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The theme of last week’s Sibos 2019 financial services event in London was, “thriving in a hyper-connected world.”

Having been in banking for more than 20 years, it’s a very fitting message for an industry that is in the midst of an incredible amount of change. While financial services organizations are certainly facing challenges driven by today’s digital age, there is plenty to be optimistic about.

Today’s digital innovations are creating unprecedented new business opportunities, and we’ve reached a tipping point where the industry is focused on embracing the best of them to move their businesses forward and thrive.

With record-breaking attendance, that optimism and determination were evident throughout this year’s Sibos which provided a pulse on where the industry is today, and where it’s headed. Here are my observations and thoughts.

Financial services’ top priorities 

  • Let’s get real. As I mentioned earlier, the industry has moved from debating the value of these new technologies to a focus on accelerating real-world deployments. Financial services organizations are looking for technology vendors to take the lead in enabling innovation and solving their business transformation challenges.
  • Using data as a competitive advantage. As we know, the financial services industry is flooded with data and it’s become a huge task to convert it into logical and useful insights. Today’s emphasis is on tapping into new forms of analytics and AI to unlock its potential and infuse insights for a competitive advantage—by enhancing the customer experience, improving operations and security, increasing productivity, managing risk, and more.
  • Modernizing payments and core banking. This is on everyone’s mind. While payments are the backbone of every bank, the playing field is no longer level for banks processing on batch-oriented legacy mainframe systems. The rise of fintech, the shift in consumer demands, and the pervasiveness of data have altered the landscape. To keep pace with these challenges, banks are prioritizing the need to modernize their platforms to improve agility and significantly lower costs of managing legacy systems.
  • Turning to the cloud. The cloud is also no longer a question mark. It’s real. Regulators have even come to see cloud as a compliance-enabler. Banks are recognizing the cloud can offer greater security and controls than in their legacy, on-premises environments, and holds the key to helping unlock the value of their data, improve business agility, reduce costs and gain a competitive edge.

Accelerating digital transformation and cloud adoption

At Microsoft, understanding the banking industry’s needs and objectives is very important to us. We want to help organizations become more agile and make smarter decisions by providing a trusted, highly secure and compliant cloud that is embedded with pervasive intelligence — and supported by the largest ecosystem of technology partners.

This was my first Sibos in my new role at Microsoft, and it was an incredibly energizing experience. In our booth, we—along with our partners and customers—took the opportunity to showcase what empowering intelligent banking means, and how it open doors for banks to reimagine how they modernize payments and core banking, manage risk, combat financial crime, deliver differentiated customer experiences, and more.

Our subject matter experts also delivered some thought-provoking sessions on a variety of topics, from the latest in cybersecurity, to payments in the cloud, fraud protection, and delivering on innovation through cultural transformation.

We also announced exciting new tools and collaborations to help accelerate digital transformation and remove barriers to adopting cloud technology. This includes becoming the first public cloud provider to enable connectivity with SWIFT Cloud Connect on Azure; general availability of our new cloud-based Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection solution designed to decrease fraud costs; and updates to our Microsoft Banking Accelerator that add Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN) API service domains to unlock new open banking opportunities.

One of my favorite parts of our Sibos participation was being able to showcase our customers’ digital transformation journeys and their recent successes including Anglo-Gulf Trade Bank, Bank of New York Mellon, State Street and TD Bank. I share more details on our Sibos news and customer momentum on our Official Microsoft Blog.

The opportunities ahead

I’m excited about the industry’s future. With today’s technologies, financial services organizations have a tremendous catalyst to improve competitiveness and business agility, drive growth, elevate customer experiences and keep ahead of changing regulations and cybersecurity threats. In my new role, I look forward to helping more financial services institutions empower intelligent banking and thrive in today’s hyper-connected world.

To learn more about Microsoft’s activities at Sibos and our ongoing work in the financial services industry, visit our Financial Services page.