Picture of Clara Hori Written by Clara Hori
on April 24, 2024

Recently, the concept of "digital transformation" has evolved. It’s no longer seen as a finite goal for businesses to achieve and then consider themselves "done," but rather as an ongoing adaptation to the digital era.

For financial institutions, a pivotal part of this adaptation is selecting the right vendors, a task that can be complex and fraught with challenges. Yet, adopting a fresh perspective on vendor selection could be the key to unlocking agility and efficiency.

Traditional vendor selection often focuses on single-solution providers or large, monolithic companies. Many financial institutions (FIs), however, are finding that prioritizing interoperability and synergy among vendors can significantly accelerate digital deployment and reduce costs. This approach encourages collaboration and flexibility, facilitating a smoother transition to digital maturity.

At the core of this strategy is the understanding that digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all process. Each institution must tailor its path towards modernization, informed by its unique goals and needs.

Three distinct strategies for this journey include:

  1. incremental
  2. "do-it-all" vendors
  3. concurrent approaches

The incremental approach, though easier to start, can be slow and fragmented, potentially falling behind the rapid pace of tech advances. The "do-it-all" vendor strategy, while simple, might limit innovation and customization in favor of convenience, posing risks like vendor lock-in and reduced flexibility, especially for smaller entities. Conversely, the concurrent approach promotes strategic alignment of vendor partnerships based on shared goals and complementary capabilities. This strategy enables institutions to pinpoint key projects and choose leading vendors who specialize in specific areas, while also emphasizing agility, interoperability, and synergy.

A compelling example of effective vendor synergy is seen with an Illinois credit union managing $400M in assets. They aimed to transition from email marketing to a more sophisticated marketing automation platform like Prisma. Initially, they faced a potential delay due to the need to update their 30-year-old core system and digital banking provider. Instead of waiting, they strategically selected new systems for their core, digital channels, and marketing automation simultaneously from vendors within the same ecosystem. This decision leveraged existing integrations and relationships, speeding up both decision-making and implementation processes.

Similarly, a credit union in Oregon with $3.9 billion in assets enhanced its digital banking capabilities by upgrading to Tyfone, while simultaneously leveraging its integration with Prisma to make their marketing efforts more visible. This strategic move addressed two critical needs with one solution. Through the synergy between Tyfone and Prisma's marketing automation, the credit union not only improved the member experience but also boosted member engagement with omnichannel campaigns that delivered targeted banners and personalized offers directly within their new online banking platform.

In an era where innovation is crucial, saving time in decision-making and implementation offers significant competitive advantages to FIs. While upgrading infrastructure is fundamental, evaluating ecosystems rather than individual vendors can greatly enhance the speed and success of these initiatives. By adopting a vendor strategy focused on synergy and collaboration, banks and credit unions can navigate the complexities of digital transformation with increased agility and efficiency.

Ultimately, the route to digital transformation is as varied as the institutions themselves. By adopting a progressive approach to vendor selection and fostering strategic partnerships based on interoperability and synergy, financial institutions can hasten their progress towards a more innovative, customer-centric future. The era of digital-first banking is here, and institutions must evolve swiftly to stay relevant.


Image credit: Adobe Stock