Want to innovate? Then collaborate!

During the course of my career I have learned that innovation has to be open and collaborative. Gone are the days when companies worked behind closed doors to develop the “next big thing.” Today you need to be part of an ecosystem, to collaborate and partner with the broader community in the area of innovation relevant to your organization. That means being transparent: sharing your ideas, learnings and results with others. And it means being open to those that others share with you.

As a senior executive at two global corporations, I championed the setting up of small innovation labs and teams in order to be able to quickly and efficiently develop, prototype and test new ideas. And I insisted on them being located outside the company, preferably in a collaborative environment with startups or others working on the same topic, so we could foster collaboration and exchange with members of the broader ecosystem.

As an example, when I was Group CIO at UBS we became the first global bank to join the Level39 accelerator in London. This allowed our innovation team to work together in an open and collaborative environment with some 150 other startups, and to be full participants in an exciting innovation ecosystem.

This kind of transparency is not always easy for people to embrace, however, especially in competitive industries. I can fully understand this. But in my experience it is a hurdle I think anyone facing an innovation challenge must get over.

Here is why.

Rubbing shoulders

Firstly, today’s tech environment is both highly complex and very fast moving. That makes it increasingly difficult for people to innovate on their own: there is a risk that you will miss important developments.

Secondly, people increasingly recognize the value of crowd intelligence: the idea that large groups of people make better decisions, or solve problems in a better way, than individuals do. Of course, crowds can make big mistakes too. But it is no accident that, even in our highly interconnected world, industries still tend to congregate in specific locations.

The tech industry in particular has embraced open-source, collaborative approaches, and with great success. We have Silicon Valleys and Alleys among other things because technologists see a clear net positive value in rubbing shoulders, even if they are competitors. Other industries can and should learn from this.

Third, collaboration, especially between companies in different fields, fosters cross-pollination of ideas. We see this very clearly in FinTech, where banks gain insights from tech companies into what is happening with the technology while they enrich technologists with their perspective on banking and finance.

Fourth, working in a collaborative environment with potential competitors provides a natural platform for testing your ideas. Either through direct feedback or observation you will be more quickly able to judge what you are doing if you do it as part of a larger community.

Finally, and in my opinion not to be underestimated: being willing and able to do your innovation in an open way can be good for your organization’s reputation. As members of the ecosystem you can increase your credibility among potential partners or suppliers. You can also demonstrate to your clients your continuing efforts to improve. And if your company gets positively associated with an important technological trend you can increase awareness of your brand among the general public.

So while working in a vacuum may be tempting on some levels, I think it is an increasingly ineffective approach. My experience is that openness can turn good ideas into great ones, and that great ideas benefit all.

This was originally published at FinTech Pulse, my blog post featuring megatrends, digital transformation and innovation in the FinTech industry.  Read more at www.oliverbussmann.com/blog and follow me on Twitter @obussmann.

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Is Blockchain going mainstream? You bet!

The arrival of an important new technology is generally met with loud choruses of both hype and skepticism. Some see the next big thing – others say it is all overblown. That is certainly the case with blockchain.

So how to filter out the noise? One way is to take a tip from betting markets: don’t focus on what people say, but where they put their money.

Let me explain.

The mainstream thinks blockchain is going mainstream

I think one of the most significant yet overlooked developments in the blockchain world is the entry of mainstream high-tech firms and consultancies. Both IBM and Microsoft have unveiled large-scale blockchain offerings, and the likes of Deloitte, Accenture, PWC, KPMG and Cap Gemini are setting up or considering blockchain businesses.

This is not to say established players will automatically be successful. But it clearly indicates growing mainstream consensus on the blockchain’s potential, and that is significant: Blockchain is the biggest disruptor to industries since the introduction of the internet but it will not happen overnight.

My discussions with industry leaders bear this out: people tell me time and again that we are at an inflection point similar to what we experienced 20 years ago when the Internet arrived.

I agree. Just consider the breadth of some of the offerings. IBM for instance is targeting the whole enterprise stack – meaning hardware, software and services. We can assume others are looking to do the same: Bletchley is Microsoft’s architectural approach to building an Enterprise Consortium Blockchain Ecosystem. To be clear, this is not a new blockchain stack. It is Microsoft’s approach to bring distributed ledger (blockchain) platforms into the enterprise to build real solutions addressing real business problems while keeping the platform open.

That means that, just as in the early days of the Internet, the whole stack is now in play.

