Rules Before Tools! And Other Key Takeaways from OPEX Financial Services in Austin

I’m a 28-year sales and marketing vet, but have only been in the operational excellence space since July of last year when I became the Chief Marketing Officer at iGrafx. It’s been quite a journey up the learning curve, because for every three letter acronym I knew from all my years in sales, marketing, telecommunications and business process outsourcing, I think I’ve learned five or six incremental ones for this industry alone! Heck, the analysts can’t even decide if we’re in the BPM, BPMS, EA, DPA, GRC or RPA business. And don’t get me started on the AQPC PCF, BPMN and Digital Twins!

Seven months into my process excellence journey (last week), I got to attend IQPC’s OPEX Financial Services show in Austin and it was truly excellent to see and hear the latest & greatest industry wisdom in context. The vendors in the exhibit hall slotted nicely into logical areas in the “BPM ecosystem” – from process mining and discovery on one end of the continuum, to robotic process automation on the other. And the power users and thought leaders in the financial industry had great insights about their industry and about the evolution of process management overall.

Here are some of the thoughts and perspectives that resonated most:

  • Rules before tools! This was a sentiment shared by Eric Fleisher, iTeam Managing Director at TD Ameritrade. He was on a panel with Sarah Snyder, Head of Methodologies, Training and Sustainability at Zurich North America, and Jacqueline Parks, Chief Administration Officer, Enterprise Operations at Northern Trust. Sarah had just made the point that if you don’t have a process that works, no amount of technology will fix it.
  • Simplification is imperative! Bao Do, Business Architecture Manager at Wells Fargo Advisors shared data that showed that consumers are willing to spend 64% more for simpler experiences. “Easy to buy, easy to sell” has always been one of my mantras, so this one clearly struck a chord 😉
  • Don’t rust on your laurels… Is an awesome play on words that iGrafx Director of Product Marketing, Robert Thacker, came up with as we were commiserating with another show attendee. That person was complaining about how some “industry leading providers” expect what has worked for their customers in the past will just continue working in the future. Seems they missed the concept of “don’t get disrupted” that was discussed almost ad nauseum at OPEXFS.
  • $321 billion. Aboubacar Cissokho, Head of Discover Networks Lean Center of Excellence shared this interesting data point at the start of his presentation. If you didn’t know, this is the amount of fines that the biggest global banks have paid since 2008 for a variety of regulatory failures. With the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation right around the corner on May 25th, I suspect this number could going to start growing rapidly every bank that touches EU citizen’s data doesn’t get compliant.
  • Democratize the processes! This was another gem from Aboubacar who made the point that everyone in an organization needs the ability to collaborate on key business processes. Without input and iteration, the processes will never be adopted and improved upon as effectively and consistently as they should be.

There was lots more great insight, so if you haven’t ever attended an OPEX event, I suggest you consider it. Overall, for me, it was most satisfying and encouraging to glean the top 5 pearls of wisdom and know that iGrafx is executing passionately on every single one. From our GDPR Suite launch that took place the first day of the show, to our ongoing drive to encourage collaborative process management, to constant simplification of our solutions, we’re all over each of these.

If you took away other important insights or perspectives from the show, please share them here!

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