SAG_Twitter_MEME_Bionic_Bankers_880x440px_Nov18In the last full week of October, more than 7,000 bankers from over 150 countries met in Sydney for SIBOS 2018 to discuss the effects of an increasingly digitalized world on banks and financial services providers.

Here are my five takeways:

1. Agility

In his opening keynote, Shayne Elliott, Chief Executive Officer of ANZ Bank, put it in a nutshell: Only banks that are agile, act quickly and are able to respond to rapidly changing customer needs will be successful in the future. It is no longer enough to simply be there as a bank. To illustrate the concept of the "Banker of the Future," he chose Steve Austin, "The Six Million Dollar Man."   To remind you, this was a 1970s sci-fi TV series about a former astronaut who receives bionic implants; he was the perfect combination of technology and human skills. 

2. Customer Experience

As technology becomes more and more important for banks, the banks that will succeed, and continue to exist, will have mastered providing the customer with the best possible customer experience through technology combined with human empathy.  For example, banks should be transparent with their customers about what data they have about them, who can see it, and what happens to it.  In addition to agility, curiosity and the willingness to experiment with innovation – and expect and accept occasional failures - are increasingly important success factors.   

3. Design Thinking

Finally, we see the courage to change. Banks should not hide behind laws and regulatory requirements. After all, banks need to disrupt themselves to develop a different understanding of products and services. According to the principles of "design thinking," only the outside-in perspective and starting from the needs of the customer will enable the development of successful new offers. The old approach of simply transferring an existing offer (originally developed for the branch) to a digital channel is dead. The medium is the message and contextual experience is the future.  Otherwise, digital first competitors who are not bound by these specifications (or choose to ignore them) will be empowered to steal market share.

4. Emerging Technologies… Again

On the technology side, many topics from previous years were revisited: Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning and Cyber Security, but this year’s theme was on collaboration. For example, in the context of cyber security, it was stressed that banks can only successfully defend against the growing threat of cyber-attacks if they cooperate much more strongly than in the past. Also new was the discussion about the Internet of Things (IoT). As Capgemini's 2018 World Payments Report presented, IoT is becoming increasingly important for efficiency and customer experience, particularly as payments are increasingly triggered by devices in the future (Internet of Payments - IoP).

5. Ecosystems

The emphasis on ecosystems and platforms was new this year. Digital transformation and innovation based on emerging technologies, new products and services, the importance of customer experience and the increasing cooperation in digital ecosystems will bring massive changes for banks over the next years. Many of these changes can only be described roughly today. A suitable strategy was formulated by a speaker as follows: "The winners will be those who are connected with everybody and everything." Despite the uncertainty about the players, the platforms and technologies that will dominate in the future, this prediction once again underlines the need for an open, flexible and scalable digitization platform.

The next SIBOS will take place in September 2019 in London. We are curious how the topics will evolve until then and what new topics and technologies we will see until then.


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