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Financial services enterprises are under greater pressure to digitally transform. According to new Telehouse research, more than four out of ten (42%) financial service enterprises need to transform their IT infrastructure or risk becoming less competitive – a figure significantly higher than the 34% average across other sectors.

Pressure is being driven by a combination of factors, including customer demands for more connected, relevant and personalised experiences (46%), the need to simplify business and operating models to increase efficiency (46%), cyber security (44%) and the necessity to deliver new applications and services to customers (44%). The emergence of nimbler challenger banks and ambitious FinTechs has set the challenge for businesses across the sector to step up a gear and reshape their operations.

For many, a shift from a traditional on-premise infrastructure, to a more modern mix of colocation, cloud and ultimately, edge computing is the answer.

Scoping the challenge

Today, financial services firms need to react quickly to regulatory demands and take advantage of market opportunities. However, they often don’t have the right systems in place to manage, or effectively use data to respond as quickly as their ‘digitally native’ peers.

The problem is many are still reliant on inflexible, legacy, on-premise infrastructure. The research revealed that financial services organisations outsource the lowest proportion of IT infrastructure to colocation and the cloud of the enterprise sectors polled. So, it’s not surprising the sector also has the lowest confidence in IT maturity, with just 30% of IT decision-makers describing their organisation’s IT maturity as ‘very advanced’.

Transformation is clearly needed but it is not always an easy task. Historically, financial services firms have struggled to adopt new technologies and meet increasingly high customer expectations quickly, often limited by strict compliance and regulatory requirements, which ratcheted up after the global financial crisis of 2008. Even with the appetite to change, many have struggled to make meaningful progress, held back by legacy IT systems. But with time of the essence and providing personalised, connected and reliable experiences now business-critical, organisations can simply no longer afford to stand still.

Why connectivity is key

As customer demand and internet consumption grows, financial services organisations need to find ways to increase connectivity between offices and countries and improve the user interface on customer-focused technology like apps and websites.

5G will offer many benefits for financial services including reduced latency, which in turn will help decrease transaction and settlement times. It will also facilitate the adoption of AI to enable greater personalisation and improvements to customer experience.

However, as with any new wireless communications technology, the volume of data used will rise significantly, putting more stress on backbone networks. A fifth of financial service enterprises surveyed in the research already say that data volumes have become a serious problem. To succeed, organisations need the ability to quickly ingest and process data and this will be dependent on having a connected, secure, reliable, scalable, flexible, resilient and low latency IT infrastructure.

Ultimately, more connections mean more risks. So, the challenge is how to take advantage of increased connectivity without compromising security or compliance.

Despite lagging behind other sectors in most areas, financial services are leading the way when it comes to edge computing.

The role of colocation

 Many are turning to colocation as the answer; providing the extra capacity and bandwidth required, while also enabling fast, secure and direct connections to cloud service providers. According to the Telehouse research, financial services organisations are already outsourcing 38% of IT infrastructure in colocation with adoption set to increase further as the use of big data; 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) rises.

By hosting their IT infrastructure in a colocation data centre, organisations can control the migration process, keep on top of regulatory demands and keep a lid on costs. The research found that the top drivers of investment in colocation are sustainability, faster data access and improved connectivity, likely driven by the need to improve customer experience and connect disparate hybrid IT structures.

More importantly, by deploying a combination of cloud and colocation strategies, organisations can create a resilient and secure foundation for growth. This will enable them to flex and scale operations when building new services and innovations to meet future demand, while also ensuring they provide their customers with a responsive and high-performing service. And by choosing a colocation facility in close proximity to financial markets and exchanges, organisations can benefit from reduced latency and faster data processing to enable real-time big data analysis.

Moving to the edge

Despite lagging behind other sectors in most areas, financial services are leading the way when it comes to edge computing. 72% of respondents have already implemented a strategy for edge computing, driven by a need to optimise data volumes (36%), digitally transform (34%) and match competitor capabilities (34%). However, over a third say they are challenged by a lack of understanding of edge networks and their purpose as well as uncertainty over which locations to gather and manage data in.

Given that it’s now more important than ever for financial services firms to store, access and analyse and access exponential levels of data at record speeds, it is not surprising that interest in edge computing is soaring. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 85% of infrastructure strategies will integrate on-premises, colocation, cloud and edge delivery options, compared with 20% in 2020.

Demand for edge is also likely to be driven by its convergence with other technologies such as cloud and colocation and is evidenced by the fact that many firms opt for a mix of technologies. Ultimately, the key for success for organisations will be building the right infrastructure foundations and connectivity, and the right data centre partner is critical to achieving this.

Embracing the connected future

Financial service providers have a huge opportunity to provide the seamless, secure and personalised services that today’s consumers crave. But doing so requires digital transformation.

As data volumes and connectivity increase, new developments such as predictive modelling to prepare for ‘what if’ scenarios, automation of front-end sales and customer-facing environments and the enhancement of customer care by self-service functionality will become commonplace. However, success depends on having the right IT infrastructure to enable fast, secure and seamless connections. It will be those that can build a connected, secure, reliable, scalable, flexible, resilient and low latency IT infrastructure that will be winners in the race to the connected future.

