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WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TECHNOLOGY TREND FOR 2021?

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While our world seems to be undergoing lots of economic uncertainty, the world of decentralization is blossoming. And this does not only entail the growing number of people who choose to purchase bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It is mostly related to the application of blockchain technology, the foundation of cryptocurrencies.

In this article we discuss the progress made in decentralized finance, and why it is so important for the future. DeFi is now part of our lives, even though only highly technical people know how to use it to their advantage.

While we will not be delving into the exact steps on how to use independent protocols, we will discuss a little bit about their history, potential applications, and how the future might change in the next few years. Let’s delve in.

 

What is DeFi?

DeFi is the collective total of financial applications that are fueled by blockchain technology and are fully decentralized. There are many complex names and terminologies that refer to this term and its subdivisions, but essentially what they attempt to do is:

  • Allow you to trade cryptocurrencies without a certain authority; a concept here known as Decentralized exchanges. The most popular options for this are either Uniswap, which is Ethereum-based or Binance Smart Chain, which is based on the BNB blockchain.
  • Allow you to take loans in form of cryptocurrency, which here happens through smart contracts that have a large number of parameters. There are many decentralized protocols that offer such services, including Aave, Maker, Compound, and others.
  • Help you earn interest on your tokens for providing liquidity. This is by far the most popular option for investors who would otherwise simply hold onto their tokens. These people add their tokens to a pool that then lends them out to those who want to take loans. In turn, they pay an annual interest that is hundreds or even thousands of times higher than that seen in the traditional banking system.
  • DeFi infrastructure & cross-communication tools. In short, the goal here is to help different protocols communicate with each other in a better way. This is done with the implementation of oracles like Chainlink.

 

Why did DeFi grow in popularity?

To understand DeFi we need to first look at Ethereum. The popular cryptocurrency project was built to enable anyone the ability to build decentralized applications (whether financial or otherwise), in order to improve the space and continue growing it towards a fully decentralized future.

The first applications of this were mainly focused on gaming and exchanges. Gaming on the blockchain enables people from third-world countries to generate a source of income that is not tied to the banking system, which for the first time gave them back their individual power. Exchanges, on the other hand, served their purpose in the past, but are increasingly become dangerous as they are controlled by governmental third parties. An easy way to see this is by seeing the regulations surrounding KYC, the negative response from banks, and the limitations posed by using these instruments.

 

So how will this technology change the future?

The harmony of the world stands upon a foundation of privacy. And as long as privacy tools and systems continue being built, our freedom can be conserved. This is why DeFi is the most important technology, not only for 2021 but possible for the whole century. In short, it enables anyone to take control back into their hands by removing the need for a bank.

  • Savings are safest when stored in hardware wallets.
  • Borrowing and lending is best done through smart contracts
  • Interest earned in DeFi protocols can often be higher than 30-40% per year.
  • The space is still in its very infancy

In many ways, the future seems promising, which is why you should prepare for it accordingly. And here are a few ways to get you there.

 

How to best prepare

While it may seem somewhat challenging, especially for older generations, it is important that you learn how DeFi protocols work. It is also important to start testing decentralized exchanges. Their UI/UX is not the most user-friendly, but their product is one of the most important developments of the past few years.

Next to this, it is important to learn how yield farming works, the risks it poses, and how it can affect the price of cryptocurrencies. The concept can also be found on exchanges like Binance, so make sure you read through their literature.

Finally, you should remember that the revolutionary technological process is never linear on an exponential basis. There will be volatility, possibly even condemnation from institutions that benefit from the way things are currently done. We saw that multiple times with Bitcoin over its past 12-year history. The trick is to educate yourself and always follow the latest developments to stay up to date.

 

Finance

WHY PEOPLE ANALYTICS WILL PLAY A PIVOTAL ROLE IN SOLVING THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY’S SKILLS CRISIS

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Daniel Mason, Vice President EMEA, Visier

 

Successfully guiding teams of employees through the post-pandemic landscape will not be easy for any business, but nowhere is this more apparent than in the financial services sector. Here, leaders face the formidable challenge of rebuilding working environments against the backdrop of huge industry uncertainty, caused by the most turbulent 18 months in living memory, as well as an increasingly concerning global skills gap.

