Monday, 11 May 2015

Passing on the experience

By this time of year, everyone’s inbox is full to the brim with invitations to attend industry events. Old conferences come round once more, perhaps with a different brand or twist, while new ones pop up. In parallel, you could probably ‘attend’ an industry webcast every day of the week. Where the presentations are sales pitches or high-level repetition of industry issues, with no real answers, that’s when everyone turns to their personal devices and checks their emails – it is a fraught business holding an audience’s attention nowadays.

There is nothing like listening to those that have lessons to pass on. Now and again, but too infrequently, a speaker will cut through the banalities and tell you something that really adds value, typically because he or she is telling it like it really is, rather than giving a glossy spin on things.

In many ways, those that tried, failed, but then succeeded are among the most interesting. What did they do differently second time around? In a recent IBS Intelligence interview with Farm Bank of Texas, for instance, it transpired that the bank only got it right at the third attempt, having tried with one lending system, opted instead for a core banking system, and then reverted to a different lending system.

Arguably – and this is the view from First Bank of Texas itself – that its second failure was due to choosing the wrong system for its needs, pure and simple. But most failures are more nuanced than that. As everyone knows, a system that has been installed in many sites across the globe can suddenly come unstuck at the next instance for reasons that go far beyond the merits or deficiencies of the software itself.

In covering the sector for more than two decades, we’ve yet to discern a clear improvement in delivery. Has there been a single edition of the IBS Journal that hasn’t carried news of at least one failure?

The First Bank of Texas case study is featured in our free supplement, ‘Running a core banking project’. The supplement features a range of opinions from banks, financial institutions and software suppliers on what can go wrong and how to make it right.

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