Tell me’ is now ‘show me’in the modern IT sector, says The Charlbury Group director Richard Hurst
I’ve been involved with technology and writing about it for more years that I care to remember (why, oh why did I ever leave that great job at the tennis club?) Apologies, I digress. I have lived through the fervour of the dotcom boom, and then the subsequent bust and come out (mostly unscathed) the other side.
Over recent years the mortgage market has seen a veritable explosion of technological innovation applied to every conceivable area and process in our industry. Vast processing power was unleashed in the sourcing sector for example to enable brokers to whittle down product searches from 60,000 to one, quicker than you could every have imagined. This is merely one example and throughout this era there was a genuine excitement about what technology could provide next? What new system could be developed? What problem could be solved? What can we make quicker, slicker or more ‘cool’.
Change was good! If your rival was offering a mortgage offer in an hour well, get the techie guys in and build a system that can do it in a minute. It was escalation similar to an arms race and in technology building terms it was very much about ‘agile’ programming. The desire for new and shiny systems that could solve problems users didn’t even know they had meant constant change and adaptation within the development process. Most in the intermediary sector will recognise that whatever systems they chose there was the constant (and sometimes overwhelming) release of new functionality and features. However, technology is one area where it’s only when new code gets into the live environment that you find out what’s really going on. I’m sure many intermediaries have experienced the frustration that comes when a shiny new feature (they didn’t ask for in the first place) creates some error or bug with their core system and their ability to just get on with doing their job.
So, what has changed?Well, ‘vapourware’ was once the buzzword for technology companies selling systems that weren’t quite, strictly speaking, if you want to be picky… well… built yet! Now, vapourware seems to have vanished into the ether and systems are being interrogated unlike every before. Technology companies seem to have stopped selling for what might happen tomorrow but instead having to demonstrate that their solution can deal with what is happening today.
Where technology companies might once have pitched for business based upon what they ‘could’ build the discerning customer is now asking to see what they ‘have’ built. And, if you can demonstrate that the system has been ‘battle-hardened’ in the real world then so much the better.
I don’t think that we will ever curtail innovation in but in the current environment for everyone in the mortgage sector whether an intermediary or a lender the need to get it right first time is simply crucial. I’m not saying that might is always right but customers should rightly ask to be shown that systems are fundamentally fit for purpose. Don’t tell me show me is a phrase that all technology firms should get used to hearing.