Why ICT operations must be at the forefront of climate change improvement

Compared to fast fashion, fishing with nets, or drilling for oil, the use of ICT and its relationship to carbon emissions is not a well-trodden narrative. However, ICT is expected to soak up 21% of electrical consumption by 2030, with the sector demanding between 5-9% of electrical use worldwide, equating to 3.5% of emissions globally. With internet use increasing by as much as 78% in the last year, mainly due to the pandemic, and a global trend of technological reliance, the environmental effect needs to be understood and efforts should be made to reduce the impact. 

Because ICT has driven innovation that has such a positive impact on personal, social and business operations globally, its utility has often overshadowed the detriment it may have on the environment. However, just like other sectors battling to improve their carbon footprint, there are methods, practices and, indeed, technological changes that can greatly offset ICT’s carbon emissions. 

Storage use and the need to migrate

Legacy systems for businesses such as banks have long relied on domestically owned, stored and operated hardware to facilitate their business operations. Naturally, with these systems in place, their implementation follows a long-standing and often out-of-date methodology that is ill-equipped to adopt new, environmentally friendlier technologies as they arise. Similarly, these systems fall short of optimisation and scaling opportunities when compared to newer advancements, since the legacy hardware operates at a maximum capacity. This means that the energy requirements of the legacy hardware cannot be reduced in line with business needs or market fluctuations, and the opportunity to save energy is lost.

To counter the environmental impact of these legacy systems (and see increases in operational efficiency, effectiveness, scaling and faster time-to-market), those still using physical, on-site hardware need to explore the possibilities provided by cloud storage technologies.

In recent research we conducted on cloud technology and banking institutions, we found that 81% of respondents had adopted cloud technologies to save costs, while 95% cited the increased time-to-market of cloud and 86% said the key benefit was the virtually unlimited scaling opportunity. This trend is complemented across businesses more generally, with 50% of businesses using the cloud to store company data in 2021, an increase of 20% when compared to 2015. 

Migrating from physical storage to a flexible cloud infrastructure also reduces the need to add additional systems as time goes by, thereby promoting a strategy for the long-term improvement of sustainability practices. Google is a great example of a cloud provider that has invested huge sums into making its operations sustainable and has used carbon offsetting to compensate for all of the carbon it has ever created. By 2030 their goal is to run all its servers using 100% carbon-free energy, meaning their customers can tap into Google’s green credentials to support their own sustainability journey. 

Appropriate technical architecture

Excess code is an underestimated but invasive principle of business technology. Often, the technical make-up of websites, machinery or ICT software has unnecessary code that lengthens the processing time and data transmission of an operation. With longer processing times comes more power usage, hindering business efficiency and cost-saving opportunities. 

With an increased focus on inefficient coding and its effect on ICT’s environmental impact, the concept of ‘green coding’ is gaining increased traction. Green coding concentrates on coding efficiency and aims to provide systems and guidelines to ensure a business’ ICT architecture is as efficient as possible, with the ambition being to lower power usage, processing time, and therefore overall energy consumption. The outlook for ICT needs to change – processes should be updated to use the absolute minimum energy required to fulfil their function, before shutting down until required again.

Every small gain that can be achieved in reducing processing energy, will ultimately support a large reduction in carbon footprint.

Energy proportionality

Most IT systems within banks and many other organisations have historically lacked the ability to efficiently manage their energy consumption, or have the ability to react to market fluctuations. The energy used by core ICT systems is therefore often ‘fixed’ and not proportionate to the utilisation of those systems. The concept is known as ‘energy proportionality’, whereby utilisation levels can be measured as a percentage of utilised computing power. While high utilisation is the objective, low utilisation is still the norm and is usually a result of an overestimation of how much software and therefore server capacity is required or will be used. Energy proportionality can also be exacerbated when there are multiple software and ICT operations taking place, or where replicated data centres or resiliency is felt to be required.

 Adopting a combination of cloud technology and green coding can reduce the disparity of projected and actual utilisation. While green coding ensures that the delivery of software applications is as efficient as possible, cloud technology is capable of providing real-time changes to storage and processing capabilities as markets, traffic or software usage changes. This approach has huge benefits for cost-cutting, as migrating to cloud systems usually means you can also adopt a ‘pay-as-you-go’ cost structure for your data processing and storage requirements. Having automated power output based on actual energy expenditure is capable of eradicating overestimations for energy use, thereby saving energy consumption and promoting high utilisation as a result.

Streamlining operations for the future

Advancements in storage technology utilising the cloud, allows many businesses to tap into the efficient, low-energy consuming infrastructure, streamlining their operations and achieving maximum efficiency. Not only will this help firms lower their carbon emissions output by reducing unnecessary power usage, but can also allow them to improve the effectiveness of their systems and processes to save time and costs whilst supporting scaling opportunities and reducing time-to-market. 

