Another take on Finovate
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16 February 2012Gareth Lodge
I attended Finovate Europe (www.finovateeurope.com) last week – good to see it back. Celent are a partner but even so, having attended the inaugural event last year, it was no surprise to see it both back and at a larger venue. I wonder if next year maybe at a larger venue still as it still seemed pretty full. As Zil mentioned in his blog post, he will be writing a report in the near future, looking at the aspects specifically relating to payments. Therefore I’ll make some more general observations. Finovate is an event that “showcases financial and banking technology innovation”. The format is very different –each slot is told no powerpoint (hurrah!), is only 7 minutes long and, most importantly, is all about pitching businesses. That’s the key for me. When I attend conferences, I find myself giving mental black marks to those organisations who inappropriately pitch their business when its supposedly about thought leadership. I’m not sure all the audience got these points though – I heard several people behind me saying that the presenter would do a much better job at conveying the message in powerpoint – or perhaps it was more a critique of the presenters in question? Another issue was the definition of innovation. Some in the audience were unhappy at the major brands demoing what they had already done successfully. I think many believe innovation to be anything web or mobile enabled, whilst my definition is about doing something different. I would suggest, for example, that some of the greatest innovation is coming out of outsourcing in many ways – they’re enhancing and re-engineering processes to create those savings that the banks seek. I think there is a place for both, though and there is a strong argument that there is less risk in adopting innovation that already works in a different country. The variety was much better this year – last year had too many PFM products. Whilst I get PFM, there are many reasons why it works in the US but not in many other markets, such as the UK. But a discussion for another time! The challenge is that some of the demo’s divided the audience (as I tweeted, one mans’ wow is another mans’ yawn) as either they had no first-hand knowledge of the product and/or the subtlety being addressed. Personally, I like this mix. For those who don’t, might I suggest you look at Celents’ “Model Bank” awards. Here we turn the question round and ask what would it look like for a bank to do everything right with today’s technology. Nominations have just closed, and we will announce the winners at our Innovation and Insight Day. This year it will be in Charlotte, on June 13th – save the date, more details to follow soon!