The Sibos Diaries – Chapter 5

By Phil Cantor,

Chief Marketing Officer,

iGTB | Polaris Financial Technology Limited

iGTB Sibos 2014 team

Bill Gates (the one who founded Microsoft, not the one who’s Head of Alliances at SmartStream, of course) came on stage to a rapturous welcome from 3,000 people plus more standing at the back, in appreciation of his having ruined their lives with the blue screen, the three-fingered salute (Ctrl/Alt/Del) and the infamous “Registry”. Bill is applauded because of his insight and foresight, eg., in declaring that 640k was as much storage as anyone would ever need and so inflicting the most vulnerable operating system on us all, just after application protection was made pretty good in OS/360 and taken to a new level with segmentation in ICL’s VME. Still, at least he has a Delete Key (not to mention Page Up and Down, Home, End etc), unlike that Jobs chap.

But he has redeemed himself, with the Bill and Melinda Foundation. At first thought to be a bit of an attempt at gaining popularity, he has unquestionably become one of the most serious and thoughtful philanthropists on the planet. And in his talk, he faced hard bitten bankers with the insight that to alleviate poverty requires the rollout not just of aid and essentials but of access to financial services. Financial services just jumped down one huge level of the Maslow hierarchy! No, really. He made it so clear that alleviating the problems of the poor is bedeviled by distribution of aid: subsidies are regressive benefitting the rich more even if they reach the poor, direct grants tend to be usurped by intermediaries, thieves, the “man in the village” and so on. So the premium is on simple digital approaches to e-identity and to simple payments.

Puts Access to Accounts in the Payment Services Directive II into perspective, doesn’t it?

He went on to show his own version of the “customer experience”, a video of people in a small tribal village market buying vegetables using a simple electronic device that checks identities etc. Also doing family finances for (for example) borrowing for school costs, and paying each other. One of the key points made was made as follows: the interviewer asked us all to take out our mobile phones and look at them. “These are some of the most sophisticated computers, per ounce, on the planet.” She went on, “but that’s not what these people will use. They will use some old $20.00 Nokia phone. How do we do these things on that. Bill explained various ways they could use even small screens and the power in even small old phones.

So that was the first Sibos closing speech in history that had 3,000+ people queuing to get in half an hour before.

Last day. Tired and emotional. No, I mean it literally, not drunk, just tired, very tired – partly because of standing up pretty much all day, tired from being “on stage” for hours on end, tired from constantly scanning with your eyes for people you are trying to get to see. Emotional because of the number of plaudits about our booth, emotional because of the net effect of working intimately closely with a crazy team of colleagues solidly (including cramming into cars with the luggage), emotional especially because of it being the last day, this island, this home for four long days, this royal throne of demos, this sceptred isle,

This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars bars,
This core of Sibos, demi-paradise,
This offering built by us for our clients
Towards their profit and the hand of competition,
This happy breed of men and women, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver carpet,
Which serves it in the office of an open door,
Or as an entrance open to a house,
To the envy of less happier vendors,—
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this iGTB.

Nothing like destroying a good bit of iambic pentameter, eh?

On which topic, and as a digression, last night at the Volante party we all ended up singing “Volante – oooh oh,…..Volante – oh oh oh oh…”. No, not stunning words, but put it to the tune of “Volare”, and no-one knows any of the other words, except for “something something oh Pinto Del Blu…”. So I couldn’t be having this, and after a bit of thought, came up with that famous tune from West Side Story: “iGTB in America! iGTB in America! iGTB in America! iGTB in Americaaaaaa!”. Again, not the most wide ranging use of words.  And Manish came up with, to the tune of “YMCA” the stunning lyric “iGTB”.  We’ll teach you the hand actions later.

Thursday is the quiet day. Tell that to the birds.  Veni, vidi, vendi.

I kept trying to get us all together to share any learning points before people left for early flights, but 3.00 meetings, 4.00 meetings put this back again and again. And just at the end, up popped one bank again saying “aha, you saw the transaction people earlier…we’re the trade people!”. Also I went to see someone on an African bank booth and as we were chatting he asked me what I thought the theme of Sibos was this year. I paused and said: “Come with me – I’ll SHOW you!” and “Bring your camera” and led him to our stand, where I showed him our 8m graphic.

Digital 360

I explained it – he loved it!

Anyway, this is me, Phil, singing off.

Oh nearly forgot, two final photos:

Ex-Fundtech employee attempts to destroy iGTB stand

pic31512

iGTB CEO takes his work home with him

Until Singapore next year.

The Sibos Diaries – Chapter 4

By Phil Cantor,

Chief Marketing Officer,

iGTB | Polaris Financial Technology Limited

Chapter 4 Sibos

Alea jacta est. We cast our bread upon the waters. We plough the fields and scatter. Que sera, sera.

We’ve done what we can. Tomorrow’s the last day. (Tomorrow’s another day, also, but that’s a different story altogether). How do I do it justice? Let me count the ways.
Let me start in true Oscar fashion.

