11 months, 5 days ago

From the Editor: Book Review – Bank of the Future

Link: https://eapj.org/from-the-editor-book-review-bank-of-the-future/

This is the third in our series of book reviews on EAPJ, which is a feature we introduced that we hope will provide value to our readers. What’s more exciting, is that this marks the first time that one of our readers has contacted EAPJ and submitted their own book for review. It’s tremendous that we have such passionate and talented subscribers, and I look forward to hearing from more of you.

In this instance, we have a book focused on the banking industry, written by a duo of authors from India, Kannan Subramanian R and Dr. Chithra Selvaraj. Dr Selvaraj is an Associate Professor at SSN College of Engineering, Chennai, and Kannan Subrmanian R is a Chartered Accountant with extensive experience at a number of large financial services organisations across the globe. They have taken a very broad view of not only the banking industry, but a series of established frameworks and methodologies that can be used to empower transformation in banking and financial services organisations.

I hope you enjoy the review.

Bank of the Future: Minimise Technology Risk, Maximise Business Return

Author: Kannan Subramanian R & Dr. Chithra Selvaraj         Released: 2018

At over 580 pages, this book is not for the lighthearted. That said, what the authors have done is compile an impressively broad view of challenges faced by banks in the modern era, particularly from a point of view of their systems, and the planning and controls required for them to remain competitive in constantly changing technological and regulatory world.

As the front cover states, it covers subjects such as:

  • Leveraging technology to remain competitive
  • The use of Service Oriented Architecture in banks
  • Transformation efforts
  • Data management across an enterprise
  • Data security and cyber threats
  • Risk management
  • IT Governance and related maturity models
  • ROI for technology initiatives

In covering these topics, and more, the book doesn’t just talk about theory. It cites numerous examples of the problems it highlights, taken from the real-world, and used to reinforce the situations many organisations have had to face over the past few years. These miniature Case Studies add a sense of relevance to the suggested application of established frameworks that can be used to improve bank operations.

The early parts of the book give a comprehensive perspective on the evolution of technology within the banking industry, from the early days back in the 1950’s, where banking was one of the early adopters of computing and automation. Through eras such as Core Banking, and the more recent Internet and Mobile Banking efforts, it highlights the synergistic relationship between the technology and finance industries.

With a particular focus on Risk Management, including the risk related to the use and evolution of technology, the book is heavily grounded and pragmatic, offering readers some useful advice on how to leverage established frameworks to create effective governance. This is coupled, again, with examples from the banking industry where insufficient controls have resulted in significant issues. Of interest here is the book’s focus on the Human Resources aspect of bank operations, and the need to have strong considerations of the associated risks of the organisation’s people and their behaviours (whether malicious or through a lack of awareness of their actions and responsibilities).

The authors also take a close look at the various layers of the technology architecture of the bank of the future, highlighting areas such as the established use of SOA and its evolution. This is coupled with commentary around the need for proper process knowledge and control, including the advantages available through process management solutions and automation technologies.

Data Management also receives consideration, with this strategic asset shown as the path to competitive advantage. The roles, responsibilities, processes and governance required to improve, protect and realise value from an organisation’s data are explain in detail.

In the final chapter, the authors take a look at emerging technology in banking arena, hypothesising on the potential impacts of things like Blockchain, Advanced Analytics and the Semantic Web. This is truly a pivotal time for this industry. Changing consumer expectation, increased regulation, geopolitical impacts and the convergence of some amazing new technologies are set to revolutionise the way people perceive, deliver and consume financial services.


An EA’s Perspective

What this book does particularly well, is highlight the breadth of concerns an Enterprise Architecture function must consider when attempting to transform a bank’s operations. This breadth encompasses not only the multitude of technologies, and the handling of accumulated technical debt, but also the sheer number of stakeholders that need to be managed, along with their often conflicting expectations. This is no simple task, and commitment is required from many levels of the organisation. This is where the soft-skills of the EA, so often spoken about on this site, come into play. Communication is key, as is the ability to understand the perspective of others.

The authors also shed light on the numerous frameworks available for use by the EA, which helps to reduce the effort required, and the tendency to “reinvent the wheel”. These frameworks, when understood and applied correctly, can be very powerful. Here are just some of those mentioned in the book:

  • COBIT
  • ITIL
  • TOGAF
  • Zachman
  • BIAN

It is this last framework that most fascinates me. The Banking Industry Architecture Network is an impressive collective of individuals and organisations, which according to their website are seeking to “establish, promote and provide a common framework for banking interoperability issues and to become and to be recognized as a world-class reference point for interoperability in the banking industry”. As an outsider, albeit with some exposure to banking environments, this appears incredibly challenging, but vitally important.


Conclusion

As mentioned at the start of this review, the book is not a light read. It is a highly detailed and considered view on a complex industry, with many technology-related challenges. The presentation, particularly in relation to some of the images used throughout the book, is sometimes lacking, but the sheer volume of content makes it a handy reference guide for those charged with the responsibility to make transformative change within a banking organisation.

Rating: 6.5/10

Have you read this book? Did you find it useful in your journey to becoming a better Enterprise Architect? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. If you have other books that you feel our readers would benefit from, please feel free to mention them below as well!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Darryl Carr,
Editor, Enterprise Architecture Professional Journal