Clouding the Core: Think Facilities Management
Canadian novelist Robertson Davies wrote, “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” This quote comes to me often as I speak with others in the credit union industry about core technologies. It seems that our comprehension is getting stuck on delivery channels and “cloud” branding when core systems are really about software.
Cloud computing has been described as an expression for a variety of computing concepts with differing degrees of benefit. Google's Google Drive and Apple's iCloud serve as excellent examples of high-value, cloud-delivered technologies.
For core credit union systems, it's much more cloudy because the popularity of the term is used to market hosted services from a remote location.
Although the delivery channel of online has been around for more than 35 years, most every core processor in the credit union industry has seized upon the opportunity to re-brand their online offerings as cloud-hosted solutions.
Rather than focusing on old delivery models that have been branded as new, the credit union industry should be focused on substantive core innovation.
It is interesting that one of the first questions asked in a core system review is whether to go in-house or hosted when the first concern should be about core software functions and features, with the delivery channel as a near afterthought.
New on the horizon is facilities management, which makes this scenario possible by encompassing multiple disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.
The impact that facilities management has on core system deliveries can be illustrated with the recent changes that the automobile industry has made by advancing and re-engineering the manual and automatic transmissions into a single bi-delivery option for consumers.
In today’s higher-end sport cars, manufacturers have incorporated opposing paddle shifters within finger reach behind the steering wheel. Now, with a simple flip of a switch, your automatic turns into a high-performance manual transmission giving the driver instant gear changing control.
Likewise, facilities management provides a similar unifying effect with in-house and hosted. Furthermore, it empowers credit unions to customize the system to best match the operational environment of the institution lending itself to increased control over cost.
Facilities management goes further than any previous technology to remove the friction points and concerns credit unions traditionally harbor when evaluating in-house (purchased) or hosted solutions.
As facilities management advances, credit unions will increasingly enjoy independent control over their desired method of implementation. A credit union may opt to have their solution initially hosted and within a year or two elect to purchase.
Facilities managed-purchased cores may be physically placed in-house, in a secure co-location data site across town, or hundreds of miles away absent the need to hire additional IT personnel.
In summary, facilities management renders the differences in core system deliveries virtually transparent to the credit union.
Facilities management offers:
- Service Specific Automation – All services traditionally thought only available through a hosted solution can be remotely offered by a single core provider in either a hosted or purchased environment, including e-vaulting of data, disaster recovery, daily postings, transmissions, system updates, system maintenance, software upgrades, monitoring, firewall and security services.
- Transparent Delivery Channels – Regardless of which delivery channel is selected, a credit union's human capital resources remain unchanged.
- Zero-Impact Scalability - Flexible and capable of serving credit unions of all sizes.
- IT Efficiency – As the system can be placed anywhere, facilities management nearly removes the need for internal IT personnel to manage the core, allowing them to concentrate on network infrastructure, security, peripheral management and branch communications. Consequently, credit union core reviews will shift in the direction of departmental business experts evaluating product functionality, yielding the software system that best meets the business needs of the institution.
- Core Innovation – Through force of competition, facilities management will advance core development reducing (but not eliminating where practical) what has become an imbalanced dependency on third-party solutions.
- Reduced Cost – Facilities management empowers credit unions to customize the system to best match their operational environment lending itself to increased control over both system and cost.
As the cloud continues to change the world around us, facilities management represents a substantive, cloud-inspired effort to an industry starving for core system innovation and brings our attention back to that which matters most – software.