November 6, 2012
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Technology integration is the Holy Grail for today’s top-performing financial advisors. When applications talk to each other, advisors can run their practices more efficiently, save money and reduce the size of their staff. That all sounds great, but I’m writing to offer a word of caution: I’ve seen many such efforts end in disaster.
Unfortunately, not all technology integrations are necessary or even desirable. All too often, technology vendors tout integration that doesn’t save time or reduce labor, costing advisors money that could be spent elsewhere. For advisors, an ill-advised upgrade typically stems from confusion about what technology integration actually means and the benefits that can realistically be gained from it.
I’ll offer some tips for avoiding common technology integration mistakes, but first let’s review what we’re dealing with when we talk about integrative technology.
What are we talking about?
Integrated technology solutions come in two forms. The first is a bundled solution, whereby applications that fulfill different functions get repackaged together. The second form is keeping separately purchased individual applications separate, but introducing the ability to communicate among them.
Let’s divide the actual functionality of the technology integration you might consider into three categories:
- Single sign-on: An advisor can open another software program from within the primary software program without having to type in a login and password; the two applications don’t necessarily talk to each other or share data, however.
- Manual sync: Two software programs share data, but you have to push a button to move the data back and forth.
- Auto sync: Two software programs are tightly linked, automatically sharing data without any human effort.
“When considering technology integration, the most important factor is to focus on what you need and what makes sense,” said Mary Ferguson, CEO at Concenter Services, LLC. “There is some integration that sounds good, but doesn’t make sense. It is all too easy for advisors to sign on for something that they really don’t need and won’t help them become more efficient.”
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