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WHY AGILE TECHNOLOGY PLATFORMS ARE THE KEY TO EFFECTIVE INNOVATION

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Sujit Unni,CTO, Paysafe

 

A main reason why platform technology can prove to be so effective for a business is its agility, and the speed with which the system can be improved plays a central role in this. If a business takes months to update its technology, then it’s fighting a losing battle, and when you’re working with siloed product developments, this long lead time can easily be the reality which you’re faced with.

But by using an agile platform, you can make dozens of technology upgrades and enhancements a month, and this platform agility is the foundation on which companies can innovate.

The goal of any business is surely to be able to offer competitive products and services, as well as be an enabler of great customer experiences, and for many, a constantly evolving platform is the bedrock of this. But in order to make your platform as agile and effective as possible, the environment has to be right.

 

Building the right technology architecture

The best outcomes are achieved by designing your platform so that it’s agile from day one. And the core platform is the place to start. A composable architecture allows changes to be made quickly, which drives the continuous improvement that’s so vital in a platform. APIs play a pivotal role for technology focused businesses, and in the payments architecture they support the speedy, streamlined development that’s necessary to get to market fast. They do this by lending flexibility to systems management, enabling you to decouple components of an application, and providing scalability and speed.

Abstraction in your payments platform is also vitally important. Especially for more traditional businesses such as banks, where it removes complexity around specific use cases and ensures that complex requirements are managed outside the platform. Here, the difficulty of a given task doesn’t impede progress or affect overall delivery.

From a business perspective, an abstracted continuously evolving processing platform delivers numerous benefits. It accelerates your responses to market changes, can scale with demand, is always up to date with security and compliance, and ensures uptime and consistent services. Ultimately, it provides a win: win situation – the consumer gains a better digital experience, and the business succeeds in building a reputation for innovation that creates loyalty in its customer base.

 

Choosing the right tools for the job

To increase the rate at which you can innovate you need to have the right capabilities and partnerships. In today’s competitive environment you need to be able to launch new ideas and features at speed – it’s no good taking weeks or months, never mind years.

A fast-tracked product development cycle must be supported by an agile platform backed by software, tools, and partnerships that add value. Integration is a vital part of this, enabling you to connect and collaborate with third parties and other providers as part of an open ecosystem. This means you can choose partners that complement and extend your offering, plus unlock new markets and opportunities to increase your competitive advantage.

Another consideration for a tooling strategy is the idea of opening up platform capabilities more widely across your organisation. Abstracted self-service workflows allow product and technology teams to easily access pre-approved templates, increasing efficiency and innovation.

Finally, you need to make sure you assess your partnerships, workflows, and tools to accelerate your build-test-deploy cycle, make updates and improvements fluidly, and provide your teams with access to capabilities that drive service delivery. These are all key factors in determining the agility of your platform.

 

The importance of internal culture

Assembling, motivating, and developing your talent is crucial because the best teams build the best platforms. It’s so important to get your whole team on board because everyone has a role to play, and you can do this by sharing the larger vision for your platform with your whole team, not just management. This means sharing responsibility, understanding the goal, and developing a culture of trust.

One of the key challenges faced by mature organisations is codifying behaviour to preserve culture and initiate cultural change. In my opinion this both defines the success of your business more than anything else and is the hardest thing to get right. You need to co-ordinate your efforts by having the following:

  1. Clear definition of goals and the attributes that personify the culture
  2. Active design and implementation of hacks in collaboration with the wider organisation, enriching teams with a combination of external coaches and high-impact hires
  3. Continuous measurement and revision of objectives

As team members hone their skills and grow their knowledge base, they’re able to refine, scale, and enhance the platform. Creating an environment in which the entire team understands the importance of their work and shares a commitment to make things happen is at the heart of every competitive, futureproofed payments platform.

 

Platform agility speeds time to innovation

All organisations seek to innovate at speed, and while there are many factors at play to determine whether this is possible or not, the platform is certainly one of the most important. Agile technology platforms can mean the difference between stagnant development cycles and sluggish updates and continuous improvement, fast fixes, and constant new features and functionality which help to deliver products that increase your customer satisfaction and loyalty. But you have to get the environment right first in order to optimise your chance of success.

Business

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

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By

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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Business

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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