Both SAP and IBM have sponsored the event which made my attending more affordable, but all the opinions here are mine only and not representative of either SAP, IBM, or any other legal entity present at the forum.
i would like to drop a few words about an event i attended last week: #sapfsf13 or SAP Financial Services Forum 2013. for me personally, this has happened after an over-10-year break from the industry that is currently undergoing a renewal: financial services. SCNers may be more familiar with the term Transformation. it may be far removed from the development concerns that most of us have shared on SCN, but in a way it’s affecting all of us. whenever we deposit funds into an account, pay our mortgage or simply pay with a credit card we enter the financial system one way or the other. while the average IT spend is 2% across the economy, for financial services it can go up to 8%.
Describing the event
as is the case for many events of this type, i learned about the forum from a tweet by John Appleby i wasn’t sure if i could attend, but eventually the confirmation did come through and i was able to go. i was partially driven by memories of my starting with SAP some 15 years ago almost right across the street from the location of the forum. those were the early days of my SAP career in R/3 version 3.1h. i was interested in seeing the progress SAP had made beyond the clients i was familiar with back in 1998. what i learned was that the largest financial institutions of this country as well as the ones i had known have become or remained SAP clients. even though the details about the projects could not be shared for obvious reasons, i could see that SAP has made inroads in General Leger, Consolidations. Subledgers, Procurement, Fulfillment and other upstream processes that even included Manufacturing in one of the bankers’ experience.
there is no need to go into politics of the event too much as the financial system remains a subject of controversial debates with the 5th anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in which i had lost some of my investments. if anyone still would like to discuss the pros and cons of the current economic and financial landscape i will be more than happy to respond to any comments below this post. i would only like to mention that the speakers included the CEO of SAP as well as the former Secretary of the US Treasury (full agenda is here and registration is required).
What is SAP role?
by now, many of SCNers may have wondered what does SAP and its technologies have to do with the forum which is mainly a marketing event, but if you consider how much IT is part of today’s banking through online banking, ATM machines, mobile payments, and so on you could actually see they are quite related. having experience of working in SAP for 15 years ii have seen my share of implementations starting from design, through configuration and interface deployment, and ending with supporting it as a legacy application, so i could see how enterprises, banking included, may have struggled with leveraging their business processes onto the SAP platform.
bankers being a sober bunch and using IT from a large number of IT vendors (IBM and Accenture were the main sponsors of the event), may have been unfamiliar with the details of what SAP has on offer. they were not quite ready for ABAP, so wouldn’t really understand how HANA may be different from what they already have installed or how it would integrate with the rest of the IT infrastructure. their main concern seemed to be around what the fed would do (it actually decided on continuing the quantitative easing policy on the day of event to which the stock market duly reacted) rather than what technology they would use to predict the move or trade on it.
i believe the forum is an annual event, so if you are near New York sometime next year and have interest in banking, i strongly recommend it as a great networking event to get reacquainted with the world of high finance. if you would like to read a more structured description of the event i recommend the write-up by David Trites: http://scn.sap.com/community/banking/blog/2013/09/19/sap-financial-services-forum-2013-day-1-summary
my little takeaway was the hug to Waldorf as asked by one of the more prominent SCNers Thorsten Franz of the SAP CEO Bill McDermott who for some reason decided to blog and tweet about some of it on the same day.