We’re excited to celebrate the 50th issue of Interface magazine with our readers. During a half century of monthly magazines,…

We’re excited to celebrate the 50th issue of Interface magazine with our readers. During a half century of monthly magazines, we’ve delivered insights from technology leaders representing an array of industries from banking and healthcare to IT and construction. We’re proud to feature a diverse range of companies – from Amazon to Zoom – at the cutting edge of tech and keep lifting the lid on the latest developments in everything from AI and Cybersecurity to CX and Fintech. We’re keen to see what the next 50 issues will bring and hope you’ll join us on that journey…

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Read the latest issue here!

In this month’s issue…

Virgin Media O2 Business:

David Cornwell, Director – Small to Medium Enterprise, talks about the unfolding telco integration journey at Virgin Media O2 Business delivering benefits for Business customers. “There’s been a huge process of rationalisation and requalifying what we need to unlock efficiencies. It’s a technology journey our customers are on too. We understand the challenges inherent in that so, as a customer-first organisation, we’re well placed to support them bringing mobile and fixed connectivity services together in one place.”

Abzena:

CIO David Williamson describes the work Abzena is doing with transformative technology, its use of data, and what the future of health tech looks like… “We’re always trying to use data to help our client achieve more with it. And Abzena is very innovative on the scientific front… Having the opportunity to see things that weren’t possible to see when looked at traditionally is having a dramatic impact on how we’re able to treat diseases.”

York County:

Director of IT Tim Wyatt discusses technology in local government, cybersecurity outreach, and why community is at the heart of his team’s work at York County. “We’ll continue to make smart investments for cybersecurity, work to stay ahead of the new threats to our citizen’s data, and ensure we’re entrusted with and reliably provide services that our citizens and our County can depend on.”

Klamath Health:

Klamath Health Partnership’s CTO Jessica Chastain describes the work she’s done to upgrade the organisation, the challenges that come with rural healthcare, and how she’s using data for good. “Data can show you a lot about the health of your organisation, including how to grow or shrink it to make it the best environment for your clientele.”

Also in this issue, we hear from Global & UK CEO Carlos Jaureguizar about the digital transformation journey helping Bupa become the world’s most customer-centric healthcare company, Mizaic CEO Jon Pickering explains how harnessing data-driven insights at the point of care can be achieved with a new EDMS (electronic document management system) and we re-visit our chat with Lloyds Banking Group’s CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent, Martyn Atkinson, to learn how an ambitious FinTech journey, combined with a people-centred culture, is driving change for customers and colleagues across the Group.

Enjoy the issue!

Welcome to the latest issue of CEOstrategy where we highlight the challenges and opportunities that come with ‘the’ leadership role

Our cover story focuses on the work of Nigel Vaz, the CEO of Publicis Sapient – a digital business transformation company that partners with organisations globally to help them create and sustain competitive advantage – and his approach to change management.

Welcome to the latest issue of CEOstrategy!

Tasked with accelerating business growth, while building the synergies across an organisation that can drive innovation to meet diverse customer needs and keep revenues on track, the modern CEO must be mentor, marshall and motivator on the journey to success.

Read the latest issue here!

Publicis Sapient: Advice for the modern CEO

“I lead Publicis Sapient with a set of principles to keep me on track, and which I offer to fellow CEOs as a guide,” says CEO Nigel Vaz. “Embrace change, and view challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation; Foster a culture of continuous learning within yourself and your organisation; Advance the organisational capabilities that will enable your company to deliver on your brand promise; Adopt a data-driven approach to decision-making, utilising analytics and advanced technologies and Stay rooted in purpose to realise your competitive advantage.”

EMCS: Leading a small fish making a big impact

“If you look after your people and you have the right people in place, the customer experience takes care of itself,” explains EMCS Industries CEO Trevor Tasker. “A lot of entrepreneurs say the same, but you don’t always see it in action. If I have to micromanage somebody, I’ve made a hiring mistake. When I’ve found the right person, all I have to do is support them and trust them. If I can’t trust them, I can’t lead them. And being trusted makes my employees so much better at their jobs. It makes choosing the customers you deal with very important as well…”

Moneypenny: People at the heart

We are consistently listed in the best places to work rankings and have created a happy and fun working environment,” says Moneypenny CEO Joanna Swash. “We strive to be authentic, and that starts at the top. If the leadership team walks the walk and talks the talk, then trust is built. Trust fosters a culture where employees are motivated, engaged and empowered with a culture of transparency and honesty…”

Bupa: Choice, care and compassion driving digital transformation

“In a fast-changing world, it’s essential that we harness the power of technology to keep improving health outcomes for our customers,” says Global & UK CEO Carlos Jaureguizar of the digital transformation journey helping Bupa become the world’s most customer-centric healthcare company. “We give our people the tools to give customers the best care, streamline the customer experience and drive innovation.”

Also in this issue, we hear from Rachel Youngman, Deputy CEO at the Institute of Physics, on how organisations can leverage ESG targets to meet the Net Zero challenge; we get the lowdown on a fintech success story from RTGS.global CEO Jarrad Hubble; discover the importance of Strategic Thinking with Institute for Management Development Professor Michael Watkins and count down ten reasons why integrity is key to business success with Serenity In Leadership CEO Thom Dennis.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Global cloud services point-of-sale provider, GK Software, was founded over 30 years ago in Germany. For most of its existence,…

Global cloud services point-of-sale provider, GK Software, was founded over 30 years ago in Germany. For most of its existence, its focus was on expanding across Europe. However, in 2015, GK broke into the US when its partnership with SAP helped it drive into that vital market. The business has been thriving stateside ever since. Its core business is a point-of-sale software platform – CLOUD4RETAIL – which features the OmniPOS solution. Today, GK is ranked highly in global POS installations and has been among the top three for the last five years.

GK is an organisation committed to continuous improvement and customer engagement. It is evolving, getting into newer technologies like AI in a big way. It’s leveraging its expertise to improve insights into what its retail customers and their shoppers need. This includes everything from price optimisation to loyalty to self-service technologies.

Its ability to provide these services, through its expertise, is what attracted Virginia ABC to GK Software. Virginia ABC was a previous user of SAP’s point-of-sale (POS) solution, but as the authority evolved, it required an updated POS. 

GK Software meets Virginia ABC

Enter: GK Software. “As a result of our relationship with SAP and with Paul Williams at Virginia ABC, we were shortlisted in their new point-of-sale solution selection,” explains Max Francescangeli, Regional Sales Director at GK Software.

“With Virginia ABC, we went through quite an extensive selection process. It’s a government agency, so the rules are very strict,” says Francescangeli. “But we were able to prove that we could use our expertise to address and solve all of their problems in spite of the unique environment they operate in. They needed a flexible solution that would interact well with their legacy platforms during implementation. We were certainly able to provide that. So, we were eventually awarded the business and the project has been extremely successful.”

The approach GK takes with its customers during these projects highlights just how much out-of-the-box capability its solution has. GK’s team spent a lot of time with Virginia ABC. The organisation examined its business requirements and using a consultative approach to show how its software could be configured. This was so it could meet the end-state business requirements and take advantage of best-of-breed capabilities that exist within GK’s platform. 

“Rather than going there and trying to do a lot of customisation, we wanted to help them take advantage of the software as it exists,” Francescangeli adds. There were also other areas where GK was able to provide a lot of value and expertise to Virginia ABC. These include payment processing and its partner ecosystem. Virginia ABC was previously using a payment provider with limited capabilities, but GK was able to step in and expand the technology set. “We gave them more hardware choices, expanding what they could do with their in-store devices.”

Virginia ABC also needed more advanced reporting and analytics within its environment. So, GK introduced a solution called Advanced Central Electronic Journal and Reporting. Francescangeli continues: “It saved them a tremendous amount of effort, and gave them a lot of flexibility. We implemented that very quickly and they gained business value from it immediately.”

An evolving partnership

GK Software and Virginia ABC worked on initial deployment for the first 12 months of the project, and GK has continued to supply its services ever since. Each year after the first, Virginia ABC has expressed interest in something else GK offers. As a result, the relationship has remained close and Virginia ABC continues to expand the partnership.

“Paul and his team have been champions of ours and we’re champions of theirs as well,” Francescangeli states. “Due to the relationship we have with Virginia ABC, we have been able to secure business from other retailers in the same space because they have confidence that we know how to handle the market.”

“GK checks a lot of boxes retailers are looking for,” Bill Miller, North American VP of Sales at GK adds. “We’re in this inflection point where we offer modern technology that also has a lot of functionality out of the box, and that’s what people want. That’s what Virginia ABC wanted, and that’s what we supplied.”

Read more about Virginia ABC’s story, and the part GK Software has played, in issue 49 of Interface Magazine.

Our cover story this month focuses on the work of Arianne Gallagher-Welcher. As the Executive Director for the USDA Digital…

Our cover story this month focuses on the work of Arianne Gallagher-Welcher. As the Executive Director for the USDA Digital Service, in the Office of the OCIO, her team’s mission is to drive a tech transformation at the USDA. The goal is to better serve the American people across all of its 50 states.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Welcome to a new year of possibility where technology meets business at the interface of change…

Read the latest issue here!

USDA: The People’s Agency

“We knew that in order for us to deliver what we needed for our stakeholders, we needed to be flexible – and that has trickled down from our senior leaders.” Arianne Gallagher-Welcher, Executive Director for the USDA Digital Service reveals the strategic plan’s first goal. Above all, the aim is to deliver customer-centric IT so farmers, producers, and families can find dealing with USDA as easy as using an ATM.

BCX: Delivering insights & intelligence across the Data & AI value chain

We also sat down with Stefan Steffen, Executive Leader for Data Insights & Intelligence at BCX. He revealed how BCX is leveraging AI to strategically transform businesses and drive their growth. “Our commitment to leveraging data and AI to drive innovation harnesses the power of technology to unlock new opportunities, drive efficiency, and enhance competitiveness for our clients.”

Momentum Multiply: A culture-driven digital transformation for wellness

Multiply Inspire & Engage is a new offering from leading South African insurance provider Momentum Health Solutions. Furthermore, it is the first digital wellness rewards program in South Africa to balance mental health and physical health in pursuing holistic wellness. CIO, Ndibulele Mqoboli, discusses re-platforming, cloud migrations, and building a culture of ownership, responsibility, and continuous improvement.

Clark County: Creating collaboration for the benefit of residents

Navigating the world of local government can be a minefield of red tape, both for citizens and those working within it. Al Pitts, Deputy CIO of Clark County, talks to us about the organisation’s IT transformation. He explains why collaboration is key to support residents. “We have found our new Clark County – ‘Together for Better’ – is a great way to collaborate on new solutions.”

Also in this issue, we hear from Alibaba’s European GM Jijay Shen on why digitalisation can be a driving force for SMEs. We learn how businesses can get cybersecurity right with KnowBe4 and analyse the rise of ‘The Mobility Society’.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

  • People & Culture

For our first cover story of 2024 we meet with Lloyds Banking Group’s CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent,…

For our first cover story of 2024 we meet with Lloyds Banking Group’s CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent, Martyn Atkinson, to learn how an ambitious growth agenda, combined with a people-centred culture, is driving change for customers and colleagues across the Group.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Welcome to a new year of possibility where technology meets business at the interface of change…

Read the latest issue here!

Lloyds Banking Group: A technology & business strategy

“We’ve made significant strides in transforming our business for the future,” explains Martyn Atkinson, CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent at Lloyds Banking Group. “I’m really proud of what the team have achieved. There’s loads more to go after. It’s a really exciting time as we become a modern, progressive, tech-enabled business. We’ve aimed to maintain pace and an agile mindset. We want to get products and services out to our customers and colleagues. We’ll test and learn to see if what we’re doing is actually making a meaningful difference.”

AFRICOM: Organisational resilience through cybersecurity

We also speak with U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) CISO Ryan Larsen on developing the right culture to build cyber awareness. He is committed to driving secure and continued success for the Department of Defence. “I often think of every day working in cyberspace a lot like counterinsurgency warfare and my time in Afghanistan. You had to be on top of your game every minute of every day. The adversary only needs to get lucky one time to find you with that IED.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ALIC: Creating synergy to scale at speed with Lolli

Since 2009 the Australian Lending & Investment Centre (ALIC) has been matching Australians with loans that help build their wealth. It has delivered over $8.3bn in loans to more than 22,000 leading Australian investors and businesses. Managing Director Damian Brander talks ethical lending and the challenges of a shifting financial landscape. ALIC has also built Lolli – a broker enhancement platform built by brokers, for brokers.

Sime Darby Motors: Driving digital, cultural, and business transformation together

Sime Darby Berhad is one of the oldest and most successful multinational companies in Malaysia. It has a twin focus on the Industrial and Motors sectors. The company employs more than 24,000 people, operating across 17 countries and territories. Sime Darby Motors’ Chief Digital & Information Officer Tuan Jean Tee shares how he makes sure digital, cultural, and process transformation go hand in hand throughout one of APAC’s largest automotive multinationals.

Also in this issue, we hear from Microsoft on the art of sustainable supply chain transformation, Tecnotree map the key trends set to impact the telecoms industry in 2024 and our panel of experts chart the big Fintech predictions for the year ahead.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

  • Fintech & Insurtech

Our final cover story for 2023 explores how Deputy CIO May Cheng is accelerating a digital customer and product-centric approach…

Our final cover story for 2023 explores how Deputy CIO May Cheng is accelerating a digital customer and product-centric approach to IT management for the International Trade Administration (ITA).

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface showcases leaders at the forefront of innovation with digital technologies transforming myriad industries.

Read the latest issue here!

ITA: A better digital government experience

We connect once more with the tech trailblazers at the International Trade Administration. Deputy CIO May Cheng and her team are accelerating adoption of ITA’s customer and product-centric approach to IT management. In addition, their focus is on Agile, DevSecOps, Value Proposition, and Human Centred Design. “In 2023, we launched 13 products, three MVPs and saw enhancements operationalised. Moreover, the digital model has enabled a partnership between business and IT. The result is clearer lines of shared responsibility, transparency in resources, and a continuous learning culture across the agency.”

Businessman touching data analytics process system with KPI financial charts, dashboard of stock and marketing on virtual interface. With American flag in background.

Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Trust: Digitally transforming patient care

The Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is centred on bringing tomorrow’s treatments to today’s patients with a clear mission to provide excellent, specialist care to patients suffering from heart and lung disease. We hear from Andrew Raynes who took up his role as CIO in 2017. He is overseeing a digital transformation program bringing value to staff and patients. “Using the global language of interoperability… we’ll see greater efficiency in terms of use of technology and sweating our assets. Furthermore, exploiting the benefits to support seamless care by allowing standards to do the heavy lifting.”

Toronto Community Housing: Supporting tenants with tech

Toronto Community Housing houses tenants in 106 of Toronto’s 158 neighbourhoods. It ensures over 43,000 low and moderate-income families are supported in their continuously managed homes. Luisa Andrews, VP Information Technology Services tells us it’s the best role she’s had in her career. “It’s the most challenging, and where I’ve seen the most progress in a short amount of time. I’m proud of my team and what we’ve accomplished in five years. We, and our partners, have enabled the corporation, through technology, to do what it needs to do for our tenants.”

Marshfield Clinic Health System:

Marshfield Clinic Health System provides care at over 50 locations across the US state of Wisconsin. Chief Data & Analytics Officer Mitchell Kwiatkowski explains its tech mantra to us: “We’re trying to toe that line while examining new technologies as they come out. We’re aiming to understand what they are, how they can help, and implementing things that are mature enough and show promise. I don’t think healthcare is necessarily risk-averse; it’s a highly regulated area that doesn’t always have deep pockets for investment. However, it’s people’s health at stake, so we have to be careful…”

Also in this issue, we get the lowdown on the tech trends for 2024 from Hitachi Vantara innovation guru Bjorn Andersson. We also hear from the WatchGuard Threat Lab research team with their cybersecurity predictions for the year ahead.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Nigel Greatorex, Global Industry Manager at ABB, on how digital technologies can support decarbonisation and net zero goals

Nigel Greatorex is the Global Industry Manager for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) at ABB Energy Industries. He explains how digital technologies can play a critical role in the transition to a low carbon world by enabling global emissions reductions. Furthermore, he highlights the role of CCS and how challenges can be overcome through digitalisation.

Meeting our global decarbonisation goals is arguably the most pressing challenge facing humanity. Moreover, solving this requires concerted global action. However, there is no silver bullet to the global warming crisis. The solution requires a mix of investment, legislation and, importantly, innovative digital technologies.

Decarbonisation digital technologies

It’s widely recognised decarbonisation is essential to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Decarbonisation technology is becoming an increasingly important, rapidly growing market. It is especially relevant for heavy industries – such as chemicals, cement and steel. These account for 70 percent of industrial CO2 emissions; equal to approximately six billion tons annually.

CCS digital technologies are increasingly seen as key to helping industries decarbonise their operations. Reaching our net zero targets requires industry uptake of CCS to grow 120-fold by 2050, according to analysis from McKinsey & Company. Indeed, if successful, it could be responsible for reducing CO2 emissions from the industrial sector by 45 percent.

A Digital Twin solution

ABB and Pace CCS joined forces to deliver a digital twin solution. It reduces the cost of integrating CCS into new and existing industrial operations. Simulating the design stage and test scenarios to deliver proof of concept gives customers peace of mind. Indeed, system designs need to be fit for purpose. Also, it demonstrates the smooth transition into CCS operations. Additionally, the digital twin models the full value chain of a CCS system.

Read the full story here

  • Sustainability Technology

Cybersecurity leader Shinesa Cambric on Microsoft’s innovation journey to identify, detect, protect, and respond to emerging threats against identity and access

This month’s cover story highlights a cybersecurity program protecting billions of users.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface showcases leaders at the forefront of innovation with digital technologies transforming myriad industries.

Read the latest issue here!

Microsoft: Innovation in Cybersecurity

Shinesa Cambric is on a mission to drive innovation for cybersecurity at Microsoft. Moreover, by embracing diversity and opening all channels towards collaboration her team tackles anti-abuse and delivers fraud-defence. Continuous Improvement doesn’t just play into her role, it defines it…

“In the fraud and abuse space, attackers are constantly trying to identify ways to look like a legitimate user,” warns Shinesa. “And this means my team, and our partners, have to continuously adapt. We identify new patterns and behaviours to detect fraudsters. At the same time, we must do it in such a way we don’t impact our truly ‘good’ and legitimate users. Microsoft is a global consumer business and any time you add friction or an unpleasant experience for a consumer, you risk losing them, their business and potentially their trust. My team’s work sits on the very edge of the account sign up and sign in process. We are essentially the first touch within the customer funnel for Microsoft – a multi-billion dollar company.”

ABB: Digital Technolgies contributing towards Net Zero

Nigel Greatorex, Global Industry Manager for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) at ABB Energy Industries, explains how digital technologies can play a critical role in the transition to a low carbon world. He highlights the role of CCS in enabling global emissions reductions and how challenges can be overcome through digitalisation…

“It is widely recognised decarbonisation is essential to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Therefore, it’s not surprising that emerging decarbonisation technology is becoming an increasingly important, and rapidly growing market.”

CSI: How can your IT estate improve its sustainability?

Andy Dunn, Chief Revenue Officer at IT solutions specialist CSI, reveals how digital technologies can contribute to ESG obligations: “Sustainability is a now seen as a strategic business imperative, so much so that 74% of companies consider Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors to be very important to the value of their company. Additionally, we know almost three in four organisations have set a net zero goal. With an average target date of 2044, 50% of organisations are seeking more energy efficient products and services.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsDaZiSO1ho

“Optimising energy use and consolidating servers and storage infrastructure form a strong basis for shaping a more environmentally friendly and efficient IT estate. It no longer needs to be the Achilles Heel of an ESG policy. “

Mia Platform: Sustainable Cloud Computing

Davide Bianchi, Senior Technical Lead at Mia Platform, explores the silver lining of sustainable cloud computing. He reveals how it can help us reduce our digital carbon thumbprint with collaboration, efficient use of applications, containerisation of apps, microservices and green partnerships.

“We’re already on an important technological path toward ubiquitous cloud computing. Correspondingly, this brings incredible long-term benefits too. These include greater scalability, improved data storage, and quicker application deployment, to name a few.”

Also in this issue, we hear from Doug Laney, Innovation Fellow at West Monroe and author of Infonomics and Data Juice. Also, we learn how companies can measure, manage and monetise to realise the potential of their data. And, Deputy CIO Melvin Brown discusses the people-centric approach to IT supporting America’s civil service at The Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

  • Infrastructure & Cloud

Doug Laney is Innovation Fellow at West Monroe and a leading Data & Analytics strategist. We caught up with the author of Infonomics and Data Juice to talk tech and how companies can measure, manage and monetise to realise the potential of their data

Our cover story explores the rise of data and information as an asset.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface showcases leaders aiming to take advantage of data, particularly in a new world of AI technologies where it is the fuel…

Read the latest issue here!

How to monetise, manage and measure data as an asset

Our cover star is pretty big in the world of analytics… We meet the guy who defined Big Data. Doug Laney is Innovation Fellow at West Monroe and a leading Data & Analytics strategist. We caught up with the author of Infonomics and Data Juice to talk tech and learn how companies can measure, manage and monetise to realise the potential of their information. In his first book Laney advised companies to stop being fixated on hindsight-oriented analytics. “It doesn’t actually move the needle on the business. In the stories I’ve compiled over the last decade, 98% have more to do with organisations using data to diagnose, predict, prescribe or automate something. It’s not about asking questions about what happened in the past.”

Canvas Worldwide: A data-driven media business

Continuing this month’s data theme, we also spoke with Alisa Ben, SVP, Head of Analytics at full-service media agency Canvas Worldwide. Data has transformed the organisation, and what its clients do. “We look holistically at the client’s business and sometimes the tools we have might be right for them, sometimes not. It’s more about helping our clients achieve their business outcomes.”

TUI Musement: from digital transformation to digital pioneer

At travel giant TUI, handling data effectively is paramount when communicating consistently and meaningfully with up to 25 million customers annually. David Garcia, CIO for TUI Musement, talks about the tech evolution driving the travel giant’s provision of experiences, transfers and tours. It’s a big part of its operational shift from local to global. “As a CIO, I’ve always been interested in how the tech innovations we drive can support the business and add value.”

Hiscox: making cybersecurity more accessible

Liz Banbury, CISO at Hiscox and president of (ISC)² London Chapter, talks to us about how cybersecurity can become a more accessible, realistic career path for almost anybody. “When I was at school, topics like computer science didn’t even exist,” Banbury explains. “In one of my first jobs, over in Hong Kong, we were still using a typewriter! A lot has changed. My key point here is that there’s a lot of cybersecurity professionals who are really good at their job. They are inspiring, and have come from all walks of life. Crucially, they don’t have a maths, computer science, or technological background at all. But they still make great cybersecurity professionals.

Portland Community College: Risk vs Speed in Cybersecurity

Reet Kaur, former Chief Information Security Officer at Portland Community College, discusses the organisation’s transition to the cloud amid a digital transformation journey. I don’t want to work with people who just say yes all the time. I want my ideas challenged to help forge the excellence in the security programmes I help build.”

DBHDS: Cybersecurity in healthcare

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) exists to create ‘a life of possibilities for all Virginians’ and transform behavioural health. Its focus is on supporting people across the entire commonwealth. It helps them get the support they need in order to take wellness and recovery into their own hands. In an area like healthcare, sensitive information is all over the place, meaning cybersecurity is a priority – and this is where Glendon Schmitz, CISO at DBHDS, comes in. The security team exists to help the wider organisation achieve its objectives with data. We’re there to protect the business, not the other way around.”

Also in this issue, we schedule the can’t miss tech events and get the lowdown on IoT security from the Mobile Ecosystem Forum.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Welcome to issue 42 of CPOstrategy!

This month’s cover story sees us speak with Brad Veech, Head of Technology Procurement at Discover Financial Services.

CPOstrategy - Procurement Magazine

Having been a leader in procurement for more than 25 years, he has been responsible for over $2 billion in spend every year, negotiating software deals ranging from $75 to over $1.5 billion on a single deal. Don’t miss his exclusive insights where he tells us all about the vital importance of expertly procuring software and highlights the hidden pitfalls associated.

“A lot of companies don’t have the resources to have technology procurement experts on staff,” Brad tells us. “I think as time goes on people and companies will realise that the technology portfolio and the spend in that portfolio is increasing so rapidly they have to find a way to manage it. Find a project that doesn’t have software in it. Everything has software embedded within it, so you’re going to have to have procurement experts that understand the unique contracts and negotiation tactics of technology.” 

There are also features which include insights from the likes of Jake Kiernan, Manager at KPMG, Ashifa Jumani, Director of Procurement at TELUS and Shaz Khan, CEO and Co-Founder at Vroozi. 

Enjoy the issue! 

  • Cybersecurity
  • Data & AI

Melvin Brown, Deputy CIO at the Office of Personnel Management, explains the organisation’s ‘sprint to the cloud’ and its determination to modernise at every level.

Our cover story highlights the Office of Personnel Management’s ‘sprint to the cloud’ with technology.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface hears from leaders who champion a people-first approach driving successful technology transformations.

Read the latest issue here!

Culture Modernisation at the Office of Personnel Management

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is a government entity which manages America’s civil service. This month’s cover story explores how an organisation that prioritises people is taking a human approach to IT. Deputy CIO Melvin Brown oversees a portfolio of $500m in programs and a growing workforce of around 300 federal employees and contractors. OPM is undergoing a major cloud transformation… “We want to be cloud-first and cloud-smart as we move forward,” he explains. “So, we created a two-year sprint to the cloud plan where we take all our major applications and move them to the cloud in order to take advantage of all the benefits that brings, from both a security and a utility perspective.”

