Connecting Your Community Panel at Symphony Innovate 2018
At Symphony Innovate 2018, panelists discussed how the financial industry is using technology like Symphony to connect with counterparties and collaborate more efficiently with their network. Read more in the full transcript below.
Goutam Nadella: Welcome to the community breakout session. We've been going through examples of how the community is coming together to build solutions to innovate. And continuing that conversation now, we have a very distinguished panel here.
We're going to talk about two topics. When we think about community it's a loaded word, right? Community is about bringing people together, it's about bringing platforms and solutions together, and how do we work together better as a community. As you all know, finance is not known to work well with each other. We have firms in finance but that's changing, and we're going to talk about why that's changing, how it's changing, how we can all work together better.
With that, I'll introduce the panel here, starting on my left. Lori Arndt from Deutsche Bank. She's a global head of ICG Client Analytics and Strategy, also the Head of America Advisory Sales. Craig Butterworth, to her left, Managing Director and Global Head of Client Ecosystem, at Nomura. Gab, I won't pronounce your name the way you do that. I don't have the Italian flair. Gabriele Columbro. Executive Director of FINOS. I've known Gab for a while, we worked together over at Symphony on the Foundation, and Mark Notten, CEO of Tier1CRM. Germán Soto Sanchez, President of Cloud9. Why don't we start with all of you giving a quick intro to your roles, and your firms, in the case of Lori and Craig. And the three of you, if you can talk a little bit about your firms as well. I'm sure everyone knows about Deutsche Bank and Nomura, but we’d love to know more about what you do, how you think about community in your roles.
Lori Arndt: Sure. I run client strategy for equities and fixed income, globally. I spend a lot of time trying to make sure internally that we're thinking about who are our clients, what resources are we giving them, how are we servicing them. What's the relationship, and how is the communication for all of those that cover the clients, across both equities and fixed income, across the globe?
I spend a lot time in particular related to CRM systems, related to data around clients and sharing that data, cleaning up that data, and again, focus on what should our strategy be related to the clients? Whether it's segments of clients or, obviously, specific clients.
G. Nadella: Great. Craig?
Craig Butterworth: Yes, my background... I guess a little bit similar to Brett actually on the panel earlier, I spent 15-16 years of my career as a fixed income sales person, then as Head of Sales, actually at RBC. I used to work with Kim as well, funnily enough.
Then took on this role as Global Head of Client Ecosystem. At the point of program launch, which was almost exactly two years ago, and the client ecosystem program, it's a business led, commercially focused, digital transformation program. Really everything we're doing is about improving client service, boosting internal efficiency and enhancing internal technology agility. Within the ecosystem program there are six different projects, but really sort of four foundational pillars, so client data clearly underpins every single digitalization effort at any firm. Not the most exciting, but nevertheless, the single most important component, our CRM client hub. So giving us that single pane of glass, where we can understand all our activities that happen with our clients, front to back, throughout the firm and in time to generate that predictive analytics aspect for sales people.
30 client life cycle management, so everything from the birth of a client through to the death of a client, and everything in between, onboarding client outreach, et cetera. Then last but certainly not least, Symphony, as that extensible open API communications backbone for the ecosystem.
G. Nadella: Great, thank you. Gab.
Gabriele Columbro: Gabriele Columbro, Executive Director of the FinTech Open-source Foundation, FINOS. Just a quick background on the company, some of you may remember me from the Symphony Software Foundation. Our company was formerly focused on building a community around Symphony, that's where we started in 2015. Earlier this year, actually last year, we realized there was a much broader opportunity in the industry to enable the same degree of collaboration and trust, as you mentioned, between large investment banks and FinTech players. And obviously buy-side in terms of solving common non-competitive problems, that all of us are really spending money, resources and you know, pain on.
Personal background: I come from open source. I spent 15-20 years in technology. Pretty much always on either commercial open source technology, or building communities. That's where, when I joined the financial services industry, I realized there was again a much broader opportunity to collaborate... especially a few things that were in my mind. Open-source has delivered some of the most important pieces of innovation over the last 20 years. If you consider Cloud, Blockchain, big data, or AIML, most of those technologies are actually built collaboratively in open-source and there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to do this in financial service, and that's why FINOS exists.
