Joe Cleaver, Platform Strategy Advisor
NEW YORK, March 13, 2008 — Now in its sixth year, the Microsoft Financial Services Developer Conference is a leading event for developers and architects in the financial services industry. The gathering offers developers insight into Microsoft’s latest and upcoming technologies for banking, insurance and capital markets industries. PressPass spoke with Asli Bilgin, .NET developer evangelist, and Joe Cleaver, platform strategy advisor, about this year’s conference themes of high-performance computing and software-plus-services.
PressPass: This is the sixthannual conference. Why does the industry need a developer conference just for financial services developers?
Joe Cleaver: Financial services is a unique industry with so many dynamic issues. For this reason alone, I think it requires its own developer conference with its own set of sessions and discussions. We’ve seen the conference change along with the industry – from Y2K to Windows Vista, from Sarbanes-Oxley to Basel III, from the emergence of the Web to the popularity of service-oriented architectures. And with a record-number of attendees, more than 900, registered for this year’s event, we expect a whole new host of issues to emerge and be debated. The conference serves as a great opportunity to bring together developers, partners, Microsoft product teams and Microsoft’s key architects and developers to share how they are using the Microsoft platform to do innovative things.
PressPass: What was the reasoning behind the conference themes of high-performance computing and software-plus-services?
Asli Bilgin: The themes emerged from discussions with our financial services customers. High-performance computing is becoming a necessary tool for success in financial services. Microsoft High Performance Computing allows financial institutions to be more competitive by improving time to market of products and services, reducing operational risk by taking advantage of more sophisticated calculation methods, and addressing new regulatory compliance measures and data-driven mandates.
Customers are quickly discovering that functionality isn’t enough anymore – it’s about delivering consistent experiences. Software systems are a virtual representation of your organization, and many times it’s the way you greet your customers for the first time. Through a software-plus-services platform, financial services organizations can create a shared architecture, programming model and skill set that helps shape and deliver consistent experiences throughout the enterprise, and across the Web, to PCs and other devices.
The conference will showcase how new technologies based on Windows Compute Cluster, Microsoft Silverlight, Microsoft .NET 3.5, including Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Communication Foundation as well as ASP.NET AJAX and others, can be used to quickly create rich user experiences for customers – via better collaboration between customer channels or through improving individual channels like the Web.
PressPass: Who are some of the Microsoft customers and partners participating in the conference?
Cleaver: Several of Microsoft’s leading customers will be offering keynote presentations, including: Merrill Lynch, Milliaman, Unum and Wachovia. Participating Microsoft partners include DataDirect, Enterprise Mobile, GemStone Systems, GigaSpaces, IBM, Infragistics, Infusion, InnerWorkings, Lab49, Platform Computing, Sapient, ScaleOut Software, SoftArtisans, Syncfusion, Inc., twentysix New York, Visual Numerics and Wintellect.
PressPass: Last month Microsoft launched Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008. How has that impacted the developer community in financial services?
Asli Bilgin, .NET Developer Evangelist
Bilgin: Security and scalability are two critical needs of the financial services community, and many of the new features in Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 deliver upon those needs. Ultimately, however, it is the familiar, widely-supported and easy-to-use platform that has led to its overall adoption in this industry. And throughout the event, we have a number of customers demonstrating real-world solutions on these new products, such as Wachovia’s Bank Funding Efficiency Dashboard.
PressPass: What are some of the more exciting technologies on the horizon for financial-services developers?
Cleaver: This is a very exciting time for financial services developers. At Microsoft, we envision several key new technology trends, such as server virtualization gaining in popularity, Web-service-based implementations, the emergence of unified communication and collaboration solutions and much more. At this year’s conference, we’re able to show practical scenarios in many of these emerging categories, including unique technologies such as Microsoft Silverlight, Windows Presentation Foundation and more.
PressPass: At this year’s conference, you announced the availability of the Financial Services OBA Component Library. What is that?
Cleaver: The Microsoft Office Business Application (OBA) Component Library is a series of reference components that provide firms with a head start in creating applications built on Microsoft Office 2007. Through reference scenarios addressing common industry challenges facing the banking, capital markets and insurance industries, Microsoft is able to help firms solve real-world problems – including interoperability, extending legacy systems and creating compelling user interfaces.
PressPass: Is the Microsoft developer community becoming more verticalized?
Bilgin: Definitely. The fact that the conference has sold out again, and boasts a record more than 900-plus attendees, tells us that customers and developers continue to be excited about Microsoft's vision for the future of financial services. And each year, the international flavor of the conference grows, making this truly a global event. In fact, this year more than 11 percent of our attending customers are from outside the United States.
PressPass: Can you give us examples of the kinds of things that financial services developers will be able to do with the Microsoft development platform?
Cleaver: Certainly. In the financial services industry, thousands of applications have been developed and deployed by our customers and our partners. This year’s conference is stocked with real-world examples of customers leveraging the best of the Microsoft platform. Examples include:
Wachovia will discuss its Bank Funding Efficiency Dashboard (BFED), built on Microsoft development tools and platforms including .NET/ASP.NET 2.0, Visual Studio 2005 and Windows Server 2003, the BFED is used to monitor intraday cash flow activity for the entire Wachovia Corporation.
Merrill Lynch will discuss how Windows Workflow Foundation coupled with Windows Communication Foundation creates a compelling platform for creating compelling workflow enabled services.
Milliman will discuss the solution built for its employees for distributing models across a grid that uses Microsoft Excel.
PressPass: This year at the Developer Conference Microsoft will be holding a panel discussion called “Women Leaders of Wall Street (Willows).” What is the goal of this event?
Bilgin: Clearly, women have made great strides in employment representation in the financial services industry. A 2003 U.S. EEOC report showed that women now make up 48.6 percent of the banking workforce (and 43 percent overall across financial services).* However, the majority of these women are in clerical or non-management positions in human resources, marketing and IT, which are generally non-profit center roles. One of the reasons for this discrepancy can be attributed to the lack of long-standing, formal executive networks between women in financial services. Events such as “Women Leaders of Wall Street (Willows)” give women executives the venue to create relationships and contacts that provide a foundation for professional growth and development. It is our hope that women continue to leverage these relationships to further their careers and positions of influences within the financial services industry.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – “DIVERSITY IN THE FINANCE INDUSTRY”