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IDC Financial Insights' AFS Congress returns with a stellar line up of speakers from the FSI industry

Posted by: Li-May Chew in A.F.S. @ 3:05 PM

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Li-May Chew

On February 25-26, as many as 500 financial industry practitioners across the region are expected to converge in Singapore for the 6th Asian Financial Services (AFS) Congress.  This year's  Congress, which takes on the theme "Prescriptions for the Upturn - What Next?", is based around lessons learned from the recent financial crisis and how banks should set themselves up for the return of less turbulent times.

Hot topics that will be featured in the Congress include: where value can be build in the period of uncertainty; how Asia's institutions should create and rebuild their franchise; what technology investments have been pushed to the top of the agenda; and, where the opportunities for business transformation and operational innovation lie.

Here are a selection of presentations lined-up for the AFS Congress:

Weathering the Perfect Storm: Sustaining Growth During Market Turmoil
by Ray Ferguson, Regional CEO, Singapore and SEA, Standard Chartered Bank
The financial tsunami has resulted in the decline of revenue or even the failure of some institutions worldwide. While some may have failed, others are showing signs of turnaround. How do you sustain growth during the crisis and more importantly, gear your processes and resources to capitalize on the recovery? Standard Chartered Bank will share the lessons learnt from the financial crisis and how they managed to perform well during the turbulent period.

Tomorrow's Retail Bank: A Path of Transformation
by Michael Lor, Group CEO, EON Bank Group
Amid the financial crisis and dip in global consumer spending, Asia remains profitable and offers an avenue for growth. How can financial institutions leverage on the opportunities presented during this crisis? EON Bank will be sharing their journey of transformation and insights on the potential pitfalls.

The Top 10 Strategic Initiatives for Asia/Pacific Banks in 2010 - Investing for the Comeback
by IDC Financial Insights' regional team of analysts
This session highlights the business and technology issues that will be relevant to the recovery of Asia/Pacific's financial institutions, and how these priorities bear on the plans of technology providers that serve the banking industry.

At the break-out sessions, hear from other industry thought-leaders as they share their views on:

  • Next generation of banking
  • Establishing a customer centric framework for financial institutions
  • Retail payment and transaction banking of the new world
  • Optimizing technology to enhance services and infrastructure
  • Evolution of outsourcing/shared services beyond cost arbitrage
  • What are the issues of compliance for the emerging Asia and how can the firms work with the regulators?
  • Post-Crisis regulatory implications on Asia/Pacific – what is the impact for financial services industries across Asia/Pacific?
  • Effective approach for shaping the risk management framework

This is definitely an event not to be missed for executives in the  financial services industry.

For a full description of the agenda and speakers, you can visit AFS Congress 2010 or register here

I look forward to see you there!

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The China v. Google standoff: An end to the Chinese consumer myth?

Posted by: Claus Mortensen in WebSpace x.0 @ 12:06 PM

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Claus Mortensen
Google has received much media attention ever since the company announced its plans to stop censoring its search results on google.cn. Until now, because Google is operating its Chinese search site from data centers outside the “Great Firewall of China”, the company has only been allowed to offer search services in China if it agrees to censor the search results according to the Chinese governments’ directions.  Even so, access to Google’s China site has been blocked in the past – most recently, under the pretext of Google not properly blocking pornography on its Google.cn site. Recent hacking attacks on the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, attacks that allegedly originated from China, seem to have been the last straw for the company, and prompted it to review its business operations in China. In what appears to be an ultimatum to the Chinese government, Google announced that it would no longer censor its search results, although the company would seek to discuss how it “could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all”.

Clearly, the Chinese government does not take kindly to ultimatums, and consequently, the only possible outcome appears to be for Google to exit the Chinese market. This is certainly a surprise move by Google, seeing that the company has fought hard and long to establish itself in the China Internet search market. It has clearly not been easy for Google since it started its China operations in 2005, although it has managed to steadily gain market share against other domestic search engines. By the end of 2009, Google had captured approximately 30% of the market, with leading search engine Baidu at about 65%. Although Google is not used to being second in many markets, the position appeared promising.  So the decision to pull out of China is certainly surprising. It defies conventional wisdom that has been telling us for the last five years that China is a market that every large brand must be in, a market that will fuel growth as mature markets stagnate, and a market that will outspend all of us by 2020. But the numbers seem pretty clear: despite all of Google’s investments, hard work and determination in China, 30% market share only translated into perhaps as little as US$200 million revenue in 2009 (this is what most analysts estimate as Google does not specify the revenue in its annual results). Comparing this to the company’s overall annual revenue of US$23,650 million gives a sense of perspective – less than a percent of the overall revenue appears to be attributable to the Chinese market.

The problem for Google is that, the allure of the Chinese market may have been true if you’re a luxury consumer goods brand, a premium Cognac or, if you’re producing cars. But for many other non-Chinese brands and services, China remains elusive – especially when it comes to Internet and media. China undoubtedly has been, and probably will remain for some time, a major driver of growth and a major accumulator of wealth. But, unlike the U.S., it's just not consumer-driven growth. While China may be an economic tiger, the country's consumer market is still a cub, relatively speaking.  And it’s a cub that still appears out of reach for most foreign companies.

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Improving Productivity: The Challenge for Asia Pacific

Posted by: Chris Holmes in MI Blog @ 5:42 PM

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Chris Holmes

I have been traveling around the region over the last few weeks, spending time in Japan, Australia and Singapore. A common thread of discussion that keeps coming up is how to improve productivity. In Singapore's case, there is the need to see the next wave of growth coming from putting focus on improving the productivity of the workforce, rather than importing workers. In Australia and Japan, the focus is on the need to deal with the ageing workforce.

The key question is: how? Obviously technology is going to play a crucial part. Examples being cited include the use of mobile technologies to improve responsiveness. The use of PDAs in restaurants to speed up service byremotely transmitting the diners' orders to the kitchen, and to the cashier. For manufacturing, we will see a far greater emphasis on moving towards automation of the production line. Other tasks we will see getting automated include product tracking, either through barcode or RFID tags, the use of sensors in production machines to give feedback as to what is happening, reducing the number of operators required. We are also seeing this come to the fore in the product development space where companies are seeking to ensure that engineers spend their time engineering instead of doing administration. The use of videoconferencing is another technology that will find its place as managers seek to reduce the need to travel, in turn improving their productivity by being able to connect face-to-face with customers, partners and suppliers with minimal difficulty.

The key focus will be to ensure that people are used productively; the automation of the production lines, as well as the use of mobile technologies and sensors will be at the forefront as retailers and manufacturers seek to improvep roductivity within their operations. 

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