“The round thing goes in the square thing.” Recipes for success can be that simple. And not just when it comes to soccer, as the renowned German soccer expert Reiner Calmund stressed in his keynote at the Congress. For Calmund, this quote from the legendary trainer Sepp Herberger sums up what really counts. Calmund highlighted the parallels between sport and business, using the hypothesis that competence and passion are the formula for success. You have to get up after you’ve fallen over, and you have to look ahead in a crisis – these rules apply to both worlds.
The SAP Congress for Banks on October 6 and 7 offered guidance in finding out which paths to the future are best option for the banking industry. The packed agenda at the Messe Frankfurt Congress Center featured almost 40 expert presentations, customer reports, and workshops, giving numerous insights into current developments and trends. Some 600 visitors accepted the invitation to the long-established event, now in its eleventh year. Such popularity exceeded the organizers’ expectations. Given the global financial crisis, they had anticipated far few participants. The concept and the wide range of subjects evidently struck the right note with the audience. Topics included risk management during economic downturns, the use of contact centers to manage sales, the global development of leasing, and – to give banks food for thought – examples of customer-focused offerings from other industries.
Workshops and live demos supplemented the expert presentations about SAP solutions, so attendees could enrich their knowledge even more. In addition, around 40 SAP partners showed off their products and services related to the SAP for Banking solution portfolio in the accompanying exhibition. With their industry expertise, partners play a key role in helping SAP meet customers’ IT requirements.
Targeted investment in the future
According to Martin Schroter, head of the Industry Business Unit Banking at SAP, the banks have their sights firmly set on the future. “Many customers see the crisis as an opportunity and will keep their IT budgets stable in the coming twelve months, or will increase them,” he explained in his keynote. These companies want to improve the quality of their business processes with targeted investments and support decision-making processes using sound information. “The banking industry is a strategic market for SAP. Our solution portfolio caters to demand,” Schroter said.
Dr. Werner Brandt, SAP’s Chief Financial Officer, explained that the current crisis is acting as a catalyst for more transparency. And he’s certain that SAP will profit from this development. Wilhelm Wälti, vice president for Financial Services Industries in SAP’s EMEA region, shared Brandt’s opinion. “In 2008, we acquired around 100 new customers from the banking sector – and we’re expecting similar figures for 2009, too,” Wälti said.
Learning from experience
The SAP Congress for Banks traditionally thrives on customer stories and the exchange of information among participants. And this year was no exception. Whenever board members and project leads from banks or financial service providers presented their current SAP projects, the lecture halls at the Congress Center were full – a clear indication that attendees wanted to learn from specific experiences with SAP solutions. For example, Eurohypo, a subsidiary of Commerzbank, implemented the SAP Bank Analyzer set of applications. Monika Boge, senior project manager for Group Finance at Commerzbank, gave an insight into the project, which included creating an integrated data basis to ensure that demanding data integrity requirements were met. “We now have a correct and complete basis for accounting in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards,” Bode said.
Many reference customers are pioneers in implementing certain SAP solutions. For instance, the Canadian bank ATB Financial is one of the first banks in North America to replace its entire core banking system with an SAP solution. The project is slated for completion next year, and Executive Vice President Ken Casey is responsible for the migration. “We want to grow and that’s why we need to be able to launch innovative products on the market faster,” he explained. ATB opted for the service-oriented architecture (SOA) concept and defined 40 enterprise services for business processes. The Argentinean bank Banco Galicia is also at the cutting edge with its SAP project. “Our old heterogeneous IT landscape meant we were no longer able to meet our customers’ requirements. SAP gives us the flexibility to react quickly to new developments,” explained CIO Eduardo Agra.
The selection of lighthouse customers at the event underlined the internationality of the SAP solution portfolio for the industry, which also benefits the customers in SAP’s German-speaking home market. As Schroter said to the audience: “Many of the new functions in our software are the result of globalization. Each customer comes to us with new requirements, which you then profit from.” And at the SAP Congress for Banks, it became clear that, for many customers, this investment protection is one of the most important reasons for choosing SAP.