In a previous blog post Graham talked about making technology disappear. Whilst we certainly want to present that illusion, the reality is that there are technological challenges that need to be addressed to deliver an omni-channel experience.
With the proliferation of platforms and devices the cost of replicating a complete service offering on each and every channel is prohibitive. By adopting a user-centric mindset you can significantly reduce the cost associated with creating an omni-channel system. It has been this channel-focussed mindset that has slowed the move from desktop to web and, more recently, to smartphone within the capital markets sector.
Omni-channel technical strategy
A technical strategy for an omni-channel experience needs to support each individual channel, and also their combined usage. Below are the key objectives to consider and address when developing a strategy and resulting architecture:
Provide consistent logic across all channels - its imperative that there are no inconsistencies in data, validation logic and immediacy of pricing between channels. Any inconsistency, or even a perception, causes distrust and abandonment.
Provide real-time flow of data across channels - the result of a performing action via one channel must be immediately visible on all other channels.
Provide a future-proof strategy - technologies are in a constant state of flux, any architecture should quickly and easily accommodate changes in technology and any addition of new channels.
Ensure a consistent (but not uniform) look and feel - style, assets, fonts and branding should be managed centrally to ensure consistency across all channels.
The most effective way to provide consistent logic across all channels is to ensure that all significant logic is supported by a shared API layer. This allows disparate teams to work on channels that may require different skills and technologies.
In addition for an effective omni-channel experience, streaming in an important part of any strategy. With simultaneous usage models it is critical that a shared application state is immediately synchronised across channels. Users have come to expect it and it is critically important in the world of financial data.
Choosing the right implementations technology
So we understand the objectives for developing a successful strategy but what technology should be chosen to implement this strategy for each platform? Regardless of platform we recommend that the API layer uses a microservice architecture, which supplies client-specific data ready for display. With the native technology differing for many channels the sensible strategy is to use HTML5 as the default implementation technology for all platforms including desktop. This strategy provides an agile platform that can quickly accommodate changes in channel usage and the adoption of new technologies and platforms.
In our recent white paper, Making Technology Disappear: Building Omni-channel Systems for Capital Markets, we consider each of these key objectives in more detail and provide insight into the journey to omnichannel and the new mindset that needs to be adopted.