Mark Notten: I'm Mark Notten. I'm the CEO of Tier1CRM. We are a FinTech that focuses on the institutional sell-side and buy-side. We have a CRM product, which is platform gone Salesforce. We're a ten year old start-up, things have been going really well. We deliver a product across global banking and markets. Kim Prado was up earlier today, and actually a number of people on the panel are a customer, and we're very proud about that. So collaboration and doing that in a secure way, is table stakes, it's exactly what we need to be able to deliver, and collaboration in a way which is as frictionless as possible. We're very focused on workflow, we're very excited about Symphony and we think tremendous things... I was very excited about a lot of the things that I saw today with the bots. We're also at our heart, a technology company, we love technology and how to use it to enable new capabilities for our space. Yeah looking forward to this conversation today.
G. Nadella: Great.
Germán Soto Sanchez: Good afternoon. My name is Germán Soto Sanchez, I'm the President of Cloud9 Technologies. Cloud9 is a voice communications, and in platform that was purpose built to address the needs of institutional voice traders. Essentially our company was founded to dress the lack of innovation in the voice trading industry. To this day, voice trading is conducted using legacy 40 year old technology, which still manages the vast majority of global trade activity across asset classes, such as fixed income, currencies, and commodities. To this extent the Cloud9's solution, A. Embraces the cloud, and all the operational efficiencies with the cloud. B. Is focused on driving better economics for our customers. We typically save our customers up to 40% versus the legacy technology. C. It's software not hardware and so we're an application. And D. We deliver unique data and interoperability.
Our platform generates a significant amount of data, about conversations that traders have on a platform, and this is data that really hasn't been available beforehand. It's very unique data that's very valuable, and so part of our value proposition as well, as enabling our customers to access that data and to analyze that data to get some interesting insights.
Today our company has about 5000 active traders, on our platform, across 40 different countries and about 1.1 million trader conversations per day. That just gives you an overview of what the company does. Just in terms of my background before Cloud9, I used to work at J.P. Morgan Chase, in the Strategic investments team. I made a number of investments in FinTech. One of them was Cloud9, which is where I got to where I am today. Another investment though was, J.P. Morgan's investment in Symphony. So it's pretty rewarding seeing how Symphony has evolved over the last five years from when a bunch of banks initially invested in symphony, to where it is today.
G. Nadella: Great. Thank you. As you can see, a very various panel. We have people who are consuming technology like the two of you, from the sell side institutions, people who are building technology, and someone like Gab whose bringing everyone together, so it will be a good discussion.
A good place to start, I think, is to talk about “why does community really matter?” We can all do our own thing, we can all build cool tools and cool products, and either you're a consumer of technology or a builder of technology. Finance hasn't been historically great about working together as a community, so let's start with the question... I want to ask all of you, we can start with Lori and Craig, on why is that hard in finance? And I believe in having come from the sell-side it has changed in the last five to six years, and what's driving that change? So would love to hear your thoughts.
L. Arndt: I think why it's been hard in the past is for two reasons. One is the technology that each bank has, it's very different, it tends not to be even one system. So, every trading system is different, not all talk to each other, they don't talk about a client the same way, around the globe they're not all the same. So you've got such a complex system to begin with, that to try to have a conversation about doing things the same way, either externally with clients or across firms, is a little bit more challenging. I think that's one thing that's been an impediment.
I think the other thing frankly, is also, people not in the past. I think this has changed, having a view of what do you do that's really proprietary, really drives revenue versus what is just part of the workflow? It's everyone's workflow and frankly if we all spoke the same language and worked together for development of products, like Symphony, and the way you talk to your clients... actually that's not going to impede you, that's not going to help one of your competitors versus you.
I think, unfortunately I'm not sure the technology piece has changed. I know a lot of us have spent a good deal amount of time internally trying to upgrade our systems, make them more unified, but definitely the view of what is propriety, what really drives revenue versus what doesn't, that has changed. Which is, I think why a lot of us get together, whether it's around symphony or other products, and have conversations and share information, and try to make together a product better.
