Joyful connections – getting the most from your system integration
For system integration, like those that exist between platforms / providers and adviser back-office systems (BOS), proving their Return on Investment (ROI) can be tricky. Not only are there set-up costs, but ongoing maintenance and risk management need continuous review too. Our recent research into the world of system integration also identified that the risk of not satisfying a request for improved connectivity from a certain set of advisers could be factored as possibly detrimental to future business. Ever so slightly conversely, it was also found that ensuring the newly built connection is used can require additional resource for education and ‘user training’ to which a Request for Change can suddenly appear on developer’s to-do list. So, you can start to see just how easy it is for the costs of enabling connections between systems start creeping upwards. It is no wonder therefore that system integrations have mostly been the realm of the ‘Rich and Famous’ (or in other words, the big providers and adviser system suppliers). But not anymore...
Technology is changing; constantly on the evolutionary move. New Fintechs and ‘Digital Disruptors’ are introducing innovative approaches to serving customers and subsequently forcing big systems and major market players to pay attention. For advisers and their clients, getting their information on their (digital) terms is a big tick-in-the-box for customer service. And this means that the likelihood of the adviser walking away is reduced, and even better, the likelihood of more business could increase too.
Stepping back a bit and looking at the traditional way of connecting systems, also known as point-to-point, our research found it to be full of challenges.
As you can see in the image, there are many challenges and pain points:
- Getting business cases approved
- Agreeing to the technical approach
- Managing the data
- Agreeing the legals
- Ensuring ongoing compliance
All of the above makes the process of 'hooking up' systems complex and costly. And the area often overlooked in terms of complexities are contracts and/or the legal process.
Getting contracts agreed between parties, a key item on the critical path of such integration projects have been known to delay ‘go-live’. Can you imagine going through business case approval, build, test, comms & training plan agreed and being ready to ‘flick the switch’ only to find out that contract discussions are still ongoing? It happens - and it is just one of the many challenges to integrating systems. I’m unsure if ‘agreeing contracts’ is quite the ‘digital disruptor’ we had in mind.
Democratising the system integration landscape has got to be the way forward if we really want to serve and open doors.
Origo's Integration Hub
One approach that is working to solve these pain points is Origo’s Integration Hub. It’s a different approach to your traditional point-to point integration and instead looks like a ‘hub and spoke’, with the Hub in the middle and each party ‘a spoke’. Through one, central Hub where each partner connects and in turn is able to connect to all other parties, this approach to integration means you only have one connection to build and maintain, yet you’re connect to many others – and that is it. And when another party joins the Hub that means you can connect to them too! No business case approval process nor complex contracts/legals. Oh, how joyful! Sounds almost too good to be true.
How does it work exactly?
Let’s take the Valuations (single and or bulk). Traditionally, Platform/Provider A will have links to Adviser Back-office Systems (BOS) X, Y and Z. In turn, each BOS will have links to Platform/Provider A, B and C and so on. When the adviser wants to update their system with the latest policy valuations for all clients – a button is clicked, or an automatic update is made at a scheduled time – ta dah! As if by magic, the updated valuations appear. But behind the scenes, hundreds of requests are going out from multiple systems to multiple platforms/providers – who in turn, respond with the data. It’s a great service. But with all those lines going out and coming back in, it means big costs for maintenance and that means someone somewhere has to pay for it. Now, bear in mind that this is just one business process – Valuations. There are processes such as Account Opening, Remuneration and Transaction History where the above scenario is repeated.
But, with the Integration Hub the process is still the same for the adviser (hit a button etc), however, instead of multiple and varying lines going out and coming back – there is just one line from the BOS to the Hub.
For the BOS, the Integration Hub:
- coordinates the requests
- transforms / reformats any messages as required to the platforms/providers
- takes on the hard work of fixing the nuances and differences between systems and messages
- makes your point-to-point integrations tricky and expensive.
And in terms of extending your market reach and ‘opening doors’, when a new pain points including business case, contracts and agreeing technical approaches simply fly out of the window.
Companies using the Integration Hub
So far, we have 9 companies using our Integration Hub for processes like Valuations. And our latest process Transfer Tracking is gaining much interest. If you would like to talk to us about the joy of our Integration Hub – please get in touch.