By: Gert-Jan Wijman, VP Europe, Middle East and Africa at Celigo
On the back of the pandemic, organisations have had to embrace a culture of evolution alongside a diversified workforce made up of remote or hybrid staff. Businesses have become more horizontal, more entrepreneurial and less hierarchical allowing each employee to feel value. Technology is a key enabler to these changes and is critical to the way we communicate and collaborate with colleagues from around the world in almost every aspect of life.
With new generations of workers come new expectations. Those that have recently joined the workforce expect very different things, particularly when it comes to technology. As Gen-Z and Millennials grew up around technology and are more tech-savvy, they expect employers to use technology to provide more flexibility when it comes to working hours, conditions and location. They are also used to seeing in realtime what is going on in their world through social media and expect something similar in their job.
Automation and hyperautomation have enabled this transformation in all aspects of a business, allowing employees from different locations and departments to work together effectively. As a result, 57% of employers now want to use automation in order to improve human performance and productivity. Post-pandemic we’re seeing this implementation of automation grow dramatically. The relentless demand to shift to digital business models has made hyperautomation vital and IT leaders must use it as an ongoing catalyst to optimise task-level digitisation. Furthermore, over 80% of organisations consistently self-report increased or continued investment into hyperautomation initiatives.
But, how does this impact the role of the CIO and the CFO? And what does this all mean for the way organisations work when it comes to information technology?
It is critical that CIOs must work in harmony with CFOs to achieve total business success and eliminate the numerous manual processes and insufficient access to real-time data across systems. By starting with the business problem at hand – automating quote to cash, for instance – CIOs can empower the CFO and their teams to build automations that make sense for their business, while still allowing the IT team to maintain oversight of the data and processes to ensure compliance. And that partnership is only more important when workers are spread across multiple locations.
Automation’s effect on the workforce
It’s vital that organisations trust their data and business processes in order to ensure collaborations within the business succeed. When it comes to remote working, that connection of data and processes across the organisation becomes even more paramount. The shift to the cloud has made this connection of employees across the globe possible, but it has also created disconnected silos of data and information, with many companies adopting dozens of cloud applications to run their business.
An iPaaS (integration platform as a service) integrates applications and automates processes to ensure data integrity, which makes processes scalable. This means that, despite varied locations throughout teams, employees can have the same collaboration experience and manage to continue to work effectively with colleagues no matter where they are. It also means that the repetitive tasks are taken care of and they can focus on the more pressing ones, adding more value to the business at the end of the day.
Automation through an iPaaS solves scalability issues in an environment where inflation rises and new hires are sometimes hard to find at acceptable costs. It provides an infrastructure to build a horizontal, scalable organisation. Its impact spans across all teams and, notably, finance teams who use it to increase revenue and profit, create timely financial reporting and ensure 100% compliance.
For finance teams in particular, automation is a saving grace – particularly for the often tech-strapped CFO. The Finance Tech stack is more complex than ever due to the proliferation of specialised finance SaaS apps to support quote to cash, A/R, A/P, cash management, tax, accounting close, corporate performance management. Using an iPaaS to connect and automate all of those processes is one way modern CFOs are adapting to changing tech needs and scaling their organisations for the future.
Implementing the tools
Implementing a platform which uses automation and aligns with the way the new generation of workers collaborates will empower employees and make the organisation more agile. With software and processes working together, employees will have more control over their jobs and more flexibility in how they work.
And by allowing employees to have more control, it frees up valuable IT resources that can be directed toward more strategic company initiatives.
Ultimately, business automation and platforms such as iPaaS are about empowering each employee and paving the way to a more streamlined business model that supports all aspects of working life, while minimising costs and time.
How FS organisations can utilise data to boost customer experience
Charles Southwood, Regional VP and GM – Northern Europe and Africa at Denodo
We’ve all heard the age-old adage “the customer is always right”. It insinuates that, in any sector, the needs and desires of those buying a brand’s product or services should be paramount. However, today’s customer has new standards and it is becoming harder than ever for businesses to meet and exceed them.
