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Talk about ‘access’ rather than ‘channel’

I’ve written quite a lot about my disdain for the use of the word channel, multichannel and omnichannel, and some people asked me: so what should we call it then?  I’ve written about this too but, to be exact, we should call it AccessAugmented Access, Proximate Access, Intelligent Access or whatever phrase you want, but it’s purely about access to services, information and support in a digital form.

Access to the banks’ digital platforms via any form factor I choose – my mobile, watch, desktop, tablet, car, television or any other form factor I choose.  Access via Skype to a human, via phone to a human or via branch to a human.  Humans who are also being provided access to digital services through the banks’ platforms.

In other words, the whole bank sits upon a digital foundation, a digital core, a digital ecosystem.

In this world, no-one thinks about segregated systems, silo structures or channels.  We don’t think: oh today I’m using my mobile channel but tonight I will switch to my call centre channel for service.  We just think: I’m using my banks’ services.

In this world, the bank does not think about deploying layers of separated systems and then try to work out how to stitch them all together.  The bank just adds new services and access for new form factors to their digital foundation.

But access is key.  Consistent access to a reliable, resilient, real-time digital service.

It is for this reason that I’ve kept persisting with the call to replace core systems, because then you can build a reliable structure with data in the cloud and processors for provision of access to the digital core from the ground up.

What I mean by this is that today, we add channels to old infrastructure and keep therefore adding legacy to legacy.  What we should be doing is replacing the old infrastructure such that it’s cleansed and ready for providing access to reliable, resilient, real-time digital services.  Then the future will be adding further access and leveraged service to that digital core.  Adding digital to digital rather than legacy to legacy if you prefer.


I mentioned Augmented, Proximate and Intelligent Access because when you have a digital core platform, the information that derives from that platform can be fed to all access points and all form factors.  The intelligent digital bank uses the information from their platforms to populate all access points and all form factors with differentiated service and support.

Many banks talk about the likes of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google as their aspirational heroes.  What is it about these big internet giants?  Do they have channels?  Do they have segregated structures?  Not at all.  They have a single digital approach to service.  They do not consider mobile, tablet, internet and telephone as separated systems and channels.  They just see access through form factors to their digital services.

That is the transition banks will go through in the next five years, if they haven’t gone through this change process already.  Banks will move from adding legacy to legacy, cementing their back end systems further into place through front-end systems lock in; to building a clean core digital foundation for the bank that can then feed service to any digital or physical form factor where service is needed.

It will not be an easy transition, but it is a transition demanded if banks are going to be fit for purpose in the digital age. 

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here…

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  • Chris,
    in defence of the big old banks: at the dawn of the computer age some of them were starting out as the cutting-edge platforms of their time. After a while, this model reached a plateau and vendors have appeared – logically, they thought why not trust professionals with software. After all a bank’s core competency is not software – boiled down to its essence it’s managing risks and liquidity.
    Likewise, the clean-cut systems of Apple and Amazon might be tomorrow’s old legacies – I bet that from the inside they are everything but clean and shiny – software rarely is.
    The important thing is the speed with which a company can reinvent itself _and_ how this relates to the patience of its customers.
    (Also, Google and Facebook really don’t have channels. Neither do they provide customer service similar to what most people still expect from a bank.)