What can we expect from this? I see major disruption among other things in the following areas in the enterprise stack:

Infrastructure layer:

  • Hardware. The distributed ledger will spark a dramatic shift to distributed computing environments. This will be the basis of the coming “value web,” as people’s assets migrate onto blockchains. This favors hardware providers who best understand the needs of this new tech.
  • Network. The value web will be a massive peer-to-peer network. As we connect millions upon millions of nodes and carry out thousands of transactions and consensus checks per second, scale and volumes will explode. Network hardware providers who can meet this demand will have an advantage.
  • Security. Security will be an extremely important concern on the value web: if all our assets are encrypted in distributed ledgers, then encryption and key management is – pardon the pun – key. This can be handled via software or hardware (for example through chip-level encryption). I personally think providers like Intel who can find ways to bake security into a blockchain network will have a leg up on the competition.


Application layer:

  • Software. Distributed ledger technology will disrupt the software business. There are new processes to build, for example decentralized consensus mechanisms. Since blockchains are a powerful new way to do databases – marrying record keeping with business logic – they will disrupt the traditional database business too. A big opportunity for new entrants?
  • Services. Microsoft is offering blockchain-as-a-service on Azure. It offers a “sandbox” environment where people can try out the tech, and hopes to scale up into a “certified blockchain marketplace” by this summer. This is a powerful model as it allows companies to exploit blockchain’s benefits in a cost-effective and efficient manner. We are likely to see more offerings along these lines.
  • Enterprise IT strategy. As businesses begin to see the potential in blockchain, they will start adjusting their business models or even developing new ones. That will also affect how they approach IT. Here the opportunity is with providers who can best understand the blockchain use cases in various industries, and deliver the right products and services to meet those needs.


All along the Enterprise stack

The fact that so many established players see such potential for disruption up and down the stack just confirms me in my belief that broad-based transformation is coming.

So the next time someone asks you if blockchain is for real, just tell them to follow the cash. When people start putting their money where their mouths are, you can be sure that something significant is going on.

Follow me on Twitter @obussmann.

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Wielding the baton: How CIOs can best orchestrate FinTech innovation

“How did you do that?” “What do you need to be successful?”

Since leaving UBS I have been hearing these questions often from people interested in my experiences orchestrating FinTech innovation. Typically the questioner is someone facing challenges similar to the ones I have faced in my career as a Chief Information officer (CIO): not just innovation, but innovation in a complex, global organization, with multiple business lines and geographies.

My answer always runs along the same lines. As a CIO you must first keep in mind that business is in the driver’s seat: innovation is not a tech play, it’s a business model, product and service one. But in today’s tech-driven environment, the CIO generally has the conductor’s baton in his or her hand. That means it’s up to you to orchestrate the change. You need to do so from front-to-back, covering all aspects from generating ideas to going to market.

Having done this several times, I’ve thought a lot about the process. For me, the following stages are essential:

Illustration: Jon D. Harper – Strategy and Innovation Process Improvements


  • Find key trends: You need to know what is coming down the pike in tech, and how it may be used in the context of your organization.
  • Understand business priorities: You must thoroughly understand where the business is today and, more crucially, where it would like to be in three to five years.
  • Decide on the tech you would like to test like a VC fund: Now you can match what you know about technological developments with what you know about the business. Look for developments with the best potential in your context, be it new technologies, methodologies, software, approaches, whatever seems like it might fit and drive the business forward. Based on this, you can decide on a long list of ideas to be tested.
  • Validate your hypotheses: This is the key part: Get some funding and put a small team together, preferably outside normal business lines, and test the ideas in a sandboxed laboratory environment. Do it quickly but thoroughly, in a non-bureaucratic way, but always with the business and customers in mind.
  • Move validated ideas to the normal investment portfolio: A lot of your initial hypotheses may prove wrong. That’s fine. The ones that make it through the process are likely to be gems. If the expected benefits are indeed confirmed, then move those ideas to your normal investment portfolio, where they can be developed using your regular processes.

There are some other things to keep in mind. You will have to coordinate a number of support services. You need to manage your ecosystem, for instance, from startups and universities through to the regulator. The research, business case and use case selection processes need to be managed as well . You also need to manage and be active on the communications side. And finally, you need to ensure that once new capabilities are available, line managers can easily find out what they are and integrate them into their portfolios.

In other words, you will need a complete framework for your innovation efforts. And whether you work in a centralized way or take a more distributed, federalized approach, you will need teams to manage the overall process.

