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KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM INDUSTRY FIRST DIGITOPIA MATURITY SUMMIT

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Digital transformation has become a bit of a buzz word to many across business in recent years, but following various COVID-19 lockdowns over the past 18 months it has proven to be a necessity. From working from home to innovating supply chain processes for streamlined production, digital transformation is everywhere and it is having a significant impact on many organisations.

Leading digital maturity consultancy, Digitopia, led its first Digitopia Maturity Summit on 23rd September, hosted in London and broadcast virtually to audiences across the globe. The single day event guided attendees  through the importance of digital transformation, exploring how businesses can maximise their return on investment by accurately measuring their digital journey.

As the world continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Digitopia Maturity Summit hosted an exclusive panel of experts, who offered their unique perspective on digital transformation, leaning on their experience to provide advice for those who have embarked on a digital journey.

Of all the insights shared at the event, we’ve compiled the sessions into three key takeaways.

 

1. Measuring Transformation is Vital

Opening the event, Halil Aksu, CEO and co-founder of Digitopia, explained that  digital transformation has affected every aspect of our lives: books, music, movies, payments and ordering, as well as industries: mobilities, commerce, insurance, logistics, banking. Yet 90% of companies who are currently undergoing digital transformation don’t have visibility of the progress they are making.

Nick Forde, Partner at Digitopia, added to Aksu’s remarks, explaining that the idea of ‘we are different from the rest’ simply doesn’t cut it anymore. To find true business value, companies must understand their progress. Everyone is on the same journey, but Forde explained how these organisations are all at different stages – and they must know exactly where they are, as well as what is needed to progress.

But how? It is one thing to invest in digital transformation, but measuring and benchmarking progress is another operation in itself. Ken Douglas, ex-CIO Global Projects at BP, drew on his early-career experience to explain how measurement frameworks must be applied. They act as the vehicle for having powerful conversations with organisations. They show businesses how they can do what they want to do, and how to achieve it. The difference between those who measure and those who do not, is vast.

If you don’t know exactly where you are, and don’t know where you are going, then you shouldn’t be surprised if you can’t move onwards. Importantly, how can you expect to bring people on to join that journey? Measuring digital transformation is the key to everything.

 

2. Transformation Incorporates More Than Just Tech

During an in-depth panel discussion between Bradley Yorke-Biggs, CEO, IDE; Axel Bindel, Executive Director, HSSMI, and Mark Walker-Smith, Head of EMEA, Digitopia, the trio discussed the need for a holistic approach to transformation.

If businesses want to achieve something, they must first take a step back and assess the bigger picture. Digital transformation is made up of a variety of elements, including culture, leadership, and technology. The value in any move must be understood.

Yorke-Biggs explained that it has become fashionable to look at digital transformation, but it can begin to kill business if not done correctly. Instead, assess what value can be created, and how this can strategically grow the enterprise to achieve objectives. Suddenly, it is no longer just about technology – it’s about the people involved, the frameworks surrounding transformation, the leadership and governance. Only then can businesses find genuine sustainable success.

 

3. Culture is Everything 

Discussing his organisation’s work with Digitopia, Eray Karaduman, Chief Human Resources Officer for KordSA, emphasised that digital transformation requires a specific mindset company wide. Karaduman explained that although digital transformation starts with the C-Suite and continues with the C-Suite, it must be embedded into company culture to succeed.

People are at the core of every organisation, a point aptly made by Sammi Marwan, Partner at Digitopia, who gave a session on the 5 lessons he has learned from a decade in digital transformation. Sammi asked, how do you ensure that you prioritise the customer? Do current staff have the right skills? What is the culture of the organisation? Invest in people and the people will transform an organisation. Plan to change the culture.

Do most people in the organisation work together or in silos? The latter is the most common, but those walls need to be broken down between departments. The process of idea generation has to be empowered by voices across the business. Some of the best ideas will come from the most junior people within the company. Encourage failure as well as success, Sammi explained. Fail and fail quickly, and importantly, learn from it.

