MCI: What is unique about the Sibos community and what are its core values?
Panos Tzivanidis: SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) supplies secure messaging services and interface soft- ware to wholesale fi nancial entities. The banks and fi nancial institutions that make up SWIFT come together annually at Sibos to discuss the lat- est trends, share knowledge, network, and do business. A community within a community, Sibos was initially created to meet a need for information sharing and has evolved into a strategic platform for communication, education and dis- cussing challenges, from operational to strategic, that face the fi nancial industry. Sibos’ core values refl ect those of the fi nancial industry at large; automating facts, providing a platform for advanc- ing critical dialogue and helping to fi nd solutions.
MCI: What is the long term vision for Sibos and how does the Sibos event help you to further SWIFT’s organizational objectives? P.T. : Sibos has important value in be- ing an annual touch point for an industry with incredibly specifi c challenges. As a platform for the global fi nancial industry, it is the best place for SWIFT to listen to its people and their needs, work out what their problems are and help design solutions. The community works to- gether, grows and moves forward. Long term, we would like to extend Sibos beyond the current one week duration to allow the development of a broader platform for communication, introducing channels to communicate throughout the year and harnessing new technolo- gies to encourage collaboration and en- hance networking.
MCI: How can you ensure that the Sibos event meets the needs of its community? P.T. : This is not a “one size fi ts all” an- swer. Delegates, partners, exhibitors and participants all have very different objec- tives. A delegate may want to focus on learning and educational opportunities and network with peers, maximizing the week-long event with a global audi- ence and holding as many meetings as possible to reduce the overall need to travel within that year. This would dif- fer from the needs of an exhibitor or a partner. The key players in the fi nancial industry are present at Sibos and the
seniority of the individual attendees means that they are all decision makers. Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Objective (ROO) must be clear for all to ensure meaningful networking. There are potential long term business outcomes that can extend far beyond the event and it is important that attend- ees make the most of this platform for communication.
MCI: Why does Sibos continue to choose to work with MCI for this event? P.T. : Our journey with MCI began in 2002 when we worked together in Geneva. Following their global expan- sion, we watched them deliver the same standards across the globe and discov- ered a company that immediately be- came a partner and evolved as an exten- sion of our own core team. Individuals at MCI have worked with us globally since 2002 and know the event inside out, ex- periencing our learning curve alongside us. This kind of service is not typical. MCI has the expertise, knowledge and most importantly, we trust them. We know that if we are employing MCI for a specifi c project, it will be taken care of as we want it. For our Sibos events, we need the right combination of expertise and local market knowledge, which we believe MCI has.
MCI: How has the new
communications mix (including the use of social media) affected the way your community interacts and how you build relationships? P.T. : In many communities, only a small percentage of members are active in so- cial media. To keep the community ac- tive, we need to identify drivers and us- ers who will provide ideas and engage in the debate. There is no problem having passive members, but we need active members in order to make collabora- tion work. Online platforms are ideal for keeping content and discussion alive be- fore, during and after an event. At SWIFT and Sibos, we have to adapt to this new way of communicating and try to use it in the best possible way. We are cur- rently active on Twitter, LinkedIn and our collaborative platform; swiftcommunity. net. There is still a big percentage of our people not fully active in social media, but who would nevertheless benefi t from the ideas being discussed in this arena. Often we try to bridge the gap with our events, bringing in speakers who are prolifi c in the social media fi eld.
MCI: Do you think face-to-face meetings are still important? P.T. : Face-to-face meetings are im- portant for the exchange of ideas and knowledge. Physical events feel threat- ened by virtual events, but in reality, online communities will always need a physical gathering. It is very easy to become part of an online community but not so easy to be engaged by it or within it. Virtual meetings are valuable and technology can facilitate and comple- ment them, but critical debate is better initialized face-to-face to decipher body language and get immediate feedback.
MCI: How important is trust for achieving organizational success? P.T. : Trust is extremely important for achieving organizational success. It is the number one prerequisite of any working relationship. At all levels, trust affects the way you do business. Business is about benefi t and risk and you need to know that you can trust partners to fi nd the best solution for you. Trust must be built over time and when it exists, it creates a long lasting relation- ship. We have built trust with MCI over working together for many years. MCI discuss and don’t dictate, they lay out all the options available to us and help us make the right decision.
MCI: How have recent economic challenges affected the cohesiveness of your community? P.T. : The last three years have been challenging for the industry, that’s for sure. It has been interesting to see how Sibos and SWIFT have dealt with these challenges and evolved. Events have seen a reduction in size and spend; there has been a different approach to social events and more focus on exter- nal clients. Negative perception is a key concern, especially during periods where the media are focussing heavily on how banks are spending their money. Sibos has still managed to experience growth, which I think is testament to the value that it brings and its role as an annual touch point for the fi nancial industry. Sibos sees its role as one which will help to rebuild trust in the community seri- ously. Last year’s event focussed on the key themes of Regulation, Rebuilding Trust and Recovery. We believe in not being afraid to acknowledge, discuss and look for solutions.
For more information visit: www.swift.com/sibos2010
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