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On this beautiful October day in New York, SAP welcomed hundreds of customers and partners at the Ritz Carlton Battery Park to discuss Transformation and Innovation at the 3rd annual SAP Financial Services Forum.

While the topic of change and transformation has been discussed within Financial Services and Insurance for years, the main dialogue at today’s Forum centered around the urgency for firms to innovate and evolve their business models to capture customer mindshare. More than ever, the industry is facing incredible pressure from non-traditional competitors who are seizing the mindshare – and the wallet share – of customers around the globe.

Ross Wainwright, SAP’s Global Head of Financial Services, shared several examples of how banks are being disintermediated, and in some cases entirely excluded from customer opportunities by new entrants ranging from Lending Club, PayPal, T-Mobile and many more.

Stephen Dubner, best-selling author of Freakonomics, challenged bankers and insurers to think beyond their traditional business models and to re-define their framework for engaging with customers. While Stephen acknowledged that predicting the future is hard, if not impossible, he spoke about the importance for firms to question their current business models in order to remain relevant in their customers’ eyes.

Complementing the discussion around transformation was a thought-provoking perspective offered by Jennifer Morgan, SAP’s North America President. Jennifer offered an action plan for organizations to leverage innovations such as Business Networks and Data Science to drive technology and business process simplification in order to achieve the agility required to respond to changing customer demands.

The trifecta of simplicity, transformation and innovation was beautifully summed up by Willie Stegmann, CIO at Standard Bank of South Africa (SBSA), who travelled to NYC from Johannesburg to share his experience in driving an enterprise-wide transformation agenda at SBSA. Willie recounted the highlights and lowlights of SBSA’s transformation journey, sharing how SBSA created market differentiation and customer loyalty by harnessing innovation and delivering unique capabilities to their customers.

With over 50 speakers at this year’s event, the discussion of change and innovation continues. We hope you’ll join the conversation on Twitter at #sapfsforum. You may also want to bookmark the event page, where we’ll soon share the presentations and videos from this week.