G. Nadella: That's right.
C. Butterworth: I think what's changed... why's that mindset and mentality shifted? I think if you step back, if you think about the current industry backdrop, market structure change, the ongoing regulatory burden that seems to get tougher with every month and year that passes, compressed people's post-quantitative easily, et cetera, et cetera. There are lots of big external challenges there that we all collectively face at industry level, then you combine that with the fact that each bank has its own flavor of, kind of the same internal challenges. In other words monolithic, side load, expensive technology stags. If you were starting with a digital challenge investment bank now, you would start nowhere near like where every bank is, but everyone has those same set of challenges.
Yes, they have their own version of them. You combine all those facts together, and then the fact that modern technology has just dramatically reduced the barriers to entry. You've got all these exciting FinTech's popping up, it's the perfect storm for the industry to come together. And exactly to Lori's point, think, “well hold on a minute, where do we collaborate? Where do we come to common standards, where there really is no differentiation?” That's good for everyone, right? That's good for banks because they reduce their cost base, that's good for driving sustainable industry profitability, because of that the regulators are happy as well. It's good for clients because modern technology enables you to cover clients in a much more personalized client centric way. So it's good for clients. And of course it's good for the FinTech's as well.
G. Nadella: Great. To summarize, I think both of you have the same viewpoint, which is that separate what's proprietary from what's really commoditized era of a standard set of workflows, that everyone can standardize on. And from your perspective that's really what's fueling the growth of Symphony or all your companies, which is people coming together to find solutions for common problems, especially from Tier1’s perspective and Cloud9. Do you see that changing, and you've come from J.P. Morgan, so you've seen both sides of the equation, Germán. What from your perspective has changed? And how is it, from being at Cloud9, how do you see it as a vendor now?
G. Soto Sanchez: I think as Lori and Craig mentioned, there are internal and external pressures, in addition to manage, if we think about how the trader desktop has changed over time, how the trader work pool has changed over time. There's a lot more pressure between them to manage a lot of activity with less time. When you look at the plethora of application that the trader has to manage, it's now very difficult to go from one work pool to another. And so it's forcing that integration connectivity to take place, and then you combine that with the fact that, as mentioned in terms of external pressures, for example with regulatory requirements. The regulators are now forcing all these applications as well, to be unified in some way, shape or form, either from a trader construction point of view, or something else. So, it's the combination of these pressures. Look, it's good for business in terms of generating revenue, but it's also good from a risk management point of view as well.
G. Nadella: As someone said this morning, all the budget seems to be going towards regulatory stuff, so you might as well take it back to Germán right? So it goes back to standardization. Mark, any comments from you?
M. Notten: So we were at Dreamforce last week, there were nearly 200,000 people. That's unbelievable.
G. Nadella: This is much bigger than that?
M. Notten: Yeah. Quality, not quantity. We had the sessions, I guess within Dreamforce, the conference within the conference. We ran several sessions on capital markets at Dreamforce. It was the most capital markets intensive, and I was polling the audience in every session that we led, and I asked a few basic questions. One thing I asked was, “Who's interested in artificial intelligence,” and every single person put up their hand. And I said, “How many people are doing it?” and very few hands remained up. Everybody wants to do these things, so what's changed is there's an expectation from Deutsche Bank, from Barclays, from RBC, to have constant innovation.
You know, one of our customers talked about the projects, like five years ago, where they talked about the day one requirements, and the day two requirements. The day two requirements are the ones that never get realized. This is not acceptable anymore. We all are getting multiple updates on our apps, pretty much every week, and that is the expectation in the enterprise level too. What's changed is the expectation change.
Second, I think is that there's been a significant attitude shift. We are regularly getting together with our customers, and we don't call it an advisory council or something, it is actually a client council, it is a community. And people get together who are all, put their armor on and compete with each other on the playing field of business, and they take their armor off and maybe it's the business guy's that put their armor on. And then the technology people take their armor off, and then they start talking to each other because they have to solve the same problems. Who wants to be the person responsible for delivering on these and... I'm going to say very ambitious goals and passive innovation. So by collaborating together it's possible to divide and conquer. I'm seeing an extraordinary level of sharing of information that would normally be completely proprietary. Like if one of our clients has done research on some type of technology, for example, actually will share that with other clients. So I think that attitude shift has changed.