International Trade Administration: A strategic vision for technology

The International Trade Administration (ITA) strengthens the competitiveness of U.S. industry, promotes trade and investment, and ensures fair trade through the enforcement of trade laws and agreements. We hear from its CIO Gerald Caron who is passionate about involving all stakeholders in ITA’s transformation… “We’re introducing different ways of thinking to drive innovation at the International Trade Administration (ITA). What is the art of the possible? We’re looking to explore possibilities with technology across our business units and build simple foundations for the development of more complex approaches.”

Irwin Mitchell: Technology with a human touch

Also espousing the importance of a people-centric approach, Graham Thomson, Chief Information Security Officer at Irwin Mitchell, discusses his firm’s transformative legal solutions. “We’re far more than just a law firm,” he says. “I think what sets us apart is that we’re very people focused and an organisation that genuinely cares about not only our customers but our people too. People are your biggest asset, and you have to look after them.”

State of Vermont: Using AI for good

We spoke with Shawn Nailor, Secretary and CIO at State of Vermont, about IT modernisation, tackling cybersecurity state-wide, and how AI is being used for the good of Vermonters. “We’ve got to be practitioners in order to give good guidance on how to use advanced technology and where… We want to establish a practice by which we can lead by example and show good applications or AI tools to advance services and the delivery of products.”

Also in this issue, we round up the must attend tech events; get game-changing AI, Metaverse and ‘moonshot’ insights from Lenovo, and learn why people are at the heart of the decision-making process at energy company newcleo.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Amit Thawani, CIO for Consumer Data & Engagement Platforms at Wells Fargo, on the journey towards becoming a customer-centric company

This month’s cover story reveals how a customer-centric approach to technology is helping Wells Fargo deliver stable, secure, scalable, and innovative services.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

It’s our biggest issue yet! The common theme this month is the focus on the creation of customer-centric technologies that offer reliable, secure and helpful user journeys from travel and banking to health and business.

Interface dives deep for insights on understanding, planning, implementing and communicating change across industries.

Read the latest issue here!

Customer-centric banking with Wells Fargo

Amit Thawani, Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Consumer Data & Engagement Platforms (CDEP) on the technology journey at Wells Fargo: “All tech employees at Wells Fargo are tasked with working towards delivering stable, secure, scalable, and innovative services at speed that delight and satisfy our customers while unleashing the skills potential of our employees.”

TUI: Developing a technology ecosystem

Kristof Caekebeke, CIO for Product & Engagement, is a member of the leadership team that is driving the transformation of the TUI technical ecosystem which has seen Master Domain Owners taking different blocks of the ecosystem under their control to roll out across the organisation.

TUI Group

Responsible for product and engagement, Caekebeke’s focus is on building products out of the thousands of hotels, flights, experiences and cruises TUI is offering. “I’m responsible for every contact point between the customer and TUI. The websites, the mobile apps, the retail systems – any contact point we have between the customer and TUI. It’s a large team of 1,100 tech people.

A digital bank transformation journey with Banco PAN

“Until 2018 Banco PAN was very much an analogue company reliant on legacy paper processes,” recalls Leandro Marçal. Joining the bank in December 2020, to become Technology & Operations Director (CIO/COO), Marçal was tasked with accelerating a digital transformation journey.

“Banco PAN invested in innovation before I arrived,” says Marçal. “It is my team’s job to formalise the path towards becoming a digital bank. Our legacy operation was digitalising. It was an opportunity to improve the customer experience with our checking account and credit card systems.”

Pohlad Companies: The power of people

A pillar of the community in Minneapolis, Pohlad Companies is well known to Minnesotans for its influence, its charity work, and the opportunities it has created for people since the 1950s.

Alongside significant commercial real estate investments, Pohlad Companies owns a custom engineering and robotics company, a group of automotive dealerships specialising in luxury vehicles, a film production studio, and many more businesses. Famously, the Pohlad family also owns the Minnesota Twins, a Major League Baseball team.

This variety is part of what makes Rachel Lockett’s job so exciting. She’s Pohlad Companies’ CIO and has spent a decade in her current role. Lockett began her career as a programmer over 25 years ago and quickly moved into IT leadership management.

Coalfire: Embracing change in cybersecurity

If you wait for something to happen, then it’s often too late. The art of having a finger on the pulse is an essential ingredient to success. Failure to manage change and implement cybersecurity protocols could mean leaving an organisation vulnerable to hackers. 

Sreeveni Kancharla, Coalfire’s first Chief Information Officer, is leading the company’s digital transformation with unwavering determination. As a cybersecurity advisor, Coalfire assists private and public sector organisations in managing threats, closing gaps, and mitigating risks. Kancharla ensures that her team stays up-to-date with the latest technologies to guard against zero-day attacks.

Uni of Kansas Health: Cybersecurity at the heart

Speed versus safety. The two topics are intrinsically linked and vital in their own individual way. But can you have both in healthcare when the risks are so great? Ultimately, there is no higher stake than saving people’s lives – it goes above everything and is why cybersecurity is so vital.

Protecting the healthcare system

“There’s nothing more important to me than patient care,” affirms Michael Meis, Associate Chief Information Security Officer at The University of Kansas Health System. “It is one of the highest callings you can imagine, to be able to help people. While the cybersecurity team and me, individually, do not directly care for patients, we enable a lot of that patient care to continue and to be able to achieve some of the goals that the health system has set to provide that healing, research, and innovation within the healthcare space.”

Also in this issue, we ask ChatGPT what the future holds for AI and learn from Zoom how businesses can leverage analytics for insights from their hybrid events.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

We look into the need for a supply chain reset amidst inflation concerns, supply uncertainty, geopolitical issues and sustainability drives.

Today’s supply chains are under pressure like never before.

Amidst inflation concerns, supply uncertainty, geopolitical issues and sustainability drives, the modern supply chain is having to think twice about the way it operates. It means companies are rethinking their supply chain strategy as well as the materials they source and the suppliers they work with. But such significant change doesn’t come easy and isn’t necessarily cheap either. Indeed, these factors have led to the necessity of a great supply chain reset. But this is no easy fix. It impacts the entire business model, from strategy, marketing and design all the way through packaging, storage and transportation.

Supply Chain Revolution

The first part of a supply chain overhaul is rationalising the portfolio. A major review of the product portfolio could reveal what is profitable to make or sell. In many industries, the combined effect of the rising cost of products, logistics, carbon charges for border crossings and frequent supply disruptions is increasing the cost-to-serve, reducing gross margins and making it unprofitable to hold inventory as a buffer.

Leading companies look for ways to improve communications among the supply chain, leadership, sales, and other commercial teams so that supply chain leaders clearly understand the trade-offs required to win in the market. The most successful companies are also involving other key stakeholders in the supply chain balance equation discussion, including finance, R&D, regulatory, sustainability, and procurement. This ensures everyone understands all the implications of the proposed overhaul, particularly what can actually happen.

COVID-19 disruptions pushed companies to reorient their supply chains around resilience. According to Bain & Company, management at one global apparel firm recognised early on that this would require a transformation that would have ripple effects across other parts of the business. In order to make the correct decision, it pulled together a cross-functional strategy team that included the heads of supply chain, finance, sustainability, consumer insights, and the product’s business unit. The team saw the supply chain redesign as an opening to not only boost resilience but also responsiveness and sustainability. It found reducing reliance on any one location would provide insulation from supply disruptions, and making its products closer to customers would speed up delivery and shrink the supply chain’s carbon footprint.

Design to delivery and beyond

Taking a detailed view of the entire product journey, from design to delivery and beyond, can also help to simplify sourcing, by standardising as many elements as possible, reducing the range and specification of materials used for production and packaging. This means fewer suppliers and components, which lowers the exposure to disruption. Companies should investigate whether it’s possible to use less material and/or more recycled content, and whether this can reduce total cost of manufacture.

Today, chief supply chain officers balance multiple conflicting needs of cost, service, sustainability, agility and resilience. As a result of increasingly international trade complexity and the need to manage a widening range of risks, it’s difficult to determine where products should be manufactured and sold. While the onshoring versus offshoring versus friendshoring debate remains, it is further complicated by issues such as sustainability, trade wars, agility and, increasingly, visibility.

In the era of mass offshoring, manufacturers have enjoyed the huge scale efficiencies of large manufacturing centres in low-wage countries. For a wide range of products, there is a now a considerable and visible shift to get closer to the end customer, to ensure a faster response to changing consumer demands, while avoiding tariffs, cutting logistics costs and reducing carbon footprint.

Looking ahead, supply chain has little choice. It can’t stand still and wait for the next black swan event to unfold – companies must be more resilient and fluid. A great supply chain reset may not just be a “nice to have” anymore.

In EY’s January 2023 European CEO Outlook Survey, it was discovered European CEOs expect short-term challenges but have reason for optimism.

Today’s CEO faces unprecedented challenges like never before and is tasked with navigating choppy waters.

Amid global uncertainty caused by a potential recession and on the back of war in Ukraine and disruption caused by COVID-19, it can feel overwhelming for even the most experienced leaders.

A positive horizon?

Despite this, consulting giants EY has discovered reason for optimism in its January 2023 CEO Outlook Pulse survey which includes 390 responses from CEOs across Europe. While the survey found 98% of respondents are indeed expecting a global recession, the majority of European CEOs (52%) anticipate it to be temporary and not a persistent one. These figures are a greater percentage than CEOs worldwide (48%) who point to more long-term optimism for the global economy among European CEOs.

According to the survey, 47% of European respondents believe this recession will be different from previous slowdowns. The recent crisis is more driven by myriad geopolitical challenges and an ongoing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic compared with previous recessions primarily as a result of financial and credit market factors. Many CEOs are aware of this difference and acknowledge the necessity for new and sustainable approaches that build resilience in uncertain times.

In EY’s last survey in October 2022, ongoing pandemic-related concerns such as supply chain issues were the most important topics. However, since then supply chain pressures have eased to some extent with data from S&P Global Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) showing improvement. Only 32% of European CEOs now cite supply chains as the key issue which is down from 41% in October. Given inflationary pressures and the upward movement in interest rates, European CEOs are increasingly focusing on the policies and steps they believe European governments should take to help businesses mitigate the downturn.

About 35% of European respondents, in comparison to 32% globally, consider uncertain monetary policy and increasing cost of capital as the biggest challenge to growth. With inflation beginning to decline in November 2022 after 17 months of upward trajectory, CEOs are closely following central bank activity for potential course changes.

A strategy change

In response to the current recession, EU policymakers are considering more dovish economic recovery proposals instead of top-down austerity rules seen during the sovereign debt crises a decade ago. This includes rethinking debt rules to help countries navigate this downturn. Alongside this, EU governments now face pressure on how to handle the discontent of people protesting against the rising cost of living crisis and questions still remain on how extensively they will intervene. In particular, governments are reluctant to pursue austerity measures as a result of protests from the crisis 10 years ago. Meanwhile, for CEOs, financing will continue to be a challenge as a result of increased capital costs that are set to persist which disrupted growth plans.

European CEOs have learned from previous financial crises and recognise that it is essential to think of new and sustainable strategies to capitalise on the opportunities.

What is the way forward?

According to EY, there are five directives which are worth exploring over the next few years.

Investing in operations
European CEOs identify investing internally to boost operations as extremely important. Risk isn’t only about extraordinary events; day-to-day operational failures can also lead to losses, regulatory action and reductions in share prices. Operations such as finance, accounting and supply chain have emerged as the top priority area of investment for European CEOs (41%).

Recognising disruption and accelerating digital transformation

Amid ongoing global pressure to embrace new technologies and a digital transformation, COVID-19 further accelerated a trend toward digitalisation. Around 38% of European CEOs (in line with 37% globally) are looking to invest in digital transformation, data and technology to emerge stronger from this downturn.

Developing a strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy

Businesses need to ensure ESG processes are moved to the centre of business strategy. Sustainability, including net zero and other environmental issues, as well as societal priorities, is one of the key areas that European CEOs identify as a need for more investment.

Nurturing talent

Despite the recession, the labour market remains tight in Europe. European CEOs are weighing cost management options, with 37% considering a move to contract employment and 38% planning on reducing learning and development investments. About one third are also considering a restructuring of their workforce compared with global and Americas CEOs (36% and 42%) considering the same approach.

Portfolio transformation

Looking ahead, portfolio rebalancing is expected to be a key theme as CEOs will be compelled to make bold decisions regarding their business portfolio. During a recession, companies must critically assess what their core businesses are, what their focus should be and where they can create value by spinning out or selling non-core assets. Some 93% of European CEOs consider prioritising restructuring opportunities as an important initiative in the next six months.

Welcome to the launch issue of CEOstrategy where we highlight the challenges and opportunities that come with ‘the’ leadership role

Our first cover story explores how Vodafone is leveraging strong leadership to drive the collaborations enabling businesses to champion change management and better use technology.

Welcome to the launch issue of CEOstrategy!

Tasked with accelerating business growth, while building the synergies across an organisation that can drive innovation to meet diverse customer needs and keep revenues on track, the modern CEO must be mentor, marshall and motivator on the journey to success.

Read the launch issue here!

Leadership with purpose at Vodafone

“Leadership is purpose, it’s why do you do the things you do…”

Our cover story throws the spotlight on Vodafone US CEO David Joosten; also Director for Americas & Partners Markets at Vodafone Business, he talks to CEOstrategy about leading from the front and setting the standards to deliver growth while keeping employees and customers happy.

“People follow leaders that are honest about themselves. If you can reflect on what you’ve done well, but also where you need to improve it can inspire others to do the same.”

EMCS Industries Ltd: How a CEO can navigate change management

“Why hire talent and then tell them what do? You have so much to learn from the great people you hire. Micromanaging is not management, and it’s certainly not leadership. Let your people thrive!”

Read our interview with EMCS Industries Ltd CEO Trevor Tasker for more thought-provoking insights on leadership from the shifting tides of the marine industry in this maiden issue.

How to be an authentic leader

“At the most basic human level, everyone knows what it’s like to feel heard by another person, and how that changes our behaviour. It can help anger and sadness subside and enable us to start seeing things differently. So, when employees are being listened to by their leaders, it can only help how an organisation operates.”

Dr Andrew White, director of the Advanced Management and Leadership Programme at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and host of the Leadership 2050 podcast series, explores transformative approaches to leadership for the modern CEO.

How can CEOs drive forward culture change around diversity and inclusion?

Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum, explores the changing the narrative around diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

“Disability is still often parked in the “too difficult” box when it comes to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Employers are often afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing and as a result, do or say nothing. As a CEO, the stakes feel (and often are) higher. That high profile platform can feel daunting at the best of times; when tackling an unfamiliar topic, it can feel positively overwhelming. But what we do and say as senior leaders has a huge impact. Indeed, it is critical in driving change.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-TRCm1dv6o

Also in this launch issue, we get the lowdown on agile ways of working from Kubair Shirazee, CEO of Agile transformation specialists Agilitea. Elsewhere, we speak with Nirav Patel, CEO of the consultancy firm, Bristlecone – a subsidiary of Mahindra Group and a leading provider of AI powered application transformation services for the connected supply chain – who discusses the challenges facing CPOs and supply chain leaders in our uncertain times. And we analyse the latest insights for CEOs from McKinsey and Gartner.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Standard Bank CIO Bessy Mahopo on the challenges of operating in a fractured market and how the company overcomes them

This month’s cover story highlights how technology is helping Standard Bank overcome the challenges of a fractured market to both drive business growth and improve services for customers.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

“Time may change me, but I can’t trace time…” sang David Bowie. Changes can be challenging to manage with the path to positive disruption not always a smooth change management journey.

Interface dives deep for insights on understanding, planning, implementing and communicating change across industries.

Read the latest issue here!

Standard Bank: driving Africa’s growth

Standard Bank CIO (CIB – Transactional Banking) Bessy Mahopo explains how one of South Africa’s largest banks is using its own digital transformation successes as a template to support the country’s ongoing technological evolution by overhauling IT from the inside out. “I believe that once we start moving the curve to fifth and sixth generation technology, we’re going to become even more of a value-producer.”

The art of change management with SAP

Maria Villar, Head of Enterprise Data Strategy and Transformation at SAP, talks about the importance of driving change in the technology space and helping businesses thrive with data from the perspective of one of the world’s leading enterprise resource planning software vendors. “My job is about finding out what a good data strategy looks like and continuing to spend time with customers to look ahead…”

Talent transformation journeys with TUI

We caught up with Cerstin Lang, Director for HR Group IT at TUI. She reveals how it’s global For:ward program is driving digital transformation as the travel giant works with training partner Udacity to upskill IT talent. “Our IT goals are focused on developing a structure that supports new ways of working with the right balance to innovate and grow in the future.”

How TransUnion is enabling consumer trust

Alejandro Reskala, CIO Canada, LATAM, Caribbean at TransUnion, about technology transformation at a leading consumer credit reporting agency, its dedication to people, and how it makes trust possible. “TransUnion has always blazed a trail to use technology and data to generate insights that help support financial inclusion.”

Also in this issue, we ask what the birth of ChatGPT means for businesses leveraging tech and learn from Rivery why organisations need to rethink their data strategy with robust operational analytics.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Mark Weil, CEO at TMF Group, discusses the rise of staff attrition in the industry

At the start of 2023 many companies are still struggling to find employees. The job market favours the applicant far more than before Covid-19 across many sectors. Higher interest rates and lower economic growth so far haven’t reduced the pressure on labour availability.

High staff turnover isn’t just a matter of the cost it creates. The disruption from running with a lot of open roles and with less experienced staff can disrupt client service, increase error rates and lead to more serious compliance and reputation damage.

Mark Weil, CEO at TMF Group

Examining the data

A lot of commentary on the situation has been based on surveys of employees’ intentions rather than their actual decisions. By managing our clients’ financial, legal and employee administration we have access to large volumes of data. This provides insight on the overall recruitment and resignation levels across workforces, from several hundred thousand employees, covering a broad range of sectors and job levels in more than 90 countries.

As a starting point, the data tells us that there was indeed a significant global increase in staff resignation during and after the pandemic. Across the 90 countries, average company staff attrition rose from around 15% annually in mid-2020 to 25% at the end of 2021. That’s a dramatic 67% increase in just 18 months.

Global annualised employee attrition trend

Digging deeper reveals a much more nuanced picture by company and country. In 2021, staff attrition averaged around 20% across the 90 countries but was below 10% in a small number, with Argentina the lowest at 6%. Of those above 20%, India, the UK and Poland topped the list with a rate of 26%. Both India and Poland are now major destinations for companies establishing regional service centres – locations that are supposed to be low cost, stable hubs that support many other countries. So rising staff turnover there will be particularly painful.

2021 average employee attrition by country

When examining the data at company level, annual attrition levels vary  even more widely, from a low of around 5% to a high of 40%. Some of that will be a result of challenges in specific industries and companies. Some will arise from the underlying attrition in the labour market of the countries they operate in. To disentangle how much is company versus country, we compare in the chart below the attrition a firm is seeing with the average attrition it should be seeing given the mix of countries where it operates.  The wide spread in the data shows that that country averages matter far less than individual company factors. For example, looking at companies whose country mix should give them expected attrition of around 15-20%, we see many at 30%-40% and others at just 5%-10% attrition.

Company actual 2021 attrition versus average for the countries where they operate

Staff attrition is a problem at any time, but becomes a significant threat to a business if it gets too high. How high is a matter of judgement and depends on the particular company. In professional services, for example, when staff attrition is above 20% it starts to impact client service and above 30% it can pose a risk to regulatory and reputational integrity.

The rise in global staff attrition, coupled with big spikes by country and company means that multinational firms will have an increased number of locations where attrition is high and potentially well beyond manageable levels. From 2020 to 2021 the number of employees in company locations experiencing more than 20% attrition nearly doubled, from around 15% to 27%. Looking at where the levels were highest, employees in countries experiencing more than 35% attrition rose from 1% to 7%. That means there’s an increasing number of hotspots, where extremely high staff attrition means companies need to intervene quickly to avoid staff resignations spiralling due to increased workload.

Factoring in country complexity

An important additional factor is the complexity of a particular country to operate in. Many countries  have onerous business rules which are enforced vigorously. High staff turnover in complex countries is particularly dangerous because of the added risk of compliance breaches.

We can look at country complexity using TMF Group’s Global Business Complexity Index. It ranks countries annually based on 292 criteria, covering the fiscal, legal and employment environments for doing business in each location.  

Jolyon Bennett, CEO of Juice, discusses how sustainability has moved to the forefront of his organisation’s operations

A green approach is quickly transitioning away something that is ‘nice to have’ to an essential component of a company’s strategy.

To Jolyon Bennett, who heads up UK tech accessories manufacturer Juice, being environmentally friendly is non-negotiable. Bennett has transformed the mobile phone accessories sector, having consistently introduced a series of quality, vibrant and consumer-focused products to market, ranging from portable power banks through to super-fast chargers.

He takes us under the bonnet of his firm’s sustainability drive.


You have recently removed all single-use plastic from your entire product range – why?

Jolyon Bennett (JB): “Why wouldn’t you? Single-use plastic is one of the biggest polluters in manufacturing – it uses 3% of the entire planet’s oil consumption. This year, it’s forecast that there will be 50kg of plastic waste for every single one of the eight billion human beings on planet earth – that’s a lot! Consumers, manufacturers and brand owners like myself all need to get on board with the fact that we’re going to need to use and re-use plastic packaging to make different things.

“Why have we done it? Because it’s totally the right thing to do. We need to stop making so much plastic and we need start reusing what we’ve already got. We need to stop cutting down trees in order to make paper and cardboard – let the trees grow and re-use what we’ve got. It just makes sense on a planetary level to stop consuming quite so much and start being just a bit more content with what we’ve got. Why do we need to make ‘new new new’ all the time?”


What have you used instead of virgin plastic?

JB: “We’re reusing, reusing, reusing. Did you know that recycled plastic – depending on its quality and density – can be recycled and re-used between seven and 200 times. Isn’t that unbelievable? It’s such an amazing material. Plastic is a vibe, and we should be re-using it. Juice is using post-consumer waste such as Evian bottles to make speakers, old milk cartons to make power banks and so much more!”


Why do you love plastic?

JB: “I just think we’ve got a lot of it so why not reuse it? I admire the material because it’s so durable – it’s an incredible scientific breakthrough to be able to make something that’s not only waterproof and heatproof but lasts for up to 3,000 years. There are so many different elements that make plastic a great material. I would prefer it if we didn’t have any, but that’s not going to solve the current (and ever-growing) problem of plastic waste finding its way into our oceans, and burying it isn’t the answer either. The problem is with us humans is that we just shy away from the truth – l don’t want to shy away, I want to face these problems head on and meet the challenge.”


Has Juice taken a financial hit to make this happen?

JB: “As an example, we sell around three million cables a year (based on last year’s figures) and each piece of packaging that we are making using post-consumer waste costs us between $0.15 and $0.25 more, so as a minimum, our increased cost for doing this is almost half a million dollars. But I still think it’s the right thing to do. Money is made up – the world could end and money would no longer matter, so let’s stop making decisions based purely on money and let’s start making decisions based on the right thing to do.”


How do you rate the overall quality of the ‘Eco’ products compared to the ones they have superseded?

JB: “There is absolutely no difference whatsoever, so I rate them just as highly.”


Do customers really want these eco products or is this more for your own conscience?

JB: “I don’t suffer from guilt so in that respect I don’t feel driven by my conscience to do this – doing the right thing has its own gravity and its own way of whisking you forward. Generally, I believe that people and businesses that do the right things will prosper. I’m a firm believer in the philosophy of ‘do the right thing and good things will happen’ so it’s a strategic choice to do something that has a positive impact because positive things attract positive things. While not every consumer or every retailer is especially interested in our sustainability drive, I do think this is shifting slightly. Maybe I do have a conscience, but the reality is that it’s the right thing to do, and the right thing gets rewarded in the end.”


Are retailers keen to stock them?

JB: “We haven’t given them a choice! We changed all of our products because we wanted to and we are adamant that even though the materials we are using are different, our products still perform just as well, if not better.”


Should other tech brands follow suit?

JB: “Of course they should, and we would happily help them do so. We’re willing to introduce other tech brands to our suppliers and guide them through the same process we’ve taken, sharing our knowledge – including the hurdles we’ve overcome – because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t understand why any brand would want to continue producing virgin plastic when they don’t have to, it just doesn’t make any sense to me.”


What advice would you give to other brands wanting to embark on this process of removing single-use plastic from their products?

JB: “Do it. Stop messing about – get on with it and do it. Although it may cost you a bit more in the short term, we’ve proven that consumers do generally buy more of your products if you are making the right decisions towards the environment, so you will reap this extra cost back whilst also doing the right thing.”


What is next for Juice?

JB: “I want Juice to be a brand that limits its impact. We’re currently doing this with our manufacturing and through our supply chain and the way that we conduct ourselves in general. I want to start releasing products that have a positive impact on humans as well as the planet – I’m a firm believer that everyone can win. There will always be a demand for technology, so I don’t believe that we should be fighting against it, however, I would very much like to see people taking their technology off grid.

“My dream is to be able to take every mobile phone on planet earth off grid and start generating our own personal electricity. I want to create products that link to your activity – imagine if you could run 5k and the kinetic activity could generate enough energy to a charge a device such as a phone or a laptop while you do it? I’m interested in organic solutions to current chemical problems such as organic battery cells using salt water and algae as a storage method of electricity – so much so that we’re currently in discussions with a photosynthesis harvesting electronics brand about using photosynthesis as a charging capability!

