<p>PLEASANTON, Calif. – Forget APIs, ULTRADATA said it has gone straight to the most accepted standards to open up its system. While the ULTRADATA host processing engine has long been open from a hardware standpoint, customer demand forced its hand to open up the core system to third-party applications. It launched Ultra-Exchange earlier this year to pull this off. Ultra-Exchange was one of the main stars on display at ULTRADATA's user's meeting being held in Palm Springs, California at press time. ULTRADATA is a subsidiary of Harland Financial Solutions. "Our theme behind this open strategy is to focus on business intelligence, CRM, integrated host processing. Having all these things tied together so customers can push data in and out of solutions," said Scott Bleak, product manager for electronic products with HFS. Bleak said Ultra-Exchange will allow this flow between third party solutions and the host processing engine using data objects that move data through standards like Interactive Financial Exchange and Simple Object Access Protocol (see story on following page). Once data is defined through an Ultra-Exchange graphical interface, it can be exported through an SQL (structured query language)/ODBC (open database connectivity) interface. Ultra-Exchange's open data tool will be in the Financial Services Platform environment, key to moving data from third party apps and the Web. IFX and SOAP servers can be used to post transactions to the core system. Of course moving data from application to database is key in pulling off true CRM. Bleak said the marketing opportunities are endless once data becomes universal. Credit unions are especially trying to exploit this online, where marketing can be more cost-effective than hard copy efforts. ULTRADATA has one of the more popular Net banking solutions among processors, known as Ultra-Access, but some credit unions complained of having to have multiple log-ons to other online solutions like check reordering, brokerage and others because of integration problems. Patrick Carroll, vp of information technology for TRW Systems FCU, Manhattan Beach, Calif., said his CU was so concerned that it began looking at other systems. It backed off once the Ultra-Exchange concept came to life. "We're planning on doing a whole lot of things online. The first precipice was to break open the host processing engine so we could communicate to our third party vendors," said Carroll. Carroll said TRW plans on integrating a host of third-party apps into home banking using Ultra-Exchange. The first will be e-statements through a product from BIT Statement out of Seattle. In the old days, Carroll would have had to send members to a separate password log-on to get access to statements, but now they will get to those statements inside of Ultra-Access. "We have our own internal programming staff who can create our own little module and tag it on using IFX and XML," said Carroll. Bleak said that's a good example of one-upping APIs – letting CU staffers take the standards and write their own interfaces. "Instead of saying `I have an open system, here are a set of APIs to post a transaction back to the system', we have an IFX server written in a standard industry format. We tried the API route; it's not an easy way to go," said Bleak. Bleak said that the standards won't just open things up on the Web front. Credit unions can also use Ultra-Exchange to get data to tellers and MSRs on the front-line. Harland Financial Solutions may have more to gain from integrated systems that can move data back and forth than other parent companies of DP vendors because of its large suite of CRM and business intelligence products, which Harland has been pushing hard in recent years. Products such as Max$ell and Touche. "There's so much more to the transaction engine in terms of keeping members satisfied. How do you have an integrated solution that helps you understand your customers really well. How do you get that back in the front-line to make that cross sell," said Stephanie Shah, director of marketing and product management for Harland Financial Services. [email protected]</p>

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