What’s behind the shiny COIN?

We knew that much of our time at SHARE would focus on digital transformation, and the perception that older tech is out-of-step with the demands of the digital, consumer-driven marketplace.

Micro Focus has many banking clients in the FinTech sector, so a story about established processes and IT infrastructure delivering new efficiencies for a major player was a handy conversation-starter. Timing is everything.

We knew it would be especially useful when customers ask about the strategic need to reduce their legacy IT assets, and are looking at alternatives. A typical conversation might go, ‘Well, you could do that. But surely it is better to reduce risk, and instead link the application data between disparate systems to acheive your expectations?’ In other words, why not just modernize?

Best of both worlds?

Because with the help enabling technology, FinTech companies can still enjoy the stability and reliability of core systems, while streamlining processes and enjoying all the benefits of digitalization. After all, what is automation if not to take the drudgery out of high-maintenance tasks?

Clearly that was front of mind for global marketing services company JPMorgan, the subject of the story. Their new software program COIN – COntract INtelligence – has been number-crunching at a furious rate since last June, interpreting commercial loan agreements and saving 360,000 lawyer hours by doing so.

COIN feels very digital and modern; it reviews documents in seconds, is less error-prone and will never devalue the brand in the way that actual people have. But all that processing power, business intelligence and integration still relies on enterprise data. And where does that enterprise data live? On the mainframe. That’s right. The same core technology that has supported banking enterprises for decades.


That’s right. Big Iron is the trusty engine under the hood of this shiny new business intelligence machine, and the decades-old application data is the gas that keeps it ticking over so smoothly.

And that’s the point. It’s why we like this story so much. It epitomizes the opportunity that FinTech has in transforming their IT to suit digital business needs. And most enterprises get it. They understand the uniqueness, and residual values, of their IP and IT infrastructures. At the heart of most digital transformation strategies there’s likely to be a mainframe.  Now well into its 6th decade of active global service, big business still bets the bank on the most trusted business server of all.

Reusing What Works Well

This reality was in evidence at this year’s SHARE show, as we reported recently. The mainframe community event heard of the industry’s aspirations to transform the business, but embracing the concept of the “connected mainframe” that integrates with all other parts of the IT infrastructure.

However, digital transformation isn’t necessarily quick and, depending on the infrastructure in question, there may well be significant challenges. This article calls out a few, and mentions some of the ways enterprises are going about their modernization journey. Every journey will look different. But everyone recognizes that a journey is needed.

The trick is to not throw out the good stuff when moving on. JPMorgan haven’t junked their back office systems to create a new shopfront. They are going to be using the same data and processes for storage and archival at the very least. And underneath it all, the beating heart of this story, is the mainframe.

It’s not a new idea. Consider checking your balance online, booking your next flight, shipping a present to your auntie, adding a family member to your car insurance online. These don’t sound especially innovative today, but they are all built on integrating a new facility for the user with an established back-office IT process, which is more likely than not a COBOL application that runs on the mainframe.

If your organization could use a little of what JPMorgan has achieved here, then talk to us about commencing your digital transformation journey.

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