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Web3: How Close Are We to a Whole New World Wide Web?



By Hugh Scantlebury, CEO and Founder of Aqilla


You’d be forgiven for thinking that Web3 is a new concept. It’s been in the news a lot over the last 18 months as cryptocurrency use continues to grow (El Salvador made bitcoin legal tender) and metaverse discussions gather pace (Facebook becomes Meta). Celebrities have also started to take a keener interest (Madonna releases controversial NFT art collection). But the term was first used back in 2006 in an article by New York Times journalist John Markoff. Seen at the time as future gazing and blue-sky thinking, it took until 2014 and Ethereum co-founder, Gavin Wood’s Web3 musings to ignite the public’s imagination.

Today, big tech hitters like Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and Mark Zuckerberg are bringing Web3 closer. And companies outside the tech sector are getting involved too. Starbucks, for example, has announced it intends to unveil a Web3-based rewards program. There’s talk too that Web3 has the potential to create a much more equitable and frictionless global trading environment. All of this got me thinking about the start of Web3’s mainstream crossover and what it could mean for our everyday lives.

What is Web3?

Hugh Scantlebury

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: What is Web3, anyway? Web3 is a concept for the next generation of the World Wide Web based on blockchain technology. And blockchain is a system that records personal data and financial transactions. But unlike the transactions that you make with your credit card or via your bank account — or the personal data you share with online organisations — information is stored across several decentralised computers or servers (the block). These machines are linked to a peer-to-peer network (the chain) rather than housed centrally in a financial service provider’s or online company’s data centre.

The decentralisation offered by blockchain sits at the heart of Web3. It’s why lots of people talk about Web3, blockchain and cryptocurrencies in the same breath. The intention behind Web3 is to provide users with increased data security, scalability, and privacy. It’s also hoped that Web3 will give more control back to individuals on how their data is used and accessed — and give users self-sovereign identity. In many ways, it’s a reaction to the monetisation of personal data, like the kind we’ve witnessed with Facebook, other social media platforms and tech giants — and an attempt to combat their influence.

Web3 also incorporates token-based economics, including NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). The most famous (and most expensive) NFT sale to date was Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days, which sold for $69.3 million and rocketed NFTs into the public consciousness. Be very wary of these; they’ve got what many refer to as the Emperor’s New Clothes potential.

What does Web3 mean for the financial sector?

Most people would welcome improved online security and privacy and a return to the more democratised ideals of the early web pioneers. But to date, Web3 has been a little bit like driverless cars and nuclear fission, always five years away but looking like it could finally be a reality very soon.

Part of the problem is that we’re not fully set up to deal with the new implications of Web3 – especially from a financial perspective. Central banks do not handle cryptocurrency or NFTs; you can’t pay for your supermarket shop with bitcoin — yet! However, last month, in a positive sign that things are moving in the right direction, the European Central Bank announced its intention to standardise a way for Eurozone banks to offer crypto assets through a crypto regulatory framework.

The proposed framework will consider crypto company risk profiles and capabilities — and should start to give more confidence in the technology to the mainstream financial community. But many Web3 purists question if the involvement of traditional banks and fintech might curtail some of the advantages and economic democratisation that Web3 promises.

Web3 and Decentralised Finance

Web3 also offers the chance for more mainstream adoption of decentralised Finance (DeFi). It’s based on secure distributed ledgers like those used by cryptocurrencies and is intended to deliver financial products without using banks and exchanges as intermediaries. Robinhood Markets, which hit the headlines for opening stock markets to amateur investors and trading “meme stocks,” is possibly the most famous (or notorious) example of a DeFi service provider.

DeFi uses Ethereum’s decentralised blockchain to enable two parties to exchange currencies by entering into an agreement known as a smart contract. Recorded on the blockchain, the DeFi transaction is completed once both parties decide on their agreed conditions.

DeFi ultimately creates a more flexible and accessible way for people to benefit from financial services, such as taking out loans. It also cuts the lengthy vetting process usually conducted by banks. This means those with poorer credit scores can access such services. But it comes with risks as there’s no third-party involvement or regulation.

Reaching our destination

For all its current issues, there’s a groundswell of optimism around Web3 right now — and it’s an optimism I wholeheartedly share. The hopes and aspirations for our future that are bound up in the next version of the web represent some of humanity’s best ideals, as well as its capacity for imagining a brave future and then making it a reality.

However, perhaps for the moment, there’s still too much theoretical blue-sky talk and not enough practical work, particularly around cost, crypto mining, energy consumption, scalability, accessibility, and user experience. To make Web3 a reality, we need our cleverest people to develop the environment. People that can give it safe, practical applications and a stable framework — while still maintaining the core principles of decentralisation, democratisation, and data sovereignty. It will definitely require some experts from the global banking sector — those who understand what it took to enable secure transactions at the dawn of Web2.