 

Business

TAKE THE NO-CODE LEAP TO DIGITAL INNOVATION WITH A FUSION TEAM

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Chris Obdam, CEO, Betty Blocks

 

In the last couple of years, a new sector has emerged alongside enterprise financial organisations—an ecosystem of fast-growing Fintech startups that develop innovative solutions for the banking sector. These small, flexible startups and scale-ups began filling a gap the ‘big boys’ left quite some time ago. Then, they gained even more ground during the pandemic. According to KPMG, Fintech investments worldwide amounted to $98 billion USD in the first half of 2021, compared to $121.5 billion over the whole of 2020[1].

 

The massive surge has financial regulatory bodies scrambling to balance the benefits of modernising the industry with the necessity of strong oversight. But, what if traditional financial enterprises could combine their durability, reliability and years of experience with the flexibility of a startup? They can! More and more enterprise organisations are becoming agile, empowering digital-savvy colleagues and improving competitive value.

 

Fusion teams

Their approach? They break through patterns and almost literally through walls in their organisation. The most successful organisations team up with genuine problem solvers. It’s a solution-oriented approach, which can be really successful if governed the right way. We like to call it a fusion team, a team that empowers digitally-skilled and solution-oriented employees to work side-by-side with the IT department while using a low-code and no-code development platform.

 

Citizen development

A fusion team brings together people with diverse professional backgrounds who use data and technology to achieve shared business outcomes. Ideally, a fusion team combines pro-developers with citizen developers. A citizen developer is a business person without coding experience that builds apps using a no-code or low-code platform.

The purpose of the professional developer, in a fusion team, is not to train the citizen developer to become a pro-developer but to bring guidance and governance to the project. Before building successful software, a fusion team will require knowledge and guidance through the software development life cycle (SDLC) phases. IT feedback is crucial to helping a fusion team understand what makes good software and how new platforms can (or cannot) integrate into an existing system. Citizen developers should receive coaching to make decisions that lead to architecturally sound, value-adding applications.

 

What are the challenges that a fusion team can tackle?

  • Modernisation of legacy systems. Many banks have been around for years, expanded their software, but regularly have to deal with legacy systems or even a vendor lock-in.
  • Regulations can change fast; that’s why financial organisations need to increase flexibility and improve adaptability. A flexible layer on top of core systems or legacy systems can profit the whole organisation.
  • Counter shadow IT. Thousands of employees means that a lot of solutions are single handedly-built. All these solutions can be beneficial for the employees and even for your customers, but the thing is that they are not checked and governed by IT. For example, you run the risk that they are not meeting all your security requirements.
  • Digitisation of processes, like the onboarding process for customers, is still a long paper process within financials. What if this could be 100% digital and automated? This could save you a lot of repetitive work, energy and money.

 

Create an environment for innovation

Banks tend to have difficulties setting up the right conditions to empower the workforce to innovate towards the future. Our first reaction to possible security risks is to impose more rules and restrictions, while the solution lies in a coaching attitude, independent of strict regulations. You can empower digital transformation by using a no-code or low-code platform.

A fusion approach encourages better software governance, allowing IT to help mitigate the risks of shadow IT projects. With a no-code or low-code platform, you can combine existing secure systems, extract data more efficiently, effectively communicate and convey between systems and thus better manage qualitative information. Governance is not a simple process or a task to check off and forget about; the essential governance feature for low-code or no-code development is a platform provider with the flexibility to adapt to specific needs of an enterprise. The provider should be a partner in expanding the role of citizen developers within the organisation.

Taking the leap into no-code software development with a fusion team will empower the entire organisation in digital transformation. It’s a strategic move that helps enterprises become more resilient against unexpected challenges – such as a pandemic or new consumer demands. Furthermore, you create a modern and innovative working environment with digitally-capable and engaged employees.

