reveals that 75 percent of tech-savvy customers are using at least one financial product from technology giants such as Amazon and Facebook.

With large banks being slow to evolve to meet the consumers’ needs in a digitally changing world, customers are willing to switch over to a technology company that meets their demands. Previous poor experiences, marred by lackluster customer service and meaningless products, has allowed for tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook to focus on offering solutions that are winning over traditional banks’ current customer base and gaining a competitive edge. 

Can Apple or Amazon really become a bank? 
This article by Ron Shevlin in Forbes pivots off of a blog post by Chris Dixon which evaluated how successful Unicorns (Uber, Tesla, Netflix) offered a full stack (complete) solution to displace incumbents. Shevlin takes that idea and expands it to evaluate if Apple and Amazon could displace banks.

Many fintech startups are entering the banking and financial industry, and have been able to create digitally innovative products that customers want, giving large banks a run for their money. However, a lot of these players don’t have the scope and scale to become a full stack bank (build complete products and/or services in house without partnerships and own the entire design, manufacturing, and distribution), but neither do large legacy banks as they are heavily reliant on the banking ecosystem. So, Apple and Amazon have the opportunity and the means to become a full-stack bank. 

Google eyes consumer banking market with checking account
Google is going after the consumer banking market, gearing up to launch checking accounts next year.

To add to their portfolio of digitally innovative products, Google is also eyeing the consumer banking market with a checking account. Launching in 2020, Cache will partner with Citigroup and SFCU to handle customers’ accounts. With Amazon, Apple, Uber, and Facebook also eyeing this market, there will be many digital options for consumers to choose from, with the goal of these tech giants to become indispensable. 

Big tech companies that are highly known for their innovative technology, such as Amazon, Uber, and Facebook are just the beginning of a trend that we believe will continuously grow. At the beginning, Apple and Amazon reinvented two areas of business forever: electronics and retail, by taking ease-of-use and consumer friendly to the next level. Now, more tech giants have hopped on this ride and disrupted other industries, and are looking for their next big thing. As these companies and others compete for market share and look into new verticals, financial services is a prime target. However, we know it’s not just banking and payments that have these companies working on where to enter next; we’re seeing the news about Amazon entering the Indian insurance market and Google entering into healthcare through partnerships. They’ve already taken over other industries, so it’s just a matter of time before they figure out their next victim. And what we know so far is that the majority of Americans are willing to try a product from a tech company they’re familiar with, especially millennials. The questions aren’t around if they can become a fully-fledged bank, but when are they entering the market and what are current banks going to do to respond. 

Interested in learning more about digital banking trends? Read our blog post on what they are and what large banks can do to answer.
Digital Banking Trends Including Super Apps, AI, Banking-as-a-Service, and Open Banking: How Are They Developing and How Can Large Banks Respond? Reading Time: 7 minutes

Traditional banking is feeling the full force of digital disruption across the world. Powered through APIs and connected data, we’re seeing several domestic banking trends going global, as well as global banking trends being embraced more regionally. In this article we cover some of these key digital banking trends, and discuss how traditional banks can become adaptable in this ever-changing digital landscape.


Overview of the Digital Banking Landscape

Digital opportunities have made the future unpredictable, and we are in the middle of a wave of interesting banking and payment trends. There are hundreds of digital offerings that remix some combination of existing functionality with new technology, all aiming to make more of the customer’s experience frictionless and business relationship sticky. Considering large banks support up to 10,000 key processes, these offerings are going to increase rapidly. In search of inspiration and a shift from the traditional walled-garden approach of large banks, we’re seeing the following banking trends grow both domestically and globally.



1. Domestic Banking Trends Going Global


UK Open Banking Directives to Shake-Up the Financial Landscape

Open Banking Model Diagram

The Open Banking Model

DOMESTIC TREND
Building on foundations laid by the EU’s revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) legislation in 2015, and in response to concerns of a stagnant banking ecosystem dominated by a handful of incumbents, the UK’s Open Banking directive came into effect in 2018. It forced the UK’s top 9 banks to open up their customers’ financial data for access by approved third party providers (TPPs) through public APIs. Emerging digitally native offerings have increased exponentially as a result, and the UK is now the world’s most disrupted traditional banking market, with 15% of its total revenue and over 1/3 of new revenue going to new entrants. 