“I want to get more connected with nature and I think you can have it all – I think we can still enjoy modern technology as well as the beautiful world around us. If we can utilise our intelligence in the right way, we can all live in a perfectly harmonious symbiotic relationship with amazing technology products and a sustainable environment for all wildlife.”

Procurement is in a state of flux. Against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, the procurement landscape is volatile and requires…

Procurement is in a state of flux.

Against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, the procurement landscape is volatile and requires agility to navigate turbulent waters. But, despite significant disruption could there still be opportunity?

Simon Whatson, Vice President of Efficio Consulting, is optimistic about the future of digital procurement and despite a challenging few years he is confident of a successful bounce back. He gives us the lowdown on the direction of travel for digital procurement in 2023. 

As an executive with considerable experience in the space, we’d love to learn more about your background and how you ended up in procurement. Why was this the specialism for you and how did you get involved to begin with?

Simon Whatson (SW): “I think the one-word answer of how I came into procurement was accidental. I studied maths at university, with a year in France, before I began looking for different roles to apply for.

“Eventually, I was offered a position with a big plumbing and heating merchant with global operations. I worked in that supply chain team for two and a half years. Although it was called supply chain, a lot of the work was procurement, which involved negotiating with suppliers. It was after that stint there, that I discovered consulting and joined a boutique procurement consultancy. Now I am onto my third consultancy and I’m very happy here!

“In terms of why I’ve stayed, one of the success factors in procurement is being able to work cross-functionally. Procurement doesn’t own any of the spending that it is responsible for helping to optimise. It must work with other functions and the spend owners. I quite like the people side of that, building relationships, almost selling internally to bring teams together. That really appeals to me and is a key reason why I’ve been very happy in procurement.”

As we move into exploring procurement today in 2023. The space is filled with challenges and complexities. You only need to look at the last few years. Covid, war in Ukraine, inflation – how would you describe the world’s recent challenges and their effect on the industry and what do you feel CPOs and leaders can do to combat these issues?

SW: “I would flip it around and say that these are not so much challenges but rather opportunities for procurement. When I started my career 18 years ago, procurement was often fighting to get a voice and there were complaints that procurement was not represented at the top table, but the war in Ukraine, inflation, COVID and ESG, these are things which are now on the C-suite agenda and procurement is ideally positioned to help companies face those challenges. If you think about COVID and the war in Ukraine, procurement is in a privileged position to help with this.

“I see some procurement functions that prefer to do what they know, which focuses on the process and transactional side. However, there are also many forward-thinking CPOs and procurement professionals out there, that have really seized this opportunity of being on the C-suite agenda and drive the thinking and the solutions to some of these big challenges we’re seeing.”

Although new technology in procurement has been around for well over a decade, digitalisation has become so much more of an important topic. How would you sum up where procurement and supply chain are in terms of digital transformation today?

SW: “It’s a bit laggard, but digital transformation is difficult, and we have to recognise there are some real trailblazers. There are some firms doing some fantastic things in digital to produce better outcomes. If you contrast your experience when you’re buying something in your private life, it’s much easier than 20 years ago. You can get access to a wealth of pre-sourced things, whether it’s food, a holiday, a car, or a book. You can see reviews of what other people think of these things.

“But when you go into your workplace as a business user and you want to buy something, it doesn’t quite work like that yet. You often have to fill in a form, send it off and wait for them to come back to you. They might come back a little bit later than you were hoping and might tell you that they don’t have that part on the supply frameworks. I think people sometimes get confused about how it can be so easy to buy something as large as a car or a holiday on their sofa at home, but when they want to buy something at work, it seems to be quite cumbersome. Digital can help a lot with that, but it is incumbent on organisations and procurement functions to figure out how to recreate that customer experience that we’ve become accustomed to in our private lives.”

With a new generation of leaders growing up with technology, some might say that it could be a key driver in helping to speed the adoption in procurement along. Is this something you would agree with or what would you point to as a key driver?

SW: “I do think that it will act as one of the catalysts for further digital transformation in organisations, because if procurement doesn’t manage to recreate that customer experience that the new generation expects, then they won’t use procurement going forward and will look to bypass it.

“The analogy that I’ve used previously in this case is one of travel agents. I remember as a child, my parents were able to take us on holiday and I remember the whole process. We would walk into town to the travel agent, and look at some of the brochures of options. They often then had to phone the various airlines or resorts on our behalf. They might not be able to get through, so we’d have to come back the next day. I remember as a child being quite excited by the whole process but actually, thinking back, it was quite cumbersome. You compare that to now, with being able to review online, and you can get instant answers to your questions. It’s not a coincidence that travel agents don’t really exist anymore.”

How much of a challenge is it to not get caught leveraging technology for technologies sake? How important is it to stay true to your approach and be strategic?

SW: “We conducted a study of many procurement leaders and CPOs a few years ago, and one of the things that we found was that about 50% of procurement leaders admitted to having bought technology just on the basis of a fear of missing out, without any real understanding of the benefits that technology was going to bring. That was a real shock and a revealing find because technology is not cheap, and its implementation is quite disruptive. If you’re purchasing a system because everybody else is using it, then there could be some pretty costly mistakes. It is really important to make sure that when buying technology, it is because the benefits are fully understood.

“My advice to companies when looking to digitalise is own your data, visualise that data, and manage your knowledge. If you can focus on getting those things right in that order, and make your technology decisions to support that goal, then that’s a much better way of thinking about it rather than just jumping in and buying a piece of technology.”

It’s clear that the procurement space is an exciting, but challenging, place to be. What do you think will play a key role in the next 12 months to push the digital conversation further to take procurement to the next level?

SW: “Looking forward, one thing that procurement needs to do and continue to do is attract the best people. Ultimately, people are what makes an organisation, and it is what makes a function successful. I think procurement has often not looked for the right skills in the people that it employs. Traditionally, it’s looked for people with procurement experience and while they are valuable and required, we also need leadership potential. People who think a bit more outside the box and aren’t so process driven. A lot of what procurement has done in previous years has been process driven, so if you’re just limiting your search of people to those that have had procurement experience, you’re inevitably going to end up with a lot of people who are process driven.

“I think being bolder and recruiting people from different backgrounds with different skill sets is the way to go. If procurement can ‘own’ the ESG space, that will help with the younger generation see procurement make a difference. I think that’s one thing that will be key to success going forward.”

Check out the latest issue of CPOstrategy Magazine here.

Paul Farrow, Vice President of Hilton Hotels’ Supply Management, sits down with us to discuss how his organisation’s procurement function has evolved amid disruption on a global scale

The hospitality industry has endured a rough ride over the past few years.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic which stopped the world in its tracks and now with millions facing a cost-of-living crisis, it’s been a period of unprecedented disruption for those involved in the space and beyond.

But it’s a challenge met head-on by Paul Farrow, Vice President of Supply Management at Hilton Hotels, and his team who have been forced to respond as the world continues to shift before their eyes.

Farrow gives us a closer look into the inner workings of his firm’s procurement function and how he has led the charge during his time with Hilton Hotels.

Could we start with you introducing yourself and talking a little about your role at Hilton Hotels? 

Paul Farrow (PF): “I’m the Vice President of Hilton’s Supply Management, or HSM as we call it. I’ve been with Hilton Hotels for 12 and a half years, and my role is to head the supply chain function for our hotels across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“Over the past few years, Hilton has grown rapidly and has now got 7,000 hotels in over 125 countries globally. What is really exciting is Hilton Supply Management doesn’t just supply Hilton Hotels and the Hilton Engine because we also now supply our franchisees and competitive flags. While we have 7,000 hotels globally, Hilton Supply Management actually supplies close to 13,000 hotels. That’s an interesting business development for us, and a profit earner too.”

You’re greatly experienced, I bet you’ve seen supply chain management and procurement change a lot in recent years? 

PF: “The past two to three years have been tremendously challenging on so many industries but I’d argue that hospitality got hit more than most as a result of the Covid pandemic. Here at Hilton, supply management was really important just to keep the business operational throughout that tough time, but I’m delighted to say we’re fully recovered now.

“Looking back, it was undoubtedly difficult, and you only have to look at the media to see that we’re now going through a period of truly unprecedented inflation. On top of the normal day job, it’s certainly been a very busy time.”

Hospitality must have been under an awful lot of pressure during the pandemic… 

PF: “Most of our teams as a business and all functions have worked together far more collaboratively than ever before through the use of technology and things like Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Trying to work remotely as effectively as possible changed the way we all had to think and the way we had to do. Now we’re back in the workplace and in our offices, we’re actually looking to take advantage of that new approach.”

Inflation, rising costs, energy shortages, as well as drives towards a circular economy means it’s quite a challenging time for CSCOs and CPOs right now, isn’t it?

PF: “Those headwinds have caused and created challenges of the like that we’ve not seen before. The war in Ukraine and Russia has meant significant supply chain disruption and supply shortages of some key ingredients and raw materials. China is a significant source of materials and they’re still having real challenges to get their production to keep up with demand.

“All the local and short-term challenges are around energy and fuel pricing, so throughout the supply chain that’s been a major factor to what we’ve had to deal with. On top of that is the labour shortages. We rely heavily throughout the supply chain and within our business to utilise labour from around the world. In my region, particularly from say Eastern Europe as well as other businesses all fighting for a smaller labour pool than we had before. We are fighting with the likes of the supermarkets, Amazon’s, not just other hotel companies to capture the labour pool we need both in our properties but also within our supply chain supplies themselves.

Hilton operates a rather unique procurement function, doesn’t it?  

PF: “We trade off the Hilton name because our brand strength is something that we are able to utilise and we’re very proud of, but we’ve also got additional leverage by having that group procurement model.

“We’ve got essentially two clients. We’ve got our managed estate which is when an owner chooses to partner with Hilton, they’re signing a management agreement because they want the benefit and value of the Hilton engine. That could be revenue management, how we manage onboarding clients and customers through advertising, as well as the other support we give in terms of finance, HR, marketing and sales as well as procurement.”

HSM is a profit centre and revenue driver through its group procurement model but how does this work?

PF: “Our secret sauce is our culture. It’s our people and that filters across all of our team members and indeed all of our functions. The key strategic pillars are the same for health and supply management around culture, maximising performance and so on as they are across the overall global business.

“Across our 7,000 plus hotels, the majority are actually franchised hotels because that’s the legacy of what still is the model in the US. When I joined Hilton 12 and a half years ago, the reverse is true where nearly all of our hotels in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and indeed in Asia Pacific, were and are managed. In the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions right now we’re building up close to a 50/50 split between managed, leased and franchised.”

What has pleased you most about the roll-out of the HSM?

PF: “It’s certainly not been easy because we’ve got 70 countries that sit within our region here in EMEA and Hilton’s penetration in those individual countries is very different. We may have 100 hotels in one of those markets and only one or two in specific countries. Our scale and our ability to get logistics solutions is different by market.

“Getting everyone on board to what we want to achieve to our guests and to our owners means we have to pull different levers. We have very effective brand standards. If you’re signing up to Hilton, you’re signing up to delivering against those brand standards that we believe are right for our organisation.”

What kind of feedback have you had from your clients? 

PF: “Integrity is in our DNA, and we work very closely with our suppliers who we value as partners. These are long-term relationships, and we work hand in hand because we have to see that they’re successful so that we can be successful – it’s really important to what we do and we constantly look for feedback.

“With our internal and our external customers, we’ll have quarterly business reviews and so we’ll get that feedback through surveys where we are asking them to tell us what we do well and what we could do better. Our partners are now asking what additional value can you do to bring support to our organisation through ESG? So that’s what’s on the table now when it wasn’t before. But it’s not just that – it’s about the security of supply competitiveness, competitiveness of pricing, and a whole bunch of other very important things as well.”

Looking to the future, what’s on the agenda for the next few years?

PF: “We’re out there meeting and greeting people in person and there’s always new opportunities that make things exciting in what we do and how we work. Innovation’s very high on our agenda and we’re very proud of what we do in food and beverage. In non-food categories, it’s about how we support our owners and our hotel general managers to find that competitive edge and do the next big thing ahead of our competitors.”

Anything else important to know?

PF: “One thing we’ve been able to take full advantage of is how we’ve been able to grow our business by bolting on new customers. I think it’s fantastic that our competitors choose to use Hilton Supply Management because they benchmarked what our capabilities are and how competitive we are.

“Another key part of the agenda is environmental, social and governance (ESG) sustainability. Responsible sourcing and everything that sits within that is front and centre of what we do. Within that you’ve got human rights, animal welfare, single use plastics as well as general responsible sourcing like managing food waste. The list is very long, but they’re all very important.”

Check out the latest issue of CPOstrategy Magazine here.

Here are 10 of the most important leadership skills that CEOs need to demonstrate in 2023.

In today’s world, a CEO needs to be lots of things to different people. The importance of having the leadership skill to being able to lead through unprecedented disruption was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and helped to define what makes a good CEO.

Here are 10 of the most important leadership skills that CEOs need to demonstrate in 2023.


1. Clear communication

Communicating effectively with employees is one of the most vital skills any leader can have. By adopting a transparent mindset, it leaves little room for miscommunication or misunderstandings. But rather than just being eloquent, CEOs should deliver meaningful content too. A CEO needs to be able to communicate the essence of the business strategy and the methodology for achieving it.

2. Strong talent management strategy

People are the most important component of all businesses. CEOs who are able to recruit and retain key employees have a greater chance of increasing productivity and efficiency. After recruiting good people, the key to retaining them is by harnessing a positive work environment that empowers employees to succeed.

3. Decision-making

As a leader, thinking strategically to make effective decisions is vital to the success of an organisation. Making decisions is a key part of leadership as well as having the conviction to stand by decisions or agility to adapt when those decisions don’t have the required outcome. While all decisions might not be favourable, making unpopular but necessary calls are important characteristics of a good leader.

4. Negotiation

Negotiation is a fundamental part of being a CEO. In a top leadership position, almost every business conversation will be a negotiation. Good negotiations are important to an organisation because they will ultimately result in better relationships, both with staff inside the company and externally. An effective leader will also help find the best long-term solution by finding the right balance and offering value where both parties feel like they ‘win’.

5. Creativity and innovation

Being quick-thinking and ready to explore new options are great skills of a CEO. Creative leadership can lead to finding innovative solutions in the face of challenging and changing situations. It means in the midst of disruption, of which it has been increasingly prevalent, leaders can still find answers for their teams. Creative CEOs are those who take risks and empower employees to drop outdated and overused practices to innovate and try new things that could lead to greater efficiency.

6. Agility

Without agility over the past few years, businesses would have failed. CEOs were forced to embrace remote working following the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic whether they liked it or not. Now, faced against a potential recession, these macroeconomic events are unavoidable and have to be managed carefully. Effective leaders will have their fingers on the pulse and ready to respond to changes.

7. Strategic forecasting

Creating a clear path forward is essential to achieving uninterrupted success. The ability to look into the future and identify trends and issues to then react to is vital. Good CEOs are able to plan strategically and make informed decisions to set goals and plan for the future easily.

8. Delegation

CEOs can’t do everything. A leader tends to be pulled in a number of different ways every day and it is impossible to be on top of everything. This means the importance of bringing in a team of people who are trusted and skilled in their respective areas of expertise. Successful CEOs are expert delegators because they recognise the value of teamwork and elevating those around them.

9. Approachability

An approachable CEO who welcomes conversation and is an active listener will help employees feel at ease raising issues or concerns. This approach will help build strong relationships with staff and customers and encourage a healthy culture which is beneficial to employee retention. Leaders with strong, trusting and authentic relationships with their teams know that investing time in building these bonds which makes them more effective as a leader and creates a foundation for success.

10. Growth mindset

If a CEO arms themselves with a growth mindset it allows them to meet challenges head-on and evolve. This shines a light on improving through effort, learning and persistence. As others may back down in the face of adversity and upheaval, successful CEOs will strive to move forward with confidence. Those with a growth mindset are unlikely to be swayed as they have the tools needed to reframe challenges as opportunities to grow.

In McKinsey’s latest report ‘Actions the best CEOs are taking in 2023’, we examine three of the biggest trends on the c-level agenda

Anyone can sail a ship when things are going well. But it takes a strong, robust and characterful CEO to steer a business through choppy waters and out the other side.

In McKinsey’s latest report ‘Actions the best CEOs are taking in 2023’, the research and advisory firm uncovered which trends are set to have the biggest impact on how CEOs lead their business throughout the year.

McKinsey’s CEO Excellence Survey surveyed 200 of the best corporate CEOs of the past 15 years. This was completed by whittling down a list of all the current and former CEOs of the 1,000 largest public companies during that timeframe. The list was subsequently filtered based on tenure, including only those who had completed at least six years in the role. From there, the CEOs were continuously shortlisted until the best 200 were determined.

Each CEO was asked to identify the top three trends that are set to determine how leaders tackle the future. Here is an insight into those findings.

1. Actions to deal with digital disruption

CEOs are targeting digital trends in three key ways: developing advanced analytics, enhancing cybersecurity and automating work. OpenAI’s launch of ChatGPT has accelerated the demand of companies looking to embrace advanced analytics for a competitive advantage. Improving cybersecurity is another key action for CEOs with the importance of guarding against external threats paramount amid strengthening and more mature cyberattacks. Lastly, automating work is another key priority to scale efficiency and eliminate boring and manual tasks which free up people’s time.

2. Actions to deal with the risk of high inflation and economic downturn

One CEO who is worried about economic uncertainty told McKinsey: “Act early to lower costs and protect the balance sheet so that you are stronger and leaner when the economy begins to turn more favourably.” McKinsey found that companies that outperformed the 2008 financial crisis cut operating costs by 1% before the downturn while the others expanded costs by the same percentage. The best performers reduced their debt by $1 for every $1 of book capital before the downturn. This can be done by reducing operating expenses, redesigning products and services as well as reassessing strategic and economic assumptions.

3. Actions to deal with the escalation of geopolitical risk

According to McKinsey, there are three actions to help manage the escalation of global and national crises. CEOs are targeting building robust compliance capabilities, creating resilience in supplier networks and investing in monitoring and response capabilities. These actions come following the challenges presented by COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and now inflation concerns. Many firms are choosing to build their trade compliance organisations and improve how they screen different customers and companies. While a defensive approach is the way forward for many, some companies see the turbulent times as an opportunity.

How Minted is leveraging digital technology to make investment in precious metals, accessible, affordable and simple

Shahid Munir, co-founder of Minted, discusses how his firm is competing with larger banks for a spot at the top table of investment in fintech.

Few industries have boomed like the fintech space over the past few years. With a plethora of new technology at consumer fingertips like never before, banks are being properly challenged by upcoming startups offering an alternative solution. Among these is Minted, aiming to make the buying, selling, transferring and delivery of physical precious metals simple through flexible monthly plans and one-time purchases. The company was founded in 2018 by three close friends – Shahid Munir, Hamzah Almasyabi and Haroon Siddiq – with a shared passion for entrepreneurship, technology and the opportunities the financial industry presented. Their combined drive led to the creation of Minted.

Shahir Munir, Co-Founder, Minted

The rise of Minted

Munir, co-founder of Minted, admits the journey has been a “rollercoaster” since the trio decided to launch their venture. “It’s certainly been exciting,” he explains. “It’s been a great learning curve and was a case of taking an industry where so many people were so used to doing it one way and offering something new. This has been challenging because we have a great product, but no one understood it. We’ve had to go out and educate people first in what has been a journey of growth, but it’s a constant journey.”

A decade ago, financial technology was considered by many as ring-fenced by bigger banks. But Munir stresses he has tried to change that narrative and offer competition which provides tremendous value. “Previously, a bank was the only way you could provide financial products,” he says. “Technology has allowed more innovative and creative solutions to launch and test the bigger banks and what they became bad at which was the customer experience. Now you see bigger banks adopt a lot of the technology and some of the practices used by challenger banks which can only be a good thing. Being in London has also helped because it is one of the leading hubs for fintechs and really supports the financial technology industry.”

Armed with different skillsets, the three co-founders complement each other with a diverse range of experience. With Almasyabi bringing an operations background and Siddiq bringing business strategy, Munir completes the line-up with finance and technology know-how. “I think it’s what sets us apart and makes us different,” he says. “Our backgrounds mean we’re not tunnel visioned and can see clearly when things aren’t working. We have a great thinktank within the business which helps us come up with ideas.”

Making precious metals accessible, affordable and simple

“I recall seeing a meme about how the price of a Freddo chocolate had changed over the years, no longer being its trademark 10p, it was now 200% more expensive and also smaller in size. This led me down rabbit-hole of trying to understand why most items go up in price as years pass and rarely come back down again. I became fascinated with how the government increases the money supply and the concept of inflation – my money buys me less in the future than it does today.

“I met with the other two founders that same night and the thoughts extended from my mind into an intense conversation about quantitative easing, Brexit, cost of living – snacks were being consumed faster than the rate of government borrowing. Where could we park our money, what was better than money? That was when the penny-dropped (pardon the pun). Hamzah proclaimed: ‘What about gold, guys?’”

Digital disruption

Through Minted, customers will have full legal ownership over their gold and can also request to have their gold delivered to a verified address. The gold and silver are stored in a grade 10 vault in the UK with the highest level of security possible. The products are fully insured by Lloyds of London at the current value while in vaulted storage as well as when being transported.

As a digital disrupter, one of the biggest challenges Minted continues to face is a lack of understanding. Customer assurance is an important priority, and the organisation has established several initiatives to gain trust. Minted is registered and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which means the firm operates to the highest financial standards and guidelines as determined by the FCA. “I feel like we need to go that extra mile,” stresses Munir. “What I think we underestimated at first was the extent to which people needed to ask questions until we launched a live chat facility on the website. This function helps build our knowledge base and allows us to hold the customer’s hand throughout the process. We’ve also found success when we’ve attended face to face exhibition events and had one-on-one interactions. It’s been brilliant to see first-hand the customer perception and look at what we can do better to meet their needs.”

Munir says he has noticed a trend of people starting with a “flutter” to test the water and check out the process. “I think it’s important that people build their confidence and recognise the value in what we offer,” he explains. “Once this is done, we often see those same customers make larger transactions. We know our difference can be a challenge for some people to accept which is why education is such an important topic to us. We have to keep doing explainer videos, use social media and hold community sessions to be there for customers.”

Scaling up

Minted recently launched its own app which offers customers an even easier way to manage their gold and silver, as well as introducing a tool to partner with businesses called Minted Connect. Munir believes the move has helped showcase an advanced, modern way for people to own physical items. “I love the app as it just makes things so much easier for customers via the platform,” he explains. “It’s been fantastic, a one-stop solution that helps stores the precious metals for free and allows them to be delivered at any time. In a world where everything is so digitally enabled it is nice to offer something physical – people don’t even buy cars anymore. Hopefully via customer feedback we can make improvements to the app that will help us develop new features.”

Munir believes gold is increasingly being seen as an alternative for savings and affirms global pressures like the threat of inflation amid economic uncertainty has helped people to realise the full potential of Minted’s offering. “In the past if you wanted to save money, you simply open a saver account and start adding money but with gold it was often a little trickier,” he says. “But with Minted we’ve simplified the process and tried to make it as automated as possible. Gold is a great alternative which has stood the test of time.”

Looking ahead, Minted is showing no signs of slowing down and is expanding into different territories. Munir remains positive for the next few years and what comes next for his organisation. “We’re working towards expanding the team because I feel like we’re at the stage now where each of our departments needs its own team of people to run each department,” he explains. “We’re scaling up and branching into new markets such as Turkey, and focusing in on developing the business to business side too.”

  • Fintech & Insurtech

“Disruption should drive digitalisation and cloud uptake rather than hindering it.”

Sal Laher, Chief Digital & Information Officer at global enterprise software provider IFS, reveals how a single strategy for cloud and digitalisation helps businesses maximise the rewards of growth.

Digitalisation equals transformation

Digitalisation and the business transformation projects that enable it are again on the radar for many businesses, particularly given the current macro-economics and potential recession being predicted. According to recent data from Research and Markets, The Global Digital Transformation Market size is expected to reach $1,302.9bn by 2027, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.8% in the period 2021-2027.

This renewed focus on digitalisation is aligned to businesses accelerating cloud migration, including readily available SaaS solutions. The Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report finds 92% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy and 80% have a hybrid cloud strategy.

Sal Laher, Chief Digital & Information Officer, IFS

Both trends will go hand in hand as digitalisation and cloud migration continue to drive business efficiencies, process change and consumer service demands. Most organisations are aware of the potential rewards both business models can bring. This is because it is not the first time they are being talked about– this major transformational shift has already been in place for a decade. But some, wary of the disruptive impact of recent global events are holding back from implementing them. However, it is the wrong approach.

Disruption should drive digitalisation and cloud uptake rather than hindering it. Even in isolation, either moving to the cloud, or undertaking digitalisation, will enable faster decision-making, supported by greater compute power and more agile processes, generating faster output and enhancing customer service. Yet, to drive competitive edge, organisations need to combine cloud migration with business transformation and look to maximise those benefits. To do this, they must develop a single strategy covering both elements and move forward with a common approach.

Migrating to the cloud for business transformation

By digitalising, organisations have an opportunity to benefit from faster time to insight, enhanced business and customer connectivity, and operational efficiencies. It allows them to more easily collect and analyse data that they can later turn into actionable, revenue-generating insights.

Over time, they can go further and start to tap into the benefits of artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). But it is the additional compute power and scalability of the cloud that helps them to maximise these benefits and fulfil the potential of digital technologies.

Cloud migration also includes adopting evergreen application (business process) solutions in the cloud with the many SaaS solutions that are available today. That’s why it is important that they adopt a single plan to migrate to the cloud and drive business transformation all in one. This tandem approach also avoids unnecessary customisation, making a business much more agile to change based on actionable data insights.