In order to succeed, not only do they need to create highly compelling environments that entice new and existing employees alike, they must also work to proactively identify areas where additional improvements need to be made. Doing so will enable swift and decisive action to be taken before seemingly small issues start to have a major impact on overall business performance or staff retention.

 

Storm clouds are gathering on the horizon

It’s safe to say the financial services industry garners more media attention than most when it comes to working conditions. With well over a million people employed in the UK alone, scrutiny into key areas such as work-life balance, job pressures and pay is near constant.

In order to gain better insight into current job satisfaction within the sector, Visier recently conducted a new study focussing on how both UK employees and HR leaders feel their businesses are managing during this difficult time, and how it is affecting both current performance and future prospects. The research revealed some worrying statistics that point towards a potential avalanche of resignations in the near future, unless something is done to prevent it.

Why is this? Put simply, too many financial services organisations don’t appear to know their employees are unhappy and of those that do, most don’t fully understand the reasons behind it, meaning they can’t effectively tackle them. This article will discuss these findings and their implications in more detail, before exploring how people analytics can be used to spot key trends – both positive and negative – early, and boost employee experience/morale at this crucial time.

 

Learning new skills is increasingly important to both employees and businesses

According to Visier’s study, over half (52%) of employees in the financial services industry expect to actively look for a new job outside of their current company in the next 12 months, with almost a quarter (24%) already doing so. In light of these alarming figures, you’d be forgiven for assuming financial services organisations have failed to adapt to Covid-enforced ways of working. However, this isn’t the case at all, with the vast majority of those surveyed reporting that their companies have reacted impressively to the pandemic.

There are, of course, multiple reasons why workers may feel compelled to move on, even if they have a positive overall connection with their current employer. While each case is unique, the three most common reasons cited in the study were, perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘poor work-life balance’ (43%), ‘salary’ (33%) and ‘feeling undervalued’ (25%).

Following closely behind in fourth place was ‘not being encouraged to learn new skills’ (19%). However, there’s a growing school of thought that this has a much bigger influence on employee satisfaction than the raw data might suggest. Work-life balance and salary have always been major drivers of change, and learning new skills can go a long way towards helping workers address these by improving the value they bring, as well as boosting their overall day-to-day efficiency. The findings backed this up, with over half (55%) of employees admitting they are worried that failure to develop new skills will lead to their careers stalling.

The study also uncovered a strong feeling amongst both financial services employees and HR leaders that learning new skills is a crucial factor in the future competitiveness of their organisations.  Just 59% of employees felt confident their employer was bringing in the right people to keep pace with clients’ expectations for digital services. Meanwhile, over two-thirds of HR leaders believe that the sector’s lack of available candidates is holding back their company’s digital transformation strategy. As such, not only do employees see a lack of skills training and opportunities as a blocker to their own progression, it also presents an existential threat to the organisations they work for.

 

People analytics is playing an increasingly pivotal role

As financial services organisations continue to work through the disruption caused over the past 18 months, they need to be conscious of key factors impacting employee retention, as well as address any skills gaps acting as barriers to effective digital transformation. Investing in the right new learning opportunities and upskilling current employees will be crucial in reducing unwanted churn and ultimately boosting long-term competitiveness.

People analytics tools give businesses – in financial services and beyond – the real-time intelligence they need to achieve this, enabling them to grow and thrive regardless of what’s put in their path. Not only can people analytics help identify worrying employee trends such as disenchantment about skills training early, it also provides the insights needed to fix issues before they can significantly impact operational effectiveness.

As the data shows, employee satisfaction isn’t the only factor at play. Job happiness is also tied to whether employees believe the business is making the right decisions for their future. However, without the right tools in place leaders must operating on gut feel alone, which is rarely a good formula for success.

Every day, a growing number of decision-makers are using people analytics to uncover the key insights needed to make informed decisions regarding who to hire, who to reskill and who to promote. This is no coincidence. The move towards people analytics at scale is not a passing craze, but the acceleration of a powerful trend that’s been gathering momentum for almost twenty years. Maybe it’s time your business sees what all the fuss is about?

