InformationWeek 500: Fiserv Banks On Facebook App To Lure Younger Customers

MyMoney is geared toward credit unions seeking to cater to younger, Internet-savvy customers who are unlikely to walk into a brick-and-mortar branch.

Richard Martin, Contributor

September 10, 2008

3 Min Read

The solution, as Jones saw it, was clear: move toward a service-oriented architecture, enabled largely by the implementation of enterprise service bus technology. Carried out through a new group known as Fiserv Enterprise Technology, this shift has enabled the company to replace homegrown systems in each business unit, while leveraging existing processes to speed time to market, reduce maintenance requirements, and enable faster innovation.

Fiserv was a decentralized company both in terms of corporate governance and IT development and deployment, says senior VP for engineering Kevin McDearis. Remarkably, Fiserv had never had a single corporate CIO until Jones was hired in January. "Now we're moving toward more central standards for efficiency, higher quality, and to lessen our risk exposure," McDearis says.

One effect of this standardization is that Jones spends much of his time on planes between corporate headquarters in Brookfield, Wis., outside Milwaukee, and Norcross, Ga., near Atlanta, where the company maintains the command center for many of its real-time transaction-processing systems as well as a data center, and another data center nearby.

"We've got 55 business units," says Jones, with a somewhat weary air, "and we as an IT organization have had the opportunity to have significant meetings with 77% of them in the first several months" on the Fiserv 2.0 integration process. In just six months, he adds, the company lowered its IT run rate by 5%. More reductions are expected.

Especially key to the Fiserv 2.0 strategy is reducing multiple applications, particularly payment systems, to one or a handful. In the past, Fiserv had specific products that supported different payment methods--online, by phone, at walk-up in branches--and each employed its own distinct connection to transmit payment information to the biller. Now, the enterprise service bus serves as a central point of communication for each application, so that each product uses it to transmit payment information to the biller.

In that sense, Fiserv 2.0 bases itself on a cloud computing model, albeit a private server cloud that resides inside the company firewall. Previously, McDearis says, Fiserv was made up of "a lot of small multimillion-dollar companies acting like multimillion-dollar companies. Our mission is to enable all those units to behave like they're multibillion-dollar companies."

The MyMoney application, on the other hand, emerged not from a centralized, service-oriented architecture but from a single unit seeing a need and spending a few months crafting a Web 2.0-style application to fill it.

"I see Facebook as the next platform," says CIO Jones, who uses the social network mainly to communicate with his daughter. "There are now 30,000 applications sitting on that operating system, and it's not only for social interactions but a place to do business. This is how people want to interact." And Fiserv plans to capitalize on that.

This story was updated Oct. 20 to clarify the company's business strategy and to correct the spelling of Kevin McDearis' name.

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