I think the third thing is, it's actually possible to do it now, whereas before it wasn't. What makes it possible, is the majority of our customers want to have a single instance. In our case its CRM, a single veered crop of the client cross-banking and markets. Which means they're retiring sometimes several systems, like Kim Prado was up on stage and they retired four systems that they had across the firm. A different one for equities, for commodities and they had two systems for banking, I believe it was. Now they have a single system. Once you have single system, you have a single backplate, and you can start plugging in technology in a much more cost effective way. So it's the technology, the standards are coming together now, and the way Symphony is built, for example, is naturally designed for extensibility. It's not a closed box with the bots and everything else. So I think those are the factors that I see. Awesome part is the attitude change.
G. Nadella: Yeah exactly, and trust, right? And Gab, you're taking this to a whole different level. You're taking it beyond simple collaboration now, with bringing the concept of open-source and your finance, right? You probably have the toughest job of all of us, so love to hear your perspectives: over the last two-three years, how you've seen it evolve and what you think are some of the challenges or the positives really?
G. Columbro: I certainly make open-innovation and open-collaboration the biggest challenge in our company. This industry has been very familiar with at least trying to build common standards, that it brings it into a whole other level, which brings in potential regulatory concerns, and as it's been mentioned by the panel, business value is at, "Am I going to give away something that is my competitive initiative?" I think I'm very much aligned with the panel, which is good, because three of the four panelists are my members, so that's a good thing. But a better understanding of the business value of what's differentiating versus what's provisory has been sort of the first nut to crack.
Secondly, we're all highly industry competitive. I don't think this industry's more competitive than others, from what I've seen, but the understanding of the business value has allowed us to overcome some of those competitive concerns and really being able to understand what makes sense. Open-source is not charity, it is myth that open-source is free. Everyone is in open-source for doing their own thing and driving their own objectives. I think that will have a better outcome for the whole industry. I think a clear understanding of what's differentiating and What's proprietary has really helped us really focus on. We can actually collaborate on things that are known competitive, again without feeling that competition issue.
And then finally I want to tap on the cultural attitude aspect. I think it is with a generational change going on here. Banks want to be technology companies and I think that not only means selfishly working, collaborating more, like Silicon Valley does, like most SaaS software do. Think about Kubernetes, Hyperledger, there are many backbones of technologies that are completely open-source. But it's also related to millennials entering the workforce. Many of my counterparts that I have talked to, they tell me that during their interviews, because there is a big fight in the Valley in terms of talent, but they get interview questions like “what are you doing to give back to the community?” That's a big factor, when you want to get the best out of what is coming in, coming out of college right now.
So again, while open-source is not charity, it's certainly - again we’re a non-profit, open-source foundation - it certainly provides a way for developers, top talent, who are not just motivated by money, but motivated by solving problems collaboratively to attack broader problems they will not be able to solve in a silo culture. I think the culture of change has really helped a lot and over three years ago when I was talking open-source to this crowd, it probably triggered a DLP audit or something like that. Right now we have more and more banks and FinTechs collaborating and trusting each other to have these conversations.
G. Soto Sanchez: If I can give a quick testimony to what Gab said, cause we’re members of FINOS, and there's actually a project that we submitted to FINOS, with one of our competitors. This was something that, probably two-three years ago, it's not something that would have come across our minds at all or whatsoever. But the fact of the matter is, as mentioned beforehand, what's your core competency verus what isn't? They're areas that we both need on that core competency will really further the industry and future both of our products and solutions, and so it wasn't the easiest process.
G. Columbro: Yep.
G. Soto Sanchez: Gab was involved, but there's definitely a role for FINOS and for the ability to really think about what to open-source and collaborate this fashion.
G. Nadella: And certainly from a community and also like you said, millennials, they want to involve consumers as well as contribute back right?
G. Soto Sanchez: Yeah.
G. Nadella: That's an amazing trend to see. I definitely didn't think that way when I started at Goldman Sachs, but that's changed, which is very impressive, and it's good to see that and that's how we grow as a community.
The other question for the panel is, with outcomes, with that collaboration and what's happening today comes innovation, and that innovation is very fragmented today because it's not anymore the big banks doing it. it's not anymore a small group of vendors who have all the marketing or the pricing power doing it, it's small firms doing it, like Cloud9 and Tier1 and others too. Symphony is one example of those.