Combined with the growing knowledge of green coding principles, the cloud can be used in conjunction with precise technical architecture to provide firms with improved efficiency for their business in both an operational and environmental sense.

All of those within the ICT sector have a responsibility to streamline their emissions output and using these technologies and disciplines is a clear-cut method to fulfil this ambition. 

About the author: Dean Clark is Chief Technology Officer at GFT.

Digital transformation for businesses includes introducing new technology and software, as well as adapting organisational structures and mindsets to the modern digital culture. What are the potential benefits that make digital transformation so valuable, and are there any downsides?

The Need For Digital Transformation

The ever-evolving digitisation of our society is no new phenomenon. Our hobbies, social lives, education, and jobs are shifting more and more into virtual spaces. While many of us still remember life before the internet as it is today, the new generation of digital natives grew up with the internet and all its perks and pitfalls. They are navigating modern technology with ease akin to breathing.

Naturally, young people are a huge target market and the newest or next additions to the workforce. When trying to appeal to them or fully make use of their potential, any business – whether it is part of the IT sector or not – is forced to adapt and use modern tools such as management software and apps. And yet many small- to mid-sized companies still struggle with the implementation of digital strategies and digital transformation is one of the biggest risk factors in the eyes of directors, CEOs and senior executives.

The Upside Of Digital Transformation

Many traditionalists are still wary of digital solutions to long-established methods. They are getting in the way of their own company’s potential to work more effectively and cut costs. Digital staff management tools, such as online staff rota management, allow employees easy and intuitive ways to take part in their schedule planning.

Even a simple tool like this can have unexpected impacts:

The Risk Factors Of Digital Transformation

If so many executives consider digital transformation a risk factor, that means there must be a potential for negative consequences when introducing digital strategies to a business. Business owners who still refuse to commit to digitalisation fear the fallout of their digital transformation efforts failing. What exactly are the negative effects they worry about?

Conclusion: Maximised Efficiency, Minimised Risks

Digital transformation is no longer an option but a necessity. Modern software and the accompanying technology are important for companies to remain competitive and gain attractiveness in the eyes of the next generation. When used correctly, digital assets optimise a businesses’ efficiency. Automated processes, intelligent software and connected workflows can minimise the time wasted on menial tasks. Happier employees, efficient planning and reduced mistakes maximise a company’s potential.

Potential risks can be avoided with a bit of careful consideration. An employee’s willingness to learn and use new tech can be increased. There needs to be enough time set aside for appropriate amounts of schooling. Additionally, the acceptance of the new tool will rise when it’s made clear how it can positively affect both the company and the employees themselves.

Expert advice and software reviews will help to find the right solution for the specific company. Most governments offer financial aid for small businesses' digitisation efforts. These are often combined with educational support. This kind of coaching can help to choose the right tech and implement it smoothly.

Implementing technological solutions to your business is one of the best and smartest ways for you to save money. The world is filled with companies trying to sell you the latest and most innovative methods for you to use their technology within your operations, so it is difficult to decide what is best for your business. The following are five ways technology can save your business money.

Fleet Safety Programme

If you are running a logistics operation, the safety of your fleet and keeping down costs will be some of your largest concerns. Building a video-based fleet safety programme is a way to reduce costly accidents, avoid false claims and save money. Real-time footage can be used to provide drivers with effective training and address any bad habits they may have. Potential legal costs are also a worry for any fleet, and with this system, you will mitigate all risks as you have easily accessible evidence should any legal problems arise. You can review a guide online that will answer all your questions and show you how to implement a video-based fleet safety programme.

AI

The use of artificial intelligence is one of the smartest ways to reduce your business costs. Machines are now able to do many of the menial, repetitive tasks that were often given to low skilled workers. Using AI will save you on the costs of employing workers whose tasks can easily be done by computers. You can use that money to invest elsewhere in your business and employ people who are highly skilled and bring value to your company.

Marketing

If you want the best marketing solutions, you are going to have to invest in technology. Beware of some of the biggest marketing mistakes you can make if you do not research properly. Despite this initial investment, in the long term, your business will reap the rewards of having a more effective marketing strategy. There is software available that can help you with the analytical side of marketing. This is especially useful for social media marketing where analytics are a crucial aspect. You will be saving money on employees while also increasing your profits by having more effective marketing campaigns. 

Remote Working

Remote working has come to the forefront of working practices. In the current, pandemic influenced world, businesses have had to find ways to allow their employees to work effectively from home. Remote working has been the solution and it has the added benefit of reducing overall costs. Office space can be reduced as it may no longer be needed and workers are more productive when working from home. Assess whether you really need certain employees in your physical office, if not, remote working is the answer.

Training

Technology provides an abundance of training opportunities. Video conferencing allows you to connect to anywhere in the world which reduces the costs of having to pay to bring an expert to your business. There are vast amounts of resources available, too. Some training videos are available for free, and learning resources are easily available for certain skills such as new languages. Using these training resources will save you money and reduce your operating costs so use them to their full potential.