GLOBAL TREND

Open Banking is now blowing up globally; we’re seeing more and more countries introducing legislation to support it. Hong Kong (who have recently granted 8 new virtual banking licenses), Singapore, Australia, and soon Canada, have all followed suit, and we can only expect to see this trend grow in the coming years.








Chinese Mobile Banking Models Involving Super Apps

Ant Financial Model

Ant Financial Model for Super Apps (Source: CB Insights)

DOMESTIC TREND
There is no doubt that Asia, with China in particular, is leading the way when it comes to mobile banking and new business models associated with it. In 2019, monthly usage of mobile banking reached 326 million, and the country is of course home to the world’s largest mobile and payments platform (and highest valued fintech at $150bn) Ant Financial, amongst others including WeChat.

The dominant business model here is super apps, with multiple product offerings across verticals servicing a customer’s every need. Users can make payments and apply for and manage other financial products, in the same place they hail rides and book doctor’s appointments.


GLOBAL TREND
On a global scale this has had a few influences. In the West, we’re seeing more of these super apps developing, and offering additional services, especially financial (think Facebook and Uber). We’re also seeing Chinese mobile-first companies invest in new global markets, like Ant’s hefty stake in India’s Paytm. Finally, we’re seeing other countries embrace Chinese trends, e.g. Finland and Singapore adopting QR code-based payments.


Digitally Native Challenger Banks Going Global, and Moving From Mono- to Multi-Product Offerings

DOMESTIC TREND
The combination of advances in technology and innovation-friendly legislation have enabled a new breed of banks to thrive: challenger and neobanks. These digitally native, app-focused offerings have been rapidly growing impressive customer numbers and financial backing in the last few years (albeit that they are still struggling to convert customers to use them for their primary deposit account).

Three of the four biggest insurgents are UK-based (Monzo, Revolut, and Starling), but there are now over 100 challengers and neobanks across the world; from N26 in Germany to Nubank in Brazil.


Multi-product banking offerings

Multi-Product Offerings are the next step for Challenger Banks

GLOBAL TREND
We’re seeing two key trends from these domestic insurgents. The first, is their move to rapid global expansion. Monzo launched in the US in Summer 2019 (partnering with Sutton Bank for a license while it tries to gain its own) along with N26, while Revolut has already launched in the rest of Europe and Australia, and is planning a further 24 country-expansion in 2020 thanks to a partnership with Visa. Even more recently, another UK challenger, Tandem, announced it will be expanding into Hong Kong by the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how these entries into new markets progress in the coming years.

The second trend, and one that is bound to be in-line strategy-wise with these global expansions, is challengers moving from mono- to multi-product offerings. All these challenger banks we’ve discussed so far started out with one or two, un-bundled banking business functions as their offering(s), all with a slick UI and seamless customer experience. But to continue to chip away at incumbents’ market share and support growth, they’ve quickly needed to add further products. Revolut for example, launched in 2014 offering a free account and prepaid debit card, and has since added premium accounts, insurance products, stock and crypto trading and SME business accounts to its repertoire. Another successful challenger, this time US-based Chime, recently announced its SpotMe alternative to traditional overdrafts, as it ramps up its offerings to support its title as the fastest growing challenger bank in the world.






2. Global Banking Trends going Domestic


Big Tech Entering Finance

GLOBAL TREND
Recently, we’ve seen Big Tech leaders grow their financial services offerings, particularly in the payments sector, to further develop their ecosystem. With massive customer bases, these organizations have been able to pick and choose which domestic markets to launch into.


DOMESTIC TREND
This year alone, we’ve seen the following domestic launches:


There are two variables which will be interesting to track as this trend moves forward. The first, is how stringent financial regulatory pressure will affect these non-traditional entrants, and the effect this may have on customer loyalty if Big Tech chooses to skirt around legislation. The other, is how rapidly these offerings will be scaled globally and how much they will chip away at traditional bank and payment providers’ market share.


Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

AI Cost Savings and Use Cases Across Banking

AI Cost Savings and Use Cases Across Banking (Source: Business Insider Intelligence)

GLOBAL TREND
ML (machine learning) and AI (artificial intelligence) present huge opportunities throughout the banking industry. In fact, the applications of these technologies are estimated to amount to a potential $450bn cost saving across front, middle, and back office, not to mention opportunities opened up for delivering better customer experiences. Key use cases include conversational banking, anti-fraud and risk, and credit underwriting.

And with 75% of the largest banks currently implementing AI strategies (noted in a recent UBS Evidence Lab report), it seems banks are looking to capitalize on these opportunities.


DOMESTIC TREND
We’re also seeing AI/ML-based Fintechs springing up across the globe, such as New York-based conversational AI solution Kasisto, who has built partnerships with financial institutions in countries including UAE, UK, Singapore and the US.



Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS)

Banking as a Service Business Model

The rise of BaaS as a Business Model (Source: Business Insider Intelligence)

GLOBAL TREND
Banking-as-a-Service is an ever-growing model, powered by the move to open banking we’ve already discussed. Summed up in a recent Business Insider report, BaaS is:

“An end-to-end process that allows fintechs and other third parties to connect with banks’ systems directly via APIs so they can build banking offerings on top of the providers’ regulated infrastructure”.

We’re seeing a trend of two types of global BaaS companies offering services to domestic players: pure BaaS providers such as solarisBank and ClearBank, and BaaS providers such as Green Dot, Fidor Bank, and BBVA.


DOMESTIC TREND
Some are targeting the US for partnerships, such as Green Dot’s relationship with Walmart and Uber Money, others are targeting EMEA, such as Fidor Bank’s partnership with O2 Telefonica in Germany a few years back, to provide the technology for its mobile banking service.

We expect to see BaaS continue to grow as a global trend, and to be adopted domestically where open banking concepts have already been established.


How can Traditional Banks Become Adaptable, to Embrace Whichever Digital Banking Trends Come Next?

So, with these ever growing global and domestic banking trends, and the uncertainty that digital has brought about, the question on everyone’s mind tends to be “well how are traditional financial institutions responding?”.

The answer is: they’re trying to become modern agile digital businesses. Achieving this enables traditionally slow and un-innovative large banks to not only become responsive to these current trends, but also future-proof and adaptable to whatever comes next.

To be able to do this, large banks are moving to an API-first strategy. In fact, over 90% of them already have an API strategy in place. Large banks are in a unique position compared to a lot of the insurgents we’ve discussed today, in that they already have around 95% of the functionality needed to complete these digital transformations, and also already have established banking charters, access to capital, and loyal customer bases. A successful API-first strategy, together with this unique position, is a killer combo.



Looking to learn more about how APIs are crucial in supporting each of these trends? Read our follow-up article on banking trends and APIs.
Millennials and Gen Z enabling digital transformation in banking – TechTrends Weekly Roundup 5 Reading Time: 4 minutes
Welcome back to our TechTrends series where we’re rounding up industry news from across sectors. This week, we’re taking a look at how Millennials and Generation Z’s expectations have made it essential for large banks to implement a digital transformation model that utilizes banking technology innovation.

Previously in TechTrends Week4,  we concluded that in order to implement a successful digital transformation and IT modernization strategy, we all need to look at existing legacy systems, and understand what it takes to innovate without adding technical debt. Various industries are seeing the need to implement an API-first strategy to make this work. Many of these large organizations have created a unique perch in their respective industries where they have a large customer base with brand loyalty. However, resting on their laurels is no longer an option. The time has come for these large organizations to try and rapidly innovate, but they must do it without adding tech debt. From what we can tell, Millennials and Gen Z are demanding a change in how these businesses run, whether it’s demanding and innovative products or seamless customer service. Today, we expect everything instantly in a one-stop shop, wrapped in a seamless experience. The banking industry is witnessing these demands now, but as a large company, is it the best strategy to accept these digital banking trends as the future of banking, or do you see it as just a fad? 

Let’s take a look at how Millennials and Gen Z are disrupting banking, strategies to attract them, and what one company has already tried to do: 

How Millennials are disrupting personal finance 
In 2013, 68% of millennials believed that the way we access our money would be totally different in five years. So how are the money habits of this disruption-ready generation changing the way we manage money?