But from your perspective of the banks, how do you think about the challenges that come with it? To service a client, for example, you want to better service your client, or your sales people and all the intelligence, but then if you have to use 10 different vendors to do that, with those innovations across the community. What are the challenges you are seeing with that, and how do you cope with all of those challenges, when you have so many vendors you have to work with to solve one problem?
L. Arndt: The first consular wishing that they start working together and they say, "okay, if these four companies got together, it's the perfect solution for these 20 problems, that power". I think the industry is doing and trying to figure what for each individual one, who's probably going to be the winner in the long term, in terms of whose got the philosophy and the approach, that they think will rule out most of the competition for that same thing. Who's got a similar philosophy to your bank, in terms of how they’re approaching it, and ideally whose got the wider scope, maybe not today but in the future, what they've got planned?
There are many problems where you have to get multiple vendors involved, and it's also nice when they're willing to talk to each other and work together as well. So for example, having Tier1 and Symphony working together, makes life a lot easier versus having to try to come up with yourself.
G. Nadella: Or try to do everything yourself.
L. Arndt: So I think again over time you've seen where a few different vendors start out together, go out on their own, and then find their way to each other.
G. Nadella: Bring it together.
L. Arndt: Yeah, and it's always introduction just from the streets, you all should talk, whether it's because the banks or investors and they're just users and clients of theirs. I think we eventually wind up with, I don't want to say comrades but clusters of firms working together.
G. Nadella: To solve a problem, right?
L. Arndt: To solve a problem sort of from front end to back end will be...
G. Nadella: And certainly the approach we have and from Symphony's perspective, it's good to hear from you, and also I want open it up, but Craig I would love to hear your thoughts as well.
C. Butterworth: Yeah.
G. Nadella: At Nomura?
C. Butterworth: I just think it's... the FinTechs have just got such an important role to part to play. We've touched on already, banks are super heavy regulated, there's a lot of muscle memory and probably scar tissue there as well as muscle memory and trading for them really, really tough crowd.
For FinTechs to be able to be agile, to really truly have that fail first mentality, they can do that in a way that a bank absolutely can't ever do. The flip side to that is that with some exceptions in general, even if some of the key people in FinTechs have been in banks, once you leave a bank, it's constantly changing, so banks know better than anyone externally exactly what are the key pressure points for them at any given moment in time. You know the big challenges, the big opportunities, so what that means is, if you get the right vendors working for the right banks, that partnership where you both bring each other skills together, is so important for driving true innovation.
I think to touch on Lori's point though, it's a fast-moving space, so knowing who's going to be the winner, which technology's going to be the winner... None of us have crystal balls, that's not easy. I think related to that is this point of interoperability, which is super, super important, because if you have truly interoperability vendors who are playing with common standards, which is obviously a big role for FINOS, to play there. But that means as technology evolves, those clients need changes. So you need different tools for a given job, you could evolve without it a big heavy expensive process, and so interoperability is really important for driving user experience at any given moment in time, but it's also key for helping the whole industry because agile going forward.
G. Nadella: Yeah absolutely and so to touch on interoperability, Germán and Gab as well.
C. Butterworth: Can I just say interoperability?
G. Nadella: Interoperability, so... The question is a tough one. I've struggled with this question and Gab you probably have a lot of perspectives on this, and I'm sure Mark and Germán as well. When you think about standards and all these questions, I've been in technology, I've been in the business and client perspective. The question I have for you is, does the solution come first or does the standard come first? Because there is a danger I see, where you talk about client and standards and you'll never get a solution out, and that world's going to change.
So the question is, what comes first and how do you balance the issue? Is it chicken or egg? Is it that kind of issue? Or is it something else?
M. Notten: That's an easy one, I think you have to listen to your customers, your customers tell you what you need. If you try to think things, you know, you’ll be too rigid before you've actually had that opportunity to integrate. What Tier1 does now versus what we did in our first year, we have faced a series of ever-growing, more levels of sophistication, based on all sorts of things, regulatory change, how training source inter-operate, how bankers inter-operate as well and changing dynamic.
You have to have a very agile approach and how you build your technology. I think for us, the first and foremost, was the platform we decided to build on. Ten years ago it was a hell of a risk frankly to build on the Salesforce platform, because at that time they didn't have 2500 people at their conference, they were smaller than this conference, for sure.