For financial institutions, leveraging data to gain insights and inform decision-making has become more important than ever before as digital transformation agendas become more focused on enterprise-wide initiatives that deliver elevated customer experiences. However, these efforts are currently being hindered due to overly complex data infrastructures that rely on a disjointed set of technologies for data management, semantic layers, data pipeline, data integration, and analytics. This is leaving firms unable to obtain data fast enough, and in a way that is easy to interpret and share to drive their organisation forward. 

Consequently, to solve these issues, many are looking for a new approach to data management. This has led some of the world’s leading financial institutions such as Bank of America, Citi, and Goldman Sachs, to implement data fabrics. But it’s not just larger firms that stand to benefit from data fabrics. Slated as the “future of data management”, this new architectural approach to data management can help firms of all sizes to achieve smarter data enablement, 'information fluidity', and a simplified and futureproofed data architecture to maximise the value of their data. 

The future of data management

The growing popularity of data fabrics is down to their ability to speed and simplify access to data assets across the entire business. A data fabric accesses, transforms, and harmonises data from multiple sources, on-demand, to make it usable and actionable for a wide variety of business applications without creating additional data silos. This is a far cry from the overly complex architecture most firms are currently used to. 

Smart data fabrics extend these capabilities even further by embedding analytics capabilities directly within the fabric, such as data exploration, business intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning. This makes it faster and easier for organisations to gain new insights and power intelligent predictive and prescriptive services and applications. 

Another major benefit of a smart data fabric is that it allows data to remain at source while adding new functionality and levels of flexibility. This means existing legacy applications and data can remain in place so firms can maximise the value from their previous technology investments, including data lakes and data warehouses, which is particularly beneficial for smaller firms with tighter budgets. Additionally, this approach ensures firms don’t have to worry about moving data to a centralised store and all the challenges that can entail, such as latency and duplication of data. After all, it’s these issues that can call into question whether the data can be trusted and if decisions based on it are truly informed. 

Elevating the customer experience

Once implemented, smart data fabrics give financial services institutions the ability to more fully leverage their data, customer and otherwise, and open up a world of possibilities. By weaving together different data sets and providing easy and uniform access to data, a smart data fabric can help generate insights to better understand customers, predict behaviours, and provide customised experiences in real-time. These capabilities promise to help firms to elevate the customer experience and enhance business results. This has the effect of helping organisations to expand customer opportunities, retain existing customers, and gain a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive landscape.

The use of a smart data fabric also caters to business users’ demand for more direct and simplified ways to derive insight from the firm’s data assets, while also helping firms keep up with regulatory imperatives that require support for advanced data quality, lineage, security, and governance capabilities. 

Smart data fabrics for all

With their ability to unify data from both internal and external sources on-demand, without creating additional silos, and provide accurate and seamless access to that data, smart data fabrics present the opportunity for financial services firms to do more with their data. This will put the power to accelerate business innovation and obtain or maintain a competitive advantage firmly within the grasp of organisations of all sizes. In what can be a challenging and volatile environment, this can make a significant difference to how firms respond to changes within the landscape and position them to use their data to inform their next move.  

As firms turn their attention to implementation, working with experienced technology providers and partners will offer the best path forward and ensure they are able to make the best use of the various data management, integration, and analytics technologies that make up a smart data fabric. 

By taking this step forward by implementing and embracing this next-generation data management approach, financial firms will set themselves up to succeed both in today’s landscape and well into the future, giving them the capabilities they need to deliver an elevated, customised, and differentiated customer experience every time.

Even small businesses can achieve massive feats when people go the extra mile with their productivity. But you cannot expect it to happen by itself as employees tend to go slack when not supervised or motivated. The decline may be deliberate or unintentional, but low productivity always hurts the employer in more than one way.

As a business owner, you will need to invest in your team and drive them to achieve more with less. It may take some effort, but there is no other way to boost people and get your business ahead. A positive mindset and motivational approach give you a good start, but they are not enough to boost your workforce. You need to realise that technology is the driving force that makes a real difference, and investing in it is non-negotiable. Let us explain how you can leverage technology to build a productive workforce for your business.

Empowering with flexibility

Flexibility makes people productive, and it is all the more crucial in the remote work era. The right technology solutions empower your team to work from anywhere and anytime. You cannot expect to survive and thrive without implementing these solutions. They enable workers to connect and collaborate with each other and the clients, no matter the constraints of location and time. A flexible workforce aces on all fronts, including productivity. They also feel motivated because a flexible approach breeds trust. Let them work their own way, and they will give extra effort to do their best. Moreover, it is no longer a choice for businesses in pandemic times. Learn to live with flexibility, and productivity will grow organically.

Automating time-tracking

Employees often lose track at work because they get distracted or take extended breaks, sometimes unintentionally. The problem seems like a small one, but the implications of lost time are far-reaching. Thankfully, you can rely on apps to automate time-tracking to keep an eye on people. They are significant right now as people work from home and there are more chances of wasting time when away from physical supervision. Once you have these solutions in place, employees become more conscious, and you can save hundreds of work hours every month. They can even help employees to keep a check on their performance and do their bit for the employer. Time-tracking apps are a small investment that takes your business a long way.

