On this dark and eerie Halloween night, as the winds howl and the moon casts an ominous glow, the world of CRE finds itself deep in the bowels of a house haunted by the scariest of all monsters: the Frankenstack.
Amidst the eerie fog that blankets the CRE and banking industries, a long-standing apparition has come to light. Lenders have wrestled with the ghosts of inefficiency, not because of their shortcomings, but due to the absence of suitable tools and workflows that set them up for success. The ghostly whispers in recent years have made one thing clear: innovation is no longer a luxury; it’s an absolute necessity. Yet, the path to innovation is as twisted as a haunted maze, and feels more like a renovation project than a corporate initiative (often taking twice as long and costing twice as much). Many have fallen victim to the ghoulish pitfalls of large-scale innovation projects, but in the midst of consecutive crises and the looming shadow of a recession, is there a way out of the dark?
Large-scale implementations can undoubtedly benefit organizations, but they often require a significant slowdown before any acceleration can occur, which may not align with current operational capacities and resources. Fortunately, there are effective strategies that can guide you through this haunted tech journey. I propose a phased approach to innovation. This means introducing a tool that can be implemented immediately and seamlessly integrated into your existing workflow, a flicker of hope in the gloom. Over time, you can roll out implementation phases when resources become available, allowing you to solidify and deepen integrations by connecting to other systems through APIs. Essentially, this approach lets you evaluate the tool within your organization before committing to a more extensive implementation—a proof of value concept. It’s like cautiously exploring the haunted house room by room, ensuring the product’s suitability for your specific needs. Identify which department or team would benefit the most today and then gradually expand its usage across other business units. Choosing tools that offer true flexibility means that they can serve as a magic wand today and a comprehensive spell book tomorrow.
Critics often label CRE as “behind the times” in terms of technology adoption, but this oversimplification doesn’t tell the whole story. Many lenders use a tech stack with multiple tools, but these tools often lack seamless integration and synergy, resulting in reduced effectiveness and untapped potential. This scenario is what we refer to as a “frankenstack,” involving multiple systems that do not seamlessly align with each other. But fear not, contrary to popular wisdom, if you’re stack looks freakish it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to perform a tech exorcism on your organization. You can breathe new life into your tech stack and refine it as you go. Instead of opting for a complete system overhaul, select tools that can integrate smoothly into your existing infrastructure.
To achieve this, prioritize connectivity. Ask yourself whether your tools integrate seamlessly or if you’re constantly switching between them, manually copying and pasting data. If your processes feel haunted and manual, it’s likely a sign that integration is lacking. Additionally, favor specialization over generalization when choosing technology. Opt for solutions that excel in specific functions rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach. This approach will eliminate redundancies in your tech stack and ensure that each tool excels in its designated area.
But what happens when your needs evolve or when you require a more robust solution? Modern tech solutions should do more than act as standalone tools; they should be versatile and capable of serving multiple purposes simultaneously. I recommend using process mapping as your magic mirror to evaluate whether a technology aligns with your requirements. This method involves peering into the reflection of your existing processes, assessing compatibility with your current systems, locating pain points, and conjuring insights into the technology that can deliver the most significant benefits for your unique needs. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, conduct target state process mapping with the chosen technology to ensure it enhances and optimizes your processes effectively.
In the end, sustainable innovation should lead to a more streamlined and diverse tech stack that supports a meaningful business ecosystem. It’s about finding the right tools, integrating them seamlessly, and constantly refining your tech infrastructure to stay agile and responsive to evolving needs. Your Frankenstack might look a lot less menacing if you just remember to take things one step at a time – and turn on the lights.
Laura Taylor is Blooma’s CX aficionado with a demonstrated history in financial services working for companies like JP Morgan Chase & Co. and local favorite, San Diego County Credit Union. Today, she uses her extensive experience in CRE lending and underwriting to help Blooma customers everywhere level up their CRE lending.