Just recently, I had an interesting customer experience — or, to be more precise, my daughter had it, as it involved her laptop computer from one of the top international Internet PC vendors. It was only a little defect — more an annoyance than a real fault. Since we bought “next business day service,” it should have gotten fixed right away. It played out differently in real life.

The service technician from a larger Netherlands-headquartered service firm didn’t show up at the agreed-upon day and time, and later on my daughter learned that the no-show was because the spare parts weren’t yet available. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t expect spare parts to be available all the time. However, it’s not professional to keep a client waiting without communicating the need to postpone an onsite visit — and the ping pong game between PC vendor and service company was even less professional. The processes between PC vendor and service provider were not up to the promises and sold service level: It was more like “next business week” service than the “next business day” my daughter was paying for. However, when thinking about the overall situation, it occurred to me that its key aspects are not unusual in the IT industry. I have observed very similar patterns in the banking platform space.

Currently I am working for several banks across the globe. These Forrester clients are in the process of preparing delivery of larger parts of banking platforms, such as core banking, lending, branches, and Internet banking. I have also been talking to banks to inform an upcoming report on best practices for banking platform transformation, with some focus on banking platform selection and preparation. One of the key common denominators across these conversations is the divide between vendor promises and real life. Again, don’t get me wrong; I’m well aware that some software salespeople need to be “creative” to sell their products and solutions, and one of every application delivery team’s key tasks is identifying the most-creative sales teams and, if necessary, removing their applications from the shortlist. However, some banking platform vendors’ promises also touch the space of application software delivery.

While many vendors, for example, promise end-to-end delivery of their solution, some key players in this market exclude from their final proposal key functional capabilities that were instrumental in winning the deal, shift data migration responsibility to the bank with well-camouflaged words, or even tell their potential clients in a serious manner that any change of unstated assumptions could cause increases in the project price. Similar to the PC example, these examples indicate a break between sales promises and vendor capabilities. The bottom line: This kind of vendor experience isn’t at all unusual in our industry. However, user firms should be better prepared than many are today, as there are levels of magnitude between PC and banking platform vendor promises — the level of investment and business risk are drastically higher for banking platform purchases, and therefore the consequences of broken promises vendor are likewise much more severe.

If you’d like to provide some input or share your personal banking platform examples, please drop me an email. If you would like to talk about your experience regarding banking platform transformation, best practices, and vendor promises, let me know. As always, I would appreciate your opinion: JHoppermann@Forrester.com.