This is a guest blog post by Wissam Khoury, regional managing director, SunGard Financial Systems, Middle East

The choice of Dubai for Sibos this year is an excellent one. Growing in sophistication and increasingly taking on a regional leadership role, the Emirate is at the centre of the rapidly evolving Middle East financial services landscape.  Such a fast pace of change brings with it a number of challenges that banks and other institutions need to face in order to capitalize on the opportunities that change also brings.

This situation is best expressed in the field of innovation. Taking advantage of the latest technologies to provide new service offerings is a must for any business wanting to grow its customer base. But new offerings can bring significant business risk if supporting operational processes are not put in place and capital and operating costs are not kept to a minimum.

At Sibos this year, SunGard will be focusing on the theme ‘operational excellence: improving efficiency through innovation and collaboration.’  A prominent aspect of this for the Middle East region is the need for banks to achieve operational maturity and ensure their back-office processes are as advanced as the front office functions they support.

In particular, operations managers in Middle East banks are faced with a vastly increased range of products and services being delivered through online and traditional ATM/card networks.  This has brought with it a dramatic increase in transaction volumes that need to be accurately reconciled.  Without greater sophistication on this operations side, banks leave themselves open to risks of fraud, network and bank vulnerability.

So growth does bring with it great opportunities, but it also brings risks which should not be overlooked.  Increasing and strengthening the tools available to operations managers – making their job easier and more effective – is a key way to tackle to the issue. Automating operations processes with new technology forms a large part of this, but for maximum effectiveness, this technology should also be easily accessible and easily deployed.

The growth in mobile devices like tablets amongst consumers in the Middle East to carry out their banking activities has spread to the workplace. The flexibility, portability and instant connectivity of tablets offer a huge advantage to operations managers as they seek continuously to monitor and respond to critical operational risk indicators. Tablets also allow them to be connected anytime, anywhere. This allows them to be able to provide the transparency into
risk metrics required to help banks comply with new regulations. This also means that banks can safely offer the expanded services that will help them grow.

Windows 8 technology has been an important factor for SunGard in providing solutions to help operations managers and the banks they work for achieve this. The affordability and enhanced security of Windows 8 complements the rich functionality of SunGard’s IntelliMatch to address the growing need for increased connectivity with reconciliations processes.  While this is a worldwide phenomenon, it has particular resonance in the Middle East where the local population is increasingly at the forefront of new technology adoption.

SunGard’s experts will be at booth B87 during all of the Sibos conference being held in Dubai’s World Trade Centre this week and available to show how SunGard’s solutions and services can help financial institutions achieve operational maturity.  They will also be focusing on how SunGard can help organisations manage derivatives market change and achieve corporate actions excellence.  And at the Microsoft stand, another SunGard tablet will be on display which has been designed to help retail banks improve customer service levels, enhance branch efficiency and increase revenue-generating opportunities.

Running through all these themes is the common idea of how innovation can help institutions grow whilst improving efficiency.  Managing this process effectively is critical for the finance industry to benefit from the changes taking place in both local and global economies. SunGard is helping its customers in the Middle East and around the world do just that.