Adopting a single plan will, in itself, drive up efficiencies and drive down costs. But critically, the two must be linked to ensure that businesses maximise the benefits of the migration process.

It is cloud, after all, that helps businesses adapt to the new digital world, enabling them, for instance, to leverage out of the box business applications, digital analytics tools and low code platforms that deliver informed decision-making and reduce costs. But cloud doesn’t just maximise the benefits for businesses, it also accelerates them. Cloud has become the fulcrum of digital transformation, mainly due to its ability to enable innovation at scale and allow businesses that have digitalised to rapidly launch enterprise-ready products.

Without cloud, businesses will struggle to drive through timely updates to systems and processes. The costs of stakeholder management may ramp up. Moreover, moving to the cloud without doing it within the step-by-step structure of digital transformation risks mistakes being made, increasing the likelihood of data loss and security breaches through misconfigurations.

Optimising the benefits of digital transformation in the cloud

We have seen how important it is to adopt a single strategy for cloud migration and digitalisation and to execute them in tandem. But organisations also need to maximise the benefits of the combined approach. So how can they best do this?

First, they need to avoid procrastination and delay. The benefits of digitalisation and cloud migration working together are compelling – and senior leaders need to seize the initiative and kickstart the transformation. To get the ball rolling, they need to conduct a benchmarking exercise to better understand where their business stands in terms of its capabilities or gaps. This will help to decide where efforts and resources should be focused.

They then need to align their business processes with IT. That’s key as modern business models increasingly emphasise the digitalisation of processes.

Cloud computing and network security concept, 3d rendering,conceptual image.

They should begin by determining their goals and the systems, technologies, and processes currently in use to achieve them. Next, they need to brainstorm and document core business objectives before developing a cloud and digitalisation migration roadmap to guide their implementation. Measuring performance will also be crucial to optimising results. In choosing which metrics to analyse, organisations should concentrate on those that will most positively impact their bottom line or user experience.

Ensuring employees buy into the process of cloud-based digitalisation will also be key. Organisations should use cloud-based digitalisation as an opportunity to strengthen business processes and help employees switch to new ways of working which maximise the potential of the new technology.

Digital readiness

Given all this, it is vital businesses don’t delay on their journey to digital and the cloud. Unfortunately, CIOs often struggle to know where to start with a cloud and digital migration strategy.

Before they begin, they often look to put a complete strategy in place up front. The truth is that it is not necessary. Instead, they need to get going and prioritise what’s most important. Pick one area, settle on a use case, digitalise, and move it to the cloud, demonstrate results – and then repeat incrementally. That will enable the business to showcase value and create momentum. Over time also, this single coordinated approach, will allow it to tap into a wide range of cloud and digitalisation related benefits – and ultimately to maximise the rewards.

For more cutting edge insights read the latest issue of Interface magazine here

  • Infrastructure & Cloud

Ian Povey, CIO – Head of Payments Services & Technology, on the strategic transformation taking place at NatWest benefitting both the bank and its customers

This month’s cover story reveals how innovation is at the core of change for payments processes at NatWest.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Charles Darwin famously said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” Technology is helping us to evolve. And that evolution is being driven by innovation.

Read the latest issue here!

Payments transformation at NatWest

“It may be a cliché, but a transformation journey really has no end… If you fixate on a constant end state without ‘checking in’ you can, and likely will, fail in your objectives.” A wise outlook from a CIO with three decades of change management experience across banking’s payments panorama.

Ian Povey, CIO – Head of Payments Services & Technology, discusses the strategic transformation taking place at NatWest and how that journey of change and innovation is benefitting both the bank and its customers as it evolves to become a relationship bank for a digital world. “Our environment is always changing – we must be on the back of the ‘Change Dragon’ and steering/influencing as a leader and always learning from our teams for new ideas.”

Customer-Centric transformation at FedEx

We also check in with logistics leader FedEx… Custom Critical CIO Cheryl Bevelle-Orange reveals a “technology-forward yet flexible company” embracing innovation and “paving the way for customers to get more relevant information faster about their packages while delivering with excellence”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=galaZZlrEn0

Continuous Improvement in IT at Mazars

Mazars CIO David Marcelino explains his approach to innovation and leading on a successful IT transformation program at one of the world’s largest audit and advisory firms aiming to improve the digital experience for all its stakeholders. “Change Management, adoption, training and awareness are at the core of every single business technology project we deliver.”

Tech innovation at speed with the US Air Force

We also caught up with George Forbes, Director of Digital Operations Directorate at the United States Air Force, who outlines the importance of innovation within the federal government.

Digital Transformation in healthcare at Avellino

Nancy Selph, Global Head of IT at Avellino Lab, discusses how technology is creating new opportunities to improve health outcomes and the importance of leadership in the industry.

Also in this issue, we round up the key tech events and conferences across the globe; we learn how Minted are making it easy for everyone to invest in gold; and we feature the latest on cloud digitalisation from IFS.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

We look into the supply chain production process of Easter Eggs and the journey to their final destinations in supermarkets

Chocolate is arguably the world’s most popular sweet treat. Depending on who you ask, of course.

After, perhaps Christmas, it is the most common time for people to indulge in chocolate if they don’t do so anyway throughout the year.

And synonymous with Easter are the eggs themselves which are loved by children and adults alike all over the world.

The journey to Easter Eggs

The supply chain process is split into eight stages of production: cultivating, harvesting, splitting, fermentation, drying, winnowing, roasting and grinding. Following production, the supply chain process is extended further with logistics which is the final step to providing customers with their favourite seasonal sweet treat.

The journey actually begins with cocoa tree plantations being established which is done by scattering young cocoa trees amongst new shade trees or by planting the cocoa trees between established trees. These are planted in humid tropical climates, with temperatures between 21 and 23 degrees Celsius. This is consistent rainfall periods and a short dry season because these conditions provide good quality cocoa.

Easter eggs

Each tree produces 20-30 cocoa pods a year which grows straight from the tree’s trunk and main branches. With this tree also yielding fruit, the crop is carefully pruned, and as a result, it is easier to harvest the cocoa pods. The next step is the labour-intensive task of harvesting the crop.

The harvest is a whole community affair on small West African farms. Large knives are then used to detach the pods from the trees and placed in large baskets on workers’ heads. The pods are then manually split open to remove the beans so they are ready for the two-step curing process. Each pod consists of between 20-40 purple cocoa beans.

The curing process consists of fermenting and drying the beans to develop the chocolate flavour. There are several fermentation methods but the most traditional is the heap method. This requires placing mounds of wet cocoa beans in between layers of banana leaves on the ground for between five to six days. Following this, the drying stage begins. This involves the wet bunch of beans being spread out in the sun or using a more advanced method of special dying equipment.

From plant to factory

Often, a lot of large chocolate brands then buy the cocoa through intermediaries. The beans are then packed into sacks ready to be exported to the brands processing facilities in other locations globally.

After arrival, the beans are cleaned and quality inspected before the winnowing stage takes place. The dried beans are cracked to separate the shell from the nib which is where the small chunks are used to produce chocolate. Afterwards, the roasting phase begins in which the nibs are baked at high temperatures reaching 120 degrees Celsius in special ovens. This is where the colour and flavour is acquired.

Subsequently, the next stage is grinding which creates the basis of all chocolate products. The roasted nibs are grounded in stone mills until a thick liquid chocolate consistency is achieved.

Chocolate to egg

The final step is creating the chocolate egg masterpiece by using highly efficient computer-operated technology which has been used since the mid-20th century. The molten chocolate is placed in heated egg molds which are rotated so there is an even thickness. Following this, the eggs are left to cool and then removed from the molds. Once cooled, the eggs are wrapped in coloured foil and packaged into individual boxes before being sent out for retail. The transportation and exportation throughout the various supply chain stages is vital being a seasonal product. This means they are heavily relied upon for their timings to deliver to large supermarkets and independent stores.

Gartner surveyed 400 senior business leaders about the challenges faced and their priorities for 2022-23. We analysed the results

Priorities change in a business; they evolve all the time to match the societal landscape around them. Following a major worldwide disruption like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that the focus for CEOs has shifted to match the way our outlooks and challenges have changed.

Gartner surveyed 400 senior business leaders about their 2022-23 priorities and found that – for the first time – environmental sustainability has made its way into the top 10. Additionally, workforce issues are a bigger priority than ever before.

Mark Raskino, VP Analyst at Gartner, said of the results: “In 2022, the Gartner CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey showed that, catalysed by multiple macro trends and economic factors, business leaders are reprioritizing some key areas of enterprise purpose and management focus.”

The last time there was such a dramatic change in the priorities of CEOs was in 2009-10, during the recovery from the last major recession. Here, we’ll dig into the key challenges for CEOs in 2023…

Growth

While growth remains the primary challenge, with 51% of respondents stating that it’s in their top three priorities, it’s actually down 8% from 2021-22. Gartner has surmised that the reason for this is that, due to ongoing supply chain disruptions, business leaders are less focused on driving up demand if they don’t necessarily know whether they can supply. Many organisations are working hard to revamp and improve their supply chains, but uncertainty remains and nobody wants to make promises that they can’t keep.

Gartners top 10 strategic business priority areas for 2022-2023

Technology

Technology has also dropped slightly as a top three priority, though it remains the second biggest focus at 34%. While the survey respondents are 5% less concerned about tech-related issues than in 2021-22, it’s still hugely important – especially as the world recovers from the pandemic.

Many businesses have taken the pandemic as a sign that they need better digitalisation, as a lack of that made the transition to home working difficult for some. Additionally, cybercrime is a major concern, especially when ensuring employees have the hardware and software they need to work safely from multiple locations.

Workforce

A focus on the workforce is up 32% from 2021-22, putting it at 31% in third place. This is the second consecutive year that workforce has become more of a priority, and there are multiple reasons for this.

Attracting and retaining employees is a challenge because older generations are retiring and there aren’t always enough replacements for specific roles. Plus, the younger generations joining the workforce are more likely to align themselves with businesses they truly believe in, meaning they are more picky, so organisations have to be the best they can and transparent with it.

Additionally, diversity, equality, and inclusion are bigger focuses than ever, and these have been boosted by the spotlight being shone on such topics during the pandemic. All in all, almost half (49%) of CEOs agreed with the statement that ‘it is very difficult for us to find and hire the kind of people we need in our business’.

Corporate

At 29%, corporate has dipped only a little since 2021-22 – just 5% – and remains a top priority. Corporate includes company structure and culture changes, and this is a focus right now due to the challenges of employee retention, as well as the drive towards digitalisation. Corporate change is required to improve business efficiency and performance, hence its position on this list.

Financial

The financial side of business has decreased in importance to CEOs for 2022-2023, dropping by 27% since 2021-22. However, it’s still in the top three for 20% of respondents. CFOs are making a major push towards finance transformation through technology to boost efficiency in their departments. Despite the ongoing challenge of building digital competencies in finance, 82% of CFOs have reported that their investments in digital are accelerating and exceeding investments in many other areas.

Products & Services

Products and services remain in the top three spot for 15% of respondents, up 43% from 2021. As the world recovers from the pandemic, the products and services a business produces are in the limelight. Competition is more fierce than it’s ever been, so innovation is key to remain in the best position.

Customer

The customer as a priority is up 26% from 2021-22, at 15% – and it’s no surprise. Linking into products and services, and the challenge of hiring the latest generation of workers, costumers have very high standards and hard work is required to impress them and retain loyalty.

In a Gartner survey about customer service trends, 74% of respondents stated that improving operational excellence to create a seamless customer journey is either ‘important’ or ‘very important’, and the survey found that business growth is best achieved through positive customer experience outcomes.

Environmental sustainability

Nine per cent of respondents to the Gartner survey stated that environmental sustainability is a top three priority – up a huge 292% from 2021-22. This is the first time it’s broken into the top 10, which is telling. Businesses are increasingly under pressure to do more when it comes to their own environmental impact. Many leading nations are aiming to be carbon neutral within the next few decades and being more sustainable undeniably leads to growth.

ESG

Cost

Also at 9% is cost, which is actually down 24%. Despite it being less of a concern than in 2021-22, cost remains a major focus. Supply chain shortages and the government support offered to help people through lockdowns have driven inflation, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made that worse. As a result, we’re seeing the prices of products from the region shoot up, and those cost increases inevitably become the problem of business leaders.

Sales

While it’s number 10 (6%) on Gartner’s list of priority areas, sales is a 77% bigger priority in 2022-2023 than it was in 2021-22. Sales falls into a similar category to cost; with rising inflation comes an inability for customers to spend as freely as they once may have, making the landscape more competitive. Having said that, as we touched on with growth, sales aren’t necessarily being driven to the same degree due to supply chain disruptions.

Sara Malconian, Chief Procurement Officer at Harvard University & Jim Bureau, CEO of JAGGAER explain how ESG & the Circular Economy is changing the evolution of procurement.

We speak to Sara Malconian, Chief Procurement Officer at Harvard University and Jim Bureau, CEO of JAGGAER to see how ESG and the Circular Economy is changing the evolution of procurement…

Sara, how have you seen your role evolve as a procurement leader over the years as ESG and supplier diversity come into focus? 

Procurement leaders have gone from ‘cost cutters’ to ‘problem solvers’ within their organisations. Our core mandates used to be to drive cost savings and efficiency. We were hyper-focused on getting the most out of the organisation’s spend and supplier relationships. Those priorities haven’t gone away, especially in today’s inflationary environment, but the expectations of the procurement function are significantly higher and broader today. 

Procurement functions saved their companies during COVID and the confluence of disruptions that followed. We showed we are a strategic linchpin. We are now looked upon to drive value and impact and strategically guide our organisations to achieve broader goals, including diversity and environmental, social, governance (ESG). Internal stakeholders realised the benefits of procurement and sought help with advancing their department’s agendas or solving their challenges. We listen to their needs, allocate the right resources, and ultimately enable them and the overall organisation to be successful.  

I’ve been in procurement for over 20 years, and I can honestly say you’d be hard-pressed to find a more rewarding and exciting career. Procurement professionals have a real opportunity to make a tangible difference within their organisations, communities, and the world through the way we source products and services. 

What is Harvard doing to have a positive impact on society? Can you share some examples, Sara?

Across the Harvard community, students, alumni, faculty, and staff are advancing scholarship and teaching on the world’s most significant challenges, and everyone wants to do their part to address inequities. Supplier diversity and inclusion have been a priority for Harvard for years, but we wanted to make even more of an impact and really invest in the growth and development of diverse businesses, especially as the pandemic highlighted inequities and disparities within our communities.

In 2021, we formed the Office for Economic Inclusion & Diversity (OEID), which is dedicated to reaching out to diverse suppliers, giving them opportunities, and providing them with tools, training, and resources to be successful. The office also encourages the use of underrepresented business enterprises (UBEs) in the purchasing of all goods, services, and construction at Harvard and standardises procurement practices with these businesses across the university. 

We’re proud of the work this office is doing. We’re actively training suppliers on Harvard’s policies and how they can work with us. We’re creating a central location for them to access bid and RFP opportunities. UBEs can also apply to be mentored by Harvard Business School students.

We’ve created a dashboard to track and analyse spend with diverse suppliers across all of Harvard’s schools and measure progress over time. Everything we’re doing is aimed at increasing spend with our existing diverse suppliers, as well as the number of diverse suppliers that work with Harvard, and helping these suppliers grow their businesses.

Jim, why is prioritizing ESG and supplier diversity important and what steps can companies take today to progress in their journey? 

Beyond being the right thing to do, investors, boards, regulators, customers, and employees now expect organisations to prioritise ESG and diversity initiatives and walk the talk. There’s also a clear business impact. Supplier diversity drives competitive bidding processes that lead to cost savings. Working with partners who are sustainable and have different ideas and perspectives fuels innovation and creates a competitive advantage. Sourcing from a sustainable and diverse supplier pool also reduces risk by broadening organisations’ access to multiple resources for various materials, products, and services. 

One of the most critical steps companies can take to progress on their ESG journey is to make it clear to suppliers that environmentalism is a priority for their organisation. They will attract suppliers with higher levels of ESG maturity and provide suppliers who are earlier on in their ESG journey with sustainability toolkits and training to help educate them on eco-friendly best practices and sustainability innovations.

This step avoids having to overhaul their supply chain to account for ESG. Strategically managing suppliers by leveraging third-party data, scorecards, and supplier audits are crucial for understanding the ESG risks that suppliers pose and minimizing disruptions by working with them to correct these issues. 

Successful supplier diversity programs start with a top-down culture shift. If a company’s culture isn’t diverse, inclusive, and supportive for all its stakeholders, they won’t be able to drive supplier diversity in a meaningful way. Supplier diversity strategy should map back to company goals and include an executive-level champion to sponsor the program internally and help bring in the resources they need.

Outside of leveraging technology to identify diverse suppliers and build a program, businesses can talk with people who have been in their shoes. They can collaborate with like-minded companies at industry events, engage in relevant LinkedIn groups, and connect with organisations such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council.

Once diverse suppliers are on board, organisations can create a supplier diversity policy that clearly outlines how many diverse suppliers need to be invited to bid for each event to ensure teams are executing on the strategy. Leading supplier diversity programs go beyond simply spending with diverse suppliers to providing mentorship and training them on how to respond to RFPs correctly, as well as creating environments where it’s easier for them to engage. 

Jim, what role does technology play in helping organisations achieve ESG and supplier diversity goals?

Technology is a key enabler of ESG and supplier diversity initiatives. One of the biggest obstacles to supplier diversity and ESG is a lack of reliable supplier data. Suppliers don’t always keep their information up to date in self-service portals. The data procurement teams have isn’t always enriched to the level they need, with insights on diversity status, certifications, and proof of ESG compliance.

Researching and assessing suppliers is tedious and time-consuming, which leads many organisations to skip the verification step. Without this information, organisations don’t have a true picture of the inclusivity and sustainability of their supplier network, which makes it impossible to identify the right partners to source from to meet their ESG and supplier diversity goals and make an impact.

Technology addresses this challenge by automatically collecting, enriching, validating, and integrating the supplier data needed to obtain this level of supply base visibility and make decisions that drive ESG and diversity. AI-powered tools are available to match buyers with specific diverse suppliers who also have the capabilities to help drive ESG objectives and meet broader procurement criteria.

Software that segments the supply base and helps visualise spending with small and diverse suppliers across a variety of classifications is critical for setting benchmarks and measuring progress and ROI. 

Jim and Sara, how do you expect the ESG and diversity conversation to shift and where should procurement leaders focus for the future?

Sara: I expect we’ll see the conversation shift to emphasise measurement. It’s not enough anymore to say you’re committed to ESG – you need to prove it and show demonstrable progress and ROI. Maintaining the momentum on ESG initiatives is hard. Technology is key for setting benchmarks and goals, ensuring accountability for hitting key milestones, and measuring progress and return in a credible way. 

Jim: In a declining economic environment, choices inevitably need to be made. I expect the conversation around ESG will center around where companies can focus to maintain progress on ESG initiatives as financial and economic pressures come to the forefront. While some companies may need to scale back in some areas to preserve cash and resources to navigate a downturn, I’d advise them to be careful about slowing ESG down too much as it will be much harder to catch up to current levels after the economy bounces back.

I’d argue that when ESG is done right it can be a strategic lever for navigating a down economy, saving organizations money and resources, driving innovation, and helping them achieve broader business objectives and resilience. 

Here are five of the biggest procurement events happening during 2023 that chief procurement officers won’t want to miss.

Procurement Futures 


London, UK  |  1-2 February 2023 

Held at the QEII Centre in central London, Procurement Futures is a new conference, launching in 2023. It promises delegates the chance to find out how to make supply chains more resilient, with thought-provoking and presentations and discussions designed to inform and inspire.

There is a flexible programme of content that can be tailored to attendees’ preferences, with networking opportunities throughout and a huge variety of sessions to attend and take part in.

This CIPS event has three streams of content: Insights, Ignite and Interact. Insights will showcase presentations and panel discussions from leaders, Ignite will consist of hands-on workshops to help delegates optimise their procurement strategies and Interact will be smaller groups taking part in interactive roundtables and debates.

Speakers across the two days will include Ross Grierson, Director of Procurement, Primark; Patrick Dunne, Director of Group Property, FM & Procurement (CPO), Sainsburys Plc; Rebecca Simpson, Procurement and Supply Chain Director, Balfour Beatty; and Nick Jenkinson, Chief Procurement Officer, Santander. In addition, delegates are ablew to book a one-to-one career workshop, where they’ll get advice on professional development from coaches covering a variety of specialisms. 

Tickets are £795 for CIPS member, £995 for a non-member and £2240 for a supplier/solution provider, and there is a discount of 30% for tickets purchased before 30 November 2022. 


3rd World Digital Procurement Summit 


Berlin, Germany  |  2-3 March 2023 

The third World Digital Procurement Summit is aimed at procurement directors, VPs, managers and other industry specialists. The two-day event will focus on accelerating procurement processes, adopting emerging technologies, finding the right talent, overcoming the barriers to progress and embarking on a journey of transformation. It’s a hybrid event, bringing together procurement experts from various industries, which will maximise knowledge exchange opportunities. The event organisers list five key learning points for delegates: 

  1. Exploring the latest advances in data and cognitive technologies to gain greater insights and improve procurement processes 
  1. Overhauling the procurement ecosystem with new technologies and strategies to drive business value 
  1. Sharing the best practices of monitoring and managing a range of risks to hedge against future disruptions 
  1. Developing capabilities and skillset required for the digital transformation of procurement 
  1. Defining ESG metrics of the procurement strategy to ensure business continuity 

Speakers will include Paul Harlington, Group Procurement Director at TUI Group and Patrick Foelck, Head of Strategy and Transformation Procurement at Roche. 

Click here to check out a video from a previous event. Tickets cost €1495. 


Women in Procurement & Supply Chain 


Sydney, Australia  |  6-8 March 2023 

Returning for its 8th annual event, Women in Procurement & Supply Chain will deliver two days dedicated to leadership and the future of procurement. The event will feature a series of exclusive panel discussions and keynote addresses examining career development, overcoming imposter syndrome, working with confidence, developing an unbeatable talent pool, mentoring, diversity and inclusivity.

It will also address risk mitigation, digital disruption, ESG, sustainability, economic development, ethical sourcing, category management, cultural diversity, strategic sourcing, supplier relationships, procurement with purpose, and supply chain resilience. There are two pre-conference masterclass options on 6 March – that can be booked separately – covering either contract law or leadership skills. 

Some of the reasons to attend include: 

  • Discover the path to taking your procurement career to a new level while elevating your organisation with dedicated days on leadership and the future of procurement 
  • Learn best practice strategies to facedown supply chain vulnerabilities and reduce risk exposure 
  • Get ahead of the game with insights into the future of procurement and the impact of globalisation on modern supply chains 
  • Put yourself at the cutting edge of ESG and procurement with the latest updates and trends in procurement with purpose 

Speakers for the main two-day conference include Michelle Richard, Director of Procurement, Thales; Karina Davies, Chief Procurement Officer, icare NSW; and Kylie McKinlay, Procurement Partner – Property and Business, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 

Tickets start at $3,495 with discounts available until 25 November 2022. 


Americas Procurement Congress 


Miami, USA  |  21-22 March 2023 

The Americas Procurement Congress will feature the region’s most progressive CPOs sharing their expertise

With a focus on what makes CPOs tick, the Americas Procurement Congress will feature the region’s most progressive CPOs sharing their expertise in keynote presentations and working groups.

Giving delegates the tools to stay on the cutting edge of procurement developments, there are also sessions aimed at those with responsibilities over governance, procurement capabilities and quantifying data. Unsurprisingly, sustainability will also be a key theme in 2023, and attendees will hear from a diverse range of sustainability leaders about how to transition from traditional metrics to a purpose-driven function. 

The agenda for Americas Procurement Congress 2023 will include: 

  • Sustainability of the future  
  • How to transition from traditional metrics to a purpose-driven function   
  • Harnessing the power of digital transformation  
  • Utilizing data as a driver of sustainable value, supply continuity and transparency   Agile procurement  
  • New approaches and skills that facilitate speed and agility   
  • Frictionless procurement  
  • Removing friction from the procurement process to support high-velocity sourcing   
  • Beyond Just in Time 
  • Designing future-fit supply networks for an age of chaos and conflict 

Tickets start at $3649. 


Americas Procurement Congress 


Orlando, Florida  |  8–10 June 2023 

Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo 2022 addressed the most significant challenges that chief supply chain officers and supply chain leaders face as they mitigate risk and navigate uncertainty in an increasingly dynamic and challenging environment.  

At the conference, the top 5 sessions that CSCOs and supply chain leaders met on included: 

  • Signature Series: The Future of Supply Chain 
  • What the Pivot to Sustainable Profit Means for Procurement Leaders 
  • The Art of the New Age One Page Dashboard: Why Your Current Perfor-mance Measures May Be Doing More Harm Than Good 
  • Manage Supplier Risk With Technology 
  • Procurement Role Redesign: Stop Fitting Square Pegs Into Round Holes 

Tickets start at $4725. 

Here are five of the best procurement schools in Europe.

As procurement becomes an increasingly vital and strategic function within many organisations, people are beginning to realise the full potential of turning it into a career for themselves.

This has subsequently led to many universities noticing the demand in the industry and offering courses which equip students with the relevant qualifications and skills needed to succeed in the supply chain space.

With this in mind, here are five of the best procurement schools in Europe.


1. CIPS


Course: Various
Where: Across England

procurement schools

Run by Oxford College of Procurement and Supply, there are 10 Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply centres in England offering several different qualification levels to choose from. The courses are recognised throughout the world as harnessing leading edge thinking and professionalism across the procurement and supply chain management space.

