Souren Sarkar, CMB, of Nexval on Siloed Technologies
Souren Sarkar, CMB, is founder and CEO of Nexval, (U.S. headquarters Miami), a business process outsourcing and fintech provider specializing in the mortgage industry. He has more than 25 years of experience as a technology leader in the mortgage and banking arena. He is laser-focused on improving performance and scalability of service-driven businesses using workflow automation and BPO. In addition to his CMB designation, he is a licensed mortgage originator through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System, a certified Project Management Professional and a licensed Florida real estate agent. Souren can be reached at Souren.Sarkar@nexval.com.
MBA NEWSLINK: What is siloed technology, and what are some of the problems with it?
SOUREN SARKAR, CMB: A “silo” in IT terms is an information system that is incapable of sharing data or processes with other systems. “Siloed technology” typically refers to legacy platforms that rely on a centralized database, usually operated by large, monopolistic software providers that own the majority of market share in a particular industry.
Siloed technology systems are very hard to implement, and once implemented, very hard to modify or break away from in order to bring in new solutions. They’re risky, too. Companies that use siloed technology are highly dependent on a single software vendor for all their critical business functions, so they must have faith that these systems are compliant, safe, and won’t go down.
If siloed technologies aren’t regularly upgraded to keep pace with changing needs, they can prevent companies from evolving with new industry developments. Yet typically, software providers that have already captured the majority of the market have little to no incentive to upgrade their products or innovate.
Ultimately, a company using a legacy platform is married to their provider for every aspect of its business. A newer, better option to siloed technology is blockchain technology, which uses distributed databases and platforms that are not dependent on a centralized provider. With a distributed platform, various providers can add modules to the system and maintain uptime in a distributed fashion, therefore reducing the dependency on a single software developer.
NEWSLINK: How is workflow automation impacted by siloed technology?
SARKAR: Siloed technologies in the mortgage industry are essentially front ends to a legacy database. Typically, they have a series of screens that hold information that is specific to certain processes, and each of these screens belong to one or more modules. Unfortunately, these legacy platforms typically do not have workflow built in and were not even designed to accommodate workflows. Users must be explicitly trained on a sequence of activities to create workflows.
With blockchain technology and the new platforms that will arise because of it, workflows are built in. At its core, a decentralized database depends on well-orchestrated coordination of multiple parties. The transition to decentralized platforms created from the ground up with workflow in mind will essentially transform the industry to a workflow-based workforce.
NEWSLINK: Why do so many mortgage lenders and servicers continue to use software that cannot communicate with other platforms?
SARKAR: The simple answer is that they’re used to doing things that way. Most mortgage servicers and lenders are tied to a handful of large legacy platforms that dominate the industry, and these platforms have been around for quite some time. For example, the servicing industry is dominated by two legacy platforms that are over 40 years old and have a stranglehold on the industry. Most companies must begrudgingly implement one of these two platforms to participate in the loan serving business.
Many organizations do not upgrade to more effective platforms because of fears over business disruption and the amount of time required to transition to a new platform. Especially in servicing, where a typical loan is in the system from 5 to 30 years, these kinds of platforms are excessively difficult to transition away from. It can be done, however. Blockchain-based servicing title platforms would enable servicers to break free of the limitations of siloed platforms and better address the challenges of today’s housing industry.
NEWSLINK: What are some risks facing mortgage lenders and servicers who continue to use centralized technology?
SARKAR: Overdependency on a centralized platform exposes companies to the risk of their provider not being able to perform certain tasks as well as the risk that the provider will try to increase profits by raising prices, thus reducing their users’ own profit margins.
The lack of innovation from these providers also hurts a company’s ability to react to changes in the industry in real-time. Ultimately, companies with siloed technologies are dependent on their provider to implement specific modules to tackle industry changes, but these providers will usually wait until there is a significant number of requests from their users to make such changes.
Often, companies that want to be more progressive must depend on ad hoc, homegrown systems to bridge these gaps until their centralized platform catches up. This causes further problems by creating additional standalone systems that must be continually integrated and managed, and the flow of data from the core platform and those platforms must be efficiently coordinated. Plus, these homegrown efforts are usually tossed when a legacy provider finally does implement a new module, which results in wasted resources.
NEWSLINK: How can lenders and servicers break free from siloed technology?
SARKAR: The short-term solution is for companies to build their own internal systems that enhance their core platform. Long-term, however, should look for a provider with a decentralized or loosely coupled platform, and slowly migrate to this new platform module by module so day-to-day operations aren’t affected. This transition must be gradual and well thought out, so there is minimal disruption to the business. It is a time consuming but necessary effort that organizations must go through to free themselves from their dependence on siloed platforms.
NEWSLINK: What is your outlook on lending and servicing technology for 2022 and beyond?
SARKAR: As the industry emerges from the COVID outbreak, I think lenders and servicers will focus on real-time distribution of work and workflow-enabled, decentralized software. As more people continue working from home, current workflow-based solutions, such as departmental workflows or batch workflows, will eventually be replaced with real-time workflows to meet the new challenge of running a distributed workforce.
The other aspect that must be looked at is the barrage of new compliances and regulations and the possibility of more defaults. I think risk management and decentralized audit platforms will gain in prominence in 2022 as organizations look for platforms that can help them navigate this new market environment while mitigating the risk of non-compliance.
(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at email@example.com; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)