Sibos 2018: How Banks Can Rise to the Challenge of Digital Transformation

Data and technology will be central to the evolution of financial businesses.

Industry leaders from the financial sector recently gathered in Sydney for the annual Sibos (SWIFT International Banking Operations Seminar*) event. The week-long event played host to more than 7,500 delegates, while 166 exhibitors showcased their businesses on two showroom floors. Sibos celebrated its 40th anniversary this year and is now one of the biggest business forums for the global financial community.

“Intel is very much involved in this business transformation…We want to be the technology partner for the financial services and the banking industry”

Organised by secure financial messaging services provider SWIFT*, the main theme of this year’s event was ‘enabling the digital economy’, focusing on how banks are evolving to support the changing business realities of their clients. Intel was one of many industry leaders that attended the event, with General Manager of Financial Services Industry, Mike Blalock, giving a talk on the data-driven digital transformation in financial services.

For Blalock, there were two key takeaways from Sibos 2018. The first one was technology, especially AI, and how it can be integrated into banking business processes. The second was the geopolitical debate over globalism versus nationalism and how it impacts on access, sharing, and sovereignty of data.

But what can Financial Services Industry (FSI) businesses do to cope with these challenges? “I think the biggest thing the Financial Services can do is to really define a new business architecture,” said Blalock, speaking at Sibos 2018. He suggested that FSI businesses should ponder the question: “How do I innovate and collaborate at scale with banks, payments companies, fintech companies, regulators as well as other industries to leverage technology and data to deliver value in new and innovative ways to my customers?”

Intel innovations are helping to underpin this business transformation, with foundational work in cloud technology enabling FSI businesses “to put the workload in the best execution venue based on performance, price, and security”. This enables them to offer a unified data platform to deliver analytics and AI at scale to the entire enterprise.

“Intel is very much involved in this business transformation,” explained Blalock. “We want to be the technology partner for the financial services and the banking industry. We’re really helping the industry through two aspects of transformation. One is around the digital transformation…how do you reimagine the delivery of financial services based on technology and data? The second is around data-driven transformation - how do I leverage my rich and deep internal data resources as well as bring in new data, alternative data, external data to even further advance the services and value that I can offer.”

“Our goal at Intel is to be the technology foundation for this new data world. We think we have a broad array of products and an extensive ecosystem to enable and support the transformational journey of financial services.”

Data is where the real challenge lies, according to Parviz Peiravi, CTO for Financial Services Industry at Intel. Speaking at Sibos 2018, he observed that the focus within the FSI is changing to ensure that the quality of data meets the expectation needed for effective AI. “To have a useful and efficient AI output, you require a consistent high-quality flow of data through the pipeline, to be used by machine learning programmes,” he said. “I’m glad to see financial institutions are paying attention to the challenges of operationalising AI on a larger scale.”

Intel is working on a number of technologies to support the future of AI including chipsets designed to address the intricate challenges of AI as well as libraries and software development kits (SKDs) to make it easier for developers to create applications. “We have specifically addressed the storage problem,” said Peiravi. AI really requires a large amount of data, but where do you store that data and how efficiently can you store it? This is one of the areas Intel has been focusing on with Intel® Optane™ technology.”

Professor Genevieve Bell, a renowned anthropology professor and Vice President and Senior Fellow at Intel, also highlighted the human aspect of digital transformation during her closing speech at Sibos 2018. “You can’t just do what’s technically possible. You actually have to do what makes sense to human beings,” she said, during her talk on how AI will interact with humans to evolve the FSI. “You have to think about what kind of technical systems you need to build, but you also have to think about what kind of skills you’ll need to manage the future. What are the systems that are coming and how do we think about them? And how do we take those systems safely to scale?”