With worldwide spending on enterprise tech expected to reach $4 trillion this year, companies are hard-pressed to stay ahead of the digital curve. That said, with the number of emerging technology vendors and startups constantly growing, companies can't just be quick to adopt—they have to be more strategic than ever when curating their portfolio of IT services. To help technology executives navigate this intimidating ecosystem, Citi Ventures launched a Technology Council to help both Citi's internal leaders and Citi clients exchange the latest forward-thinking approaches to modern IT resources and trends. The Enterprise Technology Summit was the Technology Council’s largest event of 2019.
The summit kicked off with a welcome address from Vanessa Colella, Citi's Chief Innovation Officer and Head of Citi Ventures, who discussed “finding signal in the noise” of innovation and disruption. Her speech was followed by a fireside chat between Arvind Purushotham, Citi Ventures’ Global Head of Venture Investing, and Mike Whitaker, Head of Enterprise Infrastructure, Operations & Technology at Citi, on some of the challenges and opportunities multinational enterprises face in 2020. In a wide-ranging conversation, the two stressed the need for both speed and collaboration when determining the best way forward.
The rest of the morning session was devoted to a variety of panels featuring both Citi executives and startup leaders, on such topics as ecosystem partnerships, best practices for enterprise-startup collaboration, and driving efficiencies through AI, automation, and data insights. One of the panelists, Phill Rosen, CEO of Even Financial, spoke about the consumer process of finding financial services being segmented and slow—leading to lots of prospective consumers dropping off early in the funnel. Even has made the consumer experience for searching and getting matched with financial services easier, allowing channel partners to offer top financial products and services—loans, savings, credit cards, insurance, more—with turnkey marketplaces via their API. Rosen credits Even's success to "enabling banks and financial service providers to distribute their products into any experience."
John Scuorzo, Head of Technology Equity Capital Markets at Citi, also spoke about the IPO market outlook and scaling for growth. Citing the stellar performance of tech sector equities (37% YTD growth in 2019) over the S&P 500 (23%), his 2020 forecast sees even more expansion into broad and growth software over internet and fintech sectors. Scuorzo also noted investors' affinity for enterprise software in particular, as it can consistently answer key questions related to high growth, long-term margin potential, and driving sales efficiency and operating leverage.
The afternoon session broke out into three tracks—Data Analytics, Cybersecurity, and Intelligent Enterprise—and were conducted in a roundtable format to allow practitioners to exchange insights and best practices and discuss industry trends. The sessions followed tailored formats based on participants’ key interests and perspectives, and featured panels of experts including Girish Arora, Head of Citi Smart Automation; Rich Webley, Head of Citi Global Data Insights; and Shrikant Dash, Global Head of Analytics & Information Management at Citi GCB.
Citi and our partners are also tracking many other areas ripe for future innovation. These include:
Because first-generation automation solutions can’t handle complicated task variations, there is still a need for human orchestration. That said, as the next wave incorporates machine learning and AI to enable bots to learn and make decisions over time, the most sustainable solutions will enable “attended robots," allowing human-bot collaboration on various business processes—not only with traditional UI platforms, but also through voice and text-based interfaces.
Enterprise Tech Summit participants left with a wealth of new insights and perspectives on how to strategize for the future of IT services, the panel talk on Quantum Computing was noted as a particularly engaging discussion: "It was truly informative and mind-blowing at the same time," said Girish Arora. "I was impressed by the range of topics we were able to cover in one day."
With an ever-greater number of vendors helping companies rethink their approach to enterprise tech, summit participants concluded, now is not the time to sit still. There is no slowing down on cybersecurity, and technology executives need a seat at the boardroom table. A collaborative approach is the best way forward, and holding back on spending to upgrade in the near term will cost exponentially more in the long term.