I attended a conference this week in Singapore. In fact, I was a panelist in a session called “Driving Business Through Innovation”. The open discussion was prefaced by short presentations from two high-ranking industry experts and they talked about transformation, convergence, SOA, bundling, unified view of the customer, process improvements, process automation, legacy system, acquisition and mergers and the fact that everything seemed to be platform driven.
So what, I hear you say, just like any telco event over the last two years, right? Well, not exactly, because I was at The Asian Bankers Summit! Of the thousand or so there, I think I may have been the only telco person in the room. I felt like a marketing person at a billing conference – uncomfortable.
I was only given one chance to speak and I couldn’t help myself by blurting out that our industry had been addressing these very same issues over the last five years or so and that most CSPs were emerging from that long dark tunnel into the light of day. Not only have we had to grapple with convergence and transformation we have had to cope with massive, sometimes exponential growth at the same time and we managed to do it by using processes and frameworks that all sectors of our industry worked on jointly.
The room appeared to fall into stunned silence. I’m not sure if it was what I said or that I had the audacity, as a telco person, to point out that it had all been done before. And, like a lamb to slaughter, I chipped in with a closing remark pointing out that the finance industry as a whole would be well advised to take a look at we had done as it would certainly benefit from it. I so wanted to mention our success at providing mobile banking services to the unbanked masses of Africa but, being the diplomat I am, thought better of it.
I was actually there to highlight Cloud Computing and the virtues of the two industries working together in our Cloud Services Initiative, but that was to be covered in a session the next day. Every time it was mentioned eyes would roll and the totally risk-averse bankers would say only one thing – security.
We obviously have a lot to do to get the financial community to embrace what we have already done in the telco space. I’m not sure if they see CSPs as a threat, a necessary evil or as trusted partner, but whatever the case there is much that both sides could benefit from an open discourse. It hasn’t worked with NFC initiatives so let’s hope Cloud Computing will be the catalyst, but only if we can dispel those awful security fears.