Banking on the Future: Takeaways from SIBOS 2016

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The global financial industry finds itself in exciting yet turbulent times. Having recovered from the calamities of 2007-2010 and sweeping regulatory changes that followed, financial institutions are now feeling the pressure to rapidly evolve their technological capabilities. As digital transformation reshapes the business landscape and non-traditional competitors challenge the territory of longstanding financial leaders, banks and other institutions are working furiously to remain relevant with consumers and corporates, and seize rewarding opportunities for growth through technical innovation.

This was the overarching theme at SIBOS, one of the world’s largest financial services conferences, held in late September this year in Geneva. I was honored to be among the 8,000-plus attendees, which included executives from leading banks and financial institutions around the world. I find that events like SIBOS offer invaluable first-hand insights into the biggest technology challenges facing these organizations, so we at Dell Services can help them find solutions.

In my time at the conference, I was able to participate in several events that will undoubtedly influence the way we’re serving our customers.

  • Banking 2020 Think Tank. I was invited to be a guest panelist in a roundtable discussion on the future of the banking industry. Seated among a cross-functional group from many different countries, it was fascinating to hear how most of them are confronted with very similar threats and opportunities. While coping with shifting regulatory environments, they are, at the same time, adapting to a more open, connected and integrated world that digital technologies are creating. As financial services become ever-more commoditized, providers are looking for ways to differentiate themselves through a more personalized, convenient and immersive customer experience. Open APIs are an especially hot issue, as banks seek to make their technology architecture more interoperable with customers and partners, while also staving off competition from technology companies entering the domain of processing financial transactions (FinTechs). Providers are also working to take advantage of cloud services to drive efficiencies and cost savings, and using advanced analytics to predict customer behaviors and improve risk management. The ultimate challenge for banks, a challenge in which Dell Services is deeply invested, is to achieve a cohesive technology platform that seamlessly accounts for all of these elements (and many more) and prepares the organization for a holistic digital future.

I offer some additional thoughts on Banking 2020 in this short video from SIBOS.

  • Real-time Payments Innovation Session. My Dell Services colleague, Niraj Singhal, spoke at the SIBOS Open Theatre, addressing the urgency of real-time payments. Nearly unheard of only a decade ago, FinTechs are emerging as tough competitors to even the largest banks as they offer at time superior services at lower prices. FinTechs, for example, are using disruptive technologies such as Blockchain for setting up real-time cross-border payments, transactions that have traditionally taken days to settle through conventional banking methods. While the drive toward real-time payments is further along in Europe than it is the United States, even American banks must build more flexibility into their payments platforms to protect their market share against an uncertain future. Here’s some of what Niraj had to share about real-time payments.
  • After-hours social events: One thing experienced conference-goers know is that you can learn almost as much from casual interactions as you can from formal presentations. I took part in one of several social gatherings in the evenings at SIBOS, where I had a chance to visit one-on-one with some of our customers and other representatives from major financial institutions. What I took away from events like this is that, after all the talk of complex banking strategies and the technologies that drive them, there is an undeniable human element at stake. In the end, it’s all about enabling financial services and protections that help real people succeed in their business and enhance their quality of life.

We at Dell Services are proud to play a role in delivering the technology that makes it all possible.   

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