Sibos for a professional in the banking and financial industry is like an annual pilgrimage. Set over four days, the presence of the largest players (high priests), (uni) formally dressed bankers and top of the line event production values of the event (read wall to wall LCD screens), gives an extremely immersive feel and of course leg numbing need to walk across the floors of exhibitors.
This year was probably very different, SIBOS where banks ruled and rued about their economic might and influence, now realize that they are probably losing out in a digital world, from goliaths in business in the offline world, in the digital world they are minions and they are only trying to figure out what to do.
The good news there is a growing realization that they need to change, and no where it was felt more than in sibos, this year.
The biggest reflection of this was amazing response to Innotribe, the innovation focused session at SIBOS, which was usually a like an aberration in SIBOS, but this year saw overflowing crowds, standing through sessions. The session on Blockchain was a resounding hit. Even the keynotes (Piyush Gupta, CEO, DBS talked about tech more than anything else) had a touch of digital disruption and a potential disruptor (or maybe a collaborator) to SWIFT - Ripple Labs had a large exhibition booth and a friend tells me that they had a constant interest.
The issue lies in whether the industry will take the much beaten approach to piece meal transformation, a tweaking of IT systems or they will look at fundamental rethink and big bold experimentation. A higher risk (read : "ok to fail" ) and high reward approach that will fundamentally change their business, bringing back the customer focus, that they have lost over years of product focused growth.
This is big bold experimentation right now only happens in tech world a.k.a silicon valley and more so by the big Chinese Big Techs (Alibaba and Tencent), but we are yet to see that from banks at least in a significant way.
This change will also require a transformation in the real sense – a corporate culture transformation, a transformation to openness of a bank in every way – how it does its business, its technology, data and access. This part could be a tough change.
Coming back to SIBOS, you have to agree that they are still the leaders in bringing the industry together and they could still be the fire starter here.