There are also some sustainability and environmental issues to tackle. Bitcoin’s decentralised structure means it has a substantial carbon emissions footprint. It’s estimated that Bitcoin uses electricity at an annual rate of 127 terawatt-hours. To put that in context, that’s more than Norway’s entire yearly electricity consumption. It also makes bitcoin transactions incredibly slow — some can take nearly a quarter of an hour. Web3’s blockchain power usage simply can’t be allowed to spiral in this way.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee is one person that I would trust to lead the way to Web3. He is currently working on a web decentralisation project with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) called ‘Solid’. This group aims to change how web applications work today through actual data ownership and privacy. Initiatives like these could catapult Web3 into the mainstream, but to get there, we need to cut through the hype, consider what’s achievable now, and what needs to happen to reach the ultimate goal.

Think back to how Open Banking, which at the time was a big, bold step for the global financial community, has created a much more dynamic, democratised way of running our personal finances. With the proper application and hard work by principled, intelligent people, we could deliver an internet with less exploitative data harvesting, freer trade, and greater online security. So, enough talking about what could be and let’s make it happen!


Unlocking the Power of Data: Revolutionising Business Success in the Financial Services Sector




Suki Dhuphar, Head of EMEA, Tamr


The financial services (FS) sector operates within an immensely data-abundant landscape. But it’s well-known that many organisations in the sector struggle to make data-driven decisions because they lack access to the right data to make decisions at the right time.

As the sector strives for a data-driven approach, companies focus on democratising data, granting non-technical users the ability to work with and leverage data for informed decision-making. However, dirty data, riddled with errors and inconsistencies, can lead to flawed analytics and decision-making. Siloed data across departments like Marketing, Sales, Operations, or R&D exacerbates this issue. Breaking down these barriers is essential for effective data democratisation and achieving accurate insights for decision-making.

An antidote to dirty, disconnected data

Overcoming the challenges presented by dirty, disconnected data is not a new problem. But, there are new solutions – such as shifting strategies to focus on data products – which are proven to deliver great results. But, what is a data product?

Data products are high-quality, accessible datasets that organisations use to solve business challenges. Data products are comprehensive, clean, and continuously updated. They make data tangible to serve specific purposes defined by consumers and provide value because they are easy to find and use. For example, an investment firm can benefit from data products to gain insights into market trends and attract more capital. These offer a scalable solution for connecting alternative data sources, providing accurate and continuously updated views of portfolio companies. Using machine learning (ML) based technology enables the data product to adapt to new data sources, giving a firm’s partners confidence in their investment decisions.

Suki Dhuphar

But, before companies can reap the benefits of data products, the development of a robust data product strategy is a must.

Where to begin?

Prior to embarking on a data product strategy, it is imperative to establish clear-cut objectives that align with your organisation’s overarching business goals. Taking an incremental approach enables you to make a real impact against a specific objective – such as streamlining operations to enhance cost efficiency or reshaping business portfolios to drive growth – by starting with a more manageable goal and then building upon it as the use case is proved. For companies that find themselves uncertain about where to begin their move to data products, tackling your customer data is a good place to start for some quick wins to increase the success of the customer experience programmes.

Getting a good grasp on data

Once an objective is in place, it’s time for an organisation to assess its capabilities for executing the data product strategy. To do this, you need to dig into the nitty-gritty details like where the data is, how accurate and complete it is, how often it gets updated, and how well it’s integrated across different departments. This will give a solid grasp of the actual quality of the data and help allocate resources more efficiently. At this stage, you should also think about which stakeholders from across the business from leadership to IT will need to be involved in the process and how.

Once that’s covered, you can start putting together a skilled team and assigning responsibilities to kick-off the creation and management of a comprehensive data platform that spans all relevant departments. This process also helps spot any gaps early on, so you can focus on targeted initiatives.

Identifying the problem you will solve

Now let’s move on to the next step in our data product strategy. Here we need to identify a specific problem or challenge that is commonly faced in your organisation. It’s likely that leaders in different departments, like R&D or procurement, encounter obstacles that hinder their objectives that could be overcome with better insight and information. By defining a clear use case, you will build a real solution to a challenge they are facing rather than a data product for the sake of having data. This will be an impactful case study for your entire organisation to understand the potential benefits of data products and increase appetite for future projects.

Getting buy-in from the business

Once you have identified the problem you want to solve, you need to secure the funding, support, and resources to move the project ahead. To do that, you must present a practical roadmap that shows how you will quickly deliver value. You should also showcase how to improve it over time once the initial use case is proven.

