Thursday, June 05, 2008

Future of Banking Conference

Or more accurately titled the 2nd Annual Technology and Innovation Conference - The Future of Banking and Financial Services.

Crikey, bit of a mouthful.

I attended this yesterday and spoke briefly just before lunch. Briefer than intended unfortunately because of the length of the previous presentation. Still, I finished on time and had a ball!

Main messages and comments:

  • The role of IT, knowing why you're there: operations plus business transformation. Understanding just why you're so critically a part of the business whenever change is necessary, especially disruptive change.
  • The need to sell and market internally. No innovation will get anywhere when you're not selling it. Just as a quick aside, I noted this come up a day ago in a post from James Gardner on BankerVision. It is hard but you *can* innovate in banks; just understand that the selling will be a great part of the effort.
  • Handling of conflicts of interest especially product management versus project management. We do this so poorly in banks - the approaches taken for managing the ongoing development of software products that have enormous impact on the customer service offered by the institution is really quite simplistic. Considering that these systems are extensive pieces of IP consisting of code, hardware, ideas in the heads of testers, developers, analysts, architects, and managers, well we really should approach it like a software product vendor. We need to keep the people together and we need to balance off the conflict to build right versus build the right product. It was comforting to hear Jeff Smith from Suncorp also spoke about this within the first session of the day. In fact, quick note hear to say I was very impressed with Jeff's talk. Suncorp have scored well there.
  • Finally I managed ever (ever) so briefly to talk about complexity and how to deal to it with services. Never had anywhere near enough time to talk about this one. I noticed that the IBM stand in the vendor area had a bunch of dice. I was tempted to grab a dozen, toss them on the floor and ask the audience how complex they thought that system was. Then split them into two groups of dice, put one lot on a desk and another on a different desk with a string between them representing an interface. Then I could show the transitioning of total complexity from multiplicative to additive. This would have given a good demonstration of the power of componentisation. As an aside I have done this before with a group building many sided solid objects from paper cutouts (tetrahedrons, cubes, dodecahedrons etc), I think it worked so there's a potential way of demonstrating complexity in a tactile manner.

A few general comments about the rest of the event...

Gosh what a lot of suits! and what a lot of people from ANZ! I guess their building was just right next door. Lot's of conversation about mobile technologies. Much overrated based on my experiences although I am very interested in the browser interfaces possible with the iPhone and Windows Touch phones. I can see that xhtml compliance with an understanding of modern phone browser capabilities could provide a far faster and more usable method of deploying mobile applications. Java midlets might let you control the buttons, but who cares when there are no buttons! Of all the presentations that I saw I found the most value in Jeff Smiths. Good commentary on people and approach with a good criticism of the prevalence of the waterfall approach to project managing complex system change in financial services companies. A real need for more maturity of project management in our sector.

So all in all a great time and now I'm looking forward to getting stuck into some real work back in the office.

1 comment:

Michael Ellyett said...

There are also some very powerful Flash based Heatmap frameworks that allow you to present things using: size, colour and group - and allow you to dynamically change the grouping parameters used for each. When these are populated dynamically from SQL queries mapped to the Flash widgets you get some very powerful results.