The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

The challenge between perfect technology architecture and fast shifting customer channels

There is a lesson here for Banks.  In 2012 just over a year ago, FaceBook went public.  At the time the largest doubt was FaceBooks ability to leverage advertising in the mobile space.

Since then FaceBook has turned that corner.  It has done that by making mobile important.

But how did FaceBook accomplish this and how did they accomplish this in just over a year.

How Facebook Went Mobile, In Before And After Org Charts

Facebook used to be a website translated to mobile by a tiny team, but over the last two years it’s reorganized to make every department in the company mobile-first, as revealed in two new org charts it shared today at a small press conference “Whiteboard Session” at its Menlo Park HQ.

I don’t totally understand the org charts TechCrunch shows, but the more important point is that the new organisation has focus on mobile first.  This focus has led them to develop their own tools that support their scale.

The new company structure also gives Facebook the resources to build critical mobile development infrastructure. For example, Legnitto showed off xctool, a replacement for Apple’s xcodebuild that makes it easier to develop iOS and Mac products. Legnitto said “Apple’s tools are good but they’re designed for the individual developer. Their tools started to fall over at our scale” referring to its 874 million monthly mobile users and 507 million daily mobile users.

Banks have their own scale issues.  They have legacy deposit and loan systems that must interact with new CRM systems then finally with branch, web and mobile platforms for customer access.  This is no small feat.  Hidden in that system diversity is the disconnect between branch, web and mobile.  Bank system development has traditionally focussed on branch first.  Gradually web has received priority but you get the picture. 

In early 2000’s I was a strong advocate that we should build for web first, and let that development improvements flow into the branch.  I was lone wolf on that view. 

Now today I say the answer ought to be development for mobile first.  Going back to the FaceBook example the key is to make development of the next platform the most important.  Dedicate the resources there and share the results. 

Apple are another example of this.  The laptop OS is now picking up design elements from iOS.  This is the perfect example of designing for customers and their needs first, but it requires internal shifts that are difficult and awkward.  It will require changes that will be strongly resisted by the status quo. 

The status quo will pull towards the classic Microsoft / IBM model of building once and presenting out to multiple platforms simultaneously.  This approach may be  logical but it is not what FaceBook with 50,000 employees did when they turned the company on a dime in 12 months.  Maybe its better for the product and the clients to drive for the goal first and sort it out later.

There are lessons to be learned here.

Written by Colin Henderson

December 5, 2013 at 03:51

Posted in Uncategorized

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