This process has worked well for me in the past. It’s one of the reasons I was lucky enough to be named among the Financial News’s FinTech Top 40 for the last two years and City AM FinTech Powerlist. While this is a satisfying confirmation of the work, there is really nothing here that anyone else couldn’t do. Just stick to the method, and the results will come.

Follow me on Twitter @obussmann.

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Mastering the 4th Industrial Revolution

UBS published a White Paper for the WEF Annual Meeting 2016 about extreme automation and connectivity: The global, regional, and investment implications of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

See the Executive Summary below and read the UBS White Paper now:

A brief history of industrial revolutions

  • Prior industrial revolutions have centered around improvements in automation and connectivity.
  • The First Industrial Revolution introduced early automation through machinery, and boosted intra-national connections through the building of bridges and railways.
  • The Second Industrial Revolution began when automation enabled mass production and fostered more efficient, productive connectivity via the division of labor.
  • The Third Industrial Revolution was propelled by the rise of the digital age, of moresophisticated automation, and of increasing connectivity between and within humanity and the natural world.
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution is being driven by extreme automation and connectivity. A special feature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be the wider implementation of artificial intelligence.



What are the potential global economic consequences?

  • Polarization of the labor force as low-skill jobs continue to be automated an this trend increasingly spreads to middle-skill jobs. This implies higher potential levels of inequality in the short-run, and a need for labor market flexibility to harness Fourth Industrial Revolution benefits in the long-run.
  • Greater returns accruing to those with already-high savings rates. In the short run, this could exacerbate inequality via relatively lower borrowing costs and higher asset valuations.
  • As the issuer of the world’s reserve currency, the US’ competitive advantages, sitting at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, could tighten effective monetary conditions among US dollar-linked economies.
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution increases the magnitude and probability of tail risks related to cybersecurity and geopolitics, but may spur regional action to invest and embrace Fourth Industrial Revolution benefits.



Who will be the regional winners and losers?

  • “Flexibility” will be key to success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution; economies with the most flexible labor markets, educational systems, infrastructure, and legal systems are likely to be relative beneficiaries.
  • Developed economies are likely to be relative winners at this stage, whereas developing economies face greater challenges as their abundance of low-skill labor ceases to be an advantage and becomes more of a headwind.
  • Emerging markets in their demographic prime may find that extreme automation displaces low-skill workers, but that their limited technology infrastructures do not allow them to reap the full benefits of extreme connectivity.


What are the investment consequences?

  • Given current assessments of relative competitiveness, emerging markets maybe less well placed to profit from Fourth Industrial Revolution benefits, relative to developed markets.
  • We expect further disruption to traditional industries from extreme automation and connectivity.
  • Big data beneficiaries include firms that harness big data to cut costs or target sales; firms that automate big data analysis, and firms that keep big data secure.
  • Blockchain applications could benefit firms that use them to automate processes securely, to cut out costly intermediaries, and to protect intellectual property.

FinTech – Resistance is futile

Digitalization is set to transform most aspects of the financial industry. Far from resisting it, banks should be embracing these fundamental changes.

There is no doubt that, thanks to advances in digital technologies, the financial industry is entering a period of radical change. Transaction and settlement, savings and lending, capital raising, investment management, market provisioning: it is difficult to find any area of banking that is not being disrupted by the current wave of digitalization. With the rise of virtual banks, crowdfunding, alternative payment platforms, robo-advisors and the like, digitalization is also spawning significant new competition for incumbent institutions.

In light of these developments, some have been predicting the demise of traditional banks. This is overstating the case. Digital disruption is by no means only a threat. Quite the contrary, it is spurring industry innovation in a number of very positive ways. It is also encouraging collaboration among industry participants, driving cultural change.

Today’s banks are reaching outside their walls, working with startups, joining innovation platforms and collaborating on new ideas in ways that would have been unfathomable a decade ago. They are also collaborating more internally, for example by using social media-like tools to promote direct communication and the sharing of ideas among staff.

UBS and startups – learning from each other

Inspired by the “permission-to-fail” culture found in startups, banks are becoming much more open to experimentation as well. This is certainly the case at UBS. We have put a strong innovation process in place, one which generates lots of ideas internally and has clear gates to let in good ideas from the outside. We also work closely with the technology community in our innovation labs in Zurich, London and Singapore.

By taking our people out of the bank and immersing them in a lab environment, we give them space to think creatively. We also give them the freedom to make mistakes. In this way we can generate – and test – a far greater number of interesting ideas than would otherwise be the case. In London we have opened our lab in a FinTech accelerator, sharing space with some 150 startups engaged in researching and developing new products and services for the financial industry. This lets our experts be part of the larger conversation, staying on top of developments and helping to shape our industry’s future.

