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LEADERSHIP FROM THE DIGITAL BOARDROOM

Gavin Fallon, General Manager, UK, Nordics & South Africa at Board International

 

Modern enterprises are highly complex organisations, operating within volatile market conditions and at the mercy of a constantly shifting economic environment. Yet traditional boardrooms remain an enclave of static spreadsheets, presentations and decision-making based on what has already happened, not what the future may hold – which is obviously vital for making decisions in today’s ever-changing business environment. If they haven’t already, then now is the time where enterprises need to make their boardrooms digital, not just to keep pace with the rest of the business, and to also remain competitive.

 

The last few months have shown the importance of agile decision-making led from the Boardroom, with a complete and real-time view based on latest metrics and data, of what’s really going on across the enterprise. Despite this, research from FSN, discussed in a recent event with PwC, has shown that most organisations are woefully underprepared, with 40% of organisations admitting to being constrained by technology and 48% admitting to being data constrained or data overloaded.

 

Gavin Fallon

This is a point backed up by our own State of Decision-Making research which also shows that whilst just over half (54%) important business decisions are based on data and insights, ‘gut feeling’ decisions are still made by nearly a further half (45%) of companies. What’s more, over half of all of companies (57%) still rely on spreadsheets to aid their decision-making, despite more modern and reliable tools now being available.

 

Underinvestment at some organisations seems have taken its toll, but smart CFOs, get the importance of real-time decision-making and more responsive, planning and forecasting capabilities, and understand there has never been a more important time than now to move to a Digital Boardroom.

 

Leading firms are embracing the Digital Boardroom approach, both for managing client projects, as well as their own diverse and complex internal reporting, and decision-making needs. There’s lots to learn from these firms and what has been achieved through the accelerated digital transformation of decision-making.

 

Internal reporting is a formidable challenge of all businesses, of all sizes, but one of our customers, PwC, identified the need to transform budgeting, planning and reporting, for a number of reasons. This included strategic high-level planning through to longer 3-year planning and annual budgets, and to better connect these plans with regular management information reporting. Whilst systems at PwC had stood the test of time, they wanted more agile, integrated and transparent driver-based planning, improve time and efficiency, along with better visualisation and interactivity, plus they knew that financial analytics are constantly evolving and wanted to ensure they always remain at forefront of finance planning and decision-making innovation.

 

Big audit and advisory firms like PwC need the ability to plan different levels of granularity, integrating multiple data sources into a single BI tool, and enable real time reporting on plans all in one platform, and of course doing all this at scale and speed, with lots of opportunity for future development.

 

Business leaders can now access interactive dashboards and self-serve at the touch of screen, drilling down into figures and trends, combining finance and non-finance data sources, where real power exists in not just being able to glean insights solely from finance data, but getting a collective view of various key data sources from across the business.

 

It’s become all too apparent in the last few months that CFOs and Office of Finance leaders, need innovative new tools which can help them look at things differently, to what they’ve been used to before, and model for new and altogether previously unknown scenarios in fast-moving Boardrooms. Certainly, those organisations who are reliant on spreadsheets and populating these from scratch when faced with today’s seismic decisions, are just simply not going to be prepared.

 

Faster and more accurate decision-making, where the right information is delivered in real-time rather than sending various departments off to search for and report back on the answers, combined with full visibility of the metrics which matter, means leaders can see what is really going on across the whole business not based on the rear-view mirror, and make big decisions accordingly

 

Effective decision-making has been transformed for the better across today’s complex business landscape, where innovative leaders can now make a genuine business impact, by adapting and pivoting to constant change by leading from the Digital Boardroom.

 

Business

GOING GLOBAL: 7 TIPS TO GET STARTED

The idea of selling your products or services to new markets across the globe is an attractive prospect for any business, large or small. But while reaching new customers and unlocking the potential for further growth can seem exciting initially, adapting your business to foreign markets is no small feat. Factors such as cost, communication and cultural differences can all affect your business’ success when going global. This guide will explore some of the key considerations to make when you’re thinking of expanding your business overseas.

 

Evaluate Your Finances

One of the main questions to ask when looking to go global is whether or not your business can afford to do so. Crossing borders can be a complicated and expensive process which can take away time and resources from other opportunities at home. Growth for businesses abroad is often a slow process; establishing products and services in other countries takes time, so you will need to factor this into your planning. Thorough analysis of domestic and international markets should always be undertaken before making the decision to expand your business overseas.

 

Location, Location, Location

Choosing the right location is crucial to the success of your business expansion. International business network Going Global Live says that taking your business to the right countries initially can save you money on excessive marketing and advertising, putting you face-to-face with your target market from the outset. You should weigh up the pros and cons of potential locations, such as the likelihood of being able to fill your new HQ with prime, homegrown talent, as well as access to desired markets aided by foreign investment bodies. It is also important to consider the relevant laws and regulations laid out by national and regional governments.

 

Ensure You Have the Right Infrastructure

Making sure your business has the right infrastructure to handle expansion abroad will put you in a good place going forward. Implementing a clear management strategy, both locally and centrally, will set your business up for a smooth and successful launch overseas. Having up-to-date IT and communications systems at the centre of your business will allow you to share information and data securely. When it comes to shipping, choosing the best – and most efficient – transport and storage providers will give you the peace of mind that your products are safe in transit. Companies such as S Jones are ideal for businesses looking for more information on storage solutions for shipping overseas.

 

Build a Strong Team

Appointing a strong team to oversee your expansion is crucial to your company’s success in new markets. Hiring people with a good knowledge of your target market, as well as a focus on your business’ interests, is key when establishing your overseas HQ. Working with local partners can help you to communicate your business’ unique selling point in a meaningful way. Having an experienced partner or mentor that you can trust to oversee the expansion will allow you to stay focused on the bigger picture and ensure that your attention isn’t taken away from your core customer base.