 

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AS SAAS GROWS, FINANCIAL SERVICES MUST RETHINK THEIR SECURITY APPROACH

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By

Ben Bulpett, Identity Platform Director, EMEA, SailPoint

 

The financial services industry is facing an increasing number of issues related to the adoption of cloud-based services. The growth of cloud and SaaS has accelerated with the consumerisation of information technology, along with the shift to working from home. Users have become comfortable downloading and using apps and services from the cloud to assist them in their work but often without explicit IT departmental approval. In fact, there are 3 to 4 times more SaaS apps in use at a company than the IT department is aware of, on average. This is known as ‘Shadow IT’ and while it can cause headaches for any industry, financial services are open to the biggest threat.

The data that banks hold on an individual is far more sensitive than other industries. By not getting approval on SaaS, the IT team have no visibility and no understanding of how to properly secure the software. One small security slip-up and consumers can be left with very little. But it’s not just about bad security and the reputational damage that comes with it. Shadow IT can also cause heavy financial loss.

 

The risks with Shadow IT

Shadow IT takes up a whopping 30 to 40% of overall IT spending for large enterprises, according to Gartner. This means that nearly half your IT budget is being spent on tools that teams and business units are purchasing (and using) without the IT department’s knowledge. A lot of unapproved software and services may duplicate the functionality of approved ones, meaning your company spends money inefficiently. How does this impact overall revenue? While it depends on the industry, on average companies spend 3.28% of their revenue on IT, according to a recent study by Deloitte Insights. Banking and securities firms spend the most (7.16%) and construction companies spend the least (1.51%).

Additionally, Shadow IT comes with a higher risk of security and compliance complications because the tools are not properly vetted. These risks include lack of security, which can lead to data breaches. Your IT team is unable to ensure the security of the software or services and can’t manage them effectively and run updates. Gartner predicts that by 2022, one-third of successful attacks experienced by enterprises will be on their shadow IT resources. If we use Ponemon’s average breach cost of $3.86M and average probability of a breach at 27.2% annually, Shadow IT may be costing you as much as $350,000 per year in breach-related risk costs.

 

Ben Bulpett

Keeping track of SaaS

Tracking your SaaS footprint goes beyond core enterprise apps and spreadsheets – the reality is that this isn’t complete visibility. It’s a fraction of what’s out there, and the moment that spreadsheet is updated it’s now out of date. This approach is both time-consuming and filled with inaccuracies.

For example, if a finance director, through a cloud file storage app, shared a root-level folder with outside parties, this inadvertently provides access to detailed financial statements that would never be released publicly or shared. Salaries, profit and loss, and more would be unintentionally exposed. In addition, the finance director’s team files, folders, and discussions would be made completely public rather than internal and read-only. This makes financial files and other sensitive information indexable by search engines and the fault lies with the CISO and CIO, rather than the finance director.

Similarly, when a company is unknowingly running multiple duplicate project management apps outside of IT’s purview, spread throughout the company, this creates massive cost overlap and security vulnerabilities. How much sensitive data may have been stored in the other apps? These examples are all too common, and probably true at your own company.

 

Shining a light using identity security

Organisations can shine a light on Shadow IT and SaaS access risk, and ultimately have greater visibility of the full scope of ungoverned SaaS applications, by using technology such as identity security. This allows them to drive a seamless process from discovery to governance across the entirety of their SaaS app landscape and wrap the right security controls around every newly-discovered SaaS app (and the data within).

Not only does this help companies shut down issues around Shadow IT across the business, by doing so it also enables companies to be able to save hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.

 

Greater visibility

It’s estimated that by 2022, nearly 90% of organisations will rely almost entirely on SaaS apps to run their business. In this new era of working, the only way to fully protect today’s cloud enterprise is by first discovering all of these hidden SaaS applications and then applying the very same identity governance controls that are already in place for the rest of the critical business applications.

There is no room for mistakes. By addressing Shadow IT and SaaS access risk and having deeper visibility of the full scope of ungoverned SaaS applications, the financial services industry can save hundreds of thousands of pounds each year. And most importantly, keep their customers protected.

 

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