This is certainly the case in the financial services (FS) sector where getting customer experience right used to be relatively simple. The human touch was traditionally delivered as a bi-product of in-store, transactional interactions. Perhaps, as a result of this, few people ever considered changing their provider and the traditional, established banks ruled the space.
However, with the dawn of online banking and the introduction of new, exciting challenger banks as well as the UK’s unique Current Account Switching Service, the balance of power between the consumer and the bank is changing. Consumers no longer feel locked in. If their needs aren’t being met, they aren’t afraid to look elsewhere and switch their allegiance to other companies. In other words, loyalty is far from guaranteed and customer acquisition is only half the battle.
Retention relies upon delivering strong, unique customer experiences that beat down the competition. In order to achieve this, FS organisations will need to be able to leverage data. Its insights could be the differentiator that enables them to stand out. The positive news is that, in our online world, there is a constant stream of data being produced. However, having access to all this data doesn’t necessarily mean that a brand knows how to effectively analyse and utilise it.
Ensuring data provides insight
The rapid growth in digital technologies and services across the sector has left many FS organisations juggling an unimaginable amount of data. This data is both complex and much of it is lacking in quality. Structured, semi-structured and unstructured, it is stored in many different places – whether that’s in data lakes, on premise or in multi-cloud environments. Before FS organisations can even think about using it to inform customer experience strategies, they need to be able to find it and understand it.
This is where modern technologies – such as data virtualization – can help. Through a single, logical view data virtualization boosts visibility and real-time availability of all data across an organisation. Unlike traditional extract, transform and load (ETL) solutions, it does not move and copy data. Instead it leaves it in the source systems. In other words, instead of just replicating data, data virtualization reveals an integrated view to those trying to find it.
For FS organisations this provides several important benefits. For example, it helps when data sovereignty issues arise and the movement and replication of data outside certain countries is illegal. Data virtualization solutions can also assist in terms of financial reporting by fetching data in real time from underlying source systems – applying the necessary security and obfuscation whilst delivering the performance, the agility and the accuracy needed through the seamless connection of data.
FS organisations that adopt data virtualization, are likely to see an improvement in the overall performance and efficiencies of their business operations. Overheads will be reduced, as will the length of project times. Above all, data virtualization will rapidly strengthen the customer experience by supporting business leaders to think strategically and make decisions based on real-time insights. But don’t just take my word for it.
The proof is in the pudding: How Landsbankinn is delivering on the CX promise
Landsbankinn is just one of the many financial services institutions that has already successfully embraced data virtualization and its benefits. Despite being the largest financial institution in Iceland – with around 40% of the retail and 33% of the corporate banking market share – Landsbankinn used to face several issues when it came to data sharing and analytics.
Over 45 siloed data sources – including Oracle databases, data warehouses and APIs from internal and external sources – made finding and accessing the right data at the right time extremely difficult. Without real-time data to fuel informed decision making, customer experience and operational efficiency were suffering. As a result, Landsbankinn was in need of a data overhaul to streamline and integrate its infrastructure.
To bring together its complex data landscape and collect data in real-time, Landsbankinn implemented the Denodo Platform – a data integration and data management solution built on data virtualization – to build a logical data warehouse. As a result, the team can now aggregate data from multiple data sources, transform that data based on the applied business rules, and then make it available to consuming applications. Ultimately, this means that, throughout the organisation, the data can be utilised by a wealth of employees, even those who are not particularly IT savvy. It also means that the business leaders can use data insights to make well-versed decisions and provide a plethora of services to Landsbankinn customers both quickly and efficiently.
In recent years, customer retention has become the key to successfully growing a business. This cannot happen without an effective customer experience strategy. The ability to convert data into insight is priceless in an economic landscape where the line between a business thriving, surviving and failing is so thin. Those operating in financial services must harness modern technologies – like data virtualization – to stay at the top of their game and ahead of the competition.