The plan should map how you will measure success effectively with specific indicators (such as KPIs) that are closely tied to business goals. These indicators will give you a benchmark of what success looks like so you can clearly show when you’ve delivered it.

Getting the most out of your data product

Once you’ve got the green light – and the funds – it’s time to put your plan into action by creating a basic version of your data product, also known as a minimum viable data product (MVDP). By starting small and gradually enhancing with each new release you are putting yourself in the best stead to encourage adoption and also (coming back to our iterative approach) help you secure more resources and funding down the line.

To make the most of your data product, it’s essential to tap into the knowledge and experience of business partners as they know how to make the most of the data product and integrate it into existing workflows. Additionally, collecting feedback and using it to improve future releases will bring even more value to end users in the business and, in turn, your customers.

Unlocking the power of data (products)

It’s crucial for companies in FS to make the most of the huge amount of data they have at their disposal. It simply doesn’t make sense to leave this data tapped and not use it to solve real challenges for end users in the business and, in turn, improve the customer experience! By adopting effective strategies for data products, FS organisations can start to maximise the incredible value of their data.

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Making the Maths Work: Addressing Inflation Challenges through Measuring and Managing Risk




Matt Clementson, Head of Enterprise UK&I

Persistent inflation is highly troublesome for every business – with or without a recession. In addition to causing unexpected expenses, it complicates decision-making around stabilising wages, setting product prices, and investing in new areas for growth. Meanwhile, stock and bond prices plummet when alarming inflation data arrives and interest rates increase. It’s time to run leaner, making the reassessment of the strategic objectives highly urgent.

With a seat in the boardroom, CFOs can guide thoughtful discussions covering everything from procurement, resource allocation, and manufacturing to the alignment of business purpose with operational tactics and goals. CFOs must also rethink how their business measure and mitigate risk. Understanding the business’ vulnerability, they can add considerable value to their business by identifying risks early and making organisations accountable for mitigating them.

When the economy becomes uncomfortable, the mathematics behind business operations no longer work seamlessly. During more comfortable times businesses have the luxury to accept some degree of inefficiency and low productivity – but in times like these that’s no longer the case.

So now it’s more important that ever for CFOs to use the right tools and technology to manage and mitigate risk and build business resilience.

Enhancing visibility to measure and manage risk:

To navigate through periods of high inflation, CFOs need technologies that provide comprehensive visibility, and enable informed decision-making, in order to optimising cash flow, minimise     costs and manage risk in a transparent and efficient way.

1. Simplify confusing processes to gain moments of clarity

Effective risk management starts with integrating data from various sources within the organisation. By consolidating data from finance, operations, procurement, and sales, CFOs can gain a holistic view of the business landscape. This integration enables them to identify potential risks associated with inflation, such as rising costs, supply chain disruptions, or changes in customer demand patterns. With access to comprehensive and real-time data, CFOs can make informed decisions that mitigate the impact of inflation on the organisation.

A good first step is to unify travel, expense, and invoice solutions, so that finance teams can integrate and streamline operations and scale spend processes without adding additional resources.

2. Make spending decisions with data-driven accuracy

Once data is integrated, CFOs can leverage advanced analytics techniques to identify patterns, trends, and potential risks. Predictive analytics can help identify inflationary pressures, allowing businesses to proactively adjust pricing strategies or negotiate favourable terms with suppliers. Additionally, scenario modelling can simulate the impact of different inflation rates on the organisation’s financials, enabling CFOs to devise appropriate strategies for managing risk. By harnessing the power of analytics, CFOs can navigate inflation challenges with greater confidence and precision.

3.Driving business agility through automation

Facing a myriad of disruptors, companies in every industry are making strategic decisions aimed at remaining competitive in the market and with their people. Digitisation, standardisation, and automation will be critical as businesses focus on solving problems for their customers in innovative, lasting ways

AI technologies, such as machine learning algorithms, can analyse vast amounts of data to uncover hidden insights and patterns. And with automated, customisable controls, CFOs can keep their firm agile – re-adjusting spend controls to match the corporate travel and expense (T&E) policy whenever their business needs to adapt or pivot. Only then will spending insights allow them to review how policies impact business performance and continue to optimise cash management.

Making the maths work

In a business environment plagued by persistent inflation, CFOs play a crucial role in addressing the associated challenges. By rethinking how their organisations measure and manage risk, CFOs can enhance their decision-making capabilities and add significant value. The integration of data, advanced analytics, and AI technologies enables CFOs to build resilience, standardise processes, ensure compliance, and deliver insights to the entire enterprise. By making the maths work in the face of inflation, businesses can navigate uncertain economic times with confidence and stay on the path of sustainable growth.

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