Guest blog: Automation and digitisation, the mutual way

Guest blog by Rich Wainwright, CEO, Mutual Vision

Guest blog by Rich Wainwright, CEO, Mutual Vision

Automation and digitisation have always posed both a challenge and an opportunity for Building Societies and Credit Unions, and never more so than since the Coronavirus pandemic.  Up until the early 2000’s, financial institutions typically built their own technology solutions or bought individual off-the-shelf applications from numerous software vendors.  This created at least two major headaches for the organisation:

  1. The need to employ suitably qualified technologists to select, implement and support the solutions, and
  2. The burden and risk of knitting these disparate solutions together to provide a cohesive technology solution to support the business.

Over recent years, a new technology delivery model has emerged that resolves these and many other key challenges – the digital platform / ecosystem. This model has become a core part of our business practice at Mutual Vision, allowing us to pave the way for other fin-tech providers to follow suit.

It is undeniable that digital platforms and ecosystems like ours, offer the most technologically efficient method of delivering digitisation. The mutual model has enabled our customers to choose from a range of solutions that can all be seamlessly integrated through a single integration backbone, managed by a team of highly qualified technologists. However, whilst digital platforms and ecosystems resolve the technology challenges, they can introduce new commercial considerations and drawbacks.   

Firstly, digital ecosystems are only effective if the platform provider is open and agnostic, giving you unencumbered choice as to the solutions you wish to deploy.  Before choosing a digital platform provider, take time to test and validate just how open they will be.  Will they try to encourage or force you to use certain solutions where they receive the greatest value, or perhaps even refuse to work with your preferred solution providers?   

Secondly, you need to verify that the platform is designed to meet the specific needs of your business and your sector.  It must be “scale and budget appropriate” and deliver the kind of capabilities that your business requires and that you members and customers can adopt.  Can it handle the need for specialisation and personalisation that makes you uniquely attractive to your members? 

Thirdly, you need to ensure that the provider of the digital platform is always going to be acting in your best interests, long into the future.  Buying individual “off the shelf” applications typically mean a 5-to-10-year commitment to your technology provider, whereas a commitment to a digital platform provider is likely to be much longer, perhaps measured in decades.  It is therefore critical that you are reassured that the digital platform provider will always see you as “core business” – not just now, but well into the future. 

Finally, and this is related to the point above, consider your position within the providers’ customer base and your level of influence over their platform strategy.  Will you be a small fish in a big pond?  Is that big pond in fact a globe-spanning ocean with its epicentre in another geographical region with its own priorities?

At Mutual Vision, we believe the answer to the commercial drawbacks of the digital platform ecosystem model lie within the same mutual construct upon which Building Societies and Credit Unions were founded.  Mutual Vision is a technology business that it owned by its customer community and where any customer has the option to become a shareholder. 

Mutual ownership provides customer members with a level of insight and influence over the strategic direction of the platform that is simply not available from private providers, and puts customers wants and needs at the heart of the business, not just now but for the enduring future. At MV, we believe the Digital Mutual of customer community-owned digital platforms are the answer not just for mutual sector but for all sectors.  The mutual model simply makes sense when it comes to technology delivery by offering a pure, mutually supporting “win-win” solution – who can argue with that!

Find out more at www.mutualvision.co.uk/

The views, opinions and positions expressed within guest blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the BSA.