CIPS offers courses such as level three, four, five and six in procurement and supply with each qualification created to reflect current, emerging and best practice in procurement and supply chain management. Classes focus on exploring legacy purchasing and supply methods as well as techniques and theory to the application in a business environment.

CIPS doesn’t just offer in-person studying as courses are designed to suit individual lifestyles with virtual classrooms, part-time and weekend options to choose from.


2. Politecnico di Milano


Course: MSc in Supply Chain and Procurement Management
Where: Milan, Italy

Politecnico di Milano
Politecnico di Milano offers an extensive portfolio of programmes

Renowned as being one of the best scientific and technological universities in the world, Politecnico di Milano offers an extensive portfolio of programmes in a variety of different spaces. Its supply chain master’s degree is a 12-month course aimed at equipping students with vital knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the industry.

The course also includes a number of practical activities in the programme such as lessons with international lectures, workshops on soft skills, company presentations, projects with companies, company visits and an international study tour in Rotterdam.

According to Politecnico di Milano, 86% of students were employed three months after graduation while 55% were also working abroad during the same period.

The course was ranked third in the TOP 2021 Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking (Global) and eighth in the QS Supply Chain Management Masters Rankings for 2023.


3. SKEMA Business School


Course: MSc (and MS) Supply Chain Management and Purchasing
Where: Lille and Paris, France

Skema offers two supply chain management (SCM) and procurement masters: The premium international MSc Global Supply Chain Management in Lille taught in English, and the MS in SCM and Purchasing in Paris and Lille mainly taught in French. France’s highly-rated supply chain and procurement program has been designed with a progressive shift from theory to practice. The degree covers the entirety of supply chain activities from planning, purchasing, receiving, production, storage to delivery through nine compulsory and six elective courses.

The global MSc has a new cooperation with the leading prestigious business school, MIT in the US, plus another cooperation with Politechnico from Milano. The MSc master’s degree provides soft skills in supply chain and purchasing management as well as going into future trends in digitalisation, AI, sustainability, ethics, globalisation, risk management and agility. The course’s primary goal is to find future leaders who are seeking to make a positive impact on the world of supply chain management and procurement. The MSc is a full time program, complemented by paid internships in the area of the student’s choice, while the MS alternates weeks of classes with professionals at the forefront of their fields.


4. Audencia Business School


Course: MSc in Supply Chain and Purchasing Management
Where: Nantes, France

Audencia Business School

Created in 2009, Audencia Business School’s programme will cover topics such as procurement, global sourcing and supply chain strategies. Other topics to feature includes green logistics, Big Data, digital transformation, negotiation and commercial law. The course will provide expertise from industry insiders as business executives visit and share professional insights during the programme.

The school works closely with the corporate world and is recognised for its responsible management practices. Audencia is triple-accredited, highly ranked and internationally oriented and according to its website, 79% of course graduates are employed before graduation. The course is available as a one-year or two-year master’s programme.

In autumn 2024, the course is set to be renamed to the MSc in Responsible Procurement and Supply Chain Management.


5. Cranfield School of Management


Course: MSc in Procurement and Supply Chain Management
Where: Cranfield, United Kingdom

Cranfield School of Management provides students with specialist knowledge and skills in procurement needed to progress their careers

Cranfield’s Procurement and Supply Chain Management course has been co-designed with senior industry executives. This purchasing postgraduate course provides students with specialist knowledge and skills in procurement needed to progress their careers. Possessing one of the largest facilities in Europe, the course places considerable emphasis on how to overcome real-world challenges.

Students will gain an in-depth understanding of supply chain strategy and sustainability, procurement strategy, supplier selection and evaluation, negotiation and contact management. They will also be taught how to use data, models and software to solve problems and inform decisions, inventory and operations management and how to design effective supply chain operations.

Students will have the opportunity to attend a study tour and experience a different supply chain perspective elsewhere in Europe.

The course was ranked 11th in the world on the QS Supply Chain Management Masters Rankings for 2023.

Expert analysis of the tech trends set to make waves this year

Digital transformation is a continuing journey of change with no set final destination. This makes predicting tomorrow a challenge when no one has a crystal ball to hand.

After a difficult few years for most businesses following a disruptive pandemic and now battling a cost-of-living crisis, many enterprises are increasingly leveraging new types of technology to gain an edge in a disruptive world. 

With this in mind, here are what experts predict for the next 12 months…


1. Process Mining


Sam Attias, Director of Product Marketing at Celonis

Sam Attias, Director of Product Marketing at Celonis, expects to see a rise in the adoption of process mining as it evolves to incorporate automation capabilities. He says process mining has traditionally been “a data science done in isolation” which helps companies identify hidden inefficiencies by extracting data and visually representing it.

“It is now evolving to become more prescriptive than descriptive and will empower businesses to simulate new methods and processes in order to estimate success and error rates, as well as recommend actions before issues actually occur,” says Attias. “It will fix inefficiencies in real-time through automation and execution management.”


2. The evolution of social robots


Gabriel Aguiar Noury, Robotics Product Manager at Canonical

Gabriel Aguiar Noury, Robotics Product Manager at Canonical, anticipates social robots to return this year. After companies such as Sony introduced robots like Poiq, Aguiar Noury believes it “sets the stage” for a new wave of social robots. 

“Powered by natural language generation models like GPT-3, robots can create new dialogue systems,” he says. “This will improve the robot’s interactivity with humans, allowing robots to answer any question. 

3d rendering cute artificial intelligence robot with empty note

“Social robots will also build narratives and rich personalities, making interaction with users more meaningful. GPT-3 also powers Dall-E, an image generator. Combined, these types of technologies will enable robots not only to tell but show dynamic stories.”


3. The rebirth of new data-powered business applications


In today’s fast-moving world, technology doesn’t sleep. Through the help of experts, we’ve compiled a need-to-know list of 23 predictions for 2023

Christian Kleinerman, Senior Vice President of Product at Snowflake, says there is the beginning of a “renaissance” in software development. He believes developers will bring their applications to central combined sources of data instead of the “traditional approach” of copying data into applications. 

“Every single application category, whether it’s horizontal or specific to an industry vertical, will be reinvented by the emergence of new data-powered applications,” affirms Kleinerman. “This rise of data-powered applications will represent massive opportunities for all different types of developers, whether they’re working on a brand-new idea for an application and a business based on that app, or they’re looking for how to expand their existing software operations.”


4. Application development will become a two-way conversation


Adrien Treuille, Head of Streamlit at Snowflake

Adrien Treuille, Head of Streamlit at Snowflake, believes application development will become a two-way conversation between producers and consumers. It is his belief that the advent of easy-to-use low-code or no-code platforms are already “simplifying the building” and sharing of interactive applications for tech-savvy and business users. 

“Based on that foundation, the next emerging shift will be a blurring of the lines between two previously distinct roles — the application producer and the consumer of that software.”

He adds that application development will become a collaborative workflow where consumers can weigh in on the work producers are doing in real-time. “Taking this one step further, we’re heading towards a future where app development platforms have mechanisms to gather app requirements from consumers before the producer has even started creating that software.”


5. The Metaverse


Paul Hardy, EMEA Innovation Officer at ServiceNow

Paul Hardy, EMEA Innovation Officer at ServiceNow, says he expects business leaders to adopt technologies such as the metaverse in 2023. The aim of this is to help cultivate and maintain employee engagement as businesses continue working in hybrid environments, in an increasingly challenging macro environment.

“Given the current economic climate, adoption of the metaverse may be slow, but in the future, a network of 3D virtual worlds will be used to foster meaningful social connections, creating new experiences for employees and reinforcing positive culture within organisations,” he says. “Hybrid work has made employee engagement more challenging, as it can be difficult to communicate when employees are not together in the same room. 

“Leaders have begun to see the benefit of hosting traditional training and development sessions using VR and AI-enhanced coaching. In the next few years, we will see more workplaces go a step beyond this, for example, offering employees the chance to earn recognition in the form of tokens they can spend in the real or virtual world, gamifying the experience.”


6. The year of ESG?


Cathy Mauzaize, Vice President, EMEA South, at ServiceNow

Cathy Mauzaize, Vice President, EMEA South, at ServiceNow, believes 2023 could be the year that environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) is vital to every company’s strategy.

“Failure to engage appropriate investment in ESG strategies could plunge any organisation into a crisis,” she says. “Legislation must be respected and so must the expectations of employees, investors and your ecosystem of partners and customers.

“ESG is not just a tick box, one and done, it’s a new way of business that will see us through 2023 and beyond.”


7. Macro Trends and Redeploying Budgets for Efficiency


Ulrik Nehammer, President, EMEA at ServiceNow, says organisations are facing an incredibly complex and volatile macro environment. Nehammer explains as the world is gripped by soaring inflation, intelligent digital investments can be a huge deflationary force.

“Business leaders are already shifting investment focus to technologies that will deliver outcomes faster,” he says. “Going into 2023, technology will become increasingly central to business success – in fact, 95% of CEOs are already pursuing a digital-first strategy according to IDC’s CEO survey, as digital companies deliver revenue growth far faster than non-digital ones.”  


8. Organisations will have adopted a NaaS strategy


David Hughes, Aruba’s Chief Product and Technology Officer

David Hughes, Aruba’s Chief Product and Technology Officer, believes that by the end of 2023, 20% of organisations will have adopted a network-as-a-service (NaaS) strategy.

“With tightening economic conditions, IT requires flexibility in how network infrastructure is acquired, deployed, and operated to enable network teams to deliver business outcomes rather than just managing devices,” he says. “Migration to a NaaS framework enables IT to accelerate network modernisation yet stay within budget, IT resource, and schedule constraints. 

“In addition, adopting a NaaS strategy will help organisations meet sustainability objectives since leading NaaS suppliers have adopted carbon-neutral and recycling manufacturing strategies.”


9. Think like a seasonal business


According to Patrick Bossman, Product Manager at MariaDB corporation, he anticipates 2023 to be the year that the ability to “scale out on command” is going to be at the fore of companies’ thoughts.

“Organisations will need the infrastructure in place to grow on command and scale back once demand lowers,” he says. “The winners in 2023 will be those who understand that all business is seasonal, and all companies need to be ready for fluctuating demand.”


10. Digital platforms need to adapt to avoid falling victim to subscription fatigue


Demed L’Her, Chief Technology Officer at DigitalRoute

Demed L’Her, Chief Technology Officer at DigitalRoute, suggests what the subscription market is going to look like in 2023 and how businesses can avoid falling victim to ‘subscription fatigue’.  L’Her says there has been a significant drop in demand since the pandemic.

“Insider’s latest research shows that as of August, nearly a third (30%) of people reported cancelling an online subscription service in the past six months,” he reveals. “This is largely due to the rising cost of living experienced globally that is leaving households with reduced budgets for luxuries like digital subscriptions. Despite this, the subscription market is far from dead, with most people retaining some despite tightened budgets. 

“However, considering the ongoing economic challenges, businesses need to consider adapting if they are to be retained by customers in the long term. The key to this is ensuring that the product adds value to the life of the customer.”


11. Waking up to browser security 


Jonathan Lee, Senior Product Manager at Menlo Security

Jonathan Lee, Senior Product Manager at Menlo Security, points to the web browser being the biggest attack surface and suggests the industry is “waking up” to the fact of where people spend the most time.

“Vendors are now looking at ways to add security controls directly inside the browser,” explains Lee. “Traditionally, this was done either as a separate endpoint agent or at the network edge, using a firewall or secure web gateway. The big players, Google and Microsoft, are also in on the act, providing built-in controls inside Chrome and Edge to secure at a browser level rather than the network edge. 

“But browser attacks are increasing, with attackers exploiting new and old vulnerabilities, and developing new attack methods like HTML Smuggling. Remote browser isolation is becoming one of the key principles of Zero Trust security where no device or user – not even the browser – can be trusted.”


12. The year of quantum-readiness


Tim Callan, Chief Experience Officer at Sectigo

Tim Callan, Chief Experience Officer at Sectigo, predicts that 2023 will be the year of quantum-readiness. He believes that as a result of the standardisation of new quantum-safe algorithms expected to be in place by 2024, this year will be a year of action for government bodies, technology vendors, and enterprise IT leaders to prepare for the deployment.

“In 2022, the US National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) selected a set of post-quantum algorithms for the industry to standardise on as we move toward our quantum-safe future,” says Callan.

“In 2023, standards bodies like the IETF and many others must work to incorporate these algorithms into their own guidelines to enable secure functional interoperability across broad sets of software, hardware, and digital services. Providers of these hardware, software, and service products must follow the relevant guidelines as they are developed and begin preparing their technology, manufacturing, delivery, and service models to accommodate updated standards and the new algorithms.” 


13. AI: fewer keywords, greater understanding


AI expert Dr Pieter Buteneers, Director of AI and Machine Learning at Sinch

AI expert Dr Pieter Buteneers, Director of AI and Machine Learning at Sinch, expects artificial intelligence to continue to transition away from keywords and move towards an increased level of understanding.

“Language-agnostic AI, already existent within certain AI and chatbot platforms, will understand hundreds of languages — and even interchange them within a single search or conversation — because it’s not learning language like you or I would,” he says. “This advanced AI instead focuses on meaning, and attaches code to words accordingly, so language is more of a finishing touch than the crux of a conversation or search query. 

“Language-agnostic AI will power stronger search results — both from external (the internet) and internal (a company database) sources — and less robotic chatbot conversations, enabling companies to lean on automation to reduce resources and strain on staff and truly trust their AI.”


14. Rise in digital twin technology in the enterprise


John Hill, CEO and Founder of Silico

John Hill, CEO and Founder of Silico, recognises the growing influence digital twin technology is having in the market. Hill predicts that in the next 20 years, there will be a digital twin of every complex enterprise in the world and anticipates the next generation of decision-makers will routinely use forward-looking simulations and scenario analytics to plan and optimise their business outcomes.

“Digital twin technology is one of the fastest-growing facets of industry 4.0 and while we’re still at the dawn of digital twin technology,” he explains. “Digital twins will have huge implications for unlocking our ability to plan and manage the complex organisations so crucial for our continued economic progress and underpin the next generation of Intelligent Enterprise Automation.”


15. Broader tech security


Tricentis CEO, Kevin Thompson

With an exponential amount of data at companies’ fingertips, Tricentis CEO, Kevin Thompson says the need for investment in secure solutions is paramount.

“The general public has become more aware of the access companies have to their personal data, leading to the impending end of third-party cookies, and other similar restrictions on data sharing,” he explains. “However, security issues still persist. The persisting influx of new data across channels and servers introduces greater risk of infiltration by bad actors, especially for enterprise software organisations that have applications in need of consistent testing and updates. The potential for damage increases as iterations are being made with the expanding attack surface. 

“Now, the reality is a matter of when, not if, your organisation will be the target of an attack. To combat this rising security concern, organisations will need to integrate security within the development process from the very beginning. Integrating security and compliance testing at the upfront will greatly reduce risk and prevent disruptions.”


16. Increased cyber resilience 


Michael Adams, CISO at Zoom

Michael Adams, CISO at Zoom, expects an increased focus on cyber resilience over the next 12 months. “While protecting organisations against cyber threats will always be a core focus area for security programs, we can expect an increased focus on cyber resilience, which expands beyond protection to include recovery and continuity in the event of a cyber incident,” explains Adams.

“It’s not only investing resources in protecting against cyber threats; it’s investing in the people, processes, and technology to mitigate impact and continue operations in the event of a cyber incident.” 


17. Ransomware threats


Michal Salat, Threat Intelligence Director at Avast

As data leaks become increasingly common place in the industry, companies face a very real threat of ransomware. Michal Salat, Threat Intelligence Director at Avast, believes the time is now for businesses to protect themselves or face recovery fees costing millions of dollars.

“Ransomware attacks themselves are already an individual’s and businesses’ nightmare. This year, we saw cybergangs threatening to publicly publish their targets’ data if a ransom isn’t paid, and we expect this trend to only grow in 2023,” says Salat. “This puts people’s personal memories at risk and poses a double risk for businesses. Both the loss of sensitive files, plus a data breach, can have severe consequences for their business and reputation.”


18. Intensified supply chain attacks 


Dirk Schrader, VP of security research at Netwrix

Dirk Schrader, VP of security research at Netwrix, believes supply chain attacks are set to increase in the coming year. “Modern organisations rely on complex supply chains, including small and medium businesses (SMBs) and managed service providers (MSPs),” he says.

“Adversaries will increasingly target these suppliers rather than the larger enterprises knowing that they provide a path into multiple partners and customers. To address this threat, organisations of all sizes, while conducting a risk assessment, need to take into account the vulnerabilities of all third-party software or firmware.”


19. A greater need to manage volatility 


Paul Milloy, Business Consultant at Intradiem, stresses the importance of managing volatility in an ever-moving market. Milloy believes bosses can utilise data through automation to foresee potential problems before they become issues.

“No one likes surprises. Whilst Ben Franklin suggested nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes, businesses will want to automate as many of their processes as possible to help manage volatility in 2023,” he explains. “Data breeds intelligence, and intelligence breeds insight. Managers can use the data available from workforce automation tools to help them manage peaks and troughs better to avoid unexpected resource bottlenecks.”


20. A human AI co-pilot will still be needed


Artem Kroupenev, VP of Strategy at Augury, predicts that within the next few years, every profession will be enhanced with hybrid intelligence, and have an AI co-pilot which will operate alongside human workers to deliver more accurate and nuanced work at a much faster pace. 

“These co-pilots are already being deployed with clear use cases in mind to support specific roles and operational needs, like AI-driven solutions that enable reliability engineers to ensure production uptime, safety and sustainability through predictive maintenance,” he says. “However, in 2023, we will see these co-pilots become more accurate, more trusted and more ingrained across the enterprise. 

“Executives will better understand the value of AI co-pilots to make critical business decisions, and as a key competitive differentiator, and will drive faster implementation across their operations. The AI co-pilot technology will be more widespread next year, and trust and acceptance will increase as people see the benefits unfold.”


21. Building the right workplace culture


Harnessing a positive workplace culture is no easy task but in 2023 with remote and hybrid working now the norm, it brings with it new challenges. Tony McCandless, Chief Technology Officer at SS&C Blue Prism, is well aware of the role organisational culture can play in any digital transformation journey.

Workers are the heart of an organisation, so without their buy in, no digital transformation initiative stands a chance of success,” explains McCandless. “Workers drive home business objectives, and when it comes to digital transformation, they are the ones using, implementing, and sometimes building automations. Curiosity, innovation, and the willingness to take risks are essential ingredients to transformative digitalisation. 

“Businesses are increasingly recognising that their workers play an instrumental role in determining whether digitalisation initiatives are successful. Fostering the right work environment will be a key focus point for the year ahead – not only to cultivate buy-in but also to improve talent retention and acquisition, as labor supply issues are predicted to continue into 2023 and beyond.”


22. Cloud cover to soften recession concerns


Amid a cost-of-living crisis and concerns over any potential recession as a result, Daniel Thomasson, VP of Engineering and R&D at Keysight Technologies, says more companies will shift data intensive tasks to the cloud to reduce infrastructure and operational costs.

“Moving applications to the cloud will also help organisations deliver greater data-driven customer experiences,” he affirms. “For example, advanced simulation and test data management capabilities such as real-time feature extraction and encryption will enable use of a secure cloud-based data mesh that will accelerate and deepen customer insights through new algorithms operating on a richer data set. In the year ahead, expect the cloud to be a surprising boom for companies as they navigate economic uncertainty.”


23. IoT devices to scale globally


Dr Raullen Chai, CEO and Co-Founder of IoTeX, recognises a growing trend in the usage of IoT devices worldwide and believes connectivity will increase significantly. 

“For decades, Big Tech has monopolised user data, but with the advent of Web3, we will see more and more businesses and smart device makers beginning to integrate blockchain for device connectivity as it enables people to also monetise their data in many different ways, including in marketing data pools, medical research pools and more,” he explains. “We will see a growth in decentralised applications that allow users to earn a modest additional revenue from everyday activities, such as walking, sleeping, riding a bike or taking the bus instead of driving, or driving safely in exchange for rewards. 

“Living healthy lifestyles will also become more popular via decentralised applications for smart devices, especially smart watches and other health wearables.”

The digital landscape is changing day by day. Ideas like the metaverse that once seemed a futuristic fantasy are now…

The digital landscape is changing day by day. Ideas like the metaverse that once seemed a futuristic fantasy are now coming to fruition and embedding themselves into our daily lives. The thinking might be there, but is our technology really ready to go meta? Domains and hosting provider, Fasthosts, spoke to the experts to find out…

How the metaverse works

The metaverse is best defined as a virtual 3D universe which combines many virtual places. It allows users to meet, collaborate, play games and interact in virtual environments. It’s usually viewed and accessed from the outside as a mixture of virtual reality (VR), (think of someone in their front room wearing a headset and frantically waving nunchucks around) and augmented reality (AR), but it’s so much more than this…

These technologies are just the external entry points to the metaverse and provide the visuals which allow users to explore and interact with the environment within the metaverse. 

This is the ‘front-end’ if you like, which is also reinforced by artificial intelligence and 3D reconstruction. These additional technologies help to provide realistic objects in environments, computer-controlled actions and also avatars for games and other metaverse projects. 

So, what stands in the way of this fantastical 3D universe? Here are the six key challenges:

Technology

The most important piece of technology, on which the metaverse is based, is the blockchain. The blockchain is essentially a chain of blocks that contain specific information. They’re a combination of computers linked to each other instead of a central server which means that the whole network is decentralised. This provides the infrastructure for the development of metaverse projects, storage of data and also allows them the capability to be compatible with Web3. Web3 is an upgraded version of the internet which will allow integration of virtual and augmented reality into people’s everyday lives. 

Sounds like a lot, right? And it involves a great deal of tech that is alien to the vast majority of us. So, is technology a barrier to widespread metaverse adoption?

Jonothan Hunt, Senior Creative Technologist at Wunderman Thompson, says the tech just isn’t there. Yet.

“Technology’s readiness for the mass adoption of the metaverse depends on how you define the metaverse, but if we’re talking about the future vision that the big tech players are sharing, then not yet. The infrastructure that powers the internet and our devices isn’t ready for such experiences. The best we have right now in terms of shared/simulated spaces are generally very expensive and powered entirely in the cloud, such as big computers like the Nvidia Omniverse, cloud streaming, or games. These rely heavily on instancing and localised grouping. Consumer hardware, especially XR, is still not ready for casual daily use and still not really democratised.

“The technology for this will look like an evolution of the systems above, meaning more distributed infrastructure, better access and updated hardware. Web3 also presents a challenge in and of itself, and questions remain over to what extent big tech will adopt it going forward.”

Storage

Blockchain is the ‘back-end’, where the magic happens, if you will. It’s this that will be the key to the development and growth of the metaverse. There are a lot of elements that make up the blockchain and reinforce its benefits and uses such as storage capabilities, data security and smart contracts. 

Due to its decentralised nature, the blockchain has far more storage capacity than the centralised storage systems we have in place today. With data on the metaverse being stored in exabytes, the blockchain works by making use of unutilised hard disk space across the network, which avoids users within the metaverse running out of storage space worldwide. 

In terms that might be a bit more relatable, an exabyte is a billion gigabytes. That’s a huge amount of storage, and that doesn’t just exist in the cloud – it’s got to go somewhere – and physical storage servers mean land is taken up, and energy is used. Hunt says: “How long’s a piece of string? The whole of the metaverse will one day be housed in servers and data centres, but the amount or size needed to house all of this storage will be entirely dependent on just how mass adopted the metaverse becomes. Big corporations in the space are starting to build huge data centres – such as Meta purchasing a $1.1 billion campus in Toledo, Spain to house their new Meta lab and data centre – but the storage space is not the only concern. These energy-guzzlers need to stay cool! And what about people and brands who need reliable web hosting for events, gaming or even just meeting up with pals across the world, all that information – albeit virtual – still needs a place to go.

“The current rising cost of electricity worldwide could cause problems for the growth of data centres, and the housing of the metaverse as a whole. However, without knowing the true size of its adoption, it is extremely difficult to truly determine the needed usage. Could we one day see an entire island devoted to data centre storage? Purely for the purposes of holding the metaverse? It seems a little ‘1984’, but who knows?”

Identity

Although the blockchain provides instantaneous verification of transactions with identity through digital wallets, our physical form will be represented by avatars that visually reflect who we are, and how we want to be seen. 

The founder of Saxo Bank and the chairman of the Concordium Foundation, Lars Seier Christensen, argues, “I think that if you use an underlying blockchain-based solution where ID is required at the entry point, it is actually very simple and automatically available for relevant purposes. It is also very secure and transparent, in that it would link any transactions or interactions where ID is required to a trackable record on the blockchain.”

Once identity is established, it is true that it could potentially become easier to assess creditworthiness of parties for purchasing and borrowing in the metaverse due to the digital identity and storage of each individual’s data and transactions on the blockchain. However, although it sounds exciting, there must be considerations into how it could impact privacy, and how this amount of data will be recorded on the blockchain. 

Security

There are also huge security benefits to this set up. The decentralised blockchain helps to eradicate third-party involvement and data breaches, such as theft and file manipulation, thanks to its powerful data processing and use of validation nodes. Both of these are responsible for verifying and recording transactions on the blockchain. This will be reassuring to many, given the widespread concerns around data privacy and user protection in the metaverse.