Simplifying small tasks

When it comes to making your workforce more productive, you must start at the most basic level. Consider investing in technologies that simplify the smallest of the daily tasks at work. You can provide relevant tools to handle these tasks. Just imagine the problems employees can face when they have too many temporary files on their work devices. It sounds like a small issue, but the extra files can slow down the system and hamper the workflow significantly. Eventually, it will affect their productivity too. A simple cleanup tool can resolve the concern in minutes and get devices back to work seamlessly. Choose simple tools people can use without help.

Bolstering employee engagement

A happy workforce is bound to be more productive and efficient. So employee engagement is a worthy investment for any business. You can invest in engagement apps and gain in the form of a positive impact on work output. Several organisations are already leveraging gamification solutions to engage teams and foster healthy competition among people. As employees invest extra efforts to gain points, their productivity gets a boost. Similarly, feedback solutions go a long way in enhancing the engagement of the workforce. They let people know where they stand and how they can improve their performance with the adoption of the right measures.

Ramping up training initiatives

If productivity is your top priority, you need to have effective training initiatives for your team. The idea is to enhance their skills over time so that they deliver more and better. Once again, workplace technology can play a significant role in employee training. You can leverage high-end learning management systems to train through simulative technologies. Many businesses are also using simulative apps that leverage Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to deliver lifelike learning experiences to the employees. Remote training is another area where technology emerges as a saviour right now.

Building a productive team should be a priority for every business, even if it takes effort and investment. It becomes all the more crucial at this point when organisations need to optimise resources and cut down costs. Technology takes you a step ahead with the initiative, so you must pick the right solutions to empower your workforce at the earliest. You will soon realise that technology pays for itself, so the investment is worthwhile. 

The ultra-low interest rate environment and fee compression in areas like payments continue. Competition from challengers and fintechs is intensifying. Customer digital adoption has grown, and the bar of expectation continues to rise.

The impediments to change that traditional banks face are not going away - high cost-bases, inflexible and complex legacy technology estates, and operating models that lack customer-focus and agility.

Banks face the imperatives of increasing and diversifying revenues, optimising costs and increasing business agility. In this article, Simon Hull, Head of Financial Services at BJSS, looks at the revenue challenge and why smart use of digital technology is the key to success.

Revenue drivers

Banks are looking to win new customers, retain and maximise business from existing customers and diversify the traditional deposit and lending business with fee-based products and services. Some of the key elements banks are focusing on in this respect are customer experience, customer intelligence, and product and service range.

Customer experience is a battleground and competition is intense. Last year's Ipsos Mori poll has Monzo and Starling coming out ahead on many customer service metrics. Digital channels are becoming primary. Customers are attracted to slick and intuitive digital experiences and expect increasingly personalised service as banks learn more about them.

However, the empathetic human touch is still essential, as is the consistency of service across in-person, phone and digital channels. Customers want the choice of channels to use for different tasks, and preferences differ across demographics. The brand experience is just as significant, with social and environmental responsibility top of the list. The combination of service and brand will drive loyalty and recommendations.

Customers want the choice of channels to use for different tasks, and preferences differ across demographics.

Customer intelligence is about gaining a deep, holistic and continuous understanding of the customer - their needs, behaviours, preferences and influences. With this, a truly customer-centric operating model can be created - one where product and service development, marketing, distribution, and customer service are aligned and evolve alongside the customer. This enables a broadening of the relationship to maximise customer wallet share by tailoring to their needs to build multi-product relationships.

Banks need to assess their current product and service range, consider discontinuing low volume or low profitability products, and ensure the rest are available on their digital channels. In parallel, banks must move to an agile product and service development model to enable rapid innovation based on customer intelligence. This will help sustain and protect revenues as needs change and diversify into fee-based products, as many major banks are doing in areas such as financial advice, wealth management, insurance, point-of-sale financing and subscription models.

Digital technology solutions

Digital technologies, used in the right way, hold the key to delivering these three revenue drivers.

Investing in user-centric design is critical for banks to understand customer needs, jobs to be done and interaction preferences. Web and mobile digital technologies power responsive and real-time banking apps, compelling user journeys and more frequent interactions and alerts. They are also a critical source of customer data which can be used to refine interactions and develop new products and services iteratively. Banks should move their full product and service range onto their digital channels, and also focus on customer education and self-service. The same technology can be used to digitally enable branch and call-centre staff, creating more informed and rich customer interactions.

Data and AI is really the heart of digital customer-facing banking. Capturing and combining datasets involves both making the vast troves of data stuck in siloed legacy systems available, capturing real-time customer data from digital platforms and also bringing in additional third-party sources. AI can be used to join the dots and identify patterns to better understand and predict needs, which can drive timely interactions and personalised products and services. It also enables a better understanding of personal situation and risk, prerequisites for new services such as wealth management and insurance. Broadening the model of the customer extends the opportunity to establish multi-product relationships. This generates more interactions and data, so a cycle of continual analysis and innovation is formed.

