Transformation – Inside and out – in Financial Services

I am new to the role of Global Head of Financial Services Industries, although I have worked at SAP since 2002. This is my first blog post on Banking View in that role, and it may be the first time some readers – SAP employees, partners or customers – have “met” me.

Transformation through co-innovation and integration

I will be setting out my plans for the future, not just in text but by the actions we take as a business unit. However, I’d like to take the opportunity, as I begin this new chapter, to look at two trends that reflect the journey I believe Financial Services – and SAP – are taking.

Another team-driven success story involves a different kind of transition – between two countries. Although I now live in Chicago, my links to my homeland of Canada remain strong.

In 2007, SAP had no functional services solution for the Banking industry in Canada. Starting with a smaller institution – the Alberta Treasury Board – we developed relationships with bank after bank – ATB, the National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Montréal.

SAP has since since undertaken major works now with banks from the mature markets of the United States, Europe and Australia to the emerging markets of Africa, Asia and beyond. We are deepening relationships and lengthening our reach. The lessons I took from these initial banking engagements, however, are still important.

SAP partnered with those banks to build out the functionality they needed. Rather than offering a packaged solution, we co-innovated to create solutions to fit the business needs of each institution.

When it comes to delivering those solutions, software sales and services need to integrate, in banking and elsewhere. Because CIOs increasingly demand integrated solutions that address the project, and its risk, as a whole.

The transformation we see in the industry is the transformation we also see in SAP. As Head of Financial Services Industries, I lead an integrated business unit. Customers can deal with a business unit where services, license sales and execution, maintenance and support and the management of our ecosystem of valued partners all flow to the same point, with the same goal. They want an organisation that can speak to their whole business and its issues, not to be sold a product and then handed off to a separate service group. We need to be a team not just in name but at every level.

The importance of implementation

Integration, transformation and co-innovation are the guiding principles for SAP as we focus on the Financial Services Industry.  They all speak to the same need. Financial Services customers are not looking to buy a software product or a maintenance service. They are buying a business outcome – the guarantee that a project – often large and expensive – will deliver the ability to do business in a new way, with minimal risk. Delivering that outcome, and mitigating the risk of doing so, is where SAP must excel.

In subsequent blog posts, I will be talking about the unique challenges facing the major verticals within financial services, and how we are addressing them. Along with the ideals of transformation and co-innovation, success is defined by implementation.

Implemented correctly, the changes banks and financial services institutions are making now could have long-term benefits to their competitiveness and profitability. Successful implementation is more than replacing a part or fixing an immediate issue. It involves business-driven decisions taken and supported at the highest level.

For example, many financial services institutions are looking at their risk strategies and technologies. There are products that will help to move their current state of risk calculation closer to their ideal. But the opportunity exists to implement a strategic response – by migrating to an in-memory platform that enables real-time data gathering and analysis. Or combining risk and business calculations on a single platform, to allow every business decision to profit from instant access to advanced risk data, and vice versa. These are big steps with big advantages, and a strong focus on implementation, from the board down and across the institution, SAP and the partners involved, will deliver bigger benefits in a smaller timeframe.

I look forward to talking more about how we can be sure to implement and support the right solution every time.

Do you have questions about the next chapter of SAP’s story in Financial Services? Or an opinion you want to share? Share your thoughts in the comments to this blog post, tweet to @SAPforBanking or explore the Banking View site.

Ross Wainwright, Global Head of Financial Services Industries






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