FinovateFall 2010: Wrap-up

by Bryan Derman on October 5, 2010

in Bryan Derman, Conferences & Meetings, Finance, Finovate, Innovation, Technology

Glenbrook’s Bryan Derman is live blogging from FinovateFall 2010. This is one of several posts; you can find an index to his coverage here.

First, a quick congratulations to the seven Best-in-Show winners (out of 56 presenters) from this year’s event:

Having listened attentively to all the demos, I have to say that this list makes sense to me.  These were clearly some of the best presentations from an overall strong field.

Now, just a couple of observations that occurred to me as I tried to look across the program for some themes:

Mobile or Bust. If you haven’t ported your every online application in your product suite to a mobile app, don’t show your face at Finovate.  It’s great to see so many tech providers are getting the message that mobile access will soon be more important than desk-bound access.  On the other hand,  I couldn’t escape the feeling that it was a kind of brute force movement to bring all of the web to that very small screen.  Do I really want to receive an SMS alert every time the cocoa market is in contango?

In our view, the beauty of mobile applications is the way the best ones utilize the available tools (location, time, typical behavior) to efficiently deliver the most critical information to the user.  In a word, they demonstrate an intuition about the user.  We need to guard against the bloat that can happen when we strive to deliver extensive functionality.

PFM or TMI? Aggregation and organization are admirable goals to be sure, but I am beginning to fear that the number of companies providing PFM software will exceed the number of consumers using the technology.  Mint had a nice exit and remains an interesting asset within Intuit, but probably doesn’t justify the feeding frenzy.  I was very encouraged to see several providers focusing on PFM technology on the under-served small business market, which may be a more natural audience for this kind of disciplined approach to financial management.  Easy to use, forward-looking cash flow projectors have real value to businesses and should also trickle down to consumer apps.

Show Us Your Home Run Swing. A lot of presenters showed clever approaches to, and mash-ups of, technologies that have been around for a while (think account aggregation and ACH transfers).  But a few really stood out for their introduction of fundamentally new technology.  A couple of companies (Dynamics, Emue) appear to have succeeded in putting the major elements of a computer (processor, keyboard, monitor) onto the form factor of a credit card and are deploying a range of interesting applications.  It would be great to see more big picture attempts like these in our space.

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I’ll close by offering kudos again this year to Eric Mattson and Jim Bruene for a great job on a big, complicated show — two days, 56 presentations, 600 attendees, 6 meals, one tired reporter….

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