Finovate Europe – Review from a developer’s and presenter’s point of view

Well a month ago, aixigo took part in the Finovate Europe in London and presented its high performance portfolio management system based on APIs : http://blog.aixigo.de/high-performance-api-services-for-portfolio-management.html?lang=en

Now, a few weeks later, we have written down our impressions of the whole process – from different points of view. All in all we can say, FinovateEurope was an awesome experience and we really enjoyed it! And now, have a look at our developer’s and presenter’s view of aixigo’s project “Finovate Europe 2017”:

Read what David, our participating developer, experienced:

At the beginning of December my manager placed an Amazon echo on my desk. “David, we have the idea to present at the Finovate Europe beginning of February. Can you get Amazon Alexa to talk to the PMS API until then?”.

So Michael, a colleague of mine, and I sat together and thought of what we need to do. We are both full stack developers and are usually responsible for developing advisory software for banks.

We came up with a really short list of things to do:

– set up the PMS API
– set up a service to talk to Alexa
– set up a service to generate charts for the answers

Setting up the PMS API took me less than 4 hours including the import of thousands of example depots. We then started to let Alexa talk to the PMS API. After a couple of days, we had the first working prototype and could ask Alexa simple questions that gave responses with answers we expected ;-).

In the beginning we used an AWS Lambda server as well as an EC2 instance to host ‘our’ Alexa service, our chart service and the PMS API, but later changed to a self-hosted version.

In the following weeks we were busy making more API calls available for voice querying as well as have nice charts rendered. Although we had planned beforehand to be finished by the end of January to give Mario and Marcus some time for preparing their talk. However,  the voice part of the system was already presented to customers in early January and it was received very well.

We really had fun working with both APIs and enjoyed the variation it brought to our work.

One last remark: Watch out what you tell Alexa, it notices should you be a little angry with it ;-).

 

Read what Mario, our participating presenter, experienced:

I’m totally passionate about doing something for the first time. However, accepting that a first timer may not be 100% does not represent my passion. Keeping that in mind, we went to great lengths to make aixigo´s first presentation at one of the best known conferences in the financial technology sector an outstanding experience for audience and clients. It would be seven minutes of high blood pressure on the inside and easy-going on the outside.

Preparation

Marcus Gruendler (our head of portfolio management systems) and I had started this venture in late October by literally applying  two days before closing. We were late because we wanted to be sure that the product was ready and productive for our most important customers before showing it to the community. We got accepted, hooray.

Our idea was to show the core benefits of our digital wealth management API – flexibility, performance and high volume capability. We decided to enter unchartered territory by connecting Amazon Alexa to our API. So we would be able to have a chat about a securities portfolio. – Thanks to Michael and David, this went quite well; above you could read about their experience.

Finding the content and creating a script for these seven minutes can be easy. But my experience from earlier Finovate visits is that everybody strives for a good performance. We started by brainstorming with a couple of colleagues and then formed a small team to prepare our presentation. We invested two days of practice alone and in front of the aixigo team in our cafeteria. There was one coaching presentation with Greg Palmer from Finovate and this was really helpful.

 Presentation and Finovate Days

The day before Finovate started we took part in the rehearsal sessions, getting a good feeling about the environment and everything else. And, as expected, Alexa was having problems to understand my questions. Everything else worked fine, but the feeling that something would go wrong was really present.

At Finovate you only have a booth on the day you present. And presenting later in the day means that you did a lot of talking before your presentation. So I was really happy when Finovate took us to the green room well an hour before our presentation was about to start. Mindwalking through our presentation Marcus and I sat there, nervousness adding up second-by-second. But from the moment you get backstage and finalize preparations you start to go with the flow.

Coming up on stage you need to handle your equipment in cooperation with the guys; everything went well. Then it was spot on and off we go. But within a minute something went wrong, as expected. First question – no answer by Alexa, nothing, niente. I tell you my heart rate was at maximum level. Asking again, with a normal voice and speed, was vital and successful. Marcus took over, did a great job, and finished together with no further difficulties.

Our presentation was very well received, but not “Best-in-Show” at Finovate. But this didn´t really matter (well, maybe a bit). We had plenty of good discussions and are very sure to take real business out of this. The preparation paid off and I would do most of it in the same way again.

I would like to finish off with a great applause to all my colleagues at aixigo for making this possible.

___

Links/Media:

Finovate Gallery: https://www.flickr.com/photos/finovate/albums/72157676725773284

Video presentation aixigo: http://finovate.com/videos/finovateeurope-2017-aixigo/

Interview with Mario Alves: http://www.fintech.finance/fintech-tv/finovateeurope-mario-alves-aixigo-ag/

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