(MENAFN - Arab News) Technology experts from 100 Arab banks will gather in Abu Dhabi to discuss the Arab banking innovation and competitiveness from April 10-11.
"IT spends in banking and financial services grew in 2011 and look poised for modest growth in 2012. Banks feel pressure both to reduce costs and to innovate. There are multiple ways to cut costs but the only way to simultaneously reduce unit costs and innovate is through technology. Hence, IT investment continues even in the most difficult times and even while operational portions of the IT budget are themselves under attack, as we foresee next year," said Rashed Al-Othman, CIO of Bank Albilad in Saudi Arabia, who will be a panelist at the FT summit in Abu Dhabi.
The 8th Financial Technology Summit & Meetings Middle East, which will be held at the Beach Rotana Hotel, is dedicated to the IT decision makers of the top Arab Banks, a platform to facilitate the dialogue between IT leaders of the Arab banking industry. The summit will highlight the key role of technology as a key driver for the competitiveness of Arab Banking industry.
Organizers confirmed that the summit will have industry experts from financial institutions in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt and the UAE.
Srood Sherif, group CIO, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, a speaker at the summit, said: "Innovation is no longer a "nice-to-have" flavor of the month. Rather, it is an essential element for survival. The burning desire to transform, retool, or rework in producing the highest quality of output automatically ignites the competitiveness at the individual and the organization levels. The key to maintaining this burning desire resides within the inter-working of the intellectual capital of the bank comprising financial personnel and technologists."
"For example, Wells Fargo has established itself since 2006 to effectively utilize blogging and social media for its customer retention strategy. Deutsche Bank decided to enter the social media frenzy utilizing the desktop video strategy. Asian banks also achieved competitive advantage through innovation by migrating from CRM to the core banking that rapidly addressed various needs of emerging markets," added Srood.
Fadi Chehayeb, general manager, group support, National Bank of Kuwait, who will be giving a presentation on the first day of the summit, said: "For many, innovation is associated with the introduction of new products and services to allow them to compete with other banks who offer the same. For some, it is the first bank to introduce new products and services in the local market and lead the competition. The business leads these changes, and IT departments cannot keep up with the demand. In other banks, IT plays a key role of innovator, but the IT driven ideas sometimes fail to address local market requirements and never take off."
Joachim Von Heimburg, a keynote speaker at the summit and one of the prominent international innovation experts, added: "The world has become flat, hot and crowded and as a consequence business is changing faster and more radically than ever. Innovation is the only way to survive and thrive in this challenging environment. It's up to innovate or die."
Khaled Eid, CEO of The World Development Forum, said: "Innovation is becoming the password to compete in the global market: The race for market share in an increasingly globalized economy is based on the efficient assimilation and analysis of information and a rapid response to market conditions."