To access the blockchain all we will need is an internet connection and a device, such as a laptop or smartphone, this is what makes it so great as it will be so readily available. However, to support the blockchain, we’re relying on a whole different set of technologies.  Akash Kayar, CEO of web3-focused software development company Leeway Hertz, had this to say on the readiness of the current technology available: “The metaverse is not yet completely mature in terms of development. Tech experts are researching strategies and

testing the various technologies to develop ideas that provide the world with more feasible and intriguing metaverse projects.

“Projects like Decentraland, Axie Infinity, and Sandbox are popular contemporary live metaverse projects. People behind these projects made perfect use of notable metaverse technologies, from blockchain and cryptos to NFTs.

“As envisioned by top tech futurists, many new technologies will empower the metaverse in the future, which will support the development of a range of prolific use cases that will improve the ability of the metaverse towards offering real-life functionalities. In a nutshell, the metaverse is expected to bring extreme opportunities for enterprises and common users. Hence, it will shape the digital future.”

Currency & Payments

Whilst it’s only considered legal tender in two countries, cryptocurrency is currently a reality and there is a strong likelihood that it will eventually be mass adopted. However, the metaverse is arguably not yet at the same maturity level, meaning cryptocurrency may have to wait before it can finally fully take off. 

Golden Bitcoin symbol and finance graph screen. Horizontal composition with copy space. Focused image.

There is no doubt that cryptocurrency and the metaverse will go hand-in-hand as the former will become the tender of the latter with many of the current metaverse platforms each wielding its native currency. For example Decentraland uses $MANA for payments and purchases. However, with the volatility of crypto currencies and the recent collapse of trading platform FTX indicating security lapses, we may not yet be ready for the switch to decentralised payments. 

Energy

Some of the world’s largest data centres can each contain many tens of thousands of IT devices which require more than 100 megawatts of power capacity – this is enough to power around 80,000 U.S. households (U.S. DOE 2020) and is equivalent to $1.35bn running cost per data centre with the cost of a megawatt hour averaging $150. 

According to Nitin Parekh of Hitachi Energy, the amount of power which takes to process Bitcoin is higher than you might expect: “Bitcoin consumes around 110 Terawatt Hours per year. This is around 0.5% of global electricity generation. This estimate considers combined computational power used to mine bitcoin and process transactions.” With this estimate, we can calculate that the annual energy cost of Bitcoin is around $16.5bn. 

However, some bigger corporations are slowly moving towards renewable energy to power their projects in this space, with Google signing close to $2bn worth of wind and solar investments in order to power its data centres in the future and become greener. Amazon has also followed in their footsteps and have become the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. 

They may have plenty of time yet to get their green processes in place, with Mark Zuckerberg recently predicting it will take nearly a decade for the metaverse to be created: “I don’t think it’s really going to be huge until the second half of this decade at the earliest.”

About Fasthosts

Fasthosts has been a leading technology provider since 1999, offering secure UK data centres, 24/7 support and a highly successful reseller channel. Fasthosts provides everything web professionals need to power and manage their online space, including domains, web hosting, business-class email, dedicated servers, and a next-generation cloud platform. For more information, head to www.fasthosts.co.uk

  • Infrastructure & Cloud

Todd Salmon, Executive Advisor for Strategic Services at GuidePoint Security, on the cybersecurity challenge of keeping up with the pace of the ever-changing digital world

This month’s cover story explores how GuidePoint Security, an elite team of highly trained and certified experts, cut through cybersecurity chaos and confusion to put control back in customers’ hands.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface welcomes in 2023 with a need-to-know list of what we can expect from technology this year and how it can allow enterprises to gain a competitive edge in a disruptive and increasingly digital world. Faced with everything from process mining and AI to quantum-readiness and the metaverse we cut through the hype to bring you the facts.

Read the latest issue here!

GuidePoint Security: digital transformation in cybersecurity

“Cybersecurity is in such a reactive mode because of the sheer volume of risks and vulnerabilities an organisation faces,” says Todd Salmon, Executive Advisor for Strategic Services at GuidePoint Security. “We see a lot of copycats and repeat attacks happen, but at the end of the day it’s all about creating solutions to help combat those problems.”

GuidePoint’s elite team of highly trained and certified experts, cut through cybersecurity chaos and confusion to put control back in customers’ hands. Helping them make the smartest, most informed cyber risk decisions, and choose and integrate the best-fit solutions to build the most effective cybersecurity program, Salmon discusses the challenge of keeping up with the pace of the ever-changing digital world.

bp: a strategic reinvention

“We are investing in digital to drive process efficiency and improve insights; but also to develop our people with the skills we need for now, and the future at bp. This means we are playing to win while caring for our people through investing in their personal development,” says Head of Strategic Transformation Nick Hales.

“After setting the right foundations through various remediation and compliance initiatives, we embarked on our digital transformation journey,” adds Strategy & Transformation Manager Emmanouela Vlachantoni. “There was a clear opportunity to standardise and streamline our controls environment to reduce complexity and increase insight.”

Fairfax County: winning the IT war with cybersecurity

Meanwhile, across the pond, we learn how Fairfax County in the State of Virginia is reaping the rewards of a cybersecurity program enabling government services and keeping citizens safe. “My role is to educate our leadership to ensure they understand the business value of cybersecurity as it relates to government services. Being accountable for the security of their systems and data is a key factor in developing a successful cyber program,” explains CISO Michael Dent.

Also in this issue, we round up the key tech events and conferences across the globe and, with the help of the experts at Fasthosts, take a deep dive into the metaverse… Can virtual reality become our reality? Read on to find out.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Nick Hales, Head of Strategic Transformation and Emmanouela Vlachantoni, Strategy & Transformation Senior Manager, on the journey to reinvent business processes that are reimagining bp

This month’s cover story reveals how bp’s Strategic Transformation leaders are on a journey to reinvent business processes that are reimagining the energy giant.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Our final issue of Interface for 2022 covers some of this year’s hot tech topics: digital transformation, cybersecurity, data & analytics, customer-centricity and more…

Read the latest issue here!

bp: a strategic reinvention

“We are investing in digital to drive process efficiency and improve insights; but also to develop our people with the skills we need for now, and the future. This means we are playing to win while caring for our people through investing in their personal development,” says Nick Hales.

“After setting the right foundations through various remediation and compliance initiatives, we embarked on our digital transformation journey,” adds Emmanouela Vlachantoni. “There was a clear opportunity to standardise and streamline our controls environment to reduce complexity and increase insight.”

Fairfax County: winning the IT war with cybersecurity

Meanwhile, across the pond, we learn how Fairfax County in the State of Virginia is reaping the rewards of a cybersecurity program enabling government services and keeping citizens safe. “My role is to educate our leadership to ensure they understand the business value of cybersecurity as it relates to government services. Being accountable for the security of their systems and data is a key factor in developing a successful cyber program,” explains CISO Michael Dent.

Piedmont Healthcare: data & analytics at the heart of growth

The power of data cannot be under-estimated… At Piedmont Healthcare Mark Jackson, Executive Director of Business Intelligence is building a data strategy driving speed to insight at scale. “Tool selection has played an important role in our ability to scale the BI program and deliver rapid insights in a dynamic environment.”

Also in this issue, CalArts CTO Allan Chen explains how an IT strategy based on coordination and collaboration is supporting six schools; Information Tech VP Fausto Sosa de la Fuente reveals the people-centric transformative IT process at construction industry giant CEMEX; and we take a look at the latest insights from McKinsey highlighting the lessons CEOs can learn from successful digital transformations.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

John MClure, CISO at Sinclair Group – a diversified media company and America’s leading provider of local sports and news – talks about the evolution of cybersecurity and the cultural shift placing it at the forefront of business change

This month’s cover story explores how Sinclair Broadcast Group is embracing the evolution of cybersecurity and placing the role of the CISO at the forefront of business transformation.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Communication, secure and at speed, is a vital component of the transformation journey for both the modern enterprise and its relationship with stakeholders, be they customers or partners. Putting the right building blocks in place to deliver successful change management is at the heart of the inspiring stories in the latest issue of Interface.

Read the latest issue here!

Sinclair Broadcast Group: a cyber transformation

Our cover star John McClure progressed from a career in the military and work as a consultant in the intelligence industry to fight a new kind of foe… As CISO for Sinclair Broadcast Group, a diversified media company and America’s leading provider of local sports and news, he talks about the evolution of cybersecurity, the battle to meet the rising velocity and sophistication of cyber-attacks and the cultural shift of the role of CISO placing it at the forefront of business change.

“Sinclair is unique in terms of its different business units and how it operates. It’s my job as CISO leading our cyber team not to be an obstacle for the business; we’re here to help it move faster to keep up with market forces, and to move safely. We’re here to engineer solutions that work for the enterprise but also help us maintain a positive security posture.”

State of Florida: digital government services

We also hear from CIO Jamie Grant who is leading the State of Florida’s Digital Service (FL[DS]) on its charge to transform and modernise the way government is accessed and consumed. He is building a team of talented, goal-oriented and customer-obsessed individuals to drive a digital transformation with innovation at its heart. “Leadership is really about developing the team and investing in the people. And it turns out that when you get their backs, they appreciate it and then you can achieve anything.”

ResultsCX: putting people first

Jamie Vernon, SVP for IT & Infrastructure at AI-powered customer experience solution specialist ResultsCX, discusses what drives customer care in the 21st century, and the part technology has to play.

“We are the custodians of our customers’ customers,” says Vernon. “In this increasingly tenuous relationship with their customers, they trust us. My leadership takes that responsibility very seriously, and charges each of us with doing everything we can to provide a perfect call, or email, or chat, every time, thousands of times a minute, around the clock and around the calendar.”

Jamie Vernon, SVP for IT & Infrastructure at AI-powered customer experience solution specialist ResultsCX, discusses what drives customer care in the 21st century, and the part technology has to play.

“We are the custodians of our customers’ customers,” says Vernon. “In this increasingly tenuous relationship with their customers, they trust us. My leadership takes that responsibility very seriously, and charges each of us with doing everything we can to provide a perfect call, or email, or chat, every time, thousands of times a minute, around the clock and around the calendar.”

Also this month, Sarita Singh, Regional Head & Managing Director for Stripe in Southeast Asia, talks about how the fast-growing payments platform is driving financial inclusion across Asia and supporting SMEs with end-to-end services putting users first, and we get expert advice for the modern CEO from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our cover story this month reveals how Sarita Singh, Regional Head & Managing Director for Stripe in Southeast Asia, and her team are driving financial inclusion across the region and supporting SMEs with end-to-end services putting users first

This month’s cover story reveals how Stripe’s payments platform is driving financial inclusion across Asia.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Opportunities for innovation and growth via the adoption of new technologies are everywhere. However, organisations are faced with a bewildering array of choices to help them transform and choosing the best option to drive positive disruption is a tough call. We take a look at some of these fascinating journeys…

Read the latest issue here!

Stripe: increasing the GDP of the internet

Sarita Singh, Regional Head & Managing Director for Southeast Asia, Stripe
Sarita Singh, Regional Head & Managing Director for Southeast Asia, Stripe

This month’s cover story explores the genesis of fast-growing payments platform Stripe. Sarita Singh, Regional Head & Managing Director for Southeast Asia, leads a team driving financial inclusion across the region, supporting SMEs with end-to-end services putting users first.

“We’re building products and the financial infrastructure to help our users go cross-border, beyond their domestic boundaries, to widen their markets and drive efficiencies within their financial services infrastructure. With Stripe under the hood, businesses  are able to focus on what they do best without wasting time researching, purchasing, integrating, and maintaining dozens of payment technology point solutions because Stripe is a platform that offers all of them, and is already integrated.”

IAG: tech procurement linked to purpose

We speak with IAG’s CPO & VMO Claire Ledder, who reveals the transformative approach to technology procurement being deployed by an Australian market leader home to several leading insurance brands. “We’re now able to tackle sourcing and contracting with an end-to-end approach capable of measuring the value delivered.”

IAG’s CPO & VMO Claire Ledder
Portrait Photography

U.S. Department of State: facilitating diplomacy with tech

Todd Cheng Director of IT Customer Service at the U.S. Department of State, talks about the ever-evolving relationship between technology and diplomacy. “We’ve been through the process of updating the IT model at State to a new, more customer centric version of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).” By his calculations, these changes have benefited the organisation by reducing network disruption by some 400,000 hours of diplomacy every month.

Afni

Afni’s CISO Brent Deterding explains how breaking down the traditional and perceived barriers between security and the boardroom can transparently position cyber effectiveness as a critical enabler of improved business outcomes.

Afni’s CISO Brent Deterding
Afni’s CISO Brent Deterding

Also in this issue, we hear from Zoom on the future of work and report again from London Tech Week where an expert panel gave advice for businesses on anticipating and preparing for cyber risk against a backdrop of geopolitical uncertainty.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

EyeCare Partners works in partnership with clinicians and healthcare leaders to achieve the best patient and business outcomes and this…

EyeCare Partners works in partnership with clinicians and healthcare leaders to achieve the best patient and business outcomes and this has had dramatic results, such as a 1,500% revenue growth since 2015.

EyeCare Partners is growing through acquisitions, by providing strategic capital and operational support to its network of partner practices in 680 locations across 18 states. In February 2020, this growth was boosted when Swiss private equity firm Partners Group acquired a controlling stake in EyeCare Partners. “They’re a very interesting group,” he says. “They’re very heavy on investment, plus they have a very, very impenetrable and robust sustainability platform too, which is very near and dear to my heart through my time at Unilever,” This level of growth is fuelled significantly by increasing demand for eye care over the longer term, driven by an ageing US population and an increased incidence rate of eye diseases. But this level of growth requires an agile and resilient operational enterprise.

Ericsson organised a dedicated virtual event, Ericsson Digital Unboxed 2021, for Jazz Pakistan, to share its thoughts on industry leadership…

Ericsson organised a dedicated virtual event, Ericsson Digital Unboxed 2021, for Jazz Pakistan, to share its thoughts on industry leadership and discuss digital infrastructure.

Ericsson’s global and regional experts and thought leaders showcased the latest insights, use cases and technologies tailored to Jazz Pakistan.

During the virtual event, Ericsson shared its technology vision and updates, and also discussed the possibilities for consumer and enterprise segments. It delved into several topics revolving around creating a differentiated user experience for sports, spectrum strategies, and dedicated networks with a focus on B2B segments.

As part of the event, the latest Ericsson ConsumerLab reports were also presented and discussed. Several demos were also part of the event like Edge Compute Gaming, where low latency access can enable a better gaming experience, and Ericsson Industry Connect, a channel-ready cellular network for factories and warehouses, built to streamline ordering, installation, and management for Enterprise IT.

Abdul R. Usmani, VP of Network, Jazz said: “Digitalisation is everywhere and is now part of our daily lives. At Jazz, we aim to provide state-of-the-art end-to-end services to our customers, focused on data-driven networks as well as the need to accelerate technology advancements in the areas of AI, FinTech and digital content.

“The Ericsson Unboxed event showcased several valuable insights which will accelerate the next phase to meet the evolving demands of connectivity. We are looking forward to more insights and are confident in the next step of the digitalisation journey.”

Ekow Nelson, Vice President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa and Head of Ericsson Pakistan added: “Ericsson’s partnership with Jazz spans over many years with several recent wins and shared successes in the areas of network rollout and digital services. Our world is witnessing challenging times due to COVID-19 and connectivity has never been more critical than ever.

“At Ericsson, we endeavor to automate and accelerate our networks and technology to meet the demands of an ever-changing world. We are working closely with Jazz to provide the best possible connectivity, ensuring that Jazz networks run optimally as demand grows and the need for digitalization expedites.”

UtterBerry, a tech giant whose innovations have been used on some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world, is…

UtterBerry, a tech giant whose innovations have been used on some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world, is bringing some of its operations to Leeds, Yorkshire, creating 800 jobs – as reported by the Yorkshire Post.

The business’s primary objective is producing sensors which monitor the movements of infrastructure – for example, bridges and tunnels – in real time. It allows those working on the infrastructure to be warned in advance if anything’s wrong, preventing potential accidents.

The new Leeds hub will also design and manufacturer contactless COVID-19 symptom scanners. UtterBerry is aiming to roll these out across the globe.

Heba Bevan, founder and CEO of UtterBerry, is keen to help those who lost their jobs during the pandemic find meaningful work again, and to attract more women into a typically male-dominated industry.

“What attracted me to Leeds was I knew there was a huge amount of talent around Yorkshire because you have got amazing universities,” she said.

“There is a huge pool of undergraduate and graduate talent.

“Engineers want to do good and provide sustainable developments. The pandemic showed us just how much we are lacking in manufacturing.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said that the investment was “fantastic news for Leeds”.

As reported by DroneLife, Verizon has launched a Robotics Business Technology Division in a bid to involve itself further in…

As reported by DroneLife, Verizon has launched a Robotics Business Technology Division in a bid to involve itself further in the unmanned sector.

Verizon states that it “expands enterprise solutions for drones and ground robotics”.

It acquired Skyward, a drone management company, in 2017 and has since used drones for emergency response and the maintenance of its own network.

It has also worked closely with businesses like UPS or delivery projects, and to leverage the power of 5G.

The new division will continue to enable autonomous solutions for Verizon.

“Enterprises in many industries are adopting drones and ground robots to gather data, survey and monitor infrastructure, and automate logistics operations,” says Mariah Scott, Head of Robotics Business Technology.

“By integrating these fleets with one operational platform, and leveraging Verizon’s advanced connectivity solutions, businesses can speed up time to insight, increase automation of their operations and deliver greater value.”

“Robots are a critical aspect of the 5G future. The formation of this new business unit will accelerate the symbiotic relationship between humans and machines, paving the way for Verizon to transform the way businesses approach innovation and the future of work,” adds Elise Neel, VP of New Business Incubation.

“Our talented team of roboticists will leverage the power of Verizon’s network, paired with the sophistication of next-generation software, to orchestrate and unify robotic experiences. This work will help deliver on the promise of making the fourth industrial revolution a reality.”

According to a new study, technology could create a way for indigenous communities in the Amazon to curb deforestation in…

According to a new study, technology could create a way for indigenous communities in the Amazon to curb deforestation in a major way, as reported by the BBC.

Conservationist groups have supplied indigenous citizens of the Peruvian Amazon with satellite data and smart phones to allow them to monitor the removal of trees. As a result, tree losses have been halved in the first year of the project.

The researchers wanted to see if putting information directly into the hands of those living in the forests themselves could make a difference to the rapid deforestation that has plagued these areas for decades – with great success.

The controlled study was randomised, using 76 remote villages in the Amazon, with 36 randomly-assigned people participating.

Thirty-seven other communities served as a control group, where normal forest management resumed.

When suspected deforestation was picked up by satellite information, coordinates and photos were loaded onto USB drives and delivered up the Amazon river. Then, the data was downloaded onto apps which would show the participants the locations.

It could then be confirmed whether or not the deforestation was unauthorised, and community members would decide on the best approach. If drug dealers were involved, they could decide whether to report to law enforcers. Otherwise, they would intervene directly.

“It’s quite a sizeable impact,” said Jacob Kopas, an independent researcher and an author on the paper. “We saw evidence of fewer instances of tree cover loss in the programme communities compared with control communities.

“On average, those communities managed to avert 8.8 hectares of deforestation within the first year. But the communities that were most threatened, the ones that had more deforestation in the past were the ones pulling more weight and were reducing deforestation more than in others.”

Indigenous groups welcomed the research. “The study provides evidence that supporting our communities with the latest technology and training can help reduce deforestation in our territories,” said Jorge Perez Rubio, the president of the Loreto regional indigenous organization (ORPIO), where the study was carried out.

A global shift to remote working has accelerated digital transformation and prompted a higher degree of focus on cybersecurity, according to Kaspersky’s latest report.

A global shift to remote working has accelerated digital transformation and prompted a higher degree of focus on cybersecurity, according to Kaspersky’s latest report.

Transitioning from a corporate office environment to working from home, coupled with financial restraints due to economic recession, has seen challenges presented to cybersecurity experts not many had seen before.

From February to March 2020, a 569% growth in malicious website registrations was detected and reported to INTERPOL, including malware and phishing. In April, there was a huge spike in ransomware attacks by multiple threat groups that had been previously dormant for months.

Cybercrime threats are expected to rise as more opportunities present themselves in the coming months. Fake vaccine registration websites will aim to steal data, whilst business email compromise schemes aim to take advantage of the economic downturn and shift in the business landscape.

Protecting the perimeter of a company is no longer enough: there is a desperate need now for home office assessment with tools to scan the level of security. Discouraging poor internet practices such as connecting to an unprotected Wi-Fi hotspot should be top of the list, with VPNs and multifactor authentification systems being offered as a solution.

With an increased reliance on cloud technology and services, dedicated management and protection measures are now a necessity for businesses. Around 90% of employees use non-corporate software and cloud services, such as messaging apps, and this is unlikely to change any time soon.

To ensure that any corporate data is kept under control, better visibility over cloud access will be necessary. IT security managers will need to align themselves with this cloud paradigm and develop skills for cloud management and protection.

This is why, according to Kaspersky, the quality of protection is “no longer up for discussion.”

“Quality protection is now a must have,” report Alexander Moiseev, Chief Business Officer at Kaspersky.

“Another major trend is that deep integration between various components of corporate security, ideally from a single vendor, now plays a bigger role. For instance, there was a long-held belief in the industry that various specialised solutions from various vendors can help create the best combination for protection.

“Now, organisations are looking for a more unified approach with maximum integration between different security technologies.”

You can read Ksapersky’s “Plugging the gaps: 2021 corporate IT security predictions” report in full HERE.

Data revealed as Tech Nation and Dealroom launch the Impact & Innovation database…

New research from Tech Nation and Dealroom reveals that investment into UK impact startups increased 9.5x between 2014 and 2019. UK impact startups have raised €1.4B so far in 2020 with Cleantech and Climate tech companies raising the most capital of all UK impact startups. 

The biggest rounds for UK impact startups in 2020 include Octopus Energy, Arrival, Connexin (Hull), Tokamak Energy (Abingdon), Compass Pathways, Cera, Highview Power, FiveAI (Cambridge), The Meatless Farm Company (Leeds).

It comes as Tech Nation and Dealroom launch the  Impact and Innovation database, that catalogues 4,939 startups and scaleups, 7,472 funding rounds, and 232 exits of innovative companies addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. 

George Windsor, Head of Insights at Tech Nation, commented: “UK impact tech firms have come on leaps and bounds over the last six years – with nearly 10x more investment made into groundbreaking companies in 2020 than 2014. UK tech must continue to play a key part in tackling some of the world’s toughest challenges, including  climate change. This revolution is happening right across the country. Tech Nation is pleased to work with some of the leading companies in this space through our world-first Net Zero programme – ensuring that companies working in this sector can scale to have the greatest impact.”

The data also reveals that European startups are more impact-focussed than their global peers. €6B was invested into European impact startups in 2019, making up over 15% of all VC investment in the region. This research shows that what was once fringe investment and innovation activity is finding traction and proven success in Europe, becoming a core part of European innovation ecosystems.

Climate tech startups, which includes electric vehicles, have attracted the most investment within the Impact sub-sector, with European players emerging as global market leaders. European companies working to tackle climate change and its impacts have attracted €9.8B in VC investment in the last five years. 

Impact innovation startups are also fueling growth and job creation. Crucially, these startups are actively hiring, the Impact & Innovation database lists over 2,100 jobs in impact startups that are currently hiring in Europe – over 390 of these are in the UK. 

The Impact and Innovation platform will bring together startups, investors, non-profits, governments, and corporates in one open-access data-driven platform. The new mapping of the global impact and innovation ecosystem will facilitate data-driven policy and decision making, the sharing of cross-industry knowledge, and will foster the partnerships required to help next generation innovators succeed on the global stage.

A new study from Business Fibre reveals the best cities to be a tech student around the world

A new index by Business Fibre has analysed 34 of the world’s Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) capital cities to find 2020’s best cities to be a tech student. The index has analysed each city according to metrics such as the number of universities offering technology and engineering courses, total tech companies and employees in each city, the monthly living cost and the top cities investing in tech-related research. See the index here

The top 10 cities to be a tech student

To find the world’s top cities to study technology, we have ranked each city according to a series of metrics to find the overall winners for those looking to start their career in technology. 

The metrics explored include budget spent on tech-related research, the number of people employed in professional, scientific and technical sectors, tech companies, monthly living costs as well as the number of top universities offering technology and engineering courses.

Introducing the top 10 cities to be a tech student…

  1. London, UK
  2. Berlin, Germany
  3. Jerusalem, Israel
  4. Bern, Switzerland
  5. Seoul, Korea
  6. Stockholm, Sweden
  7. Paris, France
  8. Canberra, Australia
  9. Rome, Italy
  10. Tokyo, Japan

Top cities contributing to tech research

Exploring Technology research spend, the study also finds the top cities who are consistently investing in technology research. This has been calculated by looking at the % of the total GDP spent on research.

RankCityResearch Spend (% of total GDP)
1Jerusalem, Israel4.8
2Seoul, Korea4.3
3Bern, Switzerland3.4
4Stockholm, Sweden3.4
5Tokyo, Japan3.2
6Berlin, Germany3.1
7Copenhagen, Denmark3.1
8Vienna, Austria3
9Helsinki, Finland2.7
10Brussels, Belgium2.7

The highest-ranking city is Jerusalem, which ranks high across all metrics and is the 3rd best city for tech students overall. The top three cities for tech-related research also include Seoul, spending 4.3% of the GDP, followed by Bern at 3.4. All three cities also rank high for the best universities and overall top cities for tech students. 

Top 10 universities to study technology worldwide

Based on the top 10 cities to be a tech student, we wanted to find the best universities in each city for aspiring students. To find the best universities BusinessFibre looked at metrics such as the total number of students, faculty staff and the number of international students. This alongside each universities global subject ranking for Engineering and Technology make up the top 10 tech universities in the world. The monthly cost of living has also been included so that students can be sure they’re studying at the best overall tech university.  

