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Synechron does Sibos 2019

From September 23rd – 26th, team Synechron exhibited at Sibos, the global capital markets conference and world’s large exhibition for the financial services (FS) industry. With a record-breaking 11,000 delegates walking through the doors of London’s ExCeL, the four days were jam-packed with a variety of meetings, educational and inspiring panels and plenty of networking. Synechron’s Managing Director, Tony Clark, took the stage at Open Theatre 2 to discuss digital business ecosystems, enterprise digital and what lies ahead for the FS sector. Stay tuned for the full video presentation to be released in the coming weeks. Until then, check out five key themes from this year’s Sibos:

People & Culture - One of the most prevalent themes throughout Sibos was the importance of people and culture. A firm’s digital transformation journey is no longer just about its digital roadmap. Ways of working are dramatically changing, and accommodating for this and creating a positive culture of the organisation is critical to the success of the business as we move into the future, especially with a new generation of workers coming into the workforce, and a focus on emerging technology that focuses not on loss of jobs, but creating new opportunities for human workers to work best with machines. António Horta-Osorio, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Lloyd’s put it best when he said, “Get machines to do the ordinary to let people do the extraordinary.”

Human-centred design - Challenger banks have put their customers at the centre of their offering. The fact that they speak their customers' language is evident in their customer experience and user interfaces. It will come as no surprise that reference is made less to challengers as to incumbent banks. The onus is now on the incumbents to respond, clearly defining their brand and purpose so it resonates both with their staff and their customers. Unsurprisingly, it was mentioned in a panel that leaders in customer experience “outperform the market 4x” and challenger banks who follow (Monzo, Revolut, etc.) this model and are reaping rewards as a result.

Ecosystems - This was another major buzzword to describe how incumbents, challengers, and myriad FinTechs, software companies, and service providers now play together. Ecosystems are a growing feature of the market and a theme that runs across all the strategic domains - especially customer networks, the changing competitive landscape and redefining one’s value. Ecosystems are the inspiration for open platform business models which enable asset and data sharing with ecosystem partners and are powering the next generation of banking as seen with the growing popularity of Open Banking.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) - One of the overarching themes over the four days was artificial intelligence, touching upon bias, reskilling, ethics, and automation. There’s no question there has been plenty of hype around the benefits of AI, but in recent months, the sentiment around AI has changed to a more balanced view with more focus on success stories and practical application. Success in using AI can only come from the business and technology teams working together, where the business brings a strong use case and remains engaged throughout the project (a sentiment we have heard a lot of this year). Firms need people talented in both AI and business data and as of now, there is still not enough data science expertise. Given the amount and various formats of data that banks produce, AI has become a necessity in order to manage the volume however, models need to continuously learn and to be continuously tested. AI models cannot be expected to overcome bias independently, since models learn only from their data inputs. Firms and people exhibit bias and thus need to change their behaviour first. AI is on the cusp of being transformational but still needs disciplined and thoughtful application. This will be a journey and one we are excited to be a part of, see evolve and unfold. We were not surprised to see this trend, given the release of our whitepaper on how to gain strategic value from AI and Data Science during the week of Sibos. To read more, download it here.

Trust in Financial Services - Algorithms, especially when we refer to AI, take away people's autonomy and so require trust. Trust comes from having the right amount of explainability, and explainability can come from an audit process if not the decision-making itself. Showing blind trust to results that are expected is not the right approach to take. Algorithms need to continually learn, like people do. Banks have ignored the wealth of data they hold until now, but they need to use responsibly and with the trust of customer. Informed consent does not really exist, so firms must look beyond what is legal to what is right. Law and regulation have not kept up with pace of technological change, but the individual must become more technology and privacy literate. Homomorphic computation (say that 10x fast) will have a major role to play in allowing large data sets to be used without compromising data privacy.

Until next time Sibos - See you in Boston in 2020! #sibos2019

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