The Evolution of SoftPoS in 2023
By Brad Hyett, CEO of phos
Contactless payments and digital wallets have surged in popularity in recent years. Part of this stems from the digital boom that occurred during COVID-19 but it’s also thanks to the ease of use that contactless offers customers. This has helped accelerate Software Point of Sale or ‘SoftPoS’ adoption amongst SMEs and enterprise retailers, with a total of 6 million merchants taking advantage of the technology in 2022 according to Juniper Research.
SoftPoS or ‘Tap to Pay’ technology – is a software solution that allows vendors to turn their phones or mobile devices into contactless payment points. This has made life for small businesses easier, as they no longer have to fork out large sums of money for traditional Point of Sale (POS) terminals, i.e. card readers, or ‘make do’ with outdated payment software.
In light of Apple’s announcement to allow third-party SoftPoS providers to deploy their technology on iPhone last year, adoption is expected to increase further. By 2027, it’s forecast that there will be up to 34.5 million merchants by 2027 – nearly a 500% increase from today. With more payment giants like Paypal and Venmo announcing they will support contactless transactions through their iOS apps in the months ahead, what else is in store for SoftPoS in 2023?
Apple’s role in market consolidation within SoftPoS
Apple’s move to integrate the technology with iOS devices will expand SoftPoS’ usability across mobile operating systems – significantly boosting the size of the addressable market for vendors. For the first time, Apple users will be able to offer Tap-to-Pay solutions which have traditionally been limited to Android devices only.
This will ultimately bring greater awareness and adoption of SoftPoS as we see increased familiarity with Tap-to-Pay solutions among businesses and consumers alike – as they’re no longer bound by the constraints of the type of phone they use.
While the SoftPoS on iPhone rollout currently only applies to the US market, it’s fair to assume this will expand internationally at some point – aiding the normalisation of ‘Tap to Pay’ solutions en masse in the months and years ahead.
The next wave of solopreneurs
The events of the last year will also continue to have a ripple effect over the next 12 months. For example, we’ve seen the tech industry undergo mass layoffs due to a challenging economic environment and rising global inflation.
With large numbers of highly skilled talent out of work, the phenomenon of solo entrepreneurship is likely to see an uplift – as it did during the pandemic – over the next 12 months. Born in a digital-native environment, individuals from this released workforce can now set up their own businesses and run them on mobile devices, as opposed to legacy infrastructures.
This could prove another sizable opportunity for SoftPoS vendors in the coming year, as we predict to see more small businesses sprout as a result of ongoing redundancies.
The growing importance of SoftPoS orchestration
As the market rapidly develops, so too does the choice and ease of onboarding. Financial institutions and retail technology providers can now use a SoftPoS orchestrator to help them deploy Tap-to-Pay solutions quickly and easily for their merchant customers, instead of having to create their own mobile solutions. This saves them time and money – both crucial resources for any business and especially in a challenging economy.
Partnering with a SoftPoS orchestrator is a cost-effective way of providing mobile payment solutions without having to worry about waiting on new software and security updates. With an orchestrator, this is done automatically – making this a much lighter lift with no requirement for technological know-how.
As SoftPos orchestrators are acquirer agnostic, this means they can help businesses provide a SoftPos solution to their own retail customers, regardless of the existing acquirer that they’re already using.
An additional benefit here is that a wider pool of merchants are able to benefit from the technology – growing the overall size of the SoftPoS market. Orchestrators, then, have the ability to drive wider adoption of the technology globally, reaching a bigger audience of end users and advancing the mobile payments industry in emerging markets across the world.
The increased popularity of digital and contactless payment options has driven exponential growth in the SoftPoS market in recent years. The next 12 months will see the technology enter the mainstream, as Apple starts to allow more third-party SoftPoS providers to deploy their solutions on iPhones.
The timing coincides with several emerging opportunities for the technology, including a potential uptick in the number of solopreneurs and mobile-first businesses. This combination of factors will see more financial institutions and legacy technology players work with SoftPoS orchestrators to bring Tap-to-Pay solutions to market in 2023 if they want to stay ahead of the competition and keep up with ever evolving customer demands.
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