Yet Another Banking Platform?

A few days ago, CSC announced its new Celeriti banking platform, which consists of five products: Celeriti Customer, Celeriti Deposits, Celeriti Loans, Celeriti Cards, and Celeriti Merchant. The solution includes, for example, a strong business process focus, business intelligence, and the so-called Web Portal User Interface. The platform has been built around IBM application infrastructure, runs on multiple operating systems such as z/OS, z/Linux, Linux, and Windows, and has been validated for use with the IBM Banking Industry framework. Here is my initial reaction to Celeriti.

CSC’s Hogan, Celeriti’s “ancestor,” was not a very successful banking platform in Forrester’s 2007 and 2008 global banking platform deals surveys, to phrase it mildly, and CSC preferred not to participate in the 2009 survey at all. This low level of success put CSC under pressure to either withdraw from the off-the-shelf banking platform market or to offer a new solution: Here comes Celeriti after about three years of development.

CSC has built Celeriti on the service-oriented paradigm and around business rules and parameters. Celeriti also supports rich Internet applications, personalized user interfaces via its Celeriti Web portal, and the semantic services specifications of IFX version 2.x. Celerity has quite a few of the right architectural ingredients in place, and this would have been a great set of differentiators one or two years ago. However, quite a few vendors have already renewed their banking platforms or rebuilt them from scratch to meet modern requirements like these. In addition, certain key elements of Celeriti, such as SOA business processes as well as business intelligence capabilities, are still “in progress.”

CSC positions Celeriti as an enabler for “progressive modernization” of the 400 Hogan environments CSC reports as well as for new customers. So one of the key questions is: Is Celeriti an attractive solution for existing Hogan customers? It remains to be seen. I talked to one of them just yesterday, and his initial reaction was similar to “too little, too late.” Will this be the take of other existing Hogan customers, too? This certainly depends on the status of the individual renewal initiatives and their strategic directions. Nevertheless, this represents a huge market for CSC’s Celeriti.

Will this be an attractive offering for non-Hogan banks? The starting time is certainly not the best one: 2009 was a bad year for many, if not most, banking platform vendors (see Forrester’s “Global Banking Platform Deals 2009” report), and it remains to be seen how many banks will execute their existing modernization plans sufficiently soon. However, Celeriti in a software-as-a-service or cloud flavor can become an attractive proposition for a significant number of banks, and many US banks still tend to prefer domestic banking platform vendors as well as hosted solutions.

The next 12 months will show whether Celeriti is yet another banking platform -- that got announced at a bad time -- or whether the sum of its features and functions is sufficiently forward-looking to convince potential customer banks. The 2010 and 2011 global banking platform deals surveys will show us Celeriti’s market impact -- if CSC will again participate in these surveys. However, nonparticipation may also be considered an indicator of the level of achieved success.

Let me know what you think about Celeriti: Too little, too late, or the right path toward the banking platform of the future? Drop me an email -- JHoppermann@Forrester.com