 

[1] Source: KPMG:

https://home.kpmg/nl/en/home/media/press-releases/2021/09/record-fintech-investeringen-in-eerste-helft-2021.html

 

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IDENTITY SECURITY IN THE ERA OF SOX

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By Steve Bradford, Senior Vice President, EMEA, SailPoint

 

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) is a federal law that mandates practices in auditing and financial regulations for public companies. Its original intent being to restore trust in a corporate and financial system that had been rocked by major accounting scandals such as Enron, WorldCon and Tyco. Legislators believed if there was no trust in the major corporate institutions of America, then the whole fabric of capitalism could be brought into question.

Initially only applying to American companies, every major institution that dealt with America had to comply with SOX. It was a huge a success with the number of financial scandals emanating from the US dropping dramatically since compliance. But can The UK follow suit?

 

Preparing for “SOX UK”

The UK has had its own high profile business collapses – notably BHS and Carillion. So, the government has launched a consultation programme that mimics the US SOX rules. The consultation on reforms aims to ‘restore trust in audit and corporate governance’ and applies to auditors, companies, directors, audit committees, investors, other stakeholders, and the regulator.

A focus is on companies with a significant public interest, otherwise known as Public Interest Entities (PIEs). These include financial institutions, banks, insurance companies, underwriters, and alike – many of which are already familiar with a high degree of financial scrutiny. A noteworthy difference is the stated preference to expand the UK SOX controls beyond public interest companies, which could include large companies in retail, manufacturing, logistics and automotive.

UK SOX may seem like a massive undertaking if unfamiliar, but with the right technologies in place manual tasks can become automated, reducing time which can be then redirected to greater priorities or risks, and everyday operations will be guided by a strong set of well-defined controls.

 

A growing threat

The Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance 9-Step checklist provides a series of recommendations to protect the validity of all reported information and help businesses to ensure they are following the rules. This includes the need to establish controls to prevent data tampering, track data access, test the effectiveness of safeguards and detect security breaches – any of which need to be reported to SOX auditors on time.

As both physical and digital information are affected, accurate management is an integral part of compliance. Remote working, blockchain integration, and the emergence of cloud-based banking (Banking as a Service) have led to growing cyber threats, privacy concerns and compliance requirements through the complexities of connectivity.  For example,  multiple devices now connect to networks from different locations, accessing the vast amount of information in the cloud. There is now critical need to close security gaps outside the perimeter.

Some of the greatest threats lie within an organisation – either human error or more likely, the rise in risk facing the access today’s workforce has to technology. Complex corporate structures and departmental silos hinder management’s visibility into workforce roles, responsibilities, and data access. Traditional reliance on spreadsheets and manual processes for tracking data access and user identities leads to inaccuracies and inconsistencies.

Apart from being an auditing and reporting nightmare, the situation creates system gaps that are ripe for exploitation by threat actors.

 

Maintaining security through identity

To meet security and compliance regulations, companies and organisations must act smarter in how they protect their “perimeter”, which is centred on its people – the new threat vector of choice. Companies must prepare to automate business processes and embrace new security practices that fully protect the workforce and the tools they need to  do their job.

Staying in compliance with regulation is important for the safety of the company, but it is crucial that the right safety measures are in place. Identity access management can reduce the risk of insider threat, data breaches and human error for financial reporting – enabling automated logging and report generation for companies to make smart decisions whilst uncovering and remediating hidden or unknown issues that pose inherent risk.

 

The countdown to SOX

One commodity companies don’t have is an abundance of time. With less than 18 months to go until the SOX recommendations deadline, any form of automated access system is an essential first step in ensuring companies are prepared. Starting early is critical – given an implementation programme can take 18-24 months for a company that is used to stringent financial regulations. It’s time to get identity and access compliance right – automation can save a significant amount of effort and money, whilst improving the accuracy of identity management processes.

As seen in the US, UK companies not used to financial compliance procedures will have to catch up or ask for help – learning from the financial sector – and scale up their auditing and control to comply with more stringent regulations. The rules are there to help provide the security that regulators need for a secure commercial environment. Now is the time to act in order to reduce the risk.

 

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