G. Nadella: So you know that Symphony’s not going to be attending.
M. Notten: Yeah. They had Metallica by the way. That was my favorite. So what I'm looking forward to is the quality and the size of the companies, directly proportionate to the ROI that you can get. I think the standards have to come later, but naturally I think by having local consistency, open-standards, so things like web services and API's that interact without having a lot of really rigid standards, we can actually have our products all work together. I know we can integrate our projects together very easy. We put together an integration in Symphony, and it only took about two days.
What the next piece is though, in order for that interoperability to actually make any sense, is something I said a minute ago, and Brett Tejpaul of Barclays talked about this morning. If we have something to thank MiFID II for, is it's cleaned up the data. You have to have clean data, and that's one of the great bi-products. Once you have a common identifier, and a client hierarchy that make sense, for example, and then you can mount that back to securities and various other metadata.
Now, you can actually have all of our different projects inter-operate seamlessly together, and you don't have to get too rigid. Not to say that I think standards are obviously critically important, but I think you lobbed up a softball, and I think the business requirements' come first, the technology that's designed and architected well, it matters is very much. And then after that you start to lock things down more with standards, and then you can really let the horse stand out.
G. Nadella: Germán?
G. Soto Sanchez: I would just add I agree with that, I think a good example of that is Symphony. If you go back a few years ago, a number of national institutions went through a thought process of, "We've had experiences with other solutions that have locked us in, whether it's been Cloud9, et cetera.
And so coming out of that was an emphasis, and a need to focus on solutions that provided openness, interoperability. Because from that it stands, if one solution works you can plug in something else, or plug in five, choose from ten different solutions. That flexibility became extremely important for financial service firms. I think what you've seen is that transition where not only are institutions looking for solutions that provide them with that openness and interoperability, but from a vendor point of view, for us to thrive and survive, we're not going to go to a bank and say, "use us and if you use us, you can't use anybody else, you're going right out the door."
We've got to provide something that on top of that, wait, you can use us and we can integrate with all these outer solutions as well, it's more value add for you but also it gives you the kind of protections that you need. And so that evolution I would say, Symphony was a perfect start for that, although there were others beforehand, but it's continued and increased over the last few years.
G. Nadella: Yeah and I think that's remarkable. I think it's very hard for anyone with a closed ecosystem today, to grow or just to even survive, and that's remarkable to see that change. Gab, any comments from you?
G. Columbro: Yeah, I definitely have an opinion. Maybe it's just me because I'm Italian. No, I think there's no silver bullet answer to that question. I think to me the answer, is sort of how much you're going to invest in development, versus building the solution versus messing on a more strategic, as you say, potentially slower process of moving of standard. To me the first question you need to ask yourself is, going back to the business value conversation is, what is your business model? Are you building a solution or are you building a platform. I know “platform” is a very overloaded word, but I think about the economics around, whether you're building a very specific solution to solve one problem. Well in that case probably you want to put 100% of your resources on building the solution, because that's what's going to give you value.
If you're building a platform that is meant to create an ecosystem on top of it, then ideally and open, organically growing ecosystem, connecting people that produce value to those who consume value. Then you have a much stronger stake in one thing to build, open standards, and I would even argue, open-source on top of it, because that's what's going to generate value for you, rather than the platform itself. I think starting from that conversation, there's then a different investment mix that you're going to put into that, and I would argue that again, we don't only do open-source, we do open-source with open-standards, we have open APIs. I think one way that we conjugate open-source world, this brave new world for financial services is really helping hand-holding across these levels of maturity of collaboration… open standards and open APIs, and nirvana is open source.
There's a big clash happening between open-standards people and open-source people, those communities. Just because they come from very different backgrounds and there are very different approaches. Some providing pretty much the same collaborative solution as open-standing needs to be top down, often done in a closed room by business people and analyses.
G. Nadella: And a small group.
G. Columbro: And often times they don't get picked up. On the other hand open-source sometimes is very unstructured, bottom up, developer-driven and sometimes the business value. I think there is a mix of the two picking the right solution which actually allows you to still invest in standardizing your interfaces, while not... if you pick the right technique whether it's open API, open-standard or open-source, I think you can still keep the investment, have a higher economic investment for what your putting...