Far from being enemies, FinTechs are very much part of our conscious endeavor to embrace change. While some are looking to compete directly, in our experience the majority of FinTechs are more interested in collaborating with banks. After all, there is more to banking than just bits and bytes. Banks are a storehouse of financial and market expertise of the kind most FinTechs lack. Banking also remains very much a relationship business, and here too FinTechs have much to learn.

For these and other reasons, we are confident that banks will not be going away any time soon. In our opinion, digital disruption should not be seen as a danger, but rather a healthy challenge, driving change and opening up exciting new possibilities.

With this in mind, we also feel it is imperative for the Swiss financial center to promote a strong FinTech ecosystem. Only with close cooperation between the country’s banks, its FinTech startups and the regulator will Switzerland be able to keep pace with today’s strong global competition.

Follow me on twitter @obussmann.

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FinTech fever is changing the dynamics

For a long time now the financial services industry has operated under a cloud, criticised (understandably) for a range of failings since the 2008 banking crisis.  It is clear there are still many areas where the industry needs to improve, but as I reflect on my time at SIBOS in Singapore I am very optimistic about the future.

I am very positive, because I believe technology will play a fundamental role in changing the dynamics.  It will disrupt out-dated practices, provide opportunities for new players and above all dramatically enrich the services offered to clients.  For a long time the industry has needed this shake-up and some institutions may be fall behind, but I am delighted to say UBS is taking a leading role in helping to transform the banking sector.

During my time at Sibos, many banking and finance executives voiced to me their concerns around the pace of change.  It is critical to balance the speed needed to drive competitive advantage against the importance of protecting our clients’ assets and complying with a much stricter regulatory landscape.  To those senior leaders across the industry still hesitant about engaging I would say we are at the start of our journey and business involvement is essential to ensure this technology transformation does not become consumed in its own hyperbole. It is important that a good cross section of business executives engage in this period of change to ensure we reflect the needs of all stakeholders.

For example, mobile banking is already making huge progress, but there are many areas to address.  If I look at its adoption rates it is succeeding faster in markets where it is not rubbing up against well-established transaction structures and users are comfortable with the accessibility mobile offers.  In more mature markets we are yet to provide a completely convincing argument for mobile in banking.  The likes of Apple Pay means it is seeping into the communal consciousness, so I expect to see rapid changes, but we need to temper our enthusiasm and listen to our clients’ needs.

Equally digitisation of services means data privacy becomes an even more important issue than it already is for every financial services institution. Recent malware incidents show how fast changing cyber-security threats are and how important it is for any new technology to place data protection above everything else.

The regulatory landscape is also becoming tougher and any new developments must be integrated.  Consequently IT systems need to have the flexibility and agility to respond to new demands from financial authorities.  This is challenging, particularly for smaller entrants to the market, because resources are finite.

Indeed the whole question of skills is a major one for the industry, because the wide range of exciting new technologies demands new skills many of which cannot be found in today’s institutions.  This is a big opportunity for more agile start-ups, but as an industry we have a responsibility to build a future workforce who will have the ability to design and build robust, reliable systems.

I started out saying there has never been a more exciting time to be in banking. I am sure that all the Regional Finalists of our Future of Finance Challenge are going to open our eyes to many more opportunities.

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What will tomorrow’s clients expect from us?

It’s a question I often ask myself.

A transformation is underway in global financial markets, driven by startup firms and disruptive technologies, and investors’ needs are changing too.

The pace of change has been dramatic. When I read that global investment in FinTech ventures tripled to $12bn between 2013 and 2014 (Accenture 2015), it cements my belief that the fintech revolution could be the greatest opportunity the banking industry has ever seen.

We need to be part of this growing ecosystem.

Yes, start-ups have the power to disrupt as they’re quicker, more agile, and less confined by rules, regulation, or legacy technology. But we bring something to the table they don’t have – in-depth understanding of our clients. This is why it’s so vital that startup firms and big banks work together, share ideas and combine their skill sets. It’s how we will maximize the business opportunities in our evolving industry.

With over 150 years of experience and a global reach, UBS has value we can add to the innovative process. How do we scale our ideas? Are we delivering what clients really want? Are we exceeding their expectations? The technology can be built and proven, but start-ups will still need to ask themselves these questions. We explore some of these issues and more in our new Life’s Questions series.