I’d like to thank the following, in no particular order and leaving out key people who will be less offended by that than they should be. Renu. Renu again. Naveen. Naveen again. Ashish, Nacy, Nachu. And Vineeth, Sri, Hema, Ganesh (B). Adelina, Razia, Mani, Sans. Oh I guess also, definitely, Manish, Upps, Paddy. Hari and Ashutosh. Guneet, Ganesh, Gahenry. Anand (but he won’t see this unless I tweet it). ALL the attendees. Product writers – too many to name individually, plus Partho. Guys without you we are but blossom in the wind, drifting we know not where, fertile ground or fallow, loam or rock, and now we’re back full circle. Alea jacta da da etc. Que sera, Sarah. And so on.

So let’s get to the fun stuff. As we’re in Oscar mood, award night.

  • Hero of the day award: Mark. 7,000 people exit Sibos on a cold rainy evening and 6,500 of them want a cab. The line was huge and slow moving, we estimated a 45m wait. And Katherine was not well and getting worse and just wanting to get home, please quickly (yes by this time we think of the hotel as our home). So, cunningly, hero Mark led us to the nearby Westin Hotel to get a cab there. Only not so cunningly: everyone else had had the same idea too. The line was even longer. So we decide to walk into town. But THIS TIME, Mark spots an off duty cab at the side of Sibos, lopes over, and like the true sales negotator he is, persuaded him to take us all back.
  • Brass Neck award. The lady from a major global household name corporation. She strolled onto our stand, sat down and started working on her laptop. When asked who she was meeting she replied “no, I’m good.” When asked to leave she said “yes in a few minutes.” When asked to leave because we had clients who needed to sit down right now she still tried to refuse until we firmly insisted. Shows we have comfy chairs though.
  • Yes! Yes! award. Some guy. The chap who came on the booth and asked if he could take a photo of our bug digital 360 design (see it in Michael Mainelli’s article attached to an earlier letter). And not even a competitor!
  • Shock news business has sentiment award: SWIFT. For throwing a huge party with giant cake for a lady who (a) was having her birthday today, (b) had worked for SWIFT for 25 Sibii, (c) who had just yesterday left SWIFT so it was her last day, (d) was celebrating the 150th anniversary of SWIFT (I may have heard that wrong).
  • Longest meeting award. 2 hours. With the guys from Central Europe (you know whom I mean).
  • Good luck go for it girl award: Renu. For explaining a technology solution to Guneet.
  • Pied Piper award. Renu and Anand, jointly. For gathering followers hugely by posting bits of the Mashreq article on this funny social media thingy.
  • Bad prep award. Me. Headline: “Crusader against lastminutitis suffers huge lapse.” For at 0800 having no clue what to present and finishing a ppt by 1050 (session at 1130) ie with (fractional) time to spare. I threw together extracts from Karim’s interview, extracts from our new iGTB video and a handful of cartoons and a couple (no literally, 2) ppt slides. Well I did it, presented it and we had a full house. Right from the outset. Now I know these events, they’re PR, nit lead generation. It’s usually suppliers and it’s free – and it’s open plan – so you usually get a very small audience of people either (a) wanting to JUST SIT DOWN for one moment, please, it’s not much to ask, one moment in four days, oh look at that comfy chair… or (b) checking their phones or (c) had read the agenda wrong or (d) competitors. So anyway I got their attention after the kind SWIFT Belgian lady introduced me (seemed like she’d known me for years, not seconds). I did it by starting “Welcome everybody, and especially those who are not using the mobile phones or laptops…!” which got a big laugh. As it happens I had a pretty much full house, with people standing round the back, and very few not paying attention. I did a few more gags and then played out opening video section. We got a round of applause! (well, started by me, it must be said).That’s a great tip, by the way, in any public show, plant someone in the audience and create a dramatic moment. At this moment your stooge starts to clap. The very funny thing is, people have a natural instinct to clap along. So almost certainly you’ll get everyone clapping too. I’ve even seen it started by someone dropping a book! Anyway, to illustrate digital outside, I played a clip of Karim stating the problem and how customer centric his boss is: “he says, ‘put a smile on every customer’s face’.” Then talking them through the ‘day in the life’ material. We basically did a typical morning. Of course all the while I am interacting, picking on people, asking them specific questions: “yes! yes, you at the back in the green jumper, do YOU think this is a typical customer value chain?” Anyway did that for a bit, then talked a bit about “digital inside”  Good PR though.

It’s 2305 and the last meeting was not that long ago. More – and stickier – meetings tomorrow.

Anyway, enough from me right now.

Sleep tight.

The Sibos Diaries: Chapter 3

 By Phil Cantor,

Chief Marketing Officer,

iGTB | Polaris Financial Technology Limited

The Sibos Diaries - Chapter 2

Wow. What a day.

The highlight was videoing Karim Labadi of Mashreq saying some stunning things about us but the real value of yesterday was the high quality of the meetings that happened.

