Years ago, it seemed all commercial bankers had to do was invest in big buildings with lots of pillars, and wait for dutifully-impressed customers to come to them. Somewhere between then and now the game changed, and competition for commercial customers was taken out into the streets. “Relationship managers” pursued their quarry wherever they did business, and the success of the salesforce (or lack thereof) was the success of the bank. Now, with the advent of business networks and electronic commerce, commercial bankers yet again have to adapt or suffer the competitive consequences.

SAP’s acquisition of Ariba, and, more recently, Concur, show how far the trend toward collaborative business networks has penetrated the fabric of global commerce. More businesses do business using SAP software than any other kind, and with rapid acceleration, they are preferring to do it collaboratively. We here at SAP are in a unique position to see it happening. Orders, shipments and receipts of goods and services are no longer taking place at arm’s length where commercial bankers can conveniently interrupt to offer their intermediary services for payments and cash management. These transactions are taking place in a way that enables companies to wholly disintermediate their commercial banker.

So, if you’re a suddenly idle commercial banker, what do you do next?

Citibank’s answer was to join SAP in delivering the SAP Financial Services Network to not only its own commercial customers, but, more importantly, every one of their competitors’ commercial customers at the same time. Not waiting for business transactions to find them, Citi is serious about bringing their transaction services right to their customers where their customers are doing business. Best of all? The collaborative business network improves efficiency and lowers costs for participating companies—a complete win/win.

Want to learn more about it? Check out session 21015 at this year’s SAPPHIRE Now conference in Orlando. See the future. Be there when it happens.

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