The future might just be BIAN

The idea behind healthy competition is that it tends to spur invention, efficiencies, and improvements.

Except, let’s be honest. Sometimes that part about efficiencies is a stretch. When myriad players scramble to build proprietary solutions to a common challenge, efficiency can suffer, and chaos—costly chaos—can reign.

For that reason, sometimes it makes sense even for competitors to compare notes. As technology continues to advance at breakneck speed, this becomes especially true for financial institutions.

Of course, you understand that. We all do. At least, we do in theory. Espouse cooperation and integration from the podium at a financial services industry convention, and you can all but guarantee that a few hundred heads will nod in agreement and pretty much in unison. But nods are a far cry from action.

That is why my hat is off to BIAN, short for the Banking Industry Architecture Network.*

BIAN states its vision this way: “Industry-wide consensus regarding SOA [service oriented architectures] for banking systems, aligned with the business objectives of agility and reduced cost.” Moreover, “BIAN has as its strategy to bring together banks, vendors of banking applications, and service providers.”

Now, you might wonder why BIAN—and I—happen to think that SOA is so darned important. Funny you should ask. On BIAN’s “About” page, you’ll find this: “Why is SOA so important? … When combined with industry-agreed IT standards, SOA will ensure interoperability, whereby different IT systems within a bank can work together as seamlessly as possible, without additional time or cost requirements for integration.”**

BIAN isn’t the first to espouse this lofty goal, but may well be the first to pull it off in a big way. As of this writing, BIAN boasts heavy-hitter member banks and partners like ING, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, axxiome, Temenos, and IBM. Its bank roster is strongest in Europe, but they’re fast making headway in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

I am eager to see the strides that BIAN is sure to make in not-distant future. Keep your eye on them.

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*Note to Batman aficionados: Don’t embarrass yourself. It’s not BAIN. It’s BIAN, pronounced BUY-un.
**For a lengthier treatment, not to mention a pasta analogy that is at once apt and delightful, see “What’s SOA got to do with it” by BIAN Executive Director Hans Tesselaar.

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