 

Have Faith

Once you’ve made the move to globalise your business, be sure to have faith in your ideas and don’t be deterred by slow progress. Dr Shai Vyakarnam of the Cranfield School of Management says that while there is a fine balance between faith and stubbornness, you’ll need “incredible levels of self-belief and faith in your idea” to succeed, and that you “only need to be able to turn a few key people in your favour and the others will follow”. Making well-informed decisions quickly will allow you to stay on track and will nullify the threat of any lingering self-doubt. While progress may be slow at first, be sure to remain patient and be prepared to build personal relationships to gain the trust of your new partners and customer base.

 

Consider the Impact of New Ideas

When implementing new ideas for your business as whole, consider how they will be received by your new international customers, as well as by your existing customer base at home. What might be seen as a positive idea in your home country could be perceived as offensive or alienating by your customers abroad. Factors such as differing time zones, languages and cultural appropriateness should always be taken into consideration when making key decisions to eliminate the risk of alienating foreign customers and damaging your reputation overseas.

 

Be Adaptable

While it is important to have faith in your business and be patient initially, you should also be willing to make changes as things develop. Acting on the advice of experts is key to navigating new markets successfully. It may be that your products and services require innovation to meet demand, or that cultural differences lead you to make changes to your marketing strategy. Being adaptable will give you the best chance of meeting consumer demand on a global scale.

When trying to expand your business to an entirely new customer base, try to bear in mind some of the above points. As long as you remain patient and open-minded, then you should have little difficulty in marketing your business globally.

 

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Banking

REDUCING FRICTION ONLINE HAS BECOME BUSINESS CRITICAL

Andrew Shikiar, Executive Director at the FIDO Alliance

 

The global pandemic has pushed the importance of remote access and authentication right up the agenda for many businesses. All those occasions where people would normally show up in person to open a bank account or pick-up some high street essentials were simply not possible for large parts of the year. Even as restrictions have eased across the country, these kinds of face-to-face transactions remain an unappealing prospect or a last-resort to many.

Not surprisingly, this has led to unprecedented demand for online and remote services. This brings with it a host of challenges and opportunities, and we have seen many examples of companies brilliantly adapting and reacting to this new way of life. But one issue that businesses and individuals have been grappling with for years – that of frictionless transactions and authentication – has now been put under a brighter spotlight as it is increasingly critical to get right.

 

Friction impacts the bottom line

The core challenge facing businesses is how to strike the right balance between giving customers the best possible experience of online service, and the necessary regulatory and security implications that directly affect – and often contradict – that ideal user experience.

We’ve all likely experienced the very real kinds of friction I’m talking about – it’s the account you gave up on registering for, or the purchase you abandoned because the process was just too frustrating.

Friction like this has direct bottom line impacts through the loss of sales and/or disaffected customers –  and it is substantially more pronounced in the current climate. People have less money to spend, they are spending a greater proportion of this reduced pot online, and businesses are competing for their livelihoods to claim their share. Providing a frictionless experience can be the difference between success and failure.

 

Banking and retail lose out

Nowhere is this problem more keenly felt than in the retail and banking industries. Countless transactions simply don’t happen each year due to issues with passwords or mobile One Time Passwords (OTPs) at the point of signing-up or checking-out.

Data from Statista shows that 69.57% of digital shopping carts and baskets are abandoned and the purchase not completed. And Mastercard’s analysis estimates that up to 20% of mobile e-commerce transactions are abandoned or otherwise fail (e.g., from undelivered SMS OTPs) mid-way.

In addition, independent web usability research institute Baynard found that one out of five consumers abandoned their online shopping carts citing the checkout process as “too long and complicated”. That means 20% of customers taking their custom elsewhere, likely to a competitor, because the process presented too much friction.

 

Passwords are a major part of the problem

Organisations have struggled to strike that balance between frictionless yet secure online log-ins in large part because of historical dependence on passwords – which simply aren’t fit for purpose in today’s online economy. Passwords were designed to be simple but, as we can all likely attest, they have become incredibly cumbersome and difficult to manage.

The demands placed on consumers to remember and keep track of the array of different passwords they need, and the different requirements of password complexity which varies from provider to provider, is proving to be untenable.

Not only are passwords a major cause of consumers giving up on purchases or preventing them from signing up for new services, but they also fail in delivering on their primary objective: to protect accounts and sensitive data. All too often the password has proven to be a single point of failure, and one that is all too easy for hackers and fraudsters to get hold of – a trend accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Reducing friction

There has been a move toward developing and adopting open standards that enable any online service provider to authenticate users in a way that is both highly secure and almost completely frictionless – with all major platform and cloud service providers coalescing around a common approach.

It’s clear from the way consumers have embraced using their fingerprints and FaceID to unlock their devices that simple, natural gestures work – and that they are often preferred over using a password. By adopting the latest authentication standards, organisations can enable their customers to use these same easy gestures on their every-day devices to prove their identity and approve even the most sensitive of transactions.

The standards also improve security by moving away from the traditional model where your password or similar piece of ‘secret’ information is stored on a server, to one where credentials are stored on an individual’s device. This means they cannot be phished or divulged through other means of social engineering, while also inherently stopping the large-scale breaches that impact millions or billions of users in one go.

Due to these developments, the kind of poor user experience that leads to abandoned shopping carts and lost customers during the sign-up process is completely avoidable. There is now nothing stopping banks, retailers, and a range of other businesses from offering a superior, and low-friction user experience while also maintaining the safety and integrity of the networked economy.

 

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