Sibos Interview: Behind the scenes at Innotribe at Sibos with Peter Vander Auwera

By Nicole Miskelly | 7 October 2015

Behind the scenes, a lot of work goes into make Sibos a success, from the design concepts to the programme, it takes months to put together and is no easy task. For seven years Peter Vander Auwera, the overall Architect and Content Creator for Innotribe at Sibos, has been the creative mind behind the innovative concepts, industry relevant content and detailed programme delegates have come to expect from Innotribe at Sibos. In this exclusive Q&A he talks to bobsguide about how he comes up with his ideas and what delegates should expect this year.

What changes should delegates expect from Innotribe at Sibos this year?

At Sibos 2015 Innotribe is going to take centre stage and some of the most successful sessions in previous years such as ‘The Future of Money’, which we have run for the past five years as standing room only, and ‘The Innotribe Start-up Challenge Finale’ will feature in the main conference rooms.

From a programmatic point of view I did a play on words of Kevin Kelly’s (writer and previous executive editor of Wired magazine) book ‘What Technology Wants’ and day one is aptly titled, ‘What Platforms Want’, day two is ‘What Society Wants’, day three is ‘What Innovation Wants’ and finally day four is ‘What Machine Intelligence Wants’, and across all of the four days we also feature women and millennials.

Where did you come up with the concept for the Innotribe space this year?

Every year we try to reinvent ourselves and last year we had a concept based on “building bridges” which included a physical space with three stages and a bridge. This year we wanted to do something different, something that enables more open conversations and are creating a space that reflects this – including a circular room that is being dubbed “the blender” behind the scenes and is a reflection of our tag line ‘The Right Mix’.

How do you encourage engagement in sessions?

I believe that we are in the business of creating high quality feedback groups to enable immersive learning experiences and have long ago stepped away from speakers delivering talks using PowerPoint presentations to a passive audience. One way we like to facilitate a session, and get the speaker’s point across, is to break up what the speaker is saying into bite size chunks and between these to give an assignment to the audience to internalise what they have heard and then build up a story from there. Sometimes we work with sound or with lights and it becomes an exciting production which feels as if everything is happening live, resembling a late night television show.

Are there any key Innotribe sessions that should not be missed?

Of course all of the sessions are great but if I had to pick some outside of ‘The Innotribe Start-up Challenge Finale’ and ‘The Future of Money’ sessions, others that stand out to me are: ‘New kids on the block chain’ (Day one) which is one not to be missed. In this session we will be having a real debate around the topic with some of the newcomers in this space, together with representatives from four financial institutions. ‘Killer platforms the Chinese Road to Platform Disruption’ (Day one) is based on research being conducted by the three session speakers, and the real message delegates should expect from this session, is the way that we currently think about new entrants, innovation and disruption will be completely irrelevant five years from now with players such as Alibaba, TenCent and Baidu changing the model. On Day three we will be bringing together 6-7 FinTech hubs, including Silicon Valley, New York, London, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Singapore, and Sydney, to find out what is driving them. We are gathering statistical data from each of these hubs and the session will feature a ‘show your cards’ interactive session. The ‘Real-time financial decision taking leveraging IBM Watson’ session (Day four) will see us really making use of the Innotribe space and we will be showing, in 360 degree views, what cognitive analytics can mean for financial services. The session on ‘The impact of “Thinking” Machines on top-management roles’ which features David Nordfors (Co-chair and Co-founder, i4J Innovation for Jobs) as a speaker, is also interesting because it looks into the disruption of jobs by machine intelligence and robots. Finally, in the ‘Innotribe closing keynote: Machines are not the answer’, Andrew Keen (an author who known to go against anything libertarian) provides a contrary opinion to Artificial Intelligence. Across the four days we are not just aiming to create not a glorification of technology but we want to have some critical reflections on how this impacts society, us as human beings and our work.

Why don’t Cryptocurrencies seem to play as big a part as they did last year?

At Innotribe at Sibos we try to create awareness about what is cooking on the edges of our ecosystem, and what we think has the potential to become more mainstream in 3-4 years time. Back in 2010, when we held Sibos in Amsterdam, we had topics such as cloud, social media and mobile which are fully mainstream today. Last year, we dedicated a whole day at Sibos to Cryptocurrencies and because we covered this topic from every angle last year we decided not to cover it as extensively again.

Innotribe is focusing a lot more on women and millennials this year. How are both having an influence on the FinTech sector?

In my role, I have the opportunity to attend FinTech conferences throughout the year, and it was during these that I noticed there is an underrepresentation of women. There are a lot of really smart women active in the FinTech space and earlier this year I had the chance to play a part in the publication of an Innotribe whitepaper called ‘Power Women in FinTech’. It was important that the whitepaper did not just highlight all the smart women at C-level in financial institutions, but it also highlighted that there are a lot of smart women in the start-up community at all levels. At this year’s Sibos, I did not want to create a session by women for women, instead I believe that it should be normal that women are part of all conversations.

The same goes for millennials, and although some banks do not view them as relevant customers because they do not bring enough money to the table, many millennials are in the 25 year old age range and are starting to become today’s customers, with quite different expectations about what they want from financial institutions. I believe this is something that is cooking at the edge of our ecosystem and we have to create awareness around this. Innotribe also produced a white paper in conjunction with Wharton FinTech with the subline ‘A different kind of trust’, which is interesting because many financial institutions promote their services as being secure but this does not resonate with millennials because they believe security should be a given and not a differentiator to attract customers. Trust in their view is created through the network of contacts they are part of, rather than the financial institution claiming it is  trustworthy. Trust is created in networks for millennials which is a different way gaining trust and financial institutions need to learn how to they can gain this.

What about Machine Intelligence, this looks set to be a hot topic at Sibos also?

I think it’s clear that in the background, more of our interactions with financial institutions are driven by algorithms. On day four, in the ‘Machine Intelligence’ sessions, we question what if you could create balanced and fair relationships around data, between the data provider and the consumer and explain how we are moving towards an economy which is much more participatory. The message that we are trying to convey in these sessions, is how machine intelligence is allowing us to enter into a much higher quality real-time participatory relationship with our customers.

Anything else that delegates should expect?

Delegates can expect an immersive learning experience, which isn’t something that you get in the industry every day. Sessions are going to be highly interactive and for the seventh year in a row we are trying to reinvent ourselves and that in itself is worth coming and seeing.

Become a bobsguide member to access the following

1. Unrestricted access to bobsguide
2. Send a proposal request
3. Insights delivered daily to your inbox
4. Career development