We’ve just wrapped up a great week at Sibos 2015. It seems as if we shoehorned a month’s worth of customer and partner meetings into roughly 96 hours, but the results have been extraordinary. Over the course of these past four days we met with executives across the financial services industry, and top of mind was the plethora of challenges to their business model and what to do about them. These include the need to modernize their infrastructure, the challenges of economics, the necessity of legal and regulatory compliance, and the opportunity of how to get the most out of the assets they have.
Many of these challenges have been driven by new technologies, and we arrived in Singapore ready to listen and showcase some key Microsoft tools and solutions – solutions that can help banks be more productive, expand their services, understand their data, increase revenue and win more customers without heavy, upfront investment.
Of course, no conversation is complete without some discussion of regulatory compliance, so we also provided details about the Financial Services Compliance Program, which Microsoft recently announced to help banks achieve growth while keeping the focus on their core responsibilities to remain compliant.
We also provided some great examples of how customers are using Microsoft technology, such as Windows 10, Microsoft Azure and Office365, to become more efficient and competitive.
Turning data into insight, insight into revenue
Mining data for customer insight is nothing new, but today there is more rich data available than ever before — much of it unstructured and dispersed across legacy systems. High-powered machine learning and analytics tools can help banks turn data into insight about the trends, risks and opportunities that will shape customer behavior and business opportunities.
At Sibos, we shared stories about how banks and financial services providers are using the Microsoft data platform to identify hidden risks before they happen, deliver timely and insightful customer advice, and transform their business.
Metro Bank monitors front-, middle- and back-office operations with more than 40 Power BI dashboards, which process data from across the company, creating clear depictions of the bank’s operations and customer service performance.
Temenos created an Azure-based cloud banking services model that helps banks reduce costs and provide flexible, affordable services to underserved communities.
Tangerine tracks customer feedback, public sentiment and other factors with the Microsoft data platform to identify which incentives and services are most appealing to a particular customer.
Shifting data analysis to the cloud securely expands capabilities while cutting costs
Financial services companies are starting to embrace the cloud in a more profound and comprehensive way than previously: A study conducted by Skyhigh Networks found that financial services firms increased their cloud usage by 32.1 percent between the second quarter of 2014 and the second quarter of 2015.
Cloud computing enables banks to expand their IT capabilities faster and more cost-efficiently than building their own infrastructure, leading to quicker return on investment and competitive advantage. And because cloud systems are continually evolving to provide greater value and capabilities, such as machine learning and predictive analytics, the potential to develop innovative services is virtually unlimited.
Despite its obvious benefits, one of the biggest blockers to banks adopting the public cloud remains worries about regulatory compliance. Banks historically perceive heightened risk by entrusting their data to a third party; they need a cloud computing platform designed for regulatory compliance to help them adapt their systems to compete more nimbly against startups while mitigating risk. Microsoft cloud solutions include seamless hybrid technology that permits financial institutions to keep sensitive data in on-premises systems while leveraging insights and analysis across locations.
As mentioned earlier, our Financial Services Compliance Program helps banks meet the security, privacy and transparency expectations of regulators and shareholders. It does this by enabling stakeholders to examine Microsoft’s cloud offerings, services and processes, as well as providing access to a library of third-party audits, reports and other information that is critical to remaining compliant.
Building synergies with partners lets banks develop and implement the digital banking technology of the future
Customers today expect a seamless and secure omnichannel banking experience, with a variety of transactions available on any device with just a few clicks. The products and services that customers want are increasingly likely to require technological or subject-matter expertise beyond many banks’ capabilities or resources to develop in-house. By using cloud-based application programming interfaces (APIs) to bridge IT systems, banks can partner with appropriate businesses to expand and personalize their customer offerings, while minimizing risk and infrastructure investment.
Windows 10 takes the seamless, digital banking experience a step further through the power of universal apps that work on phones, tablets and PCs, offering Windows 10 touch functionality and Office 365 integration while reducing workplace and development sprawl.
And with the availability in August of Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise, financial services institutions gained access to a more comprehensive set of enterprise-grade security tools. Features such as biometrics and two-factor authentication offer the next-generation capabilities that banks need to manage their workforce and keep identities, data and connections more secure, whether completing a transaction in a retail branch or via a mobile app.
Finally, with the most recent update to Office 365 (also reflected in Office 2016), employees can take advantage of a host of workplace productivity improvements including an extensive library of Excel templates, Power BI integration to discover, visualize and share new insights with their clients or across the team, and a number of new tools designed to boost collaboration within large banking organizations.
Financial firms that are leading the charge joined us at Sibos to share their experiences. SunGard Financial Systems developed a suite of universal apps that help customers develop strategies for meeting their retirement goals, and which work seamlessly across desktop, tablet and phone.
DenizBank created a mobile banking solution that runs on Windows 10 tablets and enables portfolio managers to complete any transaction more securely and conveniently from the customer’s home or office.
And Bloomberg is releasing a new version of Bloomberg Professional service for Windows 10 desktops, which provides access to an array of financial news and analysis, industry-leading analytics tools and algorithms, and integration with Office 365 Excel templates.
Banks are beginning to use the evolving data processing and machine learning capabilities of the cloud to anticipate customer needs and customise products and services to fit them. These early adopters gain a competitive edge, enabling them to reap the data dividend that come from a deeper understanding of what customers want now and in the future.
Peter Hazou is Microsoft’s director of business development, financial services
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