G. Nadella: Yeah and...
G. Columbro: Strategic.
G. Nadella: Right, so basically you're going with the mindset of openness with the value of business value first?
G. Columbro: Yes.
G. Nadella: And build on it. I do want to leave time for questions from the audience but quickly from the panel, and you can feel free not to answer the question too. But if you can the ask the audience or the community at large, if you had to change one behavior so we can work better as a community, what would that be? I think we've made quite a lot of progress as a community but what can we change to work better with each other?
C. Butterworth: I guess, not exactly answering your question, but not so much as change of behavior but the mindset that comes back to my earlier point around certainly on the bank side kind of around democratizing innovation, right in a way that's a broader theme. You know open-source is one manifestation of that, but I think within a bank in terms of innovation can't happen in the back, it can't happen just, it has to be a blend there too, there has to be a top down commitment but that has to be the right forums for people to feel that there's engagement there.
I think that's really key for that stuff to stick and I think related to that people have to be galvanized around the particular challenges or opportunities relevant to that moment in time because if people just go off and play with the cool just for the sake of it, that's brilliant and there's something to be learned from that, but that's never going to be self-sustaining.
So trying to create that environment where yes you're encouraging people to think encumbered but then really quickly galvanizing the industry around those primary focus to keep that self-sustain momentum. I think in my head, that's the key for this whole broader collaborative community to really have success for many years to go.
L. Arndt: And just to add one thing. I think it also has to be three different areas, so you need a front office, you need the middle office and you need technology. And you need that mindset across all three. You need that feeling of contribution, and it's in that sort of box, where I can really think here because this is my world.
G. Nadella: So even within an institution, yeah, absolutely. Any other comments?
G. Columbro: Yes. You want to go first?
M. Notten: If I look at the problems of our customers, the ones that are sharing in common, there's maybe one structural additional thing that I would ask which is, “is there somewhere for us to solve the data problem in particular?” All of our customers struggle with trying to keep up with things like contact and all the dynamically changing things, from a data perspective. I'm wondering if the data equation is a big problem we're trying to solve collaboratively, just to lob it up there but something like crowdsourcing data for example, I think everyone would benefit from that. So I try to.
I feel like we have a real dialogue with our customers in terms of the collaboration equation and the collaboration equation as it's coupled with intention to try to create proprietary value add and I think as a community we're doing pretty well on that front, so I'm trying to think ahead, what else can we change?
Maybe my other question. So what is this AI thing? And what are the best possible benefits that we can realize A.I for, it's a bit of a joke but it's a reality and I think AI's changing everything world not just in our business world but every part of our world. I think artificial intelligence can be an absolute sea change and it's kind of interesting to come up, maybe identify ask everybody what do you want to do with AI, and how many people are doing it, and it's so ambiguous, but everybody wants it.
G. Nadella: Everyone wants it.
M. Notten: I'd like to crystallize it and start work.
G. Soto Sanchez: I would say in terms of question, are the business and technology fully aligned? I think for us, especially when you look at our product that we provide, I think traditionally it's a product that historically has been purchased by the technology organization.
Nowadays, our product that we have, is one that is typically discussed with the business heads. So we meet with heads of trading, et cetera, which is not the typical audience that folks that have historically dealt with trader voice deal with. And one of the key things that we notice, that at times there is a misalignment between the technology team and the business: technology wants to be careful, technology wants to be thoughtful, business wants a solution yesterday.
From that point of view, I think it's the need to create that alignment within the organization, so if our solution triggers we say "this is going to add significant value.” Technology people, “okay, how do we implement it? Was there a compliance angle to it? How does it work with surveillance, et cetera.” I think these are problems that happen everywhere. I think institutions are getting better at reaching that alignment, but it's something that still needs to percolate across the organization
G. Nadella: Great. Thank you. Any questions from the audience?
G. Columbro: Do you want a closing comment?
G. Nadella: Sure. Yes.
G. Columbro: Just wanted to tap on the data conversation because we actually have a sell side and a buy side, not going to name now, but we're actually working on references data. We're not planning to become a sandbox or anything like that. But it's more like an approach: if we can shift tools that every bank is working on to actually clean that data, I think that's really helpful.
