Off-the-Shelf Digital Banking Solutions: There’s No Such Thing Anymore!
There are thousands of financial institutions in the U.S. today – all of varying sizes, and each offering comprises of similar, yet different products and solutions catering to their diverse groups of account holders including consumers, small businesses and large enterprises. Similarly, there are hundreds of solution providers promising to address varying market needs with products that deliver the institution with internal efficiencies, as well as to address the unique needs of their customers and members.
Despite the market’s abundant and diverse offerings, there’s a good chance that some level of customization will be required to meet a bank’s or credit union’s digital banking goals. This flexibility comes at a cost - not just monetarily, but in the ability to maintain these adaptations over time as the technology and market needs evolve.
Addressing customization is a multilayered scenario. Digital banking platforms are typically integrated with several third-party solutions and FIs must be able to update their digital applications to address new versions of these parallel products. Simultaneously, most banks and credit unions have their own business processes, requiring changes to off-the-shelf and existing business logic. Other institutions must address local regulatory needs and require custom functionality like enhanced audit logging. In situations like this, the burden of now being able to expose that functionality becomes a reality, especially with in-house or custom-built platforms.
No two institutions are the same or will need identical functionality. At the same time, this level of differentiation is critical, and creating custom features and enabling personalized user experiences are required to position an institution apart from its competition. Unfortunately, these capabilities aren’t always available in base products.
So, what is the solution?
A software development kit (SDK, or toolkit) is key to enabling custom alterations and to augmenting an off-the-shelf product to meet specific requirements, without affecting the base product. Changes can be simple like a screen change, or complex like a new workflow or a new third-party integration.
What makes an SDK great?
- Extensibility: A properly integrated SDK will act like an “add-on” and use concepts such as Dependency Injection for adding SDK changes, without having to alter the base product itself. Some examples include: UX/UI changes, new screens, new widgets within an existing screen, new animations or transitions, workflow changes, additional validation or logging, new integrations with other third-party API’s or SSO’s, extending the existing database schema, or even connecting to a new data source.
- Intuitiveness: A great SDK should be intuitive and easy to use. SDK reference material and examples should provide the institution’s development team with sufficient information to make changes themselves, although complex alterations may require guidance from the solution provider.
- Sustainability: Base code or off-the-shelf products are continuously upgraded to enhance features or to fix issues. If an institution simply leveraged custom code, updates would be required by the solution provider each time, making it unsustainable. “Upgrade Persistence” in an SDK allows for changes to persist as the base product is updated, minimizing the effort to preserve previous changes while working in the new upgraded version of the base product.
- Flexibility: The SDK should be such that it can be used by both the software vendor and the institution. Enabling a bank or credit union to augment a product without the reliance of its solution partner can save time and money. Additionally, if the institution requires customization, the technology partner can use the SDK to build additional functionality without impacting the base product. Building and deploying customized solutions is simple for the institution, both online or through the Apple AppStore or Google PlayStore.
Is an SDK option the best approach for your bank or credit union?
It’s important to consider your institution’s unique digital banking needs, technical expertise and internal bandwidth, along with your account holders’ priorities. Every institution is different, and it’s unlikely that any off-the-shelf solution will meet every need, making a solution’s ease of updates, maintenance, and its flexibility to address changing market dynamics critical.
Sitting at the heart of a financial institution’s digital ecosystem, NXT, a market-leading and SDK-driven digital banking platform, is quick to market and delivers a secure, flexible, and intuitive user experience. Powered by hundreds of pre-built configurations and built on an open and flexible architecture, Alogent Digital drives greater lifetime value and a lower cost of ownership. Engage users quickly and effectively from any device, anywhere, while rendering exceptional levels of insight, customization and access to enterprise-wide data, analytics, and reporting.
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