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Low-code integration application melds data from disparate SaaS apps

When customers wanted to track their accounts via a mobile app, New York's IDB Bank responded with a low-code integration application that didn't change a thing.

The commercial- and personal-banking customers of New York's IDB Bank don't use a mobile app for paying bills, but they do insist on following details on disparate account types closely. For the bank's small IT department, which had no mobile app development expertise, the challenge was to tap into multiple software-as-a-service applications, pull the information together, and present the results as an attractive and comprehensive omnichannel user experience.

Israel Discount Bank, or IDB Bank, worked with Zuznow, a provider of a front-end-as-a-service development platform based in New York, to create native smartphone apps, along with a back end that assembles data for consolidated presentation. This low-code integration application method was a good match for the bank's limited IT resources and desire to get the job done quickly.

The systems and data being accessed each are third-party SaaS offerings to which IDB Bank subscribes and cover a wide array of dissimilar banking products. For commercial banking, these include commercial loan servicing, letters of credit and amendments. Commercial loan origination is likely the next to be added, according to Robert Plante, executive vice president and COO at IDB Bank. On the private banking side, products include wealth management, investment portfolio management and trust, and custody for safeguarding and managing client assets.

It was only a matter of days to get the prototype working.
Robert Planteexecutive vice president and COO, IDB Bank

As for not creating its own integration application, Plante said, "We're not a development shop. We source our banking products and services from multiple vendors." The challenge, he said, is each app features a different look and feel. "We needed to integrate those apps and services, and present a consistent look with consistent handling, obscuring each vendor's own deliverable to us," Plante said. He said he considers the unified presentation of data from these disparate products via low-code integration to be an omnichannel experience, a term more often allied with the melding of a retailer's in-store and online experiences.

IDB Bank had already taken a first step, building a legacy back-end application that queries the databases for each SaaS product, grabbing balances and other account information, then formatting and displaying the consolidated results in a browser-based web experience. For the smartphone and tablet age, the bank needed to take the next step, leaving that process unchanged, while using the same stream as input to a new mobile app experience. The internal development staff of 12 couldn't be pulled away from working on core applications, nor did they have mobile development experience.

After examining options, IDB Bank selected Zuznow to provide both development and consulting services to implement mobile consolidated statements. "We engaged Zuznow to help us with this proof of concept to take a web app and put it onto smartphone," Plante said. "It was only a matter of days to get the prototype working."

Artificial intelligence role

One key to Zuznow's low-code integration application platform is it leverages a bit of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to simplify ongoing app maintenance, according to Marty Resnick, research director for mobile app strategy and development at Gartner. "If a web app you're drawing data from changes, Zuznow makes sure the mobile app changes on the fly as well." For IT departments with full project slates or lacking mobile development expertise, such an integration application method is a good approach, Resnick said.

"We use AI to solve the problem of an organization that has dozens or hundreds of existing web apps," said Zuznow CEO Chen Levkovich. The technology, he said, works continuously, monitoring apps as they evolve and change over time. "It is based on an expert system that learns patterns and knows how to reflect those changes." The system is extensible through the addition of rules to the underlying logic engine.

Levkovich said using AI helps to automate changes in the user interface if the underlying data should change. This is done without the use of an API, relying instead on the HTML sent from original sever to client.

Back at IDB Bank, consolidated statements on mobile devices is now in production, with the app available as a download from the Apple App Store and garnering positive reviews from customers. "As we enter our 2017 budgeting cycle, we will look to identify other web apps we'd consider enrolling in this technology," Plante said. "We're not done yet."

Joel Shore is news writer for TechTarget's Business Applications and Architecture Media Group. Write to him at jshore@techtarget.com or follow @JshoreTT on Twitter.

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