In the previous post of our twelve-part blog series on the Top 10 Technology Trends for advisors and their partners, we discussed how the world is going mobile, and therefore every advisor and institution will need to have a credible mobile offering or risk becoming irrelevant. The third trend we will discuss in this post is the integrated workstation.
The desire for more technical integration has been a trend for so long that it is, in many ways, hard to actually call it a trend. From linking stock quotes to news stories in the 1980s to today’s challenges of connecting social media to client records, the financial services industry has been a leader in making technologies work better together. With each financial services success, along with the spectacular success of consumer user experiences from products like Apple’s iPhone and iPad (which we will discuss in an upcoming blog) the expectation that everything works together continues to grow.
So if integrated technology for advisors has been in existence for decades, what exactly is different now? A major issue with past integrated platforms is that it required advisors to lose some of each technology’s functionality in the name of integration. For the most part, advisors have cared more about the functionality of each software component they use and have not been willing to conform to a technology with sub-par integrated components. If one looks at the number of vendors providing solutions solely focused in the CRM, portfolio management, financial planning and document management space it quickly becomes evident that functionality has ruled the day. In summary, advisors have preferred to use tools that fit their needs, even if not part of an integrated desktop, over integrated offerings.
With recent advances in network speed and scale, flexibility in software design, cheaper memory and more nimble data storage technology, the goal of mixing and matching various systems is becoming a reality. In essence, significant investments are being made by both large financial institutions and niche software providers for the sole purpose of allowing advisors to plug-and-play different software solutions (some of which they may already use) into “their” advisor workstation. In addition to this trend, the concept of embedding workflow into the workstation to facilitate a seamless experience in-and-out of different tools is a core component of the workstation and key to driving user adoption.
Click on the image below for ActiFi’s Four Levels of Integration definitions.
Why You Should Care About Integration