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AI capabilities can also be combined with RPA to enable Intelligent Automation of many customer service tasks such as standard enquiries that can be handled by conversational AI. Highly responsive, accurate and information-rich conversational interfaces improve the customer experience. This in turn, enables staff to provide a better customer service by focussing on personal service and higher value or more complex needs.

Cloud is a crucial enabler of much of the above in several ways. The inherent agility of cloud-based services enables rapid innovation and the delivery of new services and features through microservices. Elastic scalability enables the platform to adapt to usage expansion and maintain responsiveness under high load. Native out-of-the-box data and analytics capabilities will accelerate the AI journey. The fast provisioning of new environments supports an agile product development methodology.

For traditional banks, legacy modernisation must feature in the digital change programme. Legacy systems can negatively impact the speed and cost of change. Modernisation must be prioritised, and iterative strategies applied such as facading systems behind APIs, breaking out elements of monoliths as standalone reusable services and cloud migration. Legacy systems contain critical data that is needed to build a holistic customer view. Modernisation of the change function to a customer-centric agile model is a broad enabler for all revenue-generating activity.

Conclusion

The industry is at an inflection point, and banks face a considerable challenge to drive revenue opportunities. The key to success is precision of focus on business goals and aligning the right digital technology combinations to deliver on the customer experience, customer intelligence and rapid product and service innovation goals. Banks are at different stages on this journey, and of course, revenue must also come with profitability. Hence, costs are another challenge that must be faced in a similar way.

The present invoicing and billing technologies were developed to manage the payment processes for businesses. Paper invoicing remains a popular option for several companies in the United States. But the majority of them have shifted to electronic methods of billing and invoicing.

The country was lagging far behind to adopt the technological advancements in electronic invoicing compared to Europe and Latin America. However, the current trends have revolutionised electronic billing and invoicing for the past couple of years.

These advancements are responsible for the gaining popularity of the current invoicing and billing technologies. Let’s see how technology has shaped the way businesses in America send bills and invoices to their clients.

Automation of the Invoicing Process

The automation of the invoicing process has reduced the need for companies to track their financial transactions. Most companies in the United States have stopped using paper bills. Even those companies that have not automated their entire billing process prefer using blank invoice templates for service providers

Automation of the process enables organisations to get reminders for due dates and delays in receiving payment. It has also helped companies in the country stay on track with their billing and payment schedules.

Automating the manual responsibilities of creating and sending bills allows business owners and staff to focus on other essential tasks. Companies can also save money because they do not require additional staff to take care of these responsibilities.

Several companies have also adopted blockchain technology to streamline their billing and invoicing processes. It allows them to keep a record of all their financial transactions. It also eliminates the need for additional resources or third-party vendors.

Automating the manual responsibilities of creating and sending bills allows business owners and staff to focus on other essential tasks.

Blockchain technology has not only made financial management smoother but has also improvised the entire invoicing process. The technology prevents any manipulation or accidental deletion of invoices once they are recorded and sent to the client, thereby eliminating the risk of fraudulent activities.

With the gradual adoption of blockchain technology in American businesses, we have started noticing the decline in traditional invoicing systems.

AI and Machine Learning

The advancements in AI and machine learning technology have taken the automation of invoicing solutions up a notch. Most software providers can offer a holistic approach that features functionalities beyond the basic invoicing cycle.

The intervention of AI and machine learning unlocked humanly unimaginable software abilities. Companies can process hundreds of invoices in a short time while processing significant amounts of financial data.

It is also easier to identify or verify past transactions, which gives the business better control over their cost and supply chain. Using AI and machine learning technology can also spot anomalies and errors with the least amount of human intervention.

Cloud Invoicing

With the increase in the use of the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, most billing technologies have started operating from the cloud. They allow businesses to access financial records and data from a device connected to the Internet anywhere in the world.

Cloud-based invoicing also enables people to receive real-time business updates and take the required action. Business personnel can address any urgent issues with the payment in real-time to maintain their company’s reputation. Digital wallets have also become a part of cloud invoicing already.

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Most business owners and managers can access cloud invoicing through mobile apps these days, which has made the process extremely convenient. With the increase in remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies have started relying on cloud-based software instead of traditional ones.

In the present times, any company that fails to provide mobile billing options is bound to lose valuable clients.

The Rise of Real-Time Global Payments

Gone are the days when companies had to wait for days or weeks to send invoices and receive payments. Every business expects real-time transactions these days. The COVID-19 pandemic affected the economy of the entire world, so businesses need their money in real-time.

That is why most companies rely on electronic billing and invoicing processes, as they tend to be faster and more accurate than the manual ways of raising a bill or sending an invoice.

Businesses of every size have started adopting electronic invoicing because they reduce the cost and increase efficiency. As we mentioned before, most countries in Europe and Latin America had already started using electronic invoicing before America. Therefore, to continue business relations with these countries, American companies have to adopt electronic billing and invoicing methods.

