Backbase has developed an omnichannel application development framework, focusing on banking products called as Customer Experience Services. I came across this fantastic application development framework in 2012, when we had to develop a web application for an investment bank. Although the name of the product is “Customer Experience Services,” it is widely known as Backbase, since this is the most famous product of the organization. Hence, I would be using “Backbase” and CXS interchangeably in the below article.
The reasons which made me love Backbase are as mentioned below
- Empowering different users of the platform
- Simple, Modular and lean solution, eliminating Muda
- Ready to use widgets and services
- Continuous improvement
- Backbase Community
Empowering different users of the platform
Backbase brings with it a simplistic solution for different types of consumers. Backbase has primarily three different consumers
- The Software Developers
- The Business
- The Customers of the bank
And Backbase provides power to them for their own needs. The software developers (like me) would like a kick-start to focus on real problems that I am going to solve, and leave the mundane work like setting up, skeleton code, managing base dependencies or validating code standards, etc. to automation tools. The different Backbase SDKs give power to skilled developers in their respective skill zones.
Services Software Development Kit (SSDK) powers the backend developers to quickly set up a Microservice, which is discovered automatically by using Eureka in the microservice infrastructure. Java SDK provides easy access to authorization rules and user groups to determine in-service authorization capabilities when required.
Web SDK provides a quick way to manage the complete life-cycle of widgets right from creating the skeleton code to provisioning the environment and deploying the application to the production environment. Similarly, the Mobile SDK is available for different mobile platforms. All the client-side SDKs provide a way to easily access backend services, mock them for testing and then switch to real services based on the predetermined contract.
CXP Manager is a “What you see is what you get” editor, which can be used by business developers to create new experiences, and pages on the go, without even depending upon software developers. This tool allows configuring digital marketing material, publishing content, and also configuring security on the go. The CXP Manager has simplified administrating the experiences (read portals) with an in-built workflow mechanism (called publishing chain). The four-eye principle that Backbase follows allows modifying the live application (including mobile app) without a new release but validated by another human in the workflow chain.
The customers of the banks are not left behind. They are the most influential people in the users of a Backbase application. Backbase provides power to them by offering facilities like personalization. The end customers can decide a lot of things for themselves, the services they would like to choose, the date format, their profile, or even the language of their choice. The custom solutions built on top of Backbase bring even more power to the end customers.
Simple, Modular and Lean solution, eliminating Muda
One of the focus of CXS developers is to provide simplicity to users. The APIs developed are simple to use and understand, but they cater to complex problems beneath. The application architecture is lean and believes in eliminating Muda (waste) as soon as possible. All layers of the applications are well defined and are modular. Be it the widgets on client-side or services on the server-side individually; they are pluggable components that can be plugged into the application, without bringing other things down. Similarly to plug-in, outdated components can quickly be brought down and replaced with better widgets or services to improve the overall experience or cater to the changing requirements.
One of the fundamental concepts that a developer has to keep in mind while developing a widget or a service is that the component must be independent of any other widget or service. This makes all the developed services and widgets independently deployable. This independence leads to focused development of the business feature which is high quality and serves its purpose.
Ready to use widgets and services
Backbase started way back in 2003. This gives them more than 15 years of experience in working with a variety of banks. The expert business development and RnD team focus on providing quality reusable business solutions to a variety of problems.
The different widget collections e.g. Retail Banking Collection or the Business Banking collection provides front-end solutions to respective banking domains. Other components like the targeting engine and containers allow displaying marketing or other targeted content to the users.
Publishing process allows non-technical business users to manage the application, make changes to content and release in the live website without depending on the technical developers, and bypassing all the sprint cycles for small changes that they can manage on their own.
I have been associated with Backbase directly or indirectly for more than 5 years now. I have observed that the product is continuously improved.
The team loves to stay with accepted standards and improves any deviations from it. Built on open source technologies, this product has to continuously keep updating the versions of underlying technologies which it does effectively.
I have seen the movement of jQuery widgets to AngularJS widgets to Widget Architecture 2 and then Widget Architecture 3 to accommodate the benefits of Angular in the latest widget collections.
On the backend, they removed the outdated PTC framework to adapt and use Apache camel for integration. And then finally revamping the whole architecture to move away from service-oriented architecture to microservices-based architecture.
Their sweet tooth for improving the product and processes continuously has made me love the product more. It makes me learn new skills, and improve the existing ones. Many components in the application (for instance Mobile SDK) have a new release every two weeks. This allows enhancing features, better processes readily available to the customers.
Backbase community although small is composed of some of the best brains across the globe. The new interactive way of learning — trails is very innovative. Following a trail makes you do hands-on exercises as well in order to gain the certificate. A couple of years back, the documentation was the weakest link of Backbase. This problem has now been resolved with the introduction of the new community application.
The documentation is complete and consists of a lot of examples. The biggest plus point is that the documentation is not boring. It is written in a non-geeky way, which makes it fun to read.
The only thing that I miss in Backbase is missing an open-source or even a trial version of the software. The product is excellent in itself, but due to the limited accessibility number of developers who have experienced the product is less than it deserves. I hope the community grows enough soon, and the free version of the product is available in the market!