My one ask is stop buying beanbags. I'm not a huge fan of - and hopefully I'm not offending anyone here - but I'm not a big fan of innovation in a box. I do think innovation does have to be something that permeates the whole organization, we go back to the cultural aspect we were discussing before... I don't think the top talent is going to pick a bank versus Google because of the amount of beanbags it has, and things like that. I think actually working on the culture throughout the organization, making sure innovation is enabled, and allowing people to be able to contribute to open-source because that's the GitHub generation, that's how they were born. Again, we know that it's complicated and want to help but I think that's going to yield in the long run on a much higher degree of innovation and sort of better outcome in the talent.
G. Nadella: Certainly more sustainable if it's part of the culture. Questions from the audience? You and then her.
Audience Member: This is primarily a question for Lori and Craig, how do guys think about encouraging people at your company to connect with their community in the more basic sense. Are you guys enabling all your users to talk externally, and are you encouraging them to reach out to other parties out of their firms? And how, if so?
L. Arndt: Do you mean with Symphony specifically?
Audience Member: Yes with Symphony specifically.
L. Arndt: I'm personally thrilled every time a client gets onto Symphony, and it's another way to have that conversation, so I actually actively speak to clients about Symphony. I'm a big fan of it, in particular, just alone on the chat functionality. I actually had to learn what hashtags were at the time that it came out, I will admit to that, I had to ask my son, "explain it again." But now that I've figured it out that forum, and being able to hashtag things so that you can not only highlight it to other people for signals, but yourself more importantly. I no longer have to think, "wait a second, I know I filled in the folder," but I always outsmart myself, where exactly did I file it? Ten layers into the conversation to remember it.
So we absolutely use it externally, I use it externally, I would love more clients on it. I actually see other uses for it, coming back to community, I'd love to see one of the businesses I'm involved in, and have been for many years as corporate access, it's a great way of if there's no standard way to communicate with clients about that. I think there could be a community around that as well, so yes absolutely encourage it.
Audience Member: Is your whole firm enabled to, middle office and are they all enabled to talk?
L. Arndt: I can't speak for every aspect of the firm, I know the groups that I work with and I know those that touch clients, that I work in the operations also use it, but I can't speak for to every.
C. Butterworth: In a mirror context... We've got about 14,000 users on Symphony, so it's our whole piece, from the front office right through all the corporal functions, et cetera. We consciously went down that track in terms of the internal workflow aspect, like some of the bots you saw earlier. Because there was a clear value proposition there, straight out the box, even before the external community came online. So we're getting value from the platform already.
However, we've externally enabled all of our global markets, our trading business, globally. They are enabled. For those other functions I mentioned, they can absolutely get access but they just have to request it. We're just agreeing with compliance and it seems it'll switch everyone on in one hair, but to be frank it is something that we'll probably go back and review, whether middle-office, back-office stuff that has been up and running, communicate with, it does make sense a few more groups on at a block level.
G. Nadella: Thank you. I think there's one more question.
Audience Member: What communicate without integrating community, what are we doing to integrate the regulars into other communities?
G. Columbro: That would be an interesting one.
G. Nadella: It's a very tough question.
G. Columbro: The problem we face today is more regulatory than technology, at least. I'll let you know what our plan is. This year it was too early for us to engage directly with regulators, next year is something that is definitely in our plan. I do think that specifically, compliance requirements, regulatory requirements are the perfect definition of areas where we could collaborate, because there are common requirements for the whole industry, therefore by definition, non-competitive.
There's a lot of lock-in happening on implementing some of these requirements. I think actually having an open-source implementation, or at least an open collaboration is very valuable, and will deliver, ultimately, value to the banks and to the bankers who are implementing those requirements.
And I think third, it's part open-source, there is an absolute aspect of transparency, which in my expectation is that the regulators would appreciate them, coming from Europe. I used to live in Holland ten years ago. I remember the Queen asking for open-source in every public tender... you should explain why you're not bringing an open-source to the public tender for the government. I still have to discuss with the board in terms of the practical approach for next year, but it's certainly something on our radar to really work with them, to help us promote open-source as a better way of implementing regulatory requirements.
G. Nadella: Thank you very much for a very insightful conversation.