Manish Patel | Published May 3, 2019

Gone are the days when single software vendors sold to clients monolithic systems that do a little of everything but nothing really well. Clients across industries are demanding more functionality, more flexibility, and even more of a consistent user experience.

This is especially prevalent in the financial services market where the once pipedream of a single, unified desktop for everything from customer data, market data, trading data, and various other data sources is now the expected norm.

As a software provider, how do you respond to this? Build more applications or features that aren’t in your sweet spot? Acquire other providers to “stitch” together a unified solution? While both of these are options, they are not realistic or prudent for many software providers.

But there’s a way around this and it’s called modularity. While it’s not rocket science, it does require a different mindset when building solutions. No longer are you just concerned with how your solution operates and interacts within your own domain or ecosystem; you must also consider the broader industry solutions, including those with which you may be completely unfamiliar.

Modularity should be thought of in three key components: Interoperability, flexibility and agnostic design.

Interoperability. Build components that can communicate using industry-standard protocols.

Flexibility. Build in a manner that empowers customers to configure their content.

Agnostic Design. Build with design principles that allow your components to sit seamlessly next to other products.

Advances in technology and thought processes now allow for a variety of applications to smoothly interact and exist within a single framework. One thing then comes to mind: How do I provide the best possible user experience? As futurist Ross Dawson pointed out in a recent presentation, elegance, usability, and beauty are now also requirements of enterprise solutions. He cites the example of early personal computers, packed in beige boxes with no visual appeal. In 1998, this changed with the birth of the iMac.

It is no longer just enough for solutions to work — they must appeal to the end-user. This is seen time and again in the fintech world, where great solutions are often slow to be adopted by the major global banks, in part because they are not essential, but also because they do not fire the imagination or excitement of the traders or investment bankers, or more practically, deliver “plug and play” utility for the end-user.

To achieve these goals of elegance, openness and integration in today’s investment banking and capital markets landscape, firms are looking for workflows that are compatible either within a single vendor solution or as part of a wider unified desktop, e.g. a framework that modularizes a group of technology offerings and provides the industry with components of functionality that all still leverage core requirements such as security.

But while breaking a solution apart, plug and play, configuration vs. customization, or open frameworks are all the types of undertaking that every software company should be thinking about, it’s modularity that should be front-of-mind in the future.

Manish Patel is the CPO of Tier1CRM

This was first posted on Markets Media.