Professional using technology

Wherever you are on your digital journey, these are exciting times. You might say it’s a buyer’s market for innovation. The sheer availability of fintech solutions is dazzling. But the torrent of digital choices also presents a problem—temptation.

We’re all wowed by shiny tech demos and slick sales pitches. Implementing a tech solution, however, is never easy. You’ve got to keep your eyes on what you’re trying to do, not what a vendor wants you to do.

Before you make a decision, find your focus. To put it a little more colloquially, do your homework. Here are eight things I always consider: 

The goal is not to get a tool. The goal of any technology is to solve a specific business challenge. Examine your challenge from every angle to create a full picture of the issues at hand. 

There are umpteen different ways to measure the outcomes of your project. Wherever you land, your measures must be quantifiable. Revenue should go up by X. Customer satisfaction should improve by Y. Processing times should decrease by Z. At the firm, we run ROI scenarios for our clients to ensure their strategies are sound and their targets are attainable.

Fintech entry costs assume that your data is completely clean. That means you need a data model that fits the business domain you’re working in and the company’s broader data strategy. But here’s the thing: No company’s data is completely clean. To get the most out of your fintech products, you’ll need to put in the work to ensure the quality and integrity of the data you’re using.

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is trying to force-fit a piece of technology into their existing process. To make better use of the technology, be prepared to redesign your process. This is the art of change management. You may need different talent, different thinking—or you might need different technology.

Once upon a time, you’d buy a piece of software for a big upfront price and then pay smaller maintenance fees in perpetuity. No longer. Now a lot of fintechs are subscription-based, and you pay an annual fee. In the short term, that can be a good thing, since you’re not committing so much upfront. However, the strategy is designed to get you locked in. Think carefully about the multiyear commitment before you sign a contract. Will you become dependent on your vendor for services and integration every time you want a change? In the long run, that scenario could cost you more.

Understand how every solution you buy fits into the ecosystem as a whole, or you could be left stitching together all the individual pieces. You might find a great solution in the card space. But what happens when you want to go international? When helping our clients, we draw on our numerous partnerships with fintechs to ensure clients find solutions that grow with them.

Bespoke can be a slippery slope—and an expensive one. If you’re not careful, you can customize so much that the product is unrecognizable to the vendor. Every time a vendor makes a change, you’ll end up doing a lot more work, and the price will go up. 

Avoiding pitfalls is easier when you partner with someone who has walked the walk before. JPMorgan Chase is a huge investor in technology, an innovator in technology and a big consumer of technology. Everything you’re trying to do—we’ve done it, and on a very large scale. Our clients depend on us for that experience. You don’t have to do this alone. Be sure you’re seeking sage advice before you make a big investment in the future of your business. 

Yes, finding these answers is time-consuming, but it is time well spent. The decision to invest in digital tech requires that you revisit and thoroughly understand your organization. Thoughtful research ensures you don’t find yourself stuck with a costly solution that can’t solve your challenges or grow with you. You may find that the problem you’d set out to solve isn’t the most pressing. Or you might discover a need to alter your organizational strategy. Few processes will prove as valuable to you and your leadership team as you take your business into the future.