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The Fragmented Desktop

Regardless of whether you are a trader or a portfolio manager, the user journey in Financial Services is, to date, a tale of disparate technologies, inconsistent ergonomics, and poorly optimized workflows. Financial institutions constantly innovate and introduce new applications, thus placing a significant cognitive demand on the end user. While applications developed in-house can hew to a common set of user interface standards, the same cannot be said of third-party applications deployed alongside.

Take, for example, a trade blotter developed in-house, deployed alongside third-party risk-management and analytics platforms. Each of these applications will likely have its own idiomatic workflows, visual artefacts, and information dissemination models. The productivity of the end-user – be it an analyst, trader, or risk manager – is significantly impacted, owing to the difficulty in creating a cohesive cognitive experience and gestalt.

While this situation is a natural consequence of advancements in technology, evolving business needs, continually changing regulatory requirements, and increased information security pressure, there do exist approaches to manage cognitive demand and actually increase productivity.

Enter the Digital Integration Platform (DIP), an architectural pattern that can be used to improve the design, production, and deployment of in-house applications. A DIP provides a foundational layer for client-side applications, incorporating the benefits of micro-frontends across web and traditional technology stacks such as .NET, Java, Delphi, etc. A DIP provides UX and workflow integration services between these micro-frontends that allow the defragmentation of the desktop by introducing a coherent design system across teams that extends beyond the traditional concerns of UI consistency to encompass the user’s experience working between applications.

A DIP solves the problem of desktop integration in a manner complementary to that of the Enterprise Service Bus and Service Mesh architectures of server-side backends. By providing important foundational services such as a message broker, application connectors, plugins, add-ins, etc., DIPs enable standardized integration on the desktop much like server-side integration techniques.

DIPs can host applications developed in any language, and enable existing applications to be simply extended to run their UI as DIP Components. For modern web apps, a DIP allows them to be run in the browser or as native desktop windows inside a container. The fundamental differentiator of a DIP is that the preferred unit of re-use and composition is the user interface, be that a panel, a complete page or an entire application. These Components are then combined to support a specific user-workflow, the integration services supplied by the DIP will eliminate the need to repeatedly swap between application, search and copy/paste. Implicit in the statements above is the idea that a DIP enables integration between legacy applications and new web-based applications, allowing a ‘one screen at a time’ migration and enhancement strategy for existing applications.

Adopting a DIP enables in-house development teams to be more productive, without needing to change or constrain their technology or tools. This results in reduced time-to-delivery, deduplication of effort, code reuse, and the architectural benefits of a component-based architecture. End-users enjoy the benefits of consistent, intuitive, and streamlined workflows owing to minimized context switches, unified information models, and more performant application architecture.

In following blogs, we will dive deeper into the problems caused by desktop fragmentation and learn how DIPs can not only effectively solve them, but create opportunities for user experience  workflows and efficiencies that were hitherto impractical or impossible.


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James Wooster

James Wooster



Member since

16 Jul 2018



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.

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