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Fujitsu Forum 2018 brought together organisations from all sectors to talk about the importance of collaboration in digital transformation. And some of the most interesting examples came from the financial services (FS) sector.

Finance companies are no strangers to digitalisation as a means of meeting changing customer expectations. Indeed, a recent Fujitsu survey showed the FS sector is among the most advanced with 89% working towards digital transformation (DT) and 29% reporting positive outcomes.

In this blog post, I’m going to explore the key FS learnings from Fujitsu Forum. Read on to find out more – some of them might surprise you.

Banks are leading the DT charge

Just last month, Fujitsu announced a partnership with NatWest to use its “quantum-inspired” digital annealer to decide on the right composition for the bank’s £120bn high quality liquid assets portfolio. They’re the assets every UK bank must hold as a buffer in case they run into financial trouble, and the digital annealer can complete a highly complex calculation at 300 times the speed of a normal computer.

Other banks are using artificial intelligence (AI) to tackle the growing issue of money laundering. Machine learning can learn and identify when money is moved between suspicious geographies or rapid movement of funds between several accounts.

I’ve previously blogged about the importance of agility for successful transformation in the FS space.

At this year’s Forum, I hosted the ‘What is the future for ‘value-centric’ banking services?’ breakout session alongside representatives from UBS and Ibercaja, and Jerry Silva, research director for global retail banking at IDC.

People before technology

Leandro Hermida is Ibercaja’s CIO, but he believes in people before technology – especially when it comes to digital transformation. His advice for financial services organisations going undergoing the digital transformation process was to find support from the top of the organisation downward and commit to breaking up silos that have developed over time.

We are starting to change mindsets; for example, we have introduced a collaborative approach in the marketing department. At first, the team was very resistant [to the use of technology] but are now realising that their preconceptions about customer needs weren’t all accurate. We have to push people out of their comfort zone in order to change for the better.”

Lucas Opokoa heads up digital banking innovation and development at UBS, and agrees that while top-down is extremely important, true agility depends upon the people at the coalface being involved as well:

“Of course, it is up to management to define the strategy, but that strategy has to be validated on the ground. It’s also important that employees are able to make their own decisions, otherwise [good people] just won’t want to work there.”

And those good people are a scarce resource. Jerry Silva warned: “Banks just don’t have the skills they need to modernise. Recently IDC was asked to research 200 AI developers at US banks. We could only find 53. Kids coming out of college don’t want to work in banks: they want to be CEOs of their own start-ups.”

Co-create to close the gap between strategy and execution

That’s where partnerships come in. Fujitsu’s Digital Transformation Centres bring together people from across customer organisations to work with Fujitsu experts to come up with a range of digital solutions that can be tested and deployed at speed.

Old-style IT service contracts are the antithesis of agile. So at Fujitsu, we’ve redesigned our contracts to ensure teams collaborate closely to deliver services quickly and flexibly.

This “co-creation” approach helps customers struggling with the gap between digital strategy and execution to bridge the gap and accelerate change.

Banks need to redefine themselves as advanced, agile technology companies to deliver transparent, secure and constantly available banking services. Fujitsu is helping them do just that.

The financial future

Financial services is a famously tricky sector to understand, let alone predict. The huge complexity inherent in every FS organisation means that digital transformation is necessary, but difficult.

Success therefore lies in partnerships, and in utilizing a wide net of expertise to create the best solutions and find the right technology.

The future of FS lies in this direction, as Fujitsu Forum demonstrated.

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