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The Finance Indaba highlighted some common themes in current SA fintech

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Last week some of the e-magination Infosolutions team attended the Finance Indaba for the first time. Financial professionals and service providers come from all over, from small businesses to large corporations, to either impart some knowledge or learn something new themselves that they can take back to their business.

The conference had multiple different streams, including talks on technology and data in the financial industry. These in particular were very well-attended, indicative of the widespread interest in this subject, by Financial Managers and CFOs looking to improve productivity, reduce costs, and get more from their data.

Recurring themes spoke volumes about the current fintech landscape

There was a heavy interest in visual analytics for financial data, showing that the requirements for reporting are leaning toward a more graphical and self-service experience for the user. Gone are the days of static reporting where your reports answered only one question. It is quite clear that users want a more dynamic tool that empowers them to do ad hoc reporting that answers many, if not all their questions as and when they ask them. With a powerful tool like that they can make better, more timeous, decisions from insights gained from their visual reporting.

Another pressing matter for Indaba-goers was that of cyber security; daily cases of cyber fraud and hacking is enough to make any business weary of their data vulnerabilities. However, despite a lot of common opinion, cloud computing can be a safer option for their data. We offer cloud technology through Microsoft which, because it is a well-established company, has a high level of security that is implemented throughout its products.

My last biggest takeaway from speaking to other attendees was that Excel really is still the reporting tool of choice in the financial industry. However, their knowledge of the extent of the reporting that can be done with this tool is limited and so they do not get the most out of their data using their current reporting processes.

Transforming to survive in a technology-heavy environment

It was most apt that self-made billionaire and entrepreneur, Vusi Thembekwayo, gave the keynote on transforming to survive, speaking about an industry that is fast to implement disruptive fintech but slow to embrace new things on the ground. We often see how individuals or businesses continue to operate by ‘old’ reporting processes even though others are streaking ahead by leveraging technologies like Excel PowerPivot and Power BI.

Technologies like these can save valuable time and help them to see insights in their data that they never had the capability of seeing before, allowing them to act faster and make better decisions for their business.

This is why, when I talk to a potential customer, I simply ask, “How long does your monthly reporting process take? If it takes longer than 15 seconds then you and I need to talk.”

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