Millennials are disrupting many areas, and banking is one of them. In particular, personal finance is a place where banks are seeing a shift with this generation; they are saving more, earlier, than previous generations. They’ve been considered the “brokest generation” since they came of age during the Great Recession and now are dealing with student debt, climate change issues, and more. Three key areas this disruption-ready generation is changing personal finance are moving from in-person to online, big banks to big tech, and “the way it is” to “the way it could be”.

How to attract Generation Z in banking and payments 
This is a preview of the Banking and Payments for Gen Z research report from Business Insider Intelligence. 14-Day Risk Free Trial: Get full access to this


For banks and payment companies, it’s critical to understand what attracts Gen Z as they have not created brand loyalty ties yet, and will start expanding their number of financial products as they get older. As of now, most haven’t moved past a bank account, which makes this age bracket a prime target for future business. But knowing what they’re interested in is key: digital products that will continuously evolve with needs, keep adding value, are educational, and take into consideration social needs. 

Goldman Sachs spent billions to not be the “bank of millionaires” 
The 150-year-old legacy brand on how it entered consumer market for the first time

To become a more consumer inclusive and friendly brand for customers, Goldman Sachs has spent $1.3 billion on their Apple Card, Marcus, and other initiatives. As of July, they’d spent $275 million in 2019 on consumer-focused lines of business. Marcus, their digital-only challenger, was designed to counter the perception of big banks being “elitist,” and to help consumer pain points when it comes to traditional banking. 


As you can see, Millennials and Generation Z want innovative, digital, and consumer-friendly products, that are easy to access and use, while also being educational and society-helping. These types of products benefit everyone, as consumers are keeping banks accountable for what they provide as a service. No longer can stick to a “traditional” model; consumers want something new and exciting that helps them be and do better. Marcus from Goldman Sachs is just one example of how Millennials and Gen Z have transformed the future of the banking industry. As more insurgents enter the industry with new innovative offerings, banks need to see what these consumers are prioritizing in their digital products.  These generations are key for traditional banks to advance in the race of digital banking. 

Are you a large bank looking to rapidly innovate while simultaneously modernizing IT? If so, check out our Digital Banking Success Report.
Enterprise Future-Proofing and Complimentary Technologies – Perspectives From Our Director of Customer Success Reading Time: 9 minutes



Welcome back to our digitalML spotlight series! Next up we’re speaking to digitalML’s Director of Customer Success, Dick Brown.

In this interview Dick shares his perspectives on:

On Distributed Architecture and the 5G roll out…

Gemma: What are 1 or 2 industry trends that are interesting to you right now and why?

Dick: There’s two I’m currently keeping up with. One which is interesting to me from a consulting and approach perspective, and the other is from an industry that I track and have tried to keep my pulse on, and I’m interested in how recent moves are shaking out:

Distributed microservices architecture – and the move to reactive advice for large organizations

The first, is shifting to distributed architectures; how companies are breaking apart their monoliths, and how that takes shape with their downstream consumers. There’s a lot of different ways you can break apart a monolith into a distributed architecture, and allow teams to take advantage of the development autonomy this provides.

The concept has been around for a while and it’s the finer grained, natural evolution of services-oriented architecture (SOA). Smaller, more agile teams have taken this concept and run with it. However, when larger companies try and take on this methodology, you can see a breakdown in adoption. I think folks are starting to realize that it’s a 5-7 year journey that they’re in the middle of when building microservices.

For more nimble companies, the move has had a lot more success. The methodology is applied to a greenfield approach – when you’re building something new it’s easier – and you can go straight to right-sized applications and set up frameworks and org structure in a distributed way. But a monolith isn’t going to embrace it in the same way. It becomes very difficult and the companies realize the long journey it requires.

As a result, we’re seeing the consultation and advice shifting from proactive “these are the best practices” and “this is what you need to do” to, more reactive and “this is what you should prepare yourself for”. A lot of the information out there is geared towards how to brace your teams and business while staying aggressive and still do business.

Gemma: So, is it more of a pragmatic approach to shifting between an academic exercise and the real implementation of a distributed architecture?

