IT leaders have been some mighty unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. When social distancing required millions of Americans to work remotely — IT managers were the ones who made it all possible.
The IT Managers kept the economy afloat and created a sense of normalcy amid unprecedented circumstances. We need to thank them — they don’t get nearly enough credit for making a bad situation better.
The bad situation was make better especially since rising to the occasion has meant taking on vastly more enterprise IT work than before.
Ransomware attacks have increased 800% during the pandemic, and working from home has created countless new security vulnerabilities because users are more susceptible to social engineering (among other things).
As the stewards of cybersecurity, IT managers have defended against this onslaught while juggling dozens of other responsibilities that expanded and evolved in 2020.
IT managers have contended with the urgent need to select, implement, and deploy new technologies like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Shopify. These tools were helpful before, but they have become mission-critical during the pandemic.
Keeping these solutions fully functional — and dealing with any fallout when a tool or new system falters — has multiplied IT managers’ responsibilities.
On top of everything else, IT managers are the ones tasked with helping their companies use tech to cut costs and increase efficiency in the face of an uncertain economic outlook. Consider that 80% of companies plan to use chatbots to automate customer interactions and internal support by the end of 2020.
A new generation of digital technologies promise to transform what companies can accomplish — especially during and after the pandemic — but it puts a heavy burden on IT managers to make these technologies work ASAP.
How IT Management is Poised to Evolve
Some of the pressure facing IT managers will let up as companies find their stride — hopefully in 2021. However, things will not simply return to the way they were before. Enterprises and technology have a fundamentally different relationship due to the pandemic, and it will transform the role of IT managers for the foreseeable future. Here are three ways the position is changing:
1. IT managers will learn to trust.
Historically, IT decision makers tend to lock down enterprise IT assets as tightly as possible. That makes sense from a security and governance perspective, but it’s incompatible with the shift toward remote work happening at companies across the country.
As vastly more people are disconnected from their IT departments and rely more heavily on their own devices and home networks for work, IT managers will need to trust those users/assets.
Part of that will be an attitude shift — part of it will involve embracing technologies for managing remote IT security and visibility. Moving forward, IT managers will need to trust more yet verify whenever possible.
2. Chatbots are here to stay.
Chatbots and automation will become permanent features of enterprise IT. They will overlap with multiple departments and affect widespread workflows, creating vast new IT manager responsibilities in the process.
Given the complexity and consequence of automating things, IT managers may be tempted to resist this trend; that will be much harder once customers get used to the convenience of AI and companies see the cost savings. IT managers will need to identify workflows ripe for automation and select the best technologies to handle the work.
3. Customer experience is paramount.
IT teams are more important than ever in an era of remote work, but they’re also less accessible than ever as people work outside the office. Since IT managers can’t deploy a technician to interact with a machine directly, they need to become obsessive about the customer experience of anyone accessing IT services.
That means responsive support requests and effective fixes, functional IT system deployment, smooth infrastructure changes, and free-flowing and accurate information.
Put differently, IT managers need to think a lot more about the humans who use the technologies they coordinate.
The pandemic has been a tipping point for all of us, but especially the IT Manager. One era suddenly gave way to the next.
IT managers have made an admirable — at times heroic — effort of adapting thus far. Looking ahead, they just need to keep up the stellar work.
Image Credit: anete lusina; pexels
Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending
London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.
According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.
The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:
“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”
The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:
“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”
The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.
The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.
Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!
Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs
As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.
Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI
In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.
According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.
One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.
To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.
Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!
UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations
As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.
Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation
To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.
The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.
Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.
The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!