Modern billing and invoicing methods have enabled American companies to build better business relationships within the country and the world. With increased productivity, companies can save costs and time.

The present billing and invoicing technologies played a prime role in mitigating the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. We can expect the technology to progress further and increase productivity while reducing losses.

Payrolls, for a majority of the workforce, acts as a motivational factor. It is only when they get accurate and timely income that they feel inspired to keep putting their best foot forward. After all, it is all about money at the end of the day.

This is what makes it important to effectively process payrolls. Accurate payrolls makes sure that employees are neither getting underpaid nor are they getting anything more than they were expected to receive. 

Moreover, effective management is also about handling confidential documentation, ensuring accurate benefits, sorting out reimbursements correctly, and everything else that revolves around the employees income. 

So, how exactly do you manage payrolls effectively so that both employees and employers keep happy? Read about the solution below. 

Get most out of advanced technology

Thanks to advancements in technology, there are now ample tools and software on the market that have been developed to make business operations a lot easier, even payroll management. Payroll system software was designed specifically to ensure that organisations manage their payrolls effectively. 

These tools automate almost every payroll-related task. Not only is this tool reliable to get accurate timings and amounts, but there are variations that come with additional helpful features. These features could include tracking attendance, managing budgets, filing taxes, calculating overtime of employees, tracking employee work hours, and many more. 

You can easily find a tool that basically takes care of everything related to the human capital of your organisation. All you need to do is select the tool effectively and with patience and research.

Payroll system software was designed specifically to ensure that organisations manage their payrolls effectively. 

Streamline tasks

Organisation is the key to success. The more organised you are, the easier your life will be. When there is chaos, the chance of errors increases. 

Thus, make sure you are always working to get more organised at work and in life. Start by reviewing how your current processes are. Learn about all the areas that need improvement. 

Once you have these areas, start working on them. Determine the type of pay schedule that will work best for your organisation as well as your employees. If you have distributed hours, identify the best course of action to take care of that. 

When you are trying to improve, start by analysing and identifying.

Go paperless

In this world of digitalisation, it is perhaps high time to adapt to more advanced technology. After all, the digital world is the future. There are plenty of benefits that going paperless can bring.

The main benefits include offering an easy and less cluttered way to employees to manage and monitor their finances.  When you opt for digital solutions, employees won’t have to stand in line and pick up their checks. This will save time and offer them more hours to focus on more important tasks like achieving their targets.

You can offer a self-service portal where employees can themselves look into their documents and payslips when the need arises.

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Consider outsourcing payroll management 

Many find it difficult to delegate tasks. They feel the more they keep the work to themselves, the better and more accurate it will be. That’s completely wrong.

When you have too much on your plate, it is going to be truly difficult for you to focus on even one thing. Neither would you be able to carry out payrolls effectively nor the other tasks in hand. And payrolls need accuracy. Thus, consider outsourcing your payroll management. This will help you retain your employees and keep them productive as they will be getting accurate and timely pays. No delays. This is because the chances of the brands that you will outsource payroll management from will probably already have updated software. 

Thus, consider letting go of the burden of manual payrolls and begin storing important documents securely.  

Conclusion

The bottom line is that automation and easy life goes hand in hand. If you can find any way to automate your tasks, be it using a digital tool or by outsourcing the management, you should certainly consider doing that. It will give you more time to focus on things that actually matter. 

A number of the world’s biggest private equity firms, including Silver Lake Partners LP, Thoma Bravo LP and Blackstone Group Inc, have seen their stakes in software firms greatly devalued following a wide-reaching hack on software provider SolarWinds Corp.

SolarWinds stock has slid 20.8% from last week’s close after reporting on Sunday that suspected Russian hackers had inserted malicious code into software used by the company to carry out updates, allowing the operatives to access sensitive systems undetected.

The “Sunburst” operation, remarkable for its size and sophistication, constitutes the biggest cyberattack against the US government in more than five years. Around 300,000 companies and agencies use systems provided by SolarWinds, with around 18,000 believed to have used compromised versions of its software since the attack began in March.

SolarWinds’ customers include most US Fortune 500 companies, all of the top 10 US telecom providers, the US military and various other government branches. The UK government and the NHS are also listed among the company’s clients.

Silver Lakes holds a stake of nearly 40% in SilverWinds. Following the plunge in the value of its shares, this stake is now worth $2.3 billion, and Thoma Bravo’s 33% stake is now worth $1.9 billion.

Blackstone’s $400 million November donation in cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc also suffered from the hack, as the company’s shares fell 11% after hackers stole a collection of hacking tools used to test clients’ cyber defences. FireEye, which has contracts across the US national security sector and with its allies, uncovered the SolarWinds breach while probing this attack.

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Regulatory filings showed that, following the theft of its tools, FireEye amended its deal with Blackstone and co-investor ClearSky to make it more favourable to the private equity companies. The firm opted to convert the FireEye-preferred shares that the investors stood to receive to common stock at $17.25 rather than the initially agreed $18.

FireEye shares traded at around $13.58 on Tuesday afternoon.

