January 31, 2006

In 2005, technology demonstrated once again that it can be both a blessing and a curse to the industry. On the one hand, we witnessed embarrassing, high-profile data breaches at well-known financial services institutions. On the other hand, we saw banks' backup systems kick into high gear to keep the financial infrastructure running for millions of people affected by a devastating hurricane season.

Few could have predicted how trying 2005 would be for the financial services industry and its technology. But what about 2006? Banks' dependence on technology will only grow as it further enables financial institutions to do more at lower cost. In this year's Business Technology Forecast, BS&T offers a variety of predictions and advice for the coming year from executives who know what it takes to be a top financial services provider.

We begin with an examination of the competitive landscape in 2006. Mergers and acquisitions promise to alter the lay of the land, and we reveal how U.S. banks can leverage technology to stay ahead of their global counterparts. Next, we present the experts' views on disruptive technologies that hold the power to transform banking, including RFID technology, e-learning and even nanotechnology.

And what forecast would be complete without BS&T's own predictions? Our editors offer their takes on the organizations and trends to watch in the coming months—from the FFIEC and BAI to the new, publicly held MasterCard and the adoption of service-oriented architecture. Finally, a special edition of BS&T's 'Perspectives' discusses the rapidly changing demographics of bank customers and what it all means for service and distribution.

Though banks often are the target of criticism for their seemingly slow adoption of technology, at least one analyst reminds us that many revolutionary technologies have their origins in banking and others are likely to emerge in the future. Remember that the next time you make a withdrawal from the ATM around the corner, pay for a slice of pizza with your key chain or check your credit card statement on your laptop.