A Common Vocabulary for Banking Transformation

by Jens-Peter Jensen, Head of Solution Architecture for the Financial Service Industries at SAP

Were you to find yourself in a hospital emergency room with a broken leg, you could reasonably assume that the doctors, x-ray technicians, and others involved in your care have a common vocabulary for the tasks they perform. Such understanding is critical for the individual and collaborative roles they play in your treatment.<!—more—>

After operating without a shared business vocabulary for many years, key members of the banking industry are seeking standard definitions of these functions – an effort that will streamline the current technology transformation in banking.

The Foundation for Service-Oriented Architecture

Much of this transformation is based on adoption of service-oriented architecture in developing and integrating new banking systems. SOA translates discreet business tasks into individual software components that systems can reuse in multiple ways. For banks to work effectively with software developers and system integrators in building IT platforms based on SOA, they must agree on how these tasks (or “services”) are defined.

Created by leading banks and SAP in 2006, the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN) provides a forum where banks, software, and services partners can build next-generation platforms based on SOA using banking-specific definitions of IT services. An independent not-for-profit community composed of industry leaders from around the world, BIAN seeks to encourage use of SOA and reduce the complexity and cost of installing new systems. ING, Credit Suisse, UniCredit Group and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are among its several dozen members.

Since 2006, BIAN has worked to define a landscape that describes all key banking service domains. Once adopted by its members, this landscape can be used by banks to design their individual architecture roadmaps and by software developers and system integrators to support those roadmaps.

BIAN has also made significant progress in defining the semantic standards related to these domains. There is a huge potential for leveraging and aligning with existing standards – including those related to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 20022 message scheme, the International Financial eXchange (IFX) Forum, and The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF). The intent should not be to standardize business processes but to provide the capabilities for those processes in a standardized way.