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The 2013 SAP North American Financial Services (FS) Forum kicked off in New York City to an energetic crowd of nearly 1000 registrants.

The first speaker up was Eric Stine, Senior Vice-President, Financial Services at SAP Americas. Eric welcomed guests with a powerful reminder that we are in the midst of an information revolution. He said businesses need to stop applying the models of an industrial world to an innovation world. People, ideas, and economies are rapidly connecting across geographies, access to education and essential services are reaching new corners of the planet, and the middle class is exploding. The FS industry has a huge opportunity to capitalize on this growth and improve people’s lives.

Bill McDermott SAP.jpgBill McDermott, Co-CEO, SAP took the stage next to open up the morning’s keynote: Excelling in a Changing Global Economy. Bill opened with some exciting statistics that show the strength of the partnership between SAP and the FS industries:

                        • SAP is supporting 17,000 Financial Services firms worldwide
                        • 63% of the world’s transaction run through SAP systems
                        • Half a trillion dollars of commerce is running through Ariba in the cloud

Bill also pointed out that the world is changing rapidly and that “slow kills companies fast”. FS companies need to rethink everything. They need to innovate on the edge – in the cloud and on mobile – to give the consumer of today the personalization, value, convenience, and omni-channel experience they expect. He mentioned how the Standard Bank of South Africa successfully used SAP mobile technology to bank the unbanked to the tune of 7,000 new accounts per day, and how smaller FS companies in the BRIC are leapfrogging established players because they can innovate and implement new services faster. Large FS companies need to stay young, creative, and simplify the customer experience to compete and win now.

Andrew Gelb, Managing Director and North America Head of Treasury & Trade Solutions at Citibank, talked about how the innovative new SAP FS Network developed by Citi and SAP will provide a resilient and standardized connection between corporate clients and banks. This bank agnostic solution provides robust, secure, transparent, and scalable connectivity essential in the Treasury Services business. Andrew also talked about how Citi is increasing its investment in mobile technology to offer better services to its clients.

A Changing Economy Diversity and Inclusion.jpgDuring the session: A Changing Economy: The Heightened Need for Diversity and Inclusion. Mary Kay Vona, Principal, Advisory Services, Ernst & Young; Erin O’Farrell-Lambert, Director – Global Software Sourcing, Citigroup; and Brigette McInnis-Day, Executive VP, Global HR Business Partner, Global Customer Operations, SAP, talked with moderator Debbie Schmidt, Chief Operations Officer & Global Head of Transformation Office, Global Strategic Industries, SAP, about how the demographics of business are changing drastically. They also shared some very interesting statistics:

      • By 2014, 47% of the employee population will be under the age of 35
      • Over 1 billion women will come into economic power during the next decade
      • For the first time in decades, four different generations will be in the workforce
      • Generation “Y” is placing new demands on employers and businesses they interact with

This means FS companies need to start adapting and diversifying now to better sell and connect to the consumer of tomorrow.

Kathy Burger, Editorial Director, Insurance & Technology, and Bank Systems & Technology led an interesting session called: Building the High Performance Bank to Compete in Today’s Marketplace. Kathy stated that large North American financial institutions expect to spend $73.8 billion on IT improvements in 2014 and that modern core banking solutions need to support customer focus, product flexibility, and compliance. Improving analytics and customer engagement through social media were also criteria on her list for high performance banks.

During, Leveraging Next-Generation Solutions to Improve Bank Efficiency, Tom McAllister, Senior Industry Principal at SAP and Richard Walker, Principal at Deloitte Consulting challenged banks to let go of the past. Richard said the environments that exist in banks today were not designed for the needs of today. The industry is held hostage by technological history and banks need to “get off the cow path” to increase agility, rein in costs, and support a volatile regulatory environment.

Michael Hamby, Director, SAP Banking and Securities at Deloitte, Andree White-Snow, SVP, Program Management Executive, GT&O Finance Change Management & Technology at Bank of America, and Mike Russo of SAP, talked about Using Modern Technology to Improve Banks’ Financial Performance. Andree from BofA took the audience through the banks system restructuring and implementation journey. A long list of mergers left the BofA with disparate systems and multiple GL’s. They needed to simplify and modernize their landscape to mitigate risk and ensure a consistent earnings stream. Tight partnership with SAP and Deloitte was cornerstone to the banks success.

George Colwell SAP FS Forum.jpgCarl Snyder and George Colwell, Senior Industry Value Advisors at SAP ended the banking sessions with a thought provoking discussion on how banks should Address Evolving Customer Expectations in an Omni-Channel Banking Environment. Carl talked about innovation and how customers view banks today. The customer of the future is very concerned with value, is highly informed about what they want, and care more about the overall experience and relationship than a singular product or transaction. New and nimble banking alternatives are stealing market share via better customer engagement. Traditional institutions don’t understand what their customers want or know how to connect with them. George said a customer relationship is an enterprise asset that today’s big banks don’t know how to leverage. Banks are stuck in an old paradigm of as-is process and they need to evolve.

If you couldn’t attend in-person, we have made replay videos from September 18 available. [Register here to access the on-demand videos].

Read my Day 2 Summary here

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