Dick: Yeah, there’s only so many recommendations you can make. Over time people realize how long this would take big companies, so you run out of proactive advice to give. Now the consultants are being very pragmatic; offering sustainable advice that you can work on for the next 1-2 years, while maintaining this overall 5-7 year vision.

5G roll out

The second big industry trend is 5G roll out. Everything from bidding on different bands, to the acquisition of real estate and what’s happening with smart cells that can learn how to switch for increased reception.

The telecom industry is something I’ve been involved in in the past, and is something that always interests me. Not only from a technology perspective e.g. the hardware and the software used to keep it running, but also the political environment that it runs through; the bidding wars companies get into, and now with big mergers in the US, and companies trying to maintain competitive advantage. It reminds me of the spectrum auction in the UK between 3, O2 and Vodafone – every company trying to compete with each other, and smaller carriers banded together to say “hey you have to bar these larger folks from bidding, because we can’t maintain competitive advantage if they do”.

It’s interesting to see how everyone balances trying to do their best to provide leading service to their customer, while also navigating this tight rope of becoming anti-competitive. The state must ask: “Is this going to cause a monopoly and restriction of choice for consumers?”

The industry is moving super-fast and always evolving, and seeing the fallout from all the factors I’ve previously mentioned shows how many factors are at-play.

Kafka messaging as a complimentary, rather than displacing, disruptive technology

Gemma: What emerging technologies are you currently following?

Dick: One I’m following very strictly is things in the world of Kafka; so, event streaming.

The concept is around sending out data to a distribution layer, that consumers are subscribed to, and not caring necessarily about the information being picked up. It’s a vastly different strategy than request/response, which is built into a majority of systems.

Commands and queues, and messaging services have an action that has occurred, and are reliant on the consumer picking up that message and processing it.

With streaming you send this data out into the nether. I know people are consuming it, I have an API which shows me that, but I may send the same information 5, 6, 10 times, and it’s really on the consumer of how they’re receiving it.

There’s been a conceptual evolution with certain technologies; where power is flipped to consumers over providers. You have a lot of consumers specifying to providers “if you don’t care whether this message gets to a consumer or not, I’m going to tell you the information I care about and establish this contract between us. This way, you won’t provide information that varies from this contract and break my consumption”. “I know it’s not going to break your sending of the information if I don’t consume it, but it’s going to break my application if I can’t consume the information properly”.

What’s also really interesting for me is to see how this technology has settled, and not become the brand new thing that’s going to replace everything.

For example, with Docker, it is meant to displace Virtual Machines (Todd Everett mentioned this in his interview) – choose one or the other.

But event streaming has settled into a space where you can’t simply forget asynchronous communication from APIs, and you can’t replace all commands and message queues – you still need them and they’re very important.

There are advantages in certain areas for event streaming. So, I think it’s interesting to see how the dust has settled: it’s not a disruptive technology in the sense of displacing, it’s making a great compliment to features that are already there, and folks are finding those unique situations where it becomes advantageous to stream data.

G: That’s a really interesting concept. Do you think we’ll see more of these complimentary – as opposed to displacing – technologies moving forward?

D: I think so. There is a bigger shift now where I see fewer home run technologies and a lot more bunting (bear with me on the baseball analogies, it’s the world series right now!).

There’s a lot of this concept of open source technology making lives easier, but if you don’t want to use it or it doesn’t fit with certain situations, you don’t have to use it!

In practice it shows that the technologies we’ve already built have a lot of staying power. They’ll stick around for a long time. I think there are great ideas behind them and it reinforces their use in the future – so a lot of the new tools coming out are complimentary to them or introduce new ways to manage or work with them.

Future-flexibility is key for large enterprises – and a hybrid solution is the best way to achieve it

G: What do you think is the biggest challenge for large organizations who want to be better at digital or IT modernization?

D: I think there’s a few, but probably the greatest challenge would be that as you become a large organization, you’re prone to work with other larger organizations. And when you do so, the demands on your time and demands on you as a company become much larger and harder to walk away from.

When you are a large company operating with smaller companies, it’s easy to say “…this is how things go because this is how we do things, and you have to deal with it”. But as you become larger and larger, the people you work with also become larger, and there’s more collateral behind how they choose to operate.