So how do we go about collaborating with these new and fast-growing firms?

It starts with making sure we’re part of the conversation. That’s why we were the first bank to establish a presence in Canary Wharf’s Level39, home to over 170 startups, and why we have established an innovation presence globally.

At Level39, we’ve created an innovation lab, a unique platform from which to explore emerging technologies such as cryptocurrencies and the tools that power them, such as blockchain. How will revolutionary ideas like these impact financial services in the future? We want to play a role in how these solutions develop.

Our specialists act as mentors to entrepreneurs, giving them a sounding board to help them answer the big questions facing their businesses, from regulatory issues to the best way to handle the next stage of expansion. We know expanding a business can be daunting, so our new brand campaign focuses on how UBS can help company founders get over the hurdles to growth.

But that’s not all we do. Another new initiative helps us find the innovators of the future namely our Future of Finance Challenge, a global competition to find fintech startups with potentially disruptive technological ideas and solutions that could reshape our industry. We’re looking forward to revealing the winners of this competition following the regional finals in November.

As well as tapping into the wider FinTech community, we know how important it is to make sure our own house is in order. So we have been investing heavily into new technologies within the UBS group.

Extensive market research is helping us to understand what tomorrow’s clients will expect from us, and we are building a state-of-the-art IT structure which will help us to deliver it.

As the world’s largest wealth manager, we want to stay at the forefront of thought leadership, whether in technology, services or products.

FinTech innovation is reshaping the landscape of financial services, and we’re excited to be part of that ecosystem

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FinTech Startups – Customers Not Cash

I’ve spoken to many entrepreneurs and quite a few have admitted that if you spent your time worrying about the consequences of failure you would never start your own business.

There is certainly a lot of evidence to back up the fact that most start-ups are destined to fail.  For instance a study by Shikhar Ghosh, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, estimated that more than 95% of start-ups would be seen as failures if it were defined as failing to see return on investment (ROI).  Another successful Silicon Valley seed venture capital firm, Y-Combinator, has said that a company in its portfolio only had a 1 in 10 chance of success. And according to CB Insights, start-ups typically die around 20 months after their last financing round and having raised $1.3 million, citing the main reason as an inability to identify a market need for a product or idea.

And yet I passionately believe there is no more important time to be an entrepreneur.  These well documented failure rates are at least partly due to too many start-ups focusing on finding finance, and not enough on building a customer base.

And yes, I speak as someone with a vested self-interest, because it is not just start-ups that are facing major challenges. The study by Richard N. Foster (of “Creative Destruction” fame), suggested that companies in the S&P 500 could also be facing serious threat.  He stated that only 14% of companies in the Fortune 500 from 1955 were still alive today and that an S&P 500 company was now being replaced about once every two weeks.  At the current churn rate, 75% of the S&P 500 firms in 2011 would be replaced in 2027 by new firms entering the S&P500.

Therefore, for my organisation, it is just as important to be embracing innovation in order to stay ahead of the competition.

For me, much of it boils down to commercialisation at scale. Over the years there has been a lot of debate about the potential of Fintech startups, but one aspect that it not emphasised often enough is how ideas are taken to market. It is an obvious, but logical fact that if a start-up cannot convince a customer to buy its product then it will very quickly join the long list of “nice ideas.”  Having that invaluable feedback and endorsement from a customer during the early stage of a company’s existence is critical to long-term survival.

Many small companies prioritise chasing investment before customers. However getting a big company as a reference client, not only provides money, it also provides a route to market, and lots of valuable real time insight into what the market needs and wants.

Getting that first customer is much easier said than done, but this is why I am so positive about initiatives such as UBS’s Future of Finance Challenge.  Today there is growing recognition in industries, such as financial services, that open innovation models offer significant mutual benefits to entrepreneurial start-ups and established players collaborating on new ideas and technologies.

Large and small companies need each other more than ever. Established companies have access to disruptive, agile start-ups with ideas that can open up new market opportunities, improve operational efficiency and strengthen customer loyalty.  While conversely entrepreneurs have access to a wealth of experience about product development, customer business needs and go to market models.  Personally I am convinced that this collaborative model is critical, because digital transformation demands faster responses to customer needs.

In 10 years time I’d like to think we could look at a very different and more positive set of statistics on the failure rate of start-ups, showing how the collaborative sharing of ideas, experience and expertise enriches the opportunities for all.  Would love to hear your thoughts!

