I just returned from a business visit to India, and on the long way back, I had the time to sort out some observations and ideas on the future of the banking backbone that I had discussed with bankers as well as banking platform vendor execs over the past few weeks. But let me start from the beginning.

A couple years ago, Forrester introduced the banking backbone, covering a number of infrastructure functions such as security, directory, business activity management, service repository, and integration services and in particular supporting micro- and macro-level workflows. In the meantime, the banking backbone became a key element of the next-generation banking platform and evolved further within the banking platform of the future. Today, many banks are still on their way to implementing a comparably narrowly defined version of the banking backbone.

However, advanced banks of different sizes — many of them in the retail space — decided to take an approach that may make an extended definition of Forrester’s banking backbone mandatory: They opted for a more business- than infrastructure-oriented backbone. In a first step, they identify a suitable integrated banking platform with a good fit to their requirements. Next, they “strip” it of all modules that are not fully up to the requirements of the key areas of their business and supplement these with best-of-breed solutions and, where necessary, custom-built solutions. Thus, the integrated banking platform acts as a more business-oriented banking backbone that integrates with all kinds of satellite and peripheral applications.

Is this an approach you would consider for your bank? Or, if you are working in a different industry, have you seen similar approaches? Please let me know what you think. JHoppermann@Forrester.com