I’m not saying that everyone bullies small companies, and there’s always valid reasons to promote an internal best-practice, but the contingencies and the extenuating circumstances become much greater as you operate with large organizations. It’s harder to walk away from or ignore them and enforce your will as easily before.

It also becomes a lot harder to move. You’re steering a tanker, as you have so many barriers dictating your path forwards.

You’re now in a situation where you want to make a certain move, but can’t because of contractual or technological limitations – because a very strong business partner, consumer or client cannot go down that path with you. If they can’t go forward with you, you’re going to lose revenue and it potentially stops you from pursuing these options.

G: So how can they overcome those barriers?

D: I think that’s where you get into hybrid solutions. That’s one of the great things about distributed architecture – you can choose the components that you support from a legacy perspective, while still advancing forward.

Something that’s great in a product like ignite is when you go into branching development, you have the capability of supporting what is legacy; what is standing up a client, and still maintain and advance that moving forward. But then you can have the latest and greatest on top of it, which is also running simultaneously.

Instead of having multiple teams running multiple instances with multiple sets of code, you can have that abstracted out as a type of design or service layer. That abstracted information can then be republished and re-purposed in other places until that client is finally ready to move forward.

It doesn’t stop you and it allows you to still maintain what’s currently there.



“The only thing that’s really consistent in software development, is that nothing’s consistent”

G: Can you share with us a best practice for abstracted service management?

D: One best practice I would strongly adhere to is: pilot teams first, then roll out to larger groups.

Inject yourself into smaller teams that are ready to move and have a strong compulsion to adopt the product, and accommodate their use cases, while keeping a focus on what’s important for the larger organization.

I think it’s important to accept that at the end of the day it’s software – the only thing that’s really consistent in software development is that nothing’s consistent – every solution has a shelf life, and nothing ages gracefully.

Building a solution that works, knowing that it can be changed later, is a best practice that everyone should adopt. Whether working in abstracted service management, or building their own custom code – building something that has a great use case now, but has the ability to evolve and adapt in the future brings success.

The power of reusable Data Elements

G: What’s your favorite ignite feature, and why?

D: My favorite ignite feature is one that’s been around for a long time, and I think it sets us apart – the ability to take in data elements and reuse them in future design.

So, this concept that whether its REST or SOAP or events or messaging; whatever you’re using, it all comes down to “I have a data element that I’m trying to provide to someone, or one I need to get from someone”.

I think focusing and building that as a core feature in the product, reinforces our drive towards an agnostic platform that focuses on the use cases.

It’s the truest level of abstraction – forget about how this is represented, the service layer and the type of profile its being used in or the technology it needs downstream. We provide abstraction of the most core components; which comes down to data model objects.

It reinforces the concept that we tell our customers around being focused on the holistic design, agnostic of a platform or technology – unshackle yourself from that and allow yourself to be truly flexible in the future.

G: And for those data elements, where they are abstracted, does that make them a bit more understandable for people on the business side, looking to drill down to that granularity?

D: I think so. It shows an API designer or a Product Manager the type of information they’re working with, and an understanding of if it’s something folks are going to be able to use, and do they need to enhance or advance it in a certain way.

The methods to provide that information are where I can actually do different things, like expand on a given resource or model, or maybe trim it down because it’s inefficiently presented, or move the hierarchy and array in a way that’s easier to translate and understand from a consumer point of view.

So, I think it does give a simpler context to read a method and understand it.



On digitalML’s rich product history and introducing new processes for customer success

G: What’s the best part about working at digitalML?

D: One of the great things about working at digitalML is the rich history behind every feature and solution. It’s a creative place with a startup culture of “let’s move forward”, but that history we’ve built up, a lot like some of our customers, we can’t forget everyone and leave things behind.

That, and not being a venture capital-backed firm – we make decisions that are best for ourselves and our customers. I really appreciate that perspective in a company: not trying to drive a stock price or valuation, we’re trying to provide the best product possible. A product we can grow our business with, but also makes our customers really successful.

Everyone who’s been at the company a long time has a really in-depth understanding of not only what the product can do, but also what it has done in the past for several different customers. There’s a lot of things ignite has been used for in the past, and having that rich history to pull from is exciting.

