By Sunay Mruthyunjay, Chief Technology Officer - IDEALINVENT
(Image credit - BIAN)
“The cost of integrating applications is often several times the cost of the application itself”. This may sound like an all too familiar grouse in the IT world across domains. Despite integration costs reducing significantly, it’s still a bank’s significant area of IT cost and continues to also be challenging technically. With the emergence of standard ways of integrating, things are a lot better now than before. From a point-to-point integration, banks have largely chosen and implemented middleware that aids integration via standard protocols like web services, irrespective of the genre of the individual applications.
While the protocols are standardized, the processes are still esoteric and this leads to costs getting driven up depending on the fit of a particular system to the processes prevalent in a bank. Customizations are inevitable but what if they drive up costs and negate a significant portion of the benefits accrued due to standardization in integration?
Is there a magic potion for all these complexities? Are there any well laid out standards defined that can cater to all possible scenarios of different types of banks and their systems. The answer may well lie in BIAN – (the Banking Industry Architecture Network, www.BIAN.org) and its service landscape definition.
From the outset, the BIAN organisation has come together with BFSI stakeholders playing key roles in its deliberations – banks, IT system vendors and system integrators – all deliberating via a single platform to arrive at a commonly agreeable formal description of banking services. Through its well defined service landscape comprising of service domains and grouped into different business domains like Party Data Management, Product Management, Sales Management to name a few, BIAN has drawn up a very comprehensive service directory. Simply put, if all the stakeholders talk the same language, it makes integration a lot simpler. By taking an approach that is focused on services rather than the underlying technology, BIAN is defining a common language of sorts.
For a new bank BIAN standards can help in structuring the business, operations and systems in a well partitioned manner and help it measure each unit’s efficiency easily. It can also help banks to decide what kind of systems are needed to cater to their service requirements, what portions of the services should be supported by external service providers and also define the integration standards that should be adopted – thus making the choice of systems easier.
For banks that already have applications and operations in place, BIAN can help understand the overlaps between business and applications thus eliminating duplicity. It also helps assess portions of the business domains that are under-served and those that are over-served and balance them out with appropriate changes to procedures and systems. While doing all this, if the bank considers its services keeping in mind its end customers, it adds further benefits to such an exercise.
The beauty of BIAN’s service definition is that it focuses purely on semantics while keeping the technical definitions open. BIAN also focuses its definitions keeping in mind inter-application communication. This helps it to co-exist with other standards like IFX, SWIFT, ISO which differ from BIAN as they are more message oriented and focus on B2B communication.
With the pace of adoption of BIAN standards, banking systems could be finally moving towards a uniformly accepted definition of services that will also lead to a quicker and cheaper integration of applications. With new-age systems that are SaaS friendly, BIAN provides a unique opportunity for easy integration with on-premise systems. BIAN has the potential to also become a minimum criterion when banks choose an application which should be welcomed by all stakeholders.
Sunay brings over 17 years of experience developing IT products for the banking industry into IDEALINVENT. He cut his teeth as a product designer and developer before moving into product implementation and delivery management. Notable achievements include being a key member of the first ever Indian led complete system replacements in one of the largest corporate banks in Japan and has been instrumental in several project implementations of varying complexities in Western Europe including a Payments and Core implementation in a leading Swiss bank.