Our Q3 2010 Global Financial Services Architecture Online Survey shows that 79% of the surveyed financial services firms are either already working on transforming their application landscape or plan to start this effort by 2012 at the latest. The need for greater business agility and flexibility, new business capabilities, and improved ability to cope with changing markets, offer more differentiation, and increase market share are key drivers for a large share of these financial services firms.

Coping with these drivers requires a large amount of architectural flexibility; therefore, architectural flexibility needs to be an integral element of any decision in favor of or against a given architecture or off-the-shelf banking platform within a transformation initiative. Consequently, it does not come as a surprise that 43% of the surveyed firms expect that more than one-third of their business applications will leverage service-oriented architecture and use business services in the next 18 to 24 months and an additional 19% think that more than half of their applications will utilize business services within that time frame.

This direction is certainly an indicator that some pundits of the past who declared that “SOA is dead” (and who recently have reversed themselves) were not right — at least not in industries with immaterial products such as financial services. At the same time, the combination of top business drivers and necessity — not to say imperative — for banking platform transformation and service-oriented architecture shows that banks need to move toward a very flexible architecture to keep up with business needs. Many of these banks will execute thoughts, ideas, and plans that they voiced about two years in the past — and that Forrester summarized in the “Banking IT In 2023”collection, in particular in “The Future Shape Of Banking Architecture In 2023”and “The Banking Platform Of The Future.”

Please let me know whether this is what you are observing, too, or whether your observations are different: JHoppermann@forrester.com.