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DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: WHY TECHNOLOGY IS AN ONGOING EXPERIMENT FOR ENTERPRISE

By Dnyanesh Kale, Advisory Director, 6point6

The key challenge to successfully execute a digital transformation is well understood. More often than not, existing business services have often been built upon a web of disconnected siloes across different departments, resulting in incomplete and ineffective architecture.

In the past, this has typically led to IT teams exploring new technologies, like RPA, to place a ‘sticking plaster’ on top of legacy systems to extend their life. However this  only results in delayed investment in building strategic IT capabilities and will cause further pain, as more money is spent just to keep the lights on. A temporary and ultimately very costly solution to what really requires a fundamental shift in mindset and practice.

Technology is an ongoing experiment as both business and technology landscapes are continuously evolving. Enterprises are continuously subjected to changing strategic as well as operational environmental pressures. With business and technology constantly evolving, the formula to future-proof any digital transformation is clear – change tact and approach it with the same ongoing and measured strategy as you would approach your business’s goals.

 

Experiment setup: Giving IT leaders a stake in the game It is a human tendency to more clearly remember one’s failures and fear the unknown. Everyone has read and feared those failed mammoth multi-year technology implementation projects. However the nature of technologies has now significantly evolved, which enables their iterative and incremental deployment for early value creation.

While  business leaders’ attitude towards new technologies is changing, there is often a reluctance to include IT leaders as a core part of business decision-making. Until now, the challenge has been to shift perception of IT leaders as ‘kids looking to play with new toys’ to a valued player, who will enable the strategic success of the enterprise.

Having a strong IT leadership can help establish a vision that identifies how to use technology to influence business outcomes. It takes a strong IT leadership, with multi-disciplinary skill set, that identifies the right fit between business outcomes that can be influenced and new technologies that can be applied. To orientate technology in tandem with a business’s strategic initiative is an approach worth taking to fully realise the benefits of digital transformation.

For enterprises the pressure to become adaptable is on. Organisations that empower IT leadership to propose new technologies and the autonomy to create a sandbox to pilot these will realise a more fine-tuned approach to targeting technology that helps incrementally meet the real needs across the business.

 

Making the experiment repeatable: FailFast

One of the most important approaches any business can undertake during a digital transformation journey is to not be afraid of failure. A fail fast strategy offers many lessons towards understanding shortcomings and what needs improvement. Most importantly, it offers employees a chance to experiment and champions their learning from mistakes.

Agile software development offers a perfect environment for Hypothesis-based learning. We have an idea, we build something, which we can rollout quickly and to a high standard with the help of Continuous Integration (CI) and automated regression testing capabilities. This gives us the opportunity to get early feedback by gathering data on the usage of the new capability and quickly address the aspects that need improvement or withdraw the ones that fail to impress the user community. To make agile software delivery fully successful IT divisions need to adopt a human-centric strategy for knowledge management while experimenting with new technologies

To speed up and simplify digital transformation initiatives, organisations that have set up centralised capabilities for experimenting with new technologies are far more likely to benefit. The need for greater user involvement throughout the adoption of new technology is vital. To enable early feedback and to fail fast, IT divisions need to have mechanisms to quickly rollout technology features in iterative and incremental way. From this, they need to invest in tooling and delivery pipelines that allow Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD). This will significantly improve reliability and the success rate of the complex deployments. To further achieve consistency and standardisation, IT organisations need to invest in building a common platform providing a set of common and coherent services that are developed and managed centrally by teams called the Platform Ops. Often organisations call the teams that provide Platform Ops: a core platform team or core services.

By taking an iterative and incremental method to deliver new technology and a fail fast approach, businesses will be able to frequently measure each scale of change and its effectiveness. The key is to ensure your business has a common understanding of what powerful change looks like to avoid wasted resources and failed business services. That level of agility will hit the regular cadence in your digital transformation journey.

 

Technology

WHY DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN FINANCIAL SERVICES IS ABOUT CULTURE FIRST, TECH SECOND

Stuart Templeton, Head of UK at Slack 

 

In today’s world, there’s no such thing as a ‘non-tech fin’. Every financial services company needs to consider itself a fintech in order to bring about the innovation, speed, and transparency that customers expect, and that’s why most are pumping significant investment into their digital transformation efforts.

Part of the challenge faced by traditional incumbent banks is that they rely on legacy core systems that stifle the speed of change. These core systems were not built in an API first era. The good news of course is that the obligations of PSD2 and open banking have gone some way to facilitate future innovation.

While legacy banking platforms do continue to present a technical challenge, the human one can be even greater. Traditional institutions are often faced with the prospect of rebuilding their culture from scratch in the pursuit of becoming digital-first. Like many industries, the fundamental challenge is one of coordination: the creation and maintenance of alignment over time.
Couple this with the fact that the expectations of today’s workforce are changing, then companies in the industry have a real job on their hands. A growing percentage are digital natives, and millenials – who greatly value trust and transparency – make up the largest proportion of the workforce today. So how have businesses in the industry historically ingrained culture, and how does this need to change?

 

Old ways of working – Team A, and Team B

Traditionally, the culture within large financial organisations has been separated by two distinct teams: operations, and tech. They are driven by seemingly opposing forces – one by GANTT charts and lofty business goals, the other by agile software delivery and customer obsession. Often, the two don’t even speak the same language, let alone collaborate and share ideas. Of course there are digital projects, but they aren’t the embodiment of the business, and often tech teams find themselves battling to get buy-in from internal stakeholders who are somewhat removed from those that drive innovation.