RankUniversityWorldwide ranking (Engineering and Tech 2020)City
1Imperial College London7London, UK
2Technical University of Munich25Berlin, Germany
3Technion – Israel Institute of Technology179Jerusalem, Israel
4ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology4Bern, Switzerland
5Seoul National University22Seoul, Korea
6KTH Royal Institute of Technology30Stockholm, Sweden
7Ecole Polytechnique57Paris, France
8The Australian National University71Canberra, Australia
9Sapienza University of Rome127Rome, Italy
10The University of Tokyo21Tokyo, Japan

Comment from Ian Wright: “With technology arguably being the fastest growing and most profitable industry in the world, we wanted to find the best cities in the world to be a tech student as well as the top cities funding technology-related research.  

It’s clear from the research that London, Berlin and Jerusalem are the best cities for students, while Seoul and Bern join Jerusalem at the top for investing in technology-related research. 

For those who don’t want to spend a ton of money on their education, Seoul National University is a great option that offers a lower living cost while still having a good global university ranking.”

Resellers will have a central role to play in helping IT leads manage ‘hybrid’ workforces as employee demand is split between working in the office and at home, according to Brother UK.

A study of almost 300 office-based employees reveals a divide in appetite for returning to work, with 53% of respondents saying they feel safer working from home in the current climate.

The office commute is the top concern for two thirds of respondents (66%), followed by sharing toilets and bathrooms (65%) and using communal kitchen areas (61%). Almost half (49%) are also worried about the cleanliness of other colleagues, according to the findings.

On the contrary, 37% say they are looking forward to getting back to the office. Many miss seeing colleagues (77%), collaborating face-to-face (62%) and having a ‘proper’ workspace (45%). A quarter (25%) are also missing the office gossip.

The business says this split in demand for office and home working will create a productivity and safety challenge for many organisations – and resellers will have an opportunity to provide a range of solutions, including labelling devices, higher-end print devices for home offices, and compact scanners, to tackle it.

Andy Johnson, Head of Product and Solutions management at Brother UK said: “Understandably, many people in the UK are still concerned about returning to the office. But businesses also recognise that some employees are struggling to work from home and want to offer them the opportunity to resume some sense of normality.

“Companies must cater for both and this hands IT leads the challenge of not only managing a mix of office and home working technology on a longer-term basis, but also making sure they can operate productively while keeping employees safe.

“To do this, businesses will need their reseller partners on hand to help them with a range of challenges, from ensuring they have the right printing and scanning devices so people can work in the office safely, to providing remote working tools so those at home can operate securely at distance.

“We’ll be at the side of partners with our full print range, with devices suited to home and office use, as they help customers to meet the needs of the hybrid workforce.”

Isabelle O’Keefe, Principal of Sure Valley Ventures, explores the ways in which technology companies have adapted and overcome.

The pandemic has prompted unparalleled uncertainty and disruption for businesses and economists alike. But, as 49% of employees shift to working from home, and consumers move online and adapt to living in lockdown, technology businesses have responded rapidly to fill the void, providing effective solutions for businesses and communities looking to navigate the post-pandemic world.

Throughout lockdown, we have seen a rapid adoption of online and digital services and a shift in spending, with 44% of consumers using contactless or digital payments more and 34% set to do more shopping online. Many of the online behaviours that have been adopted during the outbreak will continue after the pandemic, and this subsequently cultivates the right environment for certain segments of the tech industry to thrive.

A switch to online grocery shopping

UK customers are forecast to spend an estimated £16.8bn on digital grocery shopping during 2020, an increase of around 33%, according to the latest research by Mintel.

Before COVID-19, demand for same-day delivery services was already on the rise. But, as consumers avoid retail outlets in order to minimise the risk of exposure, the pressure on brands to offer a seamless delivery system has become much stronger. Mastercard recently reported that card-not-present transactions made up 50% of April’s volumes, up 10% year on year, demonstrating the significant shift in consumer spend trends in recent months.

The shift in spending habits can be seen through the growth of online supermarket Ocado in the FTSE 350, whose share price has almost doubled since the start of lockdown. Buymie, Ireland’s leading same-day grocery delivery company, which has strategic partnerships with Lidl and The Co-op, has successfully raised a total of c.$9m since the start of the year. The company has seen a surge in demand on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic due to its ability to fulfil grocery delivery orders in as little as one hour. On-demand grocery delivery has emerged as a high growth segment of the tech and retail markets during this extraordinary period.

Advertisers eye in-game ads as audiences rise in lockdown

Advertising is another industry which is rapidly evolving in the current climate. While digital advertising spend is predicted to drop, recent research by ResearchAndMarkets.com indicates that the global in-game advertising market is poised to grow by $10.97bn during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of 20%.

Throughout the lockdown, gaming has experienced rising online audience figures, with telecommunications provider Verizon estimating that video game usage in the USA during peak hours had risen by 75% from the previous week, just one week into lockdown. Games Workshop has had much success by switching to online sales, seen through its current market value of £2.7bn. With audiences rising, Mastercard and Alienware have become the first to sponsor Riot Games, which announced in May that it would offer in-game arena banners for the first time for League of Legends Esports.

Admix, which brings ads to games, esports, VR and AR, is benefitting from this hyper-accelerated digital trend. It is working on a unique technology to support game advertising at scale, where advertisers can bid programmatically through traditional ad-buying platforms, rather than relying on an ad agency model. Non-intrusive in-gaming advertising presents a significant opportunity in today’s market.

Educators and events companies move online

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated efforts to improve remote working and learning as lockdown prohibits the gathering of pupils and professionals around the world. Zoom has achieved global success and Microsoft Teams recently became the 10th most downloaded app in the app store. However, virtual reality is now transforming how training and educational content is delivered and consumed globally.

Immersive VR Education provides a ground-breaking alternative to video-conferencing providers like Zoom. It allows users to immerse themselves fully in a virtual environment, making hard to visualise concepts much easier to understand. In 2020, they have also partnered with the global giant HTC which agreed to invest €3m in the company in May. This evolving partnership in the current pandemic shows how IVR Education is in a strong position to take advantage of the new ways to work and learn in a post-COVID-19 world.

An even stronger demand for robust cybersecurity solutions

The recent surge in online activity has meant that protecting critical data is more important than ever. A report by Centrify highlights that 71% of UK-based business decision makers believe the shift to 100% remote working during the COVID-19 crisis has increased the likelihood of a cyber-breach. With these concerns echoed by management teams around the world, the global cybersecurity market is predicted to grow from $173bn in 2020 to $270bn by 2026.

The recent data protection requirements announced in June for all US Department of Defence suppliers have increased the demand for AI security companies, like Getvisibility, which leverages AI to discover, protect and classify critical data. The company has seen revenues rise by 50% month-on-month since the start of 2020. In the current climate, there is much value in a company that gives users visibility of data.

The current environment has allowed certain tech companies and the transformative digital solutions they provide, to become even more attractive. From our perspective, these emerging tech trends will continue to accelerate in a post-COVID world.

Frances Sneddon, Data Scientist and CTO at Simul8, explores how digital simulation can provide the crystal ball that businesses need.

How do you loosen a lockdown? It is a challenge that governments across the globe are grappling with as they attempt to balance the necessity of kick-starting economies with the necessity of protecting people and productivity from the coronavirus pandemic. Digital simulation tools could be a crucial piece of the puzzle, helping businesses to rapidly test out the effects of different alterations to their workflows in a risk-free environment before putting them into practice.

Organisations will need to revisit their risk assessments and carry out an entirely new set of analyses to consider how previously run-of-the-mill processes and practices might need to be updated. While containing the further spread of COVID-19 is non-negotiable, opening things up again will require compromises at every turn, finding a workable balance of safety and productivity.

Social distancing, cleaning and hygiene practices, the number of staff on the premises at any one time, shift patterns – this is where the list of new considerations begins. What happens in the event that we reach a point where everyone entering the workspace needs to be tested for coronavirus symptoms? Add to this the wider interconnectivity of daily working needs, from customer interactions to managing supply chains, sharing workspaces with other businesses, controlling the flow of people against transport and infrastructure dependencies, and suddenly the ramifications of any changes begin to multiply.

Simulating possible outcomes

With so many possible knock-on effects when implementing the guidelines necessary to control the spread of the virus, finding the optimum work-arounds to continue any semblance of business-as-usual will likely need some experimentation. Experimentation, however, comes with risk.

By eliminating the risks involved in trial and error, simulation lends itself perfectly to adapting to the new world order where COVID-19 remains a threat. This rapid, predictive technology will offer a new level of preparedness.

Process simulation software uses animated, interactive models to replicate the operation of an existing or proposed production system. It enables organisations to analyse system efficiency and safely test process changes to improve throughput and profitability. It is used for evaluating things such as a manufacturing plant layout, setting up or reconfiguring production lines, routing calls through a complex contact centre, optimising staffing resources, or perhaps evaluating the benefits of new Industry 4.0 improvements.

It offers powerful capabilities to positively influence and streamline the continuity of the customer journey and experience. Marginal gains in processes such as systemised warehousing, seasonal stock levels and delivery infrastructure management can all be simulated to achieve greater cumulative advantages in competitive sales environments.

Using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly build a virtual representation of an existing or proposed system, similar to drawing a flowchart. The simulation can then be used to highlight problems, experiment with process changes and run a range of ‘what-if’ scenarios. This allows you to find solutions that will deliver the best results without risk to current production output or capital investment. Decision making confidence will quickly rise as risk factors decrease.

For example, a production line may need to be elongated to allow enough space between stations for safe work practices. Where will this additional space requirement impose and what will be the impact on throughput? Perhaps less storage space, or perhaps it requires other machinery to also be reconfigured. Warehouses, including picking and logistics processes may also need to be restructured.

Simulations can answer questions you didn’t ask and provide solutions you didn’t know you needed. They can teach you how to learn from mistakes you haven’t yet made and optimise processes in ways you never imagined.

Once reconfigured, how about disruptions that will slow down the production process? Equipment will need to be cleaned more frequently, for example. Certain tasks requiring simultaneous input from more than one worker may need to be rearranged, or they may simply take longer than normal. Simulation is more accurate and flexible than traditional process modelling methods, like spreadsheets, as it incorporates the random events and variability that can impact day-to-day factory flow and throughput. This might include equipment downtime in the event that an engineer cannot be reached to resolve a maintenance issue, or perhaps staff absence if an employee is required to self-isolate with immediate effect.

Data-led decision-making

In order to make appropriate decisions around these issues – decisions that will strike the right balance between productivity and safety – organisations need to work with tangible data. But at a time when whole new precedents are being set, past data will have its limitations in informing the decisions of this new world order – and incorrect decisions will pose actual threats to human life. There is little room for trial and error.

This is where digital simulation tools can be truly invaluable. These AI-driven systems learn quickly with cumulative predictive data facilitating a powerful feedback loop.

Digital simulations offer means of testing multiple different possible outcomes quickly, cost-effectively – and crucially, without risk. Questions about staff resourcing, stock controls, waiting times, supply chain management – anything where you can create a flow chart to analyse different outcomes is suitable for digital simulation.

Every business can benefit from testing the viability, sustainability and ultimately profitability of a proposed change or improvement. Typically, modelling occurred after a build, now it’s possible to predict productivity advances and advantages before. Decision making processes are empowered by an improved level of realism and predictability.

Case study

Setting a new throughput target to meet an increase in production demand – when launching a new model car, for example – will require an audit of current lines to see where the daily production rate can be increased. Chrysler did just that, using simulation software to study its line speed when it was tasked with improving one of its plants’ daily production rate from 930 to 969 vehicles.

Reviewing the full production line manually, and then testing different ideas to see the impact of changes on throughput, would have taken time. It would also run the risk of becoming a costly experiment. Instead, by building a digital simulation of the production line, the team at Chrysler were able to remove this risk and discover a quick route to understanding the full picture, testing different scenarios to identify the most effective plan before implementing.

Chrysler’s simulation revealed that two specific stations were causing bottlenecks and slowing throughput. Attention could now be focused on correcting and optimising those stations to speed up the lines without disrupting the rest of the process. The result of this focused optimisation enabled Chrysler to meet its target of producing an extra 39 units per day, which equated to an extra $1million revenue per day. The simulation provided the evidence needed to fast-track this critical decision, in the end with a relatively simple solution.

While this example demonstrates the benefits of proactively optimising production lines under normal circumstances, the elimination of risk, especially where safety is concerned, makes the use of simulation even more vital as a tool to help navigate to more normalised services in a COVID world.

James Hall, Commercial Director, Striata UK, explores the threats customers face and how to combat them.

With cybercrime escalating in volume and sophistication every year, consumer trust is a bigger challenge for organisations than it’s ever been. And while legislation such as the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have made things simpler by setting minimum standards for organisations to adhere to, they need to do more to truly guarantee trust.

They should not, for instance, assume that their responsibility is over once a document has been delivered safely to the customer. If a customer’s personal devices are unsecured, there is still a risk that one gets hacked or stolen. This means that confidential information sent by the organisation could find its way into the public eye, or worse, get exploited for criminal purposes. Even if the organisation’s own security protocols are watertight, it could still end up shouldering the blame or have its reputation tarnished.

Fortunately, organisations can (and should) do everything they can to ensure that customer communications are protected throughout the information cycle.

Customers face multiple threats

When considering why it’s so important for organisations to protect customer communication even once it’s on the end device, it’s worth remembering just how many threats customers face.

The millions of mobile phones stolen every year alone represent a massive danger of identity theft. That’s before even getting to the number of people every year who fall victim to phishing scams or who have their information compromised after inadvertently installing malware.

According to Kaspersky Labs, the number of unique malicious objects detected by its web antivirus solution reached 24,610,126 in 2019. Some 85% of web threats detected were malicious URLs making the risk of a customer unwittingly clicking on a URL an ever present threat to data protection.

In short, while organisations have never been more aware of the need to keep their customer data safe internally, the threat to that data once it’s on the customer’s device continues to increase.

Data protection by design

One solution to mitigate these threats is for organisations to bake data protection into the design of their customer communications. Data protection by design is about considering data protection and privacy issues upfront in everything the organisation does, especially when it comes to customer communication. This not only ensures compliance with relevant legislation, it can save the organisation reputational damage and, ultimately, revenue.

But what does data by design look like practically?

Well, encryption and password protection should be non-negotiable for starters. Encrypting and protecting important documents ensures that even when it resides on the customer’s smartphone or laptop, the information cannot be easily accessed if the device is stolen or hacked.

Encryption is a process that encodes a message or file so that it can only be read by the intended recipient. Encryption scrambles, or encrypts, data which the receiving party can only unscramble, or decrypt, using a key (a string of values or an application).

Password protection, meanwhile, means a document cannot be opened without entering a shared secret known only to the sender and recipient. Requiring a password to access a secured document not only adds another layer of protection, but has other benefits. In the unlikely event that a document is sent to the wrong person, the incorrect recipient cannot open the document (personal information remains private) thereby avoiding a data breach.

Customer education is key

While it’s obviously important that the organisation does everything in its power to protect and encrypt information, customer education remains the most powerful weapon in its arsenal. Cybercriminals can find their way around new technologies, but tech-savvy customers are much harder to crack.

If an organisation can help its customers avoid risky behaviour and protect their personal information, no matter where it sits, they’re much less likely to fall victim to cybercrime. That, in turn, means reduced reputational and financial risk.

A new study found that a wide range of streaming services fail to connect with consumers on an emotional and psychological level.

TV subscription brands consistently show ‘narcissistic’ tendencies, which can erode subscriber trust and ultimately make them disloyal, according to a report launched by Singula Decisions.

The new study – ‘The Psychology of a Subscriber’ – found that a wide range of streaming services, in both entertainment and sports, fail to connect with consumers on a deeper emotional and psychological level, by:

  • Not understanding the fundamental drivers motivating a subscriber’s behaviours and interactions
  • Invading their boundaries when asking for financial commitment too soon
  • Insufficiently tailoring the service to meet the moods and mindset of each customer
  • Creating ‘avoidant’ or ‘ambivalent’ attachments to subscribers that do not build loyal relationships
  • Ineffectively providing subscribers with the ability to share more about themselves and to listen to their feedback

Psychology of a Subscriber

The qualitative study, conducted and authored by Qualitative Researcher, Accredited Psychotherapist and Director of QualiProjects, Jennifer Whittaker, and Business Psychologist and Researcher, Katharina Wittgens, explores subscriber attitudes towards TV brands in the UK and US, gaining a deep understanding of how consumers think, feel and behave throughout the customer journey. 

Whittaker, says: “Many brands do not listen to subscribers, nor do they create a safe enough space for subscribers to come forward and give more. In fact, brands often have unconscious narcissistic tendencies and are blinded by the belief that customers are only there to serve, by giving ‘strokes’ to the ego – aka money to the account – and helping to build a good reputation. Unfortunately, brands cannot know subscribers until subscribers give more. But subscribers will only give more if they trust, and they’ll only trust if they don’t feel forgotten.” 

Part 1: Acquisition

This first report in a three-part series covers the acquisition phase of the customer journey. The research found that dissatisfaction and suspicion can begin from the moment a subscriber ‘joins’ a service, if asked to hand over financial information or commit to the brand too soon. While subscribers are at their most enthusiastic in the first months of engagement, brands rarely take advantage of their potential to become advocates. 

Commenting on the findings, Bhavesh Vaghela, CEO of Singula Decisions, adds: “We recognise how tough it can be to build a strong brand and grow a TV subscription business as consumers continue to dip in and out of services every month. We have seen strong consumer brands being created in other sectors such as retail, ecommerce and banking; consumers are loyal to these brands and TV subscription businesses are behind this curve.  Brands must think differently about how they build a service and experience that best suits the needs of their customers – and do a better job to emotionally connect with their customers to build trust and loyalty.”

Death of the demographic?

Bucking the trend of demographic differences, the study found that at the acquisition stage there weren’t huge variations in needs and experiences between age groups. From Gen Z to Baby Boomers, subscribers of all ages said they felt a sense of being ‘pushed by TV brands to commit to the platform financially or share private information. Both UK and US consumers also emphasised the need for a variety of content; American respondents search for unique content that is frequently updated, while British viewers seek value for money based on choice and options for the whole family. After joining the platform, subscribers felt brands were nowhere to be seen, without guidance on how to use the service or how to connect accounts with friends. 

Best practice opportunities

The findings do indicate, however, that brands willing to listen and take time to truly understand their customers, can build trust and loyalty. The report sets out nearly 40 best practice recommendations that can help brands to offer a simultaneous sense of both freedom and connection that subscribers crave in order to feel comfortable to share more of themselves.

Building a relationship that goes beyond a transactional one will have a huge impact on consumers who are faced with more choice than ever. brands that take a lead from other industries, such as retail, ecommerce, and banking, and seek to connect with their customers on a more emotional level, can emerge much stronger.

For more information and to download the full report, visit https://psychologyofasubscriber.com.

Wazoku is preparing for future growth through an additional injection of £1.25M, on top of its latest acquisition.

Wazoku has announced a new funding round of £1.25M, led by Calculus Capital, supported by other shareholders and members of the Wazoku management team.

Wazoku is also continuing its expansion with the acquisition of US open innovation firm, InnoCentive’s, assets, creating the world’s most comprehensive and powerful innovation platform and community. Following a partnership earlier in 2020, it quickly became clear that the combination of platform and network had huge value to innovation-focused businesses and was a unique proposition in the market.

“Adding such a remarkable and proven external crowd to our existing platform means that no other organisation in the world has our reach and experience when it comes to open innovation, crowdsourcing and idea management,” said Simon Hill, CEO, Wazoku.

“This is a significant step for Wazoku – further funding and a strategic acquisition mean we are better positioned than ever and have a strong and established US presence. Workplaces are becoming inherently open and collaborative and we can offer the tools, services and collective expertise to help global businesses of all sizes solve problems and create opportunities.”

InnoCentive has grown a global network of almost 500,000 expert problem-solvers, comprising CEOs, PhD students, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, retired technologists and business leaders. This combined brainpower has helped address thousands of the world’s most complex innovation and bid data challenges, for organisations such as AstraZeneca, NASA and Enel. InnoCentive has a 75% success rate in solving challenges and Wazoku customers – which include John Lewis & Partners, Barclays and the Ministry of Defence – now have full access to this service.

Wazoku now provides the world’s biggest innovation community and broadest innovation offering. It allows the crowdsourcing of solutions to any pressing business challenge, all supported by the features and functionality already found in the Wazoku platform, Idea Spotlight.

“Our customers have long demanded a platform that integrates internal idea management with external crowdsourcing,” said Alpheus Bingham, CEO and co-founder of InnoCentive. “This enables multiple modes of innovation within the same workflow and on the same digital backbone and the combination of Wazoku and InnoCentive capability offers precisely that. No other firm has the experience and capability of crowdsourcing, idea management and open innovation that this combined proposition brings. The possibilities and potential are hugely exciting.”

Wazoku’s latest investment round brings the total amount raised to £7.35M and recognises the increasing demand for innovation in business. COVID-19 saw both an increase in business and a change in the way in which organisations were using Wazoku, with the quarter during lockdown (April-Jun 2020) Wazoku’s best ever from a new business perspective and overall platform activity level.

“The rapid shift to remote working and the need for engaging dispersed networks as well as the on-going need to innovate and solve problems, has seen a significant increase in demand for both our idea management and open innovation services,” said Simon Hill, CEO, Wazoku.

“We will continue to invest in new talent in both Europe and the US, and in product development, but our main focus is on continuing to build awareness of the power of open business models for driving cost-effective and highly impactful business change.”

Peter Ruffley, Chairman at Zizo, discusses how the promise of AI…

The promise of AI

At present, the IT industry is doing itself no favours by promising the earth with emerging technologies, without having the ability to fully deliver them, see Hadoop’s story with big data as an example – look where that is now.

There is also a growing need to dispel some of the myths surrounding the capabilities of AI and data led applications, which often sit within the c-suite, that investment will give them the equivalent of the ship’s computer from Star Trek, or the answer to the question ‘how can I grow the business?’ As part of any AI strategy, it’s imperative that businesses, from the board down, have a true understanding of the use cases of AI and where the value lies.

If there is a clear business need and an outcome in mind then AI can be the right tool.  But it won’t do everything for you – the bulk of the work still has to be done somewhere, either in the machine learning or data preparation phase.

AI ready vs. AI reality

With IoT, many organisations are chasing the mythical concept of ‘let’s have every device under management’. But why? What’s the real benefit of doing that? All they are doing is creating an overwhelming amount of low value data. They are expecting data warehouses to store a massive amount of data. If a business keeps data from a device that shows it pinged every 30 seconds rather than a minute, then that’s just keeping data for the sake of it. There’s no strategy there. The ‘everyone store everything’ mentality needs to change.

One of the main barriers to implementing AI is the challenges in the availability and preparing of data. A business cannot become data-driven, if it doesn’t understand the information it has and the concept of ‘garbage in, garbage out’ is especially true when it comes to the data used for AI.

With many organisations still on the starting blocks, or having not yet entirely finished their journey to become data driven, there appears to be misplaced assumption that they can quickly and easily leap from being in the process of preparing their data to implementing AI and ML, which realistically, won’t work. To successfully step into the world of AI, businesses need to firstly ensure the data they are using is good enough.

AI in the data centre

Over the coming years, we are going to see a tremendous investment in large scale and High-Performance Computing (HPC) being installed within organisations to support data analytics and AI. At the same time, there will be an onus on data centre providers to be able to provide these systems without necessarily understanding the infrastructure that’s required to deliver them or the software or business output needed to get value from them.

We saw this in the realm of big data, when everyone tried to swing together some kind of big data solution and it was very easy to just say we’ll use Hadoop to build this giant system. If we’re not careful, the same could happen with AI. There’s been a lot of conversations about the fact that if we were to peel back the layers of many AI solutions, we’ll find that there is still a lot of people investing a lot of hard work into them, so when it comes to automating processes, we aren’t quite in that space yet. AI solutions are currently very resource heavy.

There’s no denying that the majority of data centres are now being asked how they provide AI solutions and how they can assist organisations on their AI journey. Whilst organisations might assume that data centres will have everything to do with AI tied up. Is this really the case? Yes, there is a realisation of the benefits of AI, but actually how it is best implemented, and by who, to get the right results, hasn’t been fully decided.

Solutions to how to improve the performance of large-scale application systems are being created, whether that’s by getting better processes, better hardware or whether it’s reducing the cost to run them through improved cooling or heat exchange systems. But data centre providers have to be able to combine these infrastructure elements with a deeper understanding of business processes. This is something very few providers, as well as Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are currently doing. It’s great to have the kit and use submerged cooling systems and advanced power mechanisms but what does that give the customer? How can providers help customers understand what more can be done with their data systems?

How do providers differentiate themselves and how can they say they harness these new technologies to do something different? It’s easy to go down the route of promoting that ‘we can save you X, Y, Z’ but it means more to be able to say ‘what we can achieve with AI is..X, Y, Z‘. Data centre providers need to move away from trying to win customers over based solely on monetary terms.

Education and collaboration

When it comes to AI, there has to be an understanding of what the whole strategic vision is and looking at where value can be delivered and how a return on investment (ROI) is achieved. What needs to happen is for data centre providers to work towards educating customers on what can be done to get quick wins.

Additionally, sustainability is riding high on the business agenda and this is something providers need to take into consideration. How can the infrastructure needed for emerging technologies work better? Perhaps it’s with sharing data between the industry and working together to analyse it. In these cases, maybe the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The hard bit is going to be convincing people to relinquish control of their data. Can the industry move the conversation on from being purely technical and around how much power and kilowatts are being used to how is this helping our social corporate responsibility/our green credentials?

