Accenture & Microsoft: Extracting value from tech investment
Executives from both Accenture and Microsoft discuss how they are helping Afore XXI-Banorte transform more than just technology.
“Our main focus is on delivering end-to-end, business-driven transformation and enabling our partners and ecosystems through technology,” says Daniel de Faria, Managing Director of Accenture Mexico. This statement isn’t intended just for Accenture, but also for Microsoft, with which it has shared a productive business relationship for over 20 years. The partnership was cemented in 2000 following the launch of their joint venture, ‘Avanade’, an initiative that recognised the value of digital technology at an early stage in the industry. “Our mission is very simple,” adds Martin Borjas, Enterprise Sales Director at Microsoft, “Empower people and organisations to do more.”
One of the biggest challenges currently faced by the global finance industry is how to create new solutions that fit within the framework of the COVID-19 pandemic and remote working. Fabio Irino, Managing Director of Technology Consulting at Accenture, believes that this problem is being compounded by additional factors, particularly for banks: “Regulation is very strict for them. Therefore, choosing the right digital transformation strategy is key.” One partner that has been leveraging the two companies’ holistic approach to mastering not just technology but also processes is Afore XXI-Banorte. Securing its cloud infrastructure through Microsoft Azure and data management from Accenture, Banorte has benefitted from full-spectrum support from both parties. De Faria continues, “We’ve been collaborating together with Microsoft to define our strategic initiative and a data-driven approach to deliver a better customer experience for Banorte’s clients.”
An important but easy to overlook aspect of partnering on a digital strategy is collaboration: all participants must share the same values, targets and objectives for it to be successful. “Globally, there is a perception that transformation relies on tech, but it’s also about mindset too,” emphasis Irino. “A consequence of that is companies feeling they aren’t extracting all the value from tech investments they have made. It's very important to consider the human dimension, change management and how to enable businesses to extract the maximum possible value from a platform.” Therefore, Banorte, in collaborating with Accenture and Microsoft, receives leading expertise on diligence and long-term planning, as well as a significantly enhanced outreach to potential customers.
Furthermore, Accenture publishes an annual global study on technology trends called ‘Tech Vision’, wherein prevailing areas of interest are carefully examined. Insights like these, which touch upon important developments in finance such as applications for AI, Big Data and 5G networks, will be crucial, not just in terms of current applicability, but also future scalability. Microsoft’s role as a global leader in the development of these same technologies underscores the potency of their collaboration and the significant role they could play in Banorte’s and, by extension, Mexico’s fintech transformation journey. “Many countries are facing a huge infrastructure challenge,” concludes Borjas. “However, by accelerating digital transformation, we believe that companies like Accenture and Microsoft can implement a solution.”
AI and the future of global trade
Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming entrenched in our daily lives, but the technology is still surrounded by misconceptions and skepticism. Ask the public and they may jump to dystopian scenarios where robots have taken over the world.
While this makes for a good sci-fi blockbuster plot, the reality is different and more benign. Those products that Amazon suggested you buy? AI. That TV series you were recommended to watch on Netflix? AI. That self-driving Tesla car you crave to take for a spin? You guessed it: AI.
There is no single industry that is not being re-shaped by technology. Until recently, however, there was one noteworthy exception: global trade. Fortunately, that is slowly changing.
The mechanism that underpins global trade – trade finance – is an industry that remains largely paper-based and reliant on manual processes. This US$18tn a year industry is now being influenced by a new wave of technological innovation, including AI.
Exploring the potential of AI in Trade Finance
AI refers to the use of computer-aided systems to help people make decisions or make decisions for them. It relies on large volumes of data and models to make sense of information and draw intelligence.
In trade finance, AI is helpful in analysing quantitative data, and the repetitive nature of trade finance means that there is a lot of non-traditional data at our disposal.
This means that when trade finance providers need to assess the risks of funding a transaction, AI models can be a very efficient tool for data analysis and reveal intelligence and risks relating to small companies.
AI helps the industry move beyond traditional credit scoring processes, which are often outdated and remain reliant on historical accounting entries – a barrier that prevents small companies from accessing trade finance and has resulted in a $1.5tn global shortfall.
Overcoming the barriers
AI can tackle this shortfall by creating accurate credit scoring models. This can include a company’s payment history, measure the risks of funding a transaction, identify supply chain risks, and benchmark them against their peer group.
Trade finance providers can use this information to communicate effectively with their SME clients, ultimately helping establish better business relationships.
Towards a technological utopia?
The adoption of AI has the potential to do a lot of good in the industry, and the industry is in the early stages of radical transformation.
Advances are driven by fintechs as well as a willingness to change. The industry is working together to create new infrastructure for distributing trade finance assets to other investors in a transparent, standardised format.
The creation of infrastructure is possible due to improvements in technology and integrated across the trade ecosystem in cooperation with banks, insurers, and other industry participants.
It’s collaboration at its best: together, the industry is using technology to re-shape global trade as we know it.