People think of shows as being for lead generation – and we collected many leads – but there were several meetings yesterday that pushed existing deals significantly further on. These don’t show up in the statistics so much but have the most value. At times yesterday there were 10 or more meetings happening simultaneously. A few meetings even had to be held standing up, despite us having around 20 chairs (any more would not have fit on the booth).

A word about Mashreq bank. The first bank in the UAE to install cash machines. The first institution in the UAE to issue credit and debit cards. The first local bank in the UAE to offer Renminbi account services to customers. Now, the first bank in the region to launch a state-of-the-art Corporate Banking Online Portal – mashreqMATRIX – using the full Intellect iGTB platform, giving clients a single point of contact for issues around accounts, payments, collections, liquidity management, and trade and supply chain. During 2014, they have been winning awards right, left and centre: Celent’s Model Bank “Cash Management and Trade Award”, The Banker Middle East’s Product Award for “Best Corporate Account” and now, here at Sibos yesterday, they received the EMEA Finance’s “Best Cash Management Services in the Middle East Award” 2014.

They have doubled the transactional corporate customer base within 9 months thanks to iGTB. Yes that’s right, up 100%!

A few other stories about banks.

  • One bank, where discussions had stopped, saw our booth, and said they looked at the video, they looked at the Digital Outside poster, they looked at the Digital Inside poster and they looked at the Digital 360 graphic, and the icons, and that “everything spoke to them” and they have come and want to discuss reopening conversations!
  • One bank, saw our “concept car” and said “I would like to personally show this to my CEO!”
  • One bank, who had seen CBX and liked it but felt it needed more, saw the concept and immediately said we must bring it to show them all.

On the lighter side,

Standard Bank, as ever, have a ball with the best wines and this time bringing a jazz band doing covers of Hugh Masakela tunes. (This allowed me to get to speak to their new head of GTB, on the excuse “oh, iGTB sponsored a South African jazz band at BAFT last January” – when I told him about Adam Glasser, and how he had played piano for Hugh when he received his honorary doctorate, suddenly we are having a great conversation with a top banker – and one of the conversations he will remember!)

Finally, quiz time.

Which of our people:
– Fell asleep in the car on the way to the restaurant?
– Got out of a car with only one shoe on?
– Has write-only penmanship?
– Is known as “the man in the closet”?
– Overheard two people saying to each other “What happened to Al Carpetto?
He was great at Keybank, where has he gone now?” (and was able to enlighten them)

Day 2 of Sibos 2014 in pictures

The Sibos Diaries: Chapter 2

By Phil Cantor,

Chief Marketing Officer,

iGTB | Polaris Financial Technology Limited

Sibos 2014

The iGTB booth at Sibos 2014 in Boston

 

Seen from left to right:

1. A massive strong “iGTB” logo

2.  The 9 screen video wall – this plays a 10 minute video on a constant loop. You can see the video at http://bit.ly/Digital360. This is a popular feature with people liking the storytelling, the clean approach (which fits the booth perfectly), the animated “blue dot” and the real life nature of the content.

3 and 4.  Two large, wall mounted screens. These are no ordinary screens but touch screen all-in-one PCs, showing payments, central banking,
treasury and details of all of our products. These are major crowd pullers. One of the most popular and impressive items here was our “concept
car” – a putative design for a corporate portal based on the concept: what if the bank’s system actually understood what you are trying to achieve?

5. Above these, the message “Part of the Polaris group”. Important as it provides a chance for us to explain our heritage and our current focus and strength.

6. An interactive short throw projector with white board. A demo station where you can just write on what you can see. Again, an easy way to engage people.

8. The “Intellect” brand. This really helps as people begin to understand the iGTB, iRTM and iGCB brands as sub-brands of “Intellect”

9. Our gadget play area – the 46″ TV, a pedestal with iPads, tablets, iPhones and other devices.

10. A 25′ long graphic of Digital 360, showing how customer deals come into a bank, how the end result is inbound and outbound cash flow, and the transformation effected by a complex network of systems, but that can be improved by surrounding in a digital shell: digital outside for customer experience and digital inside for operational excellence.

Yesterday was a good day. Several people – our people and guests – commented on how empty Sibos seemed. Didn’t see it myself. We were always busy at the booth which got noticed around the venue. Further, during the day’s wrap up it became clear we had had some real quality meetings and even closed a deal. We were all rushed off our feet, which is good, especially Phil B – but this year was the first one Vijay was able to actually breathe, now he had Mark, Lee, JP also covering the strong European contingent.

Lots of social media coverage, and we even got a couple of banks “following” us on Twitter, which was pretty cool. . When I put out a photo via Anand at 4pm showing how busy the booth was “pretty good for a Sibos Monday” it got more people coming to the booth!

The day was rounded off for me by an evening meeting with a bank – a client – who is giving us a video testimonial today! He was so complimentary about us that I wrote down the exact words he said, so I’ll leave you with this:

“Yesterday at Harvard (ie the Advisory event) was more fruitful for us than the whole of today on our booth at Sibos.”

The Sibos Diaries: Chapter 1

By Phil Cantor,

Chief Marketing Officer,

iGTB | Polaris Financial Technology Limited

So.

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…