There are some fascinating innovations already happening, where lessons can be learnt. In Scandinavia for example, there are those who are building carbon neutral data centres, which are completely air cooled, with the use of sustainable power cooling through solar. The cooling also comes through the building by basically opening the windows. There are also water cool data centres out there under the ocean.

Conclusion

We saw a lot of organisations and data centres jump in head first with the explosion of big data and not come out with any tangible results – we could be on the road to seeing history repeat itself. If we’re not careful, AI could just become another IT bubble.

There is still time to turn things around. As we move into a world of ever-increasing data volumes, we are constantly searching for the value hidden within low value data that is being produced by IoT, smartphone apps and at the edge. As the global costs of energy rise, and the numbers of HPC clusters powering AI to drive our next generation technologies increase, new technologies have to be found that lower the cost of running the data centre, beyond standard air cooling.

It’s great to see people thinking outside of the box on this with, with submerged HPC systems and full, naturally aerated data centres, but more will have to be done (and fast) to meet up with global data growth. The appetite for AI is undoubtedly there but for it to be able to be deployed at scale and for enterprises to see real value, ROI and new business opportunities from it, data centres need to move the conversation on, work together and individually utilise AI in the best way possible or risk losing out to the competition.

Ranjit Rajan, a thought leader on the impact of digital transformation on economies, business, and the tech industry with a specialization in the emerging markets of the Middle East and Africa is also the co-author of Digital Nation: How the United Arab Emirates is building a future based on tech innovation, along with Dr Saeed Aldaheri…

How does a company go about defining exactly what digital transformation means?

I think digital transformation is one of those buzz words that comes up in every conversation you have these days. Not just with CIOs and technology leaders but with any business executive. And I think a lot of the traditional IT work is now being rebranded as digital transformation. But in reality, digital transformation actually refers to significant receptive transformation in business courses and models. It entails the use of advanced technologies, such as AI and blockchain, cloud and big data analytics and so on to disrupt business to redesign customer experiences. To develop new revenue streams and business models and to monetize organizational and eco-system data to drive change within industry. So, it means quantum improvements and step changes in customer experiences, in operational efficiencies and in business models.

Once upon a time digital might’ve been left to an IT guy or a tech division and now it seems everybody needs to have an understanding on it…

Business leaders have become much more aware of the possibilities that technology can offer and so they are able to look at technology from the prism of business outcomes. And then on the other, the advancement of technology and the emergence of technology such AI, blockchain, robotics and 3D printing have created such new youth cases which were not possible before. And because of that, these cases are largely industrial and business use cases, and so therefore, it now gives an opportunity for the technology leaders to reach out to business and tell them that they can leverage these technologies.

At the same time, from the business’s point of view, from the line of business executive standpoint, he or she can now is much more aware of what is possible with technology. And therefore, he or she’s now proactively reaching out to the technology leaders and asking them for ideas and suggestions. So, it’s working both ways now and there’s alignment between the CIO and the IT department and the line of business executive, which is absolutely critical for success of digital transformation.

Jobs have been essentially redefined through technology, so how do you go about navigating that change and ensuring they are brought along on these journeys?

So, what is happening within organizations has been greatly influenced by how employees use technology in their personal lives or how technology has been impacting the personal lives of employees as individuals. Our personal lives have been transformed by technology such as smart phones and mobility, by the use of social media. By these applications that we use and how we interact with our service providers, with your consumer services organizations, the government, etc. Now, because of that, employees now, when they go to their workplace, they are looking at technology differently. They want to have the same experiences they have in their personal lives at the workplace as well. So now they are demanding that they have similar kinds of experiences at the workplace. And that is increasing pressure on the technology departments and senior executives to transform policies and services within the organization. And of course, the customers of the organization are also demanding greater use of technology in their services and products.

And of course, customer expectations of that journey are changing too…

The pressure on organizations today is tremendous. On the one hand you have customers demanding more; their needs are constantly changing, they are heavily influenced by technology. And so you have to step up and offer services which are augmented by technology. And you have to offer them at the service level that is being offered by the large digital services companies and social media networks like Facebook and Google. So, you have to offer services on a par with those; at the same time your employees are also consumers of these technology augmented services. On both sides you are under pressure.

How do you stay abreast of exactly what that customer wants?

It is indeed challenging. Your customer needs are constantly changing and the way a customer uses technology and how they utilise a service is also constantly changing. And so therefore, organisations need to be very agile, very flexible, and constantly on top of what those customers’ needs are. And this has to be done at the level of single, individual customers. You have to look at your hyper-personalisation and offer individualised services. And that is now possible with technology. It is possible by leveraging technology such as big data analytics and artificial intelligence. You’re now able to understand the needs of a customer as an individual, at an individual level and offer hyper-personalised services to that customer. The question is, how many organisations are really doing that? And how many of them have a strategy to do that?

As a business looking to embrace this digital innovation curve and digitally transform, how do you go about understanding what the right technology is?

I think there has to be a long-term strategy to look at the business overall. Look at those customer touch points that create the maximum level of friction for customers. And then try to make them frictionless. So what progressive organisations are doing is looking at their customer life experiences and creating customer journeys. So, it’s not just about providing an individual service to a customer, it’s about tying those services together to address a particular customer life experience. And therefore, creating a customer journey. Once you do that, then you kind of look at which technology makes sense in order to create less friction at various customer touch points. Now in some cases it might be AI, that could work, in some cases it could be some other technology. But then you build your technology’s story from the customer experience story.

What other challenges does a company face as it looks to begin and embrace a digital transformation journey?

Well there are several challenges for organisations that have been around for a while and play the legacy systems. And not just legacy systems, but also legacy processes, the organisation culture, mindset of the employees; all of them are hurdles to transformation. Often times, organisations are having to be built in certain ways because they have silos of innovation, they have data silos, each department has its own data sets that are not shared across the organisation. They have old technology that is perhaps not amiable to change and transformation. And so there are a number of hurdles that organisations need to overcome while they transform. It can’t be done overnight and they have to start working on each of these issues along the way.

But, in terms of technology itself, I think it’s important for organisations to consider developing a single unified architecture, wherein they can then plug in various new technologies that they want. And that architecture will need to enable flow of data across departments and businesses within the organisation. It should also enable the augmentation of their data with intelligence using AI, machine learning and all of that. And should also be able to integrate customer experience applications and services, easily.

And the other thing that’s important when you look at this is that organizations, which no longer exist in silos within industries, are part of larger ecosystems. And it is really the power of the ecosystem that matters to the end of the day. And so therefore, organisations need to have a technology strategy or technology architecture, to which other entities within the ecosystem can easily integrate and seamlessly transfer data and do transactions. And so therefore, for organisations which have legacy systems, it would take time for them to move and overcome these hurdles.

Obviously, you’re not just going to progress in a straight line, and there are going to be hurdles…

I think organizations need to understand that digital transformation is not a single project. It is not something that can be done within a few months. For medium to large size organisations, digital transformation will probably take years. And it is an ongoing process. And so, organisations need to have a longer-term strategy for digital transformation. So, the CEOs and the CXOs and the other members of the board need to outline a longer-term strategy and then kind of break it down into shorter term flexible goals. It is important for organisations to have the strategic agility when they have these longer-term goals and visions. But at the same time, have shorter term projects and initiatives. But the most important thing is to communicate this effectively.

Now you have specialisation and you’re very knowledgeable and experienced in the emerging markets of the Middle East and Africa. I want to zoom in a little bit in terms of the innovation and digital curve of the UAE…

Well the story of the UAE is a fascinating one. UAE is a fairly, relatively young country. It was formed in 1971 with the unification of various Emirates as states within the religion. Originally the UAE depended heavily on oil resources, so a large part of the GDP of the UAE was driven by oil earnings. But over the years, over the decades, the UAE has been very strongly focusing on on diversifying its economy away from oil. So, the UAE kind of realises that one day it will run out of oil and that they have to develop other resources.And so over the years the UAE has come out with several strategies to diversify. I just published a book called The Digital Nation, which kind of traces and monitors the development of the digital transformation within the UAE. And what has happened is that over the last decade or so, the UAE has been increasingly focused on developing its digital capabilities.

We had the vision 2021, which was launched in 2010 and that increasingly focused on developing the UAE as a knowledge economy, diversifying it away from oil. Right now, the UAE has about 70% of its economy is based on non-oil revenues. And so, it wants to further diversify and sees this opportunity. It sees this opportunity to leverage this destruction that we see around the world. That it can leverage that to create a mark for itself in the world. And so, a lot of strategies that have emerged over the last decade or so, have been focused on leveraging technologies such as AI, blockchain, IOT, etc, to drive these facets of the economy Including, transforming the public section and driving better citizen experiences and services but also transforming from the private sector. And also making the UAE an attractive destination for foreign investment, attracting talent from all over the world, driving innovation etc.

Tell me a little about Vision 2021, and how far along that journey the UAE is, currently?

It focused on several key areas, including education, health care, economics, etc. But, as I said, there has been a great focus on building knowledge industries. And as part of that, technology has been a core pillar or underlying foundation for that Vision 2021. The leveraging of technology has been one of the key elements of the vision. You see the focus on exploring technology to drive education, enable health care, better citizen services and supporting the private sector.

So technology has been at the core of Vision 2021. And as we get close to the end of the Vision 2021 strategy, we see a lot of developments that have happened which have technology at the centre of them. You see the launch of a number of technology related strategies and so we have the UAE AI strategy 2031, which aims to reduce government costs by 50% by leveraging AI and also fostering the development of AI within the UAE across sectors, and the use of AI across sectors. We see the launch of the UAE IOT strategy, the UAE fault and revolution strategy, blockchain strategy, etc. This hue of technology strategies have been launched by the government, which essentially focused on leveraging these technologies to drive government services, also supporting private sector and running innovation within the country.

The UAE’s leaders have been very effective in communicating their digital vision to the senior executives within the government and the private sectors and also to the citizens. It’s as if this is a personal quest for these leaders. When these strategies are launched, for example, the AI strategy, the UAE AI 2031 Strategy, which I spoke about earlier, the UAE immediately appointed a Minister of AI. So, it’s coming right from the top. They appointed a Minister of AI and that ministry now oversees the roll out of AI across public sector organisations. It oversees the education and wellness building around AI. It focuses on driving innovation around AI, etc. So, that’s just the example of AI.

Similarly, the UAE has known strategies related to the fourth industrial revolution: blockchain, IOT, etc. Now for each of these strategies, the communication of the vision comes right from the top. It’s the senior leaders of the country, the prime minister of the country, for example, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid, who’s been very vocal, in terms of telling the government, the businesses and the citizens and residents of the country that this is something that we have to leverage. This technology disruption is something that we can harness to create a better country, to offer better services. One of the things that has been brought together to focus upon is happiness. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid, the prime minister, has been talking about making UAE the happiest nation in the world. And a lot of these technology strategies kind of come together and focus on the happiness agenda of the country. So, it’s a national agenda for happiness and wellbeing and technology and the UAE has been very effective in doing that.

The Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) and the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) will come together for the first…

The Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) and the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) will come together for the first time as SFF x SWITCH.

Running from 11 to 15 November, this event will gather the global innovation and business community in Singapore. There will be over 400 speakers, more than 900 exhibitors, 41 international pavilions, and about 60,000 participants from 130 countries.

Sustainability and climate change are the overarching themes of the combined conference this year, given the growing calls for the technology and financial sectors to be enablers and change agents for sustainability.

This theme is reflected in the content of the conference, the design of the event space at the Singapore Expo and through the provision of food from sustainable sources, with a sustainable dining menu featuring the Impossible Beef rendang pizza.

The inaugural SFF x SWITCH will feature innovative technologies across five key sectors – FinTech, Urban Solutions and Sustainability, Health and Biomedical Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, and Services and Digital Services – to catalyse cross-industry exchange and learning in technology adoption, application of R&D, and commercialisation of new solutions.

Debuting this year is the Sustainability, Finance and Tech Summit (11-13 November), featuring over 50 speakers who will take the stage to discuss how they are paving the way for a more sustainable future in the world of finance and beyond.

The annual Global Investor Summit (11 November) will bring together 17 venture capital, corporate venture capital and family office investors from San Francisco to Tokyo, to share their strategies for unlocking growth, impacting inclusion, and delivering long-term value creation in the FinTech and Deep Tech ecosystems.

Leading the Deep Tech conference, the Global Access to Innovation track (11 November) will feature perspectives from a myriad of movers and shakers in Asia’s innovation ecosystem. From founders of tech unicorns to senior leaders from both the private and public sectors, conference participants can look forward to finding out more about the opportunities in market access, innovation and investment, in Asia and beyond.

A new summit created this year to spotlight key issues faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is SME Digitalisation and Platforms – Business sans Borders (BSB) (13 November). The sessions in this track will cover pertinent issues such as ‘SME Financing Reimagined’, the ‘Impact of Trade Wars on SMEs and Platforms’ as well as the ‘Roadmap for BSB Beyond 2020’. The discussions will take place at a new Coral Triangle stage, which is designed for more intimate and interactive conversations.

By Alistair Sergeant, CEO, Purple Consultancy Businesses are increasingly having to create and modify their organisational capabilities to adapt and keep…

By Alistair Sergeant, CEO, Purple Consultancy

Businesses are increasingly having to create and modify their organisational capabilities to adapt and keep up with the ever changing and evolving digital technology which surrounds them. 

For many, their digital projects are failing; the speed of digital transformation is alienating the essential human interaction and cultural change required to make the projects a success.

Bring back the humans

According to the latest statistics, 88% of digital transformation projects fail and there is a reason for that.

The speed of digital change is something that no business can ignore but most try relentlessly and largely unsuccessfully to keep up with. We are surrounded with disruptive business models coming to market with new technology rapidly changing and it is easy to get so wrapped up by technology that we forget to consider that without the human element, the transformation process will fail. 

This rapid change has resulted in a serious skills gap from a business and technology prospective for most UK organisations. As a result, both large corporations and SMEs UK wide are not as agile as they should be, not only affecting growth, but also impacting customer experience and employee engagement.

We know that (most) cars, no matter how technologically advanced they are, need a human to drive them and this is just the same when implementing digital change in your business.

Meaningful change starts with people, not technology. Your team needs to adapt to keep up with the pace by making changes to the way they have worked in the past but none of this can work successfully unless we encourage a chance in culture.

The role of the leader

To implement an effective digital transformation strategy, leadership is not only vital but critical for success. In so many cases, those implementing the strategy haven’t taken the time to understand what needs to be changed, what the strategy should aim to deliver and when, and more importantly how to correctly communicate change with staff or other company stakeholders.

It’s time to remove the digital-first approach as this method requires your entire team to buy in to it and almost forces them into a corner. To work on a new team culture in the business, which encourages your staff to embrace the changes and understand the reason for the changes, takes time. As a digital leader you need to guide and support your employees, encourage them and give them time to grow with the transformation process. 

Understanding how they work, how they think and playing to their strengths is time consuming but will ultimately help to grow your successful ‘human-first’ approach.

Get to know your customers

Customers are human too. They are not just numbers on a sheet. It is vital you get to know them, get to the bottom of what they like, what they want and also what they don’t want. You are aiming to promote a human-centric approach so that you give them the solutions they actually want and not what you assume they want. 

You can maximise the success of your product or brand by taking the time to get to know who your target market is and allowing them to see that there are humans behind the brand who actually care about what they want and are prepared to talk to them and listen to them. 

No matter how advanced technology is becoming, in certain situations there is simply no replacement for the human touch. Empathy plays a large part in positive company and team growth as well as social skills, the power of persuasion and negotiation, and these are all done better by humans and is what your customers will relate to.

Be patient

Building a system within your business, where humans and technology can work together with more of a balance, is where successful digital transformation will be most successful. One can’t work without the other but in your quest to beat off the competition, don’t overlook the heart of your business, which is the human element and ensure you invest as much in them as the technology you use. Take time to let a new company culture evolve and ensure that your employees understand the new structure and most importantly your vision as you are the ‘human’ who is implanting the change.

Borislav Tadic, Vice President BMS & Transformation DRC, explores how a major digital transformation of Deutsche Telekom has enabled greater…

Borislav Tadic, Vice President BMS & Transformation DRC, explores how a major digital transformation of Deutsche Telekom has enabled greater customer experience and significant technological advancements.

This interview featured in August’s issue of Interface Magazine – read now!

Tell us what your role is and how it fits into the wider Deutsche Telekom strategy?

I’m Vice President at Deutsche Telekom, responsible for board member support and transformation of the board area, data privacy, compliance and legal, working here in the Bonn headquarters of Deutsche Telekom Group. We as Deutsche Telekom Group are present in 50 countries and I would say are definitely a leading European telecommunications brand. We hope, after our mergers and acquisitions in the United States that we’ll become an even bigger player on a global level.

How important is it in your position to continue to learn?

That’s a fantastic point. One thing I try to do is constantly improve on an individual level. That includes formal education. I have at least 10 internationally recognised certifications and I’m currently working on my PhD in parallel to my work and I use numerous non-formal opportunities to expand my knowledge, both in the formats offered in the company and outside as well as through reading and keeping up to date with the latest developments every day, every morning.

That attitude is something I try to include in our transformation programs. For example, during the past two years, we’ve up-skilled more than 1000 employees off this board area, both in Germany and internationally, in several ways. First, offering them online learning content on our intranet platform, creating awareness about the different digital courses we have in the context of Deutsche Telekom, which are focused on their profession. We also continue to learn about global technological developments, so they can understand the new trends and developments in the industry so that they can better advise and/or support their customers.

From there we went a step forward and decided not only to offer them in a digital format, which is easy to implement and easy to offer and cost-efficient but also to enable a knowledge transfer. This is through our Digital Future Campuses in Athens and here in Germany. Several hundred people and experts from different functions of our board area were brought together and we educated them in areas such as broadband development, 5G, agile working, international collaboration, diversity and many other topics which directly or indirectly contribute to their performance and to their daily jobs. Satisfaction rate on the company level was one of the best in the recent history of Deutsche Telekom, with 96 to 99% participant satisfaction with the program.

Deutsche Telekom AG

A transformation of any kind breeds challenge, what are some of the challenges you have faced?

It is a challenge indeed. The first aspect of the challenge is that you have to give or convey as much knowledge as possible in a relatively short time and of course to make the knowledge current because if you prepare a course around blockchain and you prepared it two years ago, today you would need a completely different base. The pace of change with regards to the content, which you create to educate someone, is very high. It’s important that you stay up to date in the preparation and delivery of these courses.

Even that aside, you have a limited budget and this limited budget has to be approved and/or aligned with our human resources area. We are working with them closely because of course they have way more transparency about the needs of every individual employee and we have of course our professional view and vision where we want to be as a group. We basically worked with our colleagues from HR and with our expert groups in identifying which areas we need to focus on because you have hundreds of areas, especially in our fast-changing, fast-paced business around digitisation and technology.

After we finalised that, we created a program and then the next challenge was how to get the best possible lecturers and best possible experts to share the knowledge, because of course, their time is limited. There are of course budget limitations and numerous other restrictions including language barriers. We tackle that by trying to find the best in-house experts in some areas and external partners for others. They have more experience in some domains that are relevant to us. Then there is the delivery.

Even if you organise a format that consists of online courses as well as the physical presence of a course for several hundred people, that’s not an easy task. It sounds like an easy task; it’s just an event with a couple of hundred people but no, this is multi-partner, multi-party interactive session with numerous choice options because not everyone gets the same program. The people choose the modules and you have to fit all of that together. These are some of the challenges we’ve hopefully successfully tackled.

How do you ensure that your transformation is done so with the customer experience in mind?

That was the essence of our program and it’s a great question. First, we understood that we cannot only assume what the customer wants, we need to know what the customer wants and the only way to do that is to talk to the customer. As a governance function, we went and talked to the customers. We went out and spoke with actual private customers and business customers of Deutsche Telekom and asked them: what can we, from security, from privacy, from legal, from compliance, do differently in order to make your life better and easier?

We got our feedback. It was extremely good feedback, in the sense of many concrete, actionable points we can implement. For example, one of them was to simplify terms and conditions. When you sign a contract anywhere, for any mobile service, TV service or anything else we offer, you need to read through the pages of the contract documentation. This document is written mostly with the small letters, small font, explaining what will happen in case of some emergency escalation or conflict etc. It’s written in a language that no one understands but it was always the intention of Deutsche Telekom to make it fully understandable to our customers. We were doing our own efforts but when you speak directly to the customers, he can explain to you, which paragraphs are not easily understood or interpreted.

We used that feedback to simplify the terms and conditions for our major products. We did that within a couple of months and now we have one of the best, if not the best terms and conditions document, which is now standard. This raised the trust with our customers because they know that Telekom is fully transparent and wants them to understand what they are signing and what they are changing with their contract situation. This is only one example of numerous changes we did to the direct discussions with external customers.

How important is transparency to a company like DT?

When you look at how you can make it more transparent and when you simplify the processes and the policies, the documents, when you’re directly communicating your goals and why you are doing certain things, this raises the trust of the customers. But of course, many digital tools can also help you to raise that transparency. For example, you can do it for ethical reasons. We have been very successful in advancing customer demands through a chatbot. It became so good that some of the customers didn’t even know that they were being served by the chatbot. Because it answered all their questions in the manner that they would expect from a live person, but we still, from an ethical perspective, decided to include the sign notification saying: “You’re speaking with our digital assistant, not with a real person.”

We’ve also introduced specialised tools both internally and externally. As an example, we have a data privacy cockpit that enables you to log in as a customer of Deutsche Telekom and basically see which data you have approved or are sharing with both Deutsche Telekom and you can also click and approve or disapprove with us sharing that data with other parties. We are very strict with that. This is one of the parts of our unique selling proposition; we’re extremely careful with the data of our customers. What we want to achieve is for customers to no longer need to call or send an email to understand which data of theirs is in the system and which can be shared, but they also can log in with their mobile or fixed device and look and choose and change the categories at any time, through a very useful and user friendly interface.

Around 10 years ago, through internal experiences, we realised that this could become something we are known and recognised for, and so we decided to really invest internally into data privacy, security, compliance to strengthen our legal functions, to strengthen our audit functions. We did this in order to create a system that not only gives assurance to our shareholders but also to all of our customers. We don’t do it because we must; we believe that there is clear value in data being handled in an ethical and responsible manner for our customers.

How difficult is this with regards to DT’s presence across 50 countries?

First is that we look at all of our footprints holistically where, if we have a high standard which is not producing a significant change in the product pricing or service pricing, we look to apply it throughout the whole footprint. In the area of compliance, security, privacy and risk management, we are applying the highest standards worldwide.

The challenge here is that you have certain local changes which happen and which of course demand us to stay on the ball in that we are always in contact with our local counterparts which are responsible for these areas where the board area is active and not only upscale them, not only to make them aware of the customer demands both locally and internationally, but also to always make sure that they’re applying the latest, leanest standard and the process to keep the high levels of these services.

How will you continue to grow and transform? Can a transformational journey ever really end?

There is no endpoint. You’re absolutely right; the transformation will never stop and should never stop. It’s a process of continuous improvement of the organisations and individuals and customers’ demands, markets. Everything is changing, so we need to keep changing constantly. I think it’s very important to say in the sense of the role you mentioned is that you also lead by example, not only me but also my colleagues and other senior executives. They need to be aware that if we are promoting a tool to be used or a process to be simplified, we have to start with ourselves.

They’re extremely important, these change processes, because it’s not sufficient only to upscale, to implement the customer demands and to digitise and introduce digital tools. If you want the whole organisation to have a sane and a good mix of agile projects and waterfall projects, I need to show that some of my projects in the digitization context are being run agile.

What do the next 12 months look like for DT?

We’re going to focus on new skills. Let’s say that we are going to further explore what the blockchain is bringing. We are going to further explore what the changes are, not only technologically, but also the social changes related to 5G. In addition to that, we want to further explore AI and also further explore digital ethics. We are going to be active in the corporate digital responsibility domain where we, as Deutsche Telekom, are very much pioneering some of the elements here in Europe, so this is definitely going to happen.

What makes a successful CTO?

I would say surround yourself with extremely diverse people because diversity is not only diversity in the context of having different people with different backgrounds around yourself or different religions, different genders, different ages, etc., but also diversity in the opinion context, and the context of thoughts. And when you’re surrounded by such people, try to be like a sponge.

Try to take as much input as you can to process this and put it into the context and to continue changing because if I would apply what I learned at let’s say in the university or what I’m learning now for my PhD, that might be okay for a certain period of time, but the world, technology and the market is changing with extreme pace. So, you have to be fully aware that this will continue changing so your adaptability is the key. Your curiosity is the key and if you keep that, I’m sure that you’re basically ensuring that you’ll be successful today and tomorrow.

Frank Konieczny, Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Air Force, talks about how the role of the CTO is changing…

Frank Konieczny, Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Air Force, talks about how the role of the CTO is changing in a bid to add stability and assurance throughout organizations.

“What you will find in the field, especially in the Air Force is that we have a lot of officers moving around every two years or so because that’s the normal pattern,” said Konieczny in the podcast.

“They are now depending more upon looking at the CTO as the person that understands the mission and what they need to continue with. That’s the way we established it.

“We have CTOs and all the major commands out in the field and a few of the functional commands as well. We have established a foothold, if you will, throughout the organization, because that’s a dependency. A lot of the officers depend upon the CTO to tell them, ‘Is this a good idea or not?'”

Listen to the full, in-depth interview with Frank Konieczny only on The CPOstrategy Podcast!