Part of the problem is even the notion of having digital transformation projects – there is no such thing in today’s environment – as digital is an overarching movement, and financial services institutions must think of themselves as ‘digital factories’ in order to see a marked change. It is no longer enough to deliver tech updates both internally and externally once every few months, with speed diminished by layers of bureaucracy.

What needs to happen, then, is that these two business segments need to find a way to blend that helps the old incumbents forget their binary ideas of teamship from time gone by and instead let them come together to become one unit. Flattening the established hierarchy so that workers from across all lines of the business can communicate, share ideas and identify problems in real-time is, after all, the key to addressing the transformation gap. They need to think on their feet and iterate as they go: it’s agile thinking, but permeating outside of just the software delivery cycle.

 

Eating the elephant – one bite at a time

The solution, in theory, is relatively simple: companies need to break open the silos of information created by technologies like email and ensure anyone within a business has access to the knowledge and skills they need to make their projects a success. But of course, in practicality, this can present a seemingly insurmountable task.

Using technology to create an agile and transparent working environment that fosters collaboration is key for many financial services organisations that want to see real tangible results from their investments. Digital natives such as TransferWise and Starling Bank are getting this right by prioritising a decentralised business model, one that empowers collaborative working and knowledge sharing that in turn has a positive impact on employee satisfaction and retention.

They do this through collaboration hubs that provide a rich, permanent, searchable record of knowledge for everyone in the organisation.

 

Looking ahead: Team ‘us’ 

Predictions are very difficult, but in five years’ time we can expect to see a greatly altered perception of the financial services industry. We can expect that digital communications tools will continue to play an integral role in the evolution of their workforce culture, helping to bring the right people together internally within the business, as well as strengthening relationships externally with partners and customers alike.

Ultimately, in order to keep learning and improving, banks need to ask questions of themselves as competition and customer demand becomes more fierce: “Why are we doing this?” “What’s the benefit here, and who are we considering in the pursuit of this goal?”

To answer these things, a culture of collaboration and openness is key – underpinned, of course, by the tools that empower it.

 

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Technology

DISPELLING BIOMETRIC MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

BIOMETRIC

By Lina Andolf-Orup, Head of Marketing at Fingerprints

Gangsters cutting off enemies’ fingers to access secret locations and spies lifting fingerprints from martini glasses – the imagination of the entertainment world has been running wild ever since biometrics entered the scene.

Couple that with the limitations of some early biometric solutions from fifteen years ago, still anchored in the minds of many consumers, and you have the perfect recipe for an apprehensive and uncertain public.

 

Thawing lukewarm attitudes with a biometric touch

The biometrics industry has made great strides in the last few years – something particularly true for smartphones. Fingerprint authentication has replaced PINs and passwords as the most popular way to authenticate on mobile, with 70% of shipped smartphones now featuring biometrics.

And it doesn’t end there. Many adjacent markets are now eager to benefit from the secure and convenient authentication solutions that biometrics offer. Take the payments industry, for example, where biometrics payment cards are currently gathering real momentum.

However, some consumers are still uneasy about accepting biometrics. A recent study found that 56% of US and EU consumers are concerned about the switch to biometrics as it’s not enough understood to be trusted.

Although attitudes are shifting for the better, stats like this demonstrate there is still some work to do to disprove common biometric myths and showcase just how smart today’s solutions really are.

 

Lina Andolf-Orup

Dispel, adopt, repeat

The evolution in consumer biometrics in the last two decades has been phenomenal. And today’s solutions are far more advanced and safe than many may think.

To help bring an end to the myths, let’s expose some of the most common misconceptions around biometrics.

Myth: Biometric data is stored as images in easy-to-hack databases.

A leading myth about biometrics is that when a fingerprint is registered to a device, it is stored as an image of the actual fingerprint. This image can then be stolen and used across applications. In reality, the biometric data is stored as a template in binary code – put simply, encrypted 0s and 1s. Storing a mathematical representation rather than an image makes hacking considerably more challenging. In most consumer applications, this template is also not stored in a cloud-based location, its securely hosted in hardware on the device itself for example in the smartphone, in the payment card. Thus, it stays privately with its owner.

Myth: Fingerprints can be easily replicated to ‘trick’ devices.

The internet is full of articles and videos that claim it is possible to use materials from cello tape to gummy bears to craft fingerprint spoofs and access biometric systems. Although there may have been a time where gummy bear spoofing was the go-to party trick, todays’ consumer biometric authentication solutions have too many technological defences, such as improved image quality and matching algorithms, to simply ‘trick’ devices. Plus, on top this, the criminal needs to have access to the person’s device where this fingerprint is enrolled e.g. smartphone, payment card, before he/she notices and blocks it. This is not scalable nor common, in comparison to gaining access to someone’s PIN code or skimming a contactless card.

Myth: Physical change will prohibit access to my device.

Although our irises don’t change as we age, our fingerprints can and our faces will. Does that mean we have to update our biometric devices every few months to capture these changes? Not quite! Unless there are drastic, sudden changes, the ‘self-learning’ algorithms in modern-day biometric systems are able to keep up with our developing looks.

 

Who you gonna call? Mythbusters!

These are just some of the common biometric myths and misunderstandings perpetuating in consumer mindsets. Thankfully, though, while we’re working hard to rid the world of the myths, belief in the value of biometrics is only expected to grow. But as solutions expand and diversify, the myth-busting fight will continue.

Fingerprints has been a leader of innovation in biometrics for the last two decades. We’re proud of the expertise and R&D we’ve been able to pour into our biometrics solutions to deliver stronger security and a better user-experience. To learn more about the most common biometric misconceptions and the modern-day technology that allows us to dispel them, download our eBook here.

 

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