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 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


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…