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4 Challenges and One Mission: Redefine the Future of Finance

Today is a very exciting day for UBS. In case you haven’t seen the news, we have launched the UBS Future of Finance Challenge, a competition which is open to entrepreneurs and startups around the world with potentially disruptive technological ideas and solutions to support the transformation of the banking industry. As the executive with responsibility for our innovation strategy I am obviously delighted that we have taken this step. It underlines our corporate commitment to innovation as a key priority of our long-term strategy and more importantly, demonstrates our determination to support and learn from the global FinTech community.

I have said many times before, this is a very interesting time to be in the financial services industry. Technology has the potential to have an immensely positive impact on the sector, whether it is automating, digitizing or evolving the services we offer our customers. However, we know we cannot do this alone. Internally we are embracing the benefits of innovation in many ways through our in-house innovation spaces and the innovation labs we have established in Zurich, London and Singapore.

However, it is critical for us to work in collaboration with the broader FinTech community, because we recognize there is a lot we can learn from entrepreneurs and startups. Hence why we were so pleased to be the first global bank to move into Level39 in London. Ultimately our ambition is to help shape a more open and collaborative financial services industry and to jointly develop new solutions for our clients. We also hope that for those successful participants of the UBS Future of Finance Challenge we can offer a wealth of thought leadership and resources through our global reach. Above all, with our expertise, we hope to provide the opportunity to accelerate and to help you refine your ideas and bring them to fruition.

What does the UBS commitment translate into in practical terms? We are offering the regional and global finalists cash prizes and accelerator places worth over USD $300,000 and over 300 hours of dedicated coaching from UBS mentors and partners. We hope that through our contribution we can help to maintain the momentum of the FinTech startup community.

How do you enter the Challenge? Entries can be submitted by applicants from around the world on our website: www.ubs.com/innovate. The closing date is 23rd September, 2015.

We are looking for applicants to respond to one of four challenges:

  • Challenge 1: The Client Experience Challenge: – How will banks deliver the ultimate client experience?
  • Challenge 2: The Superior Offering Challenge: – How will banks create superior financial products?
  • Challenge 3: The Banking Efficiency Challenge: – How will banks step-change their efficiency?
  • Challenge 4: The Secure Banking Challenge: – How will banks secure their operations and their clients’ assets?


The Challenge is open to entrepreneurs and startups who have revenues of less than USD $3m and have received less than USD $10m in funding. We are also only considering startups which were incorporated on or after 1st January 2010.

A maximum of 15 participants per region will be shortlisted to attend Immersion Workshops in Singapore, New York, London and Zurich, whereupon we will chose 3 regional winners from each region to participate at the Global Final in Zurich on 10th December.

Good luck to everyone entering the UBS Future of Finance Challenge! I look forward to hearing more about your transformative technologies!

p.s. please keep an eye open for the launch event in your region end of August! More info and full details on the competition on www.ubs.com/innovate

Social Media – the New Normal for Executives

I have long admired Peter F. Drucker and his works. One of my favorite quotes is” the best way to predict your future is to create it”, which is exactly what I have been doing for the past year.

Since moving to Switzerland, social media has taken a back-seat. I was fully focused on finalizing the dynamics of my new leadership team, reaching out to the business, and establishing myself within UBS. And now it is time to revisit the social media arena.

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Earlier this year, I was surprised and honored to receive the #2 spot on the top 100 most social CIOs on Twitter 2014. My social media activity has been practically non-existent compared to my earlier activities. I still see a significant potential for CIOs to be more active on social media.

When I reflect on the past year I see that the consumerization of IT is important, no matter which industry you are in. I noticed this when I changed from the hi-tech industry to the financial services industry. Getting the right balance for the consumer experience for the end user in the enterprise, in the banking environment and in my case, the level of investment to make in applications for banking mobile applications is critical. Consumer friendly is the way forward. Complexity is an unnecessary hurdle for innovation.

Consumerization of IT is not a one-off event. New devices are entering the market at an unbelievable pace. I am still hungry for the next new trend, most innovative gadget and am eager to see how wearable devices can be put to use at an enterprise level. The key question from an enterprise level always remain the same – should we embrace this gadget/trend or not, no matter which industry.

However, the issue keeping me awake most at night, is securing application services without limiting usability and user experience, whilst fending off cyber threats. The balance that ends this risk and brings usability is an ongoing challenge for CIOs of today. The cloud could be the answer here. Depending on industry, region and security I see a different speed of embracing, which confirms the way IT is delivering services is in the middle of a big change.

Follow me on twitter @obussmann.