Ride-hailing giant Uber has moved to sell its driverless car research division to self-driving startup Aurora, a significant shift in the company’s plans for future development.

The autonomous driving unit, known as Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), will be sold as part of a reported $4 billion deal which will see Uber investing $400 million in Aurora in return for a 26% stake in the company. The deal will also give Aurora access to Toyota, which has invested in ATG.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will also be joining Aurora’s board, and the two companies expect to collaborate in bringing driverless cars to Uber in the coming years.

“Few technologies hold as much promise to improve people’s lives with safe, accessible, and environmentally friendly transportation as self-driving vehicles,” Khosrowshahi said in a statement. “For the last five years, our phenomenal team at ATG has been at the forefront of this effort – and in joining forces with Aurora, they are now in pole position to deliver on that promise even faster.”

Aurora is a Silicon Valley-based startup founded by former Tesla, Uber and Google executives and backed by Amazon and Sequoia Capital. The firm develops sensors and software for autonomous vehicles, with a focus on the commercial trucking sector over automated ride-hailing taxis. It currently employs over 1,200 workers.

The news follows a prediction from Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess that autonomous vehicles will be ready for the consumer market between 2025 and 2030. In an interview with weekly German magazine Wirtschaftswoche, Diess said that autonomous driving technologies had progressed significantly, with advances in artificial intelligence continuing to accelerate.

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Germany’s Ministry of Transport has already begun to draft legislation to allow driverless vehicles to operate on public roads. Trials of self-driving cars began in the UK in October as part of the government-backed research scheme “Project Endeavour”.

The drive to access the digital economy during the pandemic has been behind much of the disruption in payments this year. COVID-19 has pushed the industry to think fast and contactless payments have emerged as a lifeline for businesses and consumers. Interestingly, a lot of the innovation that is taking centre stage leverages existing technologies, but in new ways to tackle new problems. Most notably, the QR code saw a revival and has become an increasingly popular way of paying for goods and services.

Crucial to the success of the QR code payment is the fact that simply, it’s a technology that is accessible to anyone with a smartphone in their pocket. And this signals a much bigger trend we’ll continue to see during the pandemic and beyond - we don’t need to reinvent the wheel to create disruptive payment solutions. Instead, the most exciting innovations will leverage technologies that are within reach of consumers and businesses. This will be the key to seeing widespread penetration of new payment experiences.

Opening up the digital economy with the smartphone

While much of the contactless payment drive has focused on the ease of access for consumers, it’s not been such an easy ride for businesses. Large swathes of micro and small businesses that were predominantly cash-based have had little choice but to accept contactless payments during the pandemic. But one of the challenges that come with this payment revolution is that contactless point-of-sale (POS) hardware can be costly and complex to maintain for businesses. This can present a financial burden for micro and small businesses that want to access the digital economy and accept contactless payments.

The launch of Visa’s Tap to Phone solution and the comeback of the QR code show what can happen when you keep innovation simple.

The launch of Visa’s Tap to Phone technology in October is a pivotal step towards breaking down this barrier for businesses. And its genius once more comes down to harnessing existing technologies – again, the smartphone - in innovative ways to open up access. Visa Tap to Phone transforms Android smartphones and tablets into contactless POS terminals so sellers can accept contactless payments from their customers.

By removing the need for costly POS hardware and complex maintenance, it is enabling smaller businesses to download an app and accept contactless card or mobile wallet payments within a matter of minutes. The proliferation of mobile means Tap to Phone is well within reach of businesses of all sizes – and the customers they serve. And this is key if we are to see widespread adoption of new payment experiences among businesses.

Visa’s Tap to Phone innovation signals the end of POS and the start of easy access to cashless payments for businesses.

Easing emerging markets into the cashless economy

What works for one market, might not necessarily work elsewhere. In emerging markets, the technology that is accessible to both consumers and businesses can vary and that can dictate what is possible. With many markets around the world still predominantly cash-based, there is also a greater challenge to ease consumers and businesses into cashless payments, in some cases, for the first time. Again, using technologies communities are familiar with and already comfortable using is an important first step to encourage adoption.

If new payment solutions are to see widespread uptick and success in these markets, understanding of local market behaviours will be crucial. It comes down to learning the unique challenges faced by the local community, as well as their attitudes towards cashless payments. Only then can you explore the tools accessible to them to create payment solutions that stick.

Let’s keep it simple to make real change

The launch of Visa’s Tap to Phone solution and the comeback of the QR code show what can happen when you keep innovation simple. These technologies are transforming payment experiences for consumers and business alike around the world. And it’s all powered by the humble smartphone – a device mostly all of us carry in our pocket.

By using the existing technologies around us, we can expect to see increased penetration of new payment solutions. It might have taken the pandemic for some consumers and small businesses to make the leap to contactless payments, but we can expect to see this shift in behaviour take hold, even as we revert back to normal. We’re only seeing the start of the contactless revolution. The payment solutions that are accessible to all will have the power to scale with ease and will see the biggest success. That’s where the real innovation lies.

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