Sam Alkharrat, Managing Director, SAP MENA
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SAP has urged banks in the Middle East region to embrace IT innovation to stay ahead of regulatory change, cope with increasingly complex customer demands, and make a positive difference to society as a whole.
According to the global business software giant, banks need to urgently adopt integrated strategies for breakthrough mobile, cloud, applications, analytics and database technologies.
The clarion call to action was made by Don Trotta, SAP´s global head of banking industry development, ahead of his company’s participation at SIBOS, one of the world’s leading financial services conferences, in Dubai this month. It will be the first time the prestigious event, which is organized by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), is hosted in the Middle East.
“To be effective, to be trustworthy and certainly to be good - in any sense of the word - banks need to make it an important part their mission to innovate, and to get innovation right, in order to make a positive difference for their business, their customers, and society as a whole,” he said.
“Banking has become a huge and complex industry, and recent shocks have shown the old system to be more vulnerable than many believed. A new mood of caution is sweeping through global financial markets, driven by national and global regulation. This is a situation demanding innovative responses, to prevent capital being either insufficiently reserved or locked up unnecessarily.”
Trotta pointed out that imminent legislation such as Basel II and III set criteria for reserved capital. However, without sufficient insight into their processes, many banks will have to “play it safe”, retaining more capital than the regulations and their own risk profile requires.
“Better insight into resources and practices will enable the right level of capital retention to ensure a secure system, without hindering investment and economic growth,” he added.
“This is fundamentally a data issue: by employing technology innovation such as “in-memory computing” banks are for the first time able to track the movement of capital through their systems in real time, and make on-the-fly calculations and informed decisions to more effectively manage risk and capital while consistently maintaining regulatory compliance. A bank unable to do this will need to err on the side of regulatory caution, limiting its ability to use its capital effectively.”
According to industry analyst Ovum, retail banks across the globe will see IT spending grow 3.4 per cent this year to hit $118.6bn as CIOs seek to improve customer satisfaction and revenue growth. Another analyst, Celent, notes that sector spending is being intriguingly reconfigured away from staples such as hardware to embrace innovation and disruptive technologies.
In its report IT Spending in Financial Services: A Global Perspective, Celent reports that external software spend is the fastest growing segment, set for 9 per cent CAGR between 2011 and 2013.
“The global financial crisis shook up the board – it undermined many of the certainties of the industry,” said Sam Alkharrat, Managing Director, SAP MENA.
“However, it has also provided opportunity – a chance to look at how things are done, and how they could be done better. In the face of regulation and suspicion directed at the banking sector as a whole, a good bank – one able to innovate towards better models – has a chance to stand out.”
SAP aims to use SIBOS to raise awareness of the imperative to innovate, as well as showcasing its considerable track record in the banking and financial services sector.
SAP currently boasts more than 3,900 banking customers across 120 countries. This includes more than 2,600 Business Analytics, 1,300 Business Suite, 1,000 database clients and 160 cloud clients.