In a world of everything’s possible, we have strong tangible proof of: “…yes, we have done that, here’s where we’ve done it before.” Even if we moved away from some features in the past, that trend could now be coming back into the industry and we can refocus our efforts towards supporting and advancing it.

While we have all this history, we’re also always working towards a better product and driving customer value. That’s shown in many different ways, we’re currently introducing a bunch of new processes throughout the company to drive visibility, success and support for customers.

G: Finally, any other advice for our customers?

D: I think back to what I was talking about for best practices; embracing the idea that software development is a constantly evolving journey. Sometimes it can be tempting to adopt a tool and treat it like a silver bullet, but like I mentioned with events, it’s about finding the best compliment the tool falls into, and making yourself future-proof and ready for what will be coming next.

About Dick

Dick Brown, Director of Customer Success

Dick is Director of Customer Success at digitalML, and heads up our customer delivery, support, and solutions teams, to ensure ignite customers achieve their strategic goals. His experience spans program management, software consultancy, sales and marketing across multiple industries. Dick offers a record of success developing and implementing complex enterprise software solutions across international markets, including the UK, Europe, Australia, and emerging markets in Africa and South America.

A huge thanks to Dick for sharing his perspectives this month. See you back here soon for the next installment!

Past interviews:

IT Modernization of your legacy systems and current architecture – TechTrends Weekly Round-Up 4 Reading Time: 3 minutes
Welcome back to our new digitalML blog series, TechTrends, where we’ll be rounding up industry news from across sectors. This week, we’re focusing on the IT architecture and infrastructure of enterprises, and how this new wave of technology is leading towards a transformation of these legacy systems. 

Last week in TechTrends Week 3, we looked at a few different tech executives throughout various industries and their take on how to compete in today’s technology saturated world. Transforming silos and legacy systems isn’t solely contained to one industry; rather it’s a trend we’re seeing develop everywhere. These executives discussed what you need to take advantage of to digitally transform, but the key finding was that enterprise architects are the catalyst to business transformation. But to digitally transform and have IT modernization occur properly, we need to look at the systems that are currently in place and what it takes to innovate without creating technical debt. There are various trends and best practices out there, but some of the key findings have been around a Microservices platform, API integration, and data management. 

So let’s take a step back and look at the actual architecture that is backing these business initiatives companies are trying to implement, and why it’s important to focus on the IT architecture and infrastructure as you move into a modern approach to your legacy systems:

DataStax Announces Results of New Survey: IT Architecture Modernization Trends of 2019

DataStax, the company behind the leading database built on Apache Cassandra™, today announced results from an IT Architecture Modernization Trends survey. 


This survey found 100% of IT executives are trying to modernize their architecture, but are struggling with data silos and vendor lock-in. Because there are previous standards for funding new application development, architecture modernization is challenging to implement to reduce costs, improve customer and employee satisfaction, and gain data-driven insights. The survey found 4 key insights that are driving architecture modernization.


Microservices Architecture 
8 Keys to Help You Get Started Today


Many people have been trying to transform IT architecture for years now, but have seen struggles and success from it. One of those best practices that came out of these trials is implementing a Microservices Architecture. Read to learn about what a Microservices Architecture even is, why you would want to follow this process to help transform your IT architecture, and how to go about this process, with 8 key takeaways. 


Agile integration bridges the gap between legacy and modern systems


As companies continue to move from legacy systems to modern systems, one thing is missing: your digital assets that are already in your legacy systems. But the question here is, how do you access these digital assets with the new modern processes being implemented while staying competitive? Developers believe the 3 pillars of agile integration is the answer by using open APIs and events to connect your entire infrastructure together. 

 

Modernizing your IT architecture legacy with new software development approaches isn’t an easy task. There’s the legacy systems already in place with data silos, digital assets that need to be made available afterwards, and vendor lock-in concerns when moving to new environments. With not many standards to look towards for inspiration, companies have not only these challenges but after modernizing your technology architecture the goals of reducing cost, improving customer and employee satisfaction, and gaining insight into data to create new products are still there. To give your company the best chance to take these legacy systems and build modern systems from them, without creating tech debt, is through API integration, microservices platform, and data abstraction. These processes will help transform your current architecture into one that can take on the new modern age of technology.