The Sibos Diaries: Chapter 1

By Phil Cantor,

Chief Marketing Officer,

iGTB | Polaris Financial Technology Limited


Another year.
Another Sibos.
Sibos Eve.
Where are we this year?
Oh that’s right, Boston.
Land of the free, cradle of liberty, Athens of America, hub of the universe (apparently), home of umpteen universities and Nobel laureates and cash register of the teamsters.

Arrived on Wednesday and already the stand (no I have to call it the booth now) looked grand (great). As we arrived, took our bags out the boot
(trunk), staggered along the pavement (sidewalk), entered the exhibition hall, down the lift (elevator) and saw the layout, got a tick (check mark) from me. At least here we won’t have language issues.

Big, bold, white-and-black-and-blue (black and blue, that doesn’t sound right, I’ll start again). Big and bold, blue highlights with black and
gray decals (well not yet, but in my mind having seen the plans) on a stunning white ground, the unadorned booth, floating in a sea of fork lift
trucks, cardboard clad materials sent from abroad, wooden clad materials sent from abroad, cardboard discarded wrappings from materials sent etc, wood ditto, carpet being laid, tools around and EVERYWHERE wires on the floor to be tripped over, pulled out, suddenly pulled taut…the booth supported during construction by a single, temporary goliath steel girder, rose like a majestic cruise liner in dry dock waiting to be launched, eager to feel the crack of champagne across its bows, rose tall and strong above the chaos, and if you listened hard you could hear, faintly, the very booth itself shouting from its very heart and soul “I am here”, “look at me”, “paint me!” and “decorate me!’ and even, if your imagination can run to this pitch, “buy things from me!”

Well it inspired me to get a touch lyrical, anyway.

Meanwhile, work to be done. What about this? Ah, well, that. That? No, that won’t do. Here comes Renu. Now don’t get me wrong, Renu is a
wonderful person. Always unfailingly good humoured, unfailingly polite, unfailingly personable. But there is something about the mumble-foot-high power-heel-clad Indian/Italian/New York master of the marketing universe that means, even though still a fair way off but walking towards you, you don’t want to be in the shoes of the booth vendor when there’s something that hasn’t been done right.

So by Thursday it got done right.

Friday and Saturday was multitasking day. (a) Run/attend two-full-day workshop on growth and closure (9.00-7.00, 8.30-3.00) and in parallel deal with further booth issues and answer a million questions about Sibos (Q1 XYZ? A: “It’s in the Show Guide”. Q2. ABC? A: “It’s in the show guide.” Q3. DEF? A: “Yes, are you DEF? – IT’S IN THE SHOW GUIDE!!”). Had a huddle session at the end of the workshop, basically we read out the show guide.

Ah, now there. We’ve said it.
Digital 360.

So what’s new? This year, a huge 8m wide graphic dominating the booth showing our Digital 360 theme. It shows a very simple representation of a bank: essentially a transformation and mapping process of Customer Deals coming into the bank at the front end as a result of, at the back end, cash flows going in and out. This transformation depends on a complex network of systems and linkages, providing STP where possible and using humans where necessary, but that transformation now wrapped in: Digital Outside, the CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE and Digital Inside, showing OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE, the whole making for Digital 360.

Over $50b is being spent by banks on digital transformation. I think we’ve hit a rich seam.

This was the theme of the GTB Advisory event. Held at the prestigious, old-worlde, grove of Academe the Harvard Faculty Club, we had around 50 for dinner including (all praise to Atanu) a strong contribution from the Middle East and a great speech from Harvard alumnus Professor Michael Mainelli, the theme was Digital 360. Michael focussed this onto three great questions, phrased as choices:

CHOICE 1: CUSTOMERS: more or less loyal in future?
CHOICE 2 Long-term transaction banking PRODUCTS: stellar or doomed?
CHOICE 3 REGULATORS: thief of budget or best friend?

In the morning there was the most enticing brunch, salmon, rare meat, soups, fruit, hoummus, dolmades, even Babaganoush in the adjacent room. We had an introduction from Al, who explained why he had left pretty much successfully leading a key bank in the US (well, it’s called KeyBank) to join us to lead the Americas business, then Michael facilitating a discussion with the group on the three choices, but the bulk of the day was the group splitting into four round tables, each led by a senior banker or a leading influencer (eg the Director of the European Banking Association) coming to conclusions about (1) Digital Outside, (2) Digital Inside, (3)Transition – how do we get there (answer: Progressive Modernization) and (4) the criticality of Data and Analysis. They concluded: they are all facets of the same issue. We finished with showing a “concept car” we have been working on in the labs under Henry’s expert guidance, based on the concept: “What if your bank’s portal actually understood what you were trying to do?” – which stunned the audience.

It all came down to getting the excitement we feel about iGTB – and iGCB, iRTM (sorry Laila, not an insurance event at all) out there.

After the brunch, quick debrief, back to the booth at 3pm, big huddle. Read out the show guide again.

Anyway, 6.15am I need to get to the car at 6.30 so will have to go. Thanks will come later – you know who you are. Wow, the Digital 360 video. And haven’t even started to talk about our gadget show on the booth. Wait for tomorrow. Al said it best: it’s a show. It’s easy to get distracted. But we’re here for a reason. Remember what we’re here for.

Hey ho, hey ho, it’s off to sell we go…


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