No-Code & the Financial Services Opportunity

Muzammil is the Global Head of Strategy and Corporate Finance at Acies. Where he is responsible for driving Acies’ strategy for the firm and its businesses and working with the Acies global and regional leaders to enhance the Acies global footprint. He also heads the Consulting business at Acies where he works closely with leading financial institutions and corporate clients, providing advisory and technology solutions to deliver transformation programs that address their regulatory and business challenges.

Despite financial institutions growing bigger in size, they had been staring at the prospect of disaggregation. New players including fintech, neo banks, and consumer platforms are chipping away at these traditional institutions. Financial institutions have been at the forefront of technology for years as expensive technology was only affordable to them. However as technology, today has become more democratized, through open source and fractioned server/data storage through cloud services, financial institutions have found their legacy technology turn from a source of competitive advantage to now a stage of catching up. Maintaining/upgrading legacy technology still consumes approximately 75-80% of their technology budgets. This constrains the quantum of spend on the adoption of new cheaper technology and impairs their ability to compete effectively with new entrants.

No-code platforms allow financial institutions with an opportunity to break out of this vicious cycle and move to a path of optimized innovation

No code platforms allow financial institutions with an opportunity to break out of this vicious cycle and move to a path of optimized innovation.

Understanding No Code Platforms
Technology has traditionally been the domain of developers and analysts that took requirements from end-users to deliver an automated solution. These solutions needed iterative improvement, due to lacking in delivery of the full vision of the end user, and this created a dependence on the IT departments for subsequent changes. This leads to a high cost of delivery and maintenance, and power being taken away from the end user.

No-code platforms return the power back to the end-user, by empowering them to directly configure systems their way without writing any code. Dependency on IT departments is limited to architecting their thought process into more efficient processes and data flows.

No-code platforms translate back-end code into a front end guided UI experience thereby reducing the need to code or even understand the underlying programming language in use. Simply put, any user can make and replicate processes, data flows, computations, and visualizations without understanding a single line of code.

Benefits for Financial Institutions
Speed of rollout: Developing a technology solution required months typically due to slowdowns generated from the translation of requirements, iterative development/testing and even rearchitecting from scratch. No code platforms allow the endusers to build their requirements into actual output within days. Lesser frequency of iteration between end-users and developers means faster time to roll out. The elimination of coding also reduces system bugs caused by human error.

Cost of ongoing maintenance: Deploying a bespoke solution and even vendor solutions requires verifying code integrity, ensuring that coding standards are adhered to and worrying about maintenance. Building on a no-code platform reduces such worries since there is no code written at an application level.

Lower total cost of ownership(TCO):TCO has been a thorn for financial institutions and despite their best efforts, often end up bearing high TCO post implementation. No-code platforms reduce vendor dependencies and allow for frequent enhancements cheaper and faster.

Quicker outputs: Approximately 70% of digital transformation projects are known to fail or stall due to long delivery cycles. This leads to making interim changes in vision and requirements leading to loss of project momentum. The quicker output of smaller applications enables greater engagement and success in actual utilization.

Smaller is better: In a micro services world, smaller applications trump large legacy applications. In a traditional roll out, base costs like project management, code validation, and infrastructure provisioning irrespective of size made it impractical to build smaller applications. No code platforms reduce TCO on roll out by enabling nimbler micro services to be rolled out much quicker.

Are All No-Code Platforms Equal?
Firstly, are all no-code platforms really no-code? Several platforms have claimed to be no-code or low-code. These have reduced coding in certain areas like reporting, visualizations or rendering HTML. These are not no-code platforms but merely a step in the right direction. To assess if a platform is truly no-code, a few questions have to be answered:

.Can I undertake full fledged data management without having any knowledge of SQL?
.Can I write complex computations as I do on spreadsheets?
.Can I create workflows as if I am making flow charts?
.Can I enable API-based connections with third-party providers without writing code for each connection each time?
.Am I getting a visualization layer directly from the platform or only via third party visualization tools?
.Can I create and distribute application like packages?
.Does it allow for multi tenanting, multi environments, and support for sharing and unifying data across environments?

If the answer to any of these is NO the platform is merely a portion of no code perhaps more low code. Recognizing that all platforms claiming to be no code are not equal is very important in ensuring that the benefits of speed and low TCO are realized.

How Should Financial Institutions Start Their Journey?
It is preferable to use no-code platforms to overlay and not displace existing legacy infrastructure. Start with building non-code customer/employee focused applications, which won’t disrupt the legacy infrastructure but builds on it. Once such applications have built enough functionality to replace the existing ones, it is then easy to dispense legacy applications while retaining legacy data. Replacing legacy applications in a big bang approach creates large projects with larger overheads.

Another area for using no code platforms is in applied analytics. Analytics has matured from post event fact dissection to now a data driven decision support. No-code platforms are best suited to decision support analytics.

The possibilities for financial institutions are infinite. No code platforms will inevitably replace legacy technology. The faster financial institutions adopt it, the more they can reduce the technology gap with fintechs and neo banks.