Once upon a time in Toronto…

20 Sep

With Starbucks in my hand and today’s Globe and Mail under my arm, I entered the swarm of early-rising bankers waiting outside the Metro Toronto Convention centre for SIBOS 2011 dressed up in their business formals. Living in Silicon Valley, there aren’t a lot of times one gets to see sights like this. Metal detectors! Really?

First Order of Business: The Innotribe opening event «The power of the Tribe».

OK! First things first – Innotribe has some really cool music compilers and they definitely know a thing or two about showmanship from mood lighting in an amphitheatre style session to the ethnic drummer that actually was super effective in getting people’s attention away from their BlackBerries to the presentation.

For a CEO, Lázaro Campos is a very friendly person. (He winks!) He clearly sees Innotribe as the future of SWIFT. He described them as the strongest brand SWIFT has created in the last 30 years

The first speaker I got introduced to was the lady with purple highlights in her hair. This was definitely someone with a familiar California attitude and a warm smile compared to the square looks on everyone else’s faces. She is Heather Schlegel, CEO of PurpleTornado (that explains the purple highlights in the hair!). She had this really cool video about four people splitting a restaurant bill in the future. They tipped in Space Flight credits! However, the coolest thing about the video is that all the enabling technology already exists. Now, it is up to businesses to actually provide the service.

You guys… You have to go to the library and borrow a copy of Bank 2.0. Seeing Brett King in the flesh and hear his (very Australian accented) views about the changing business of banking as he sparred Dan Robles was delightful. I am surely (and sorely) waiting for movenbank to be available back in the US and start building up my CRED: Brett’s measure of financial credibility sounds like it is going to knock Credit Scores hollow.

«Social Data and Collaboration»

I am a member of the Social Data Lab at Stanford University. Ergo, I went into this session pretty gunned about people’s attitudes to social data. Coming from Silicon Valley, where you can’t find a single piece of advertising without a web address, QR code or a plea to take a facebook, twitter or foursquare action, I should have guessed that the rest of the world  sees things very differently. I still need to see social media activity about Google Wallet in Toronto considering bankers from all over the world are here. 😦

Dan Marovitz of Buzzumi reminded us that currency is nothing without a strong  collective faith in it. Over the years, a lot of  objects have been used as currency. He told a fishy story about how salted mackerel replaced cigarettes as the informal currency of the US prison system. We are living in a day and age when we increasingly believe in the value of data. Maybe, we will turn that into currency at some point. I can’t wait for the Future of Money session.

But everyone seems to still think of social data as the content it represents. I agree it is valuable but as someone who has done a bit of social data analytics, I know that it is very messy. A lot of resources will go into cleaning any social data before it is useful as content. However, the clearer signals that social data makes available like relationships and location seem more promising to me. Let’s wait and see how banks decide to use social data. But Chase and ING to me seem far far ahead than in terms of making
applications  based on relationships they can import off social media.

Deep Dives are a super cool learning paradigm. After the keynote, everybody does a group exercise that provides them with an opportunity to learn from each other! I now feel that conferences waste an immense amount of expertise that is present in any room where they hold lecture-like sessions. They practically rob the participants of the experience of learning from each other by solving a problem together. Humans have been improving communication technology for thousands of years. We really need to understand that relationships are not based on communication, they are based on shared experiences. So, solving a problem together is also a sterling networking opportunity. I see it as social learning!

I guess we will learn and teach a few things about being cool as well as being modern bankers this week thanks to Innotribe. 😉

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