It began with lunch. About four years ago, I sat down with Andrew Tull, a partner at Tailwind Business Ventures—a custom development company based in Austin, Texas—to discuss opportunities for our two companies. This is a meeting I had many times with many companies, but Andrew was different, Tailwinds was different, and the timing could not have been better.
I shared with Andrew details about the new software development kit (SDK) we were developing at Q2. For years, customers had been coming to us with needs around integration, workflows, or other challenges, and while Q2 was able to deliver meaningful solutions, we wanted to find a way to empower our customers to participate in the solutions as well.
Sure, we had the capability to deliver a one-off product, but we knew there was a better way. Software development isn’t a finite process. Software is developed iteratively, changing as requirements change, as the world changes, and as new information is gathered through usage.
Before I met with Andrew, my team had been working with a local credit union to develop a process to inform members that they had been pre-approved for a holiday line of credit. When they logged on to their account, they got a pop-up message to let them know that the funds could be in their account in a matter of minutes if they wanted to take advantage of the offer. The digital solution eliminated the need for members to visit the credit union or fill out additional forms.
As we were developing the SDK, Andrew and I were starting to see our customers use this new technology to solve problems, and we felt there was an opportunity for some of our customers who didn't have development staff to use a third party, such as Tailwind.
Andrew immediately jumped in and got his team involved. They were trained on the SDK well before we had a certification program around it, so they actually helped us build out the process and capabilities for our customers. That SDK ultimately became the Q2 Innovation Studio, and Tailwind became our first strategic partner.
Q2 Innovation Studio is, first, a development suite of capabilities (both in the front and back end) that allows our customers, third parties and even Q2 business teams to quickly develop and/or integrate third-party applications and new workflows and new products inside of the Q2 platform. Second, it's a go-to-market strategy around how we partner with fintechs to make integrations easier, quicker to market, and more accessible for all of our customers.
When Q2 first began working with Tailwind, it had one tech lead working with our teams. Today, it has four tech leads and more than four dozen development resources—ranging from Business Analysts to User Experience and User Design to Development and Quality Assurance specialists—who have successfully delivered more than 75 projects, ranging from small to very large. It’s gratifying to see how our partnership has grown out of that one lunch conversation.
Through our unique relationship, our customers work directly with Tailwind, and we support Tailwind and its developers behind the scenes. One of the great benefits of our partnership to our customers is that Tailwind is a professional services organization. It’s able to scale up a team and develop (and modify) a product at a much faster pace than Q2 (as a product company) ever could.
Obviously, time-to-market delivery timelines greatly impact the value we’re able to deliver to our customers. As an example, on a recent new product development project, Tailwind kickstarted the development while we were hiring and building out the team. That gave us a 90-day head start and we were able to deliver the entire project in about five months, greatly reducing our time to market.
Andrew likes to say that Tailwind and Q2 choose each other, and I think that’s apt. Tailwind’s philosophy is fundamental to the way it operates at every level of its organization and with its partners. That is, it doesn’t view software as a service. It views software as a relationship. And that’s precisely how we at Q2 view it as well. There is no one and done with software development. As I mentioned earlier, software development is iterative and needs to continually evolve.
It also needs to deliver what the customer wants and what the end-user demands. And this was our shared goal with Johnson Financial Group (JFG), which wanted to enable its customers to access, manage, and handle anything they might want from a banking, insurance, asset or wealth management perspective.
In a recent interview, Brent Maher, CTO of JFG, said that prior to working with us, it offered an outdated digital experience, specifically for its banking customers. JFG needed to be able to compete at a national level, which meant offering national level digital capabilities.
It needed a solution that would offer a unique, diverse, and seamless digital banking experience. As Andrew says, unique, diverse, and seamless don't always play nicely together, so it was a challenge, but JFG is a visionary bank with dedicated individuals.
Speaking about their goals, Katie Heim, SVP, Director of Bank Product Solutions at JFG, said, “The challenge was being able to provide one comprehensive view of the full financial picture, when they’re really siloed businesses.”
Ultimately, Tailwind and Q2 were able to deliver exactly what JFG envisioned—successfully developing, deploying, implementing, testing, and bringing to market a product that gave JFG’s customers a seamless digital experience across all platforms. In many cases, it’s difficult to measure the success of this type of project or return on investment. Not so in this case. JFG’s customer satisfaction rates are up and inbound calls to customer service centers are down.
“The Q2 Innovation Studio allows us to take what would traditionally be just a digital banking solution and extend it across the rest of our total financial services strategy,” Maher said. He added, “Tailwind is a trusted partner of Q2 and became our trusted partner as well.”
Undoubtedly, the best measure of success is the fact that Tailwind and Q2 are now working on our eighth project with JFG. But that’s just one of many success stories to come from our partnership. As we look toward the new year, we’re excited to see where the partnership will take us next.