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C-Suite Structures got Their Problems Laid Bare in 2020. Here’s How They Can Change for the Post-Pandemic Era – ReadWrite



C-Suite Structures got Their Problems Laid Bare in 2020. Here’s How They Can Change for the Post-Pandemic Era - ReadWrite

The pandemic has shaken up the business world, from consumer habits all the way to the boardroom itself. In this new paradigm, it’s clear that traditional C-suite structures and ideals are fast becoming obsolete.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, this 2019 EY (dotcom) study found that only one-third of Forbes 2000 CEOs, their board members, and institutional investors deemed the current C-suite model well-suited to the challenges and opportunities of the next decade.

Fast forward to August of this year, and 75% of CEOs in another EY study responded that they would consider changing or adding C-suite roles, with key capability gaps including digital transformation, innovation and artificial intelligence.

Evidently, foundational change is already underway and company leaders need to step up and assess the current effectiveness of their C-suite models. It’s never been more important to be able to guide businesses towards a stable future, especially as the impact of the pandemic is ongoing and losing talent is now the no.1 risk that organizations face.

Here’s how C-suite structures must evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of the current paradigm.

Increase Accessibility, All the Way Up

In a recent McKinsey interview, the company’s leader of its global insurance sector, Kurt Strovink, said that “CEOs are being called on to play almost ministerial roles, to be emotionally relevant and available for their employees.”

Prior to the pandemic, C-level executives in many businesses rarely (or never) came into contact with anyone outside of the leadership team, but now the tide is turning.

This crisis has shown us that C-level executives need to be more accessible to their teams. During challenging times, employees want to feel reassured, and that means being more connected to their leaders. In the same sense, it’s crucial that executives demonstrate empathy and humility towards employees, who want to feel like their leaders “have their back” during uncertainty.

The first steps in creating a more open and accessible environment must come from the top: Company leadership can start immediately by holding virtual “town hall” style meetings where they address everyone in the company or entire teams at a time. Another option is to hold virtual coffee sessions where employees can ask leaders questions directly, no matter the position they hold.

Ultimately, more accessible leadership will result in better quality and more affordable products and services for the end customer. When teams can connect with their leaders and the vision of the company, they are more likely to find meaning in their work, resulting in better performance.

Prioritize Trust

While it’s no secret that C-level executives must focus on leading the company, not micromanaging their team (which requires an innate level of trust in employees), this must be mutual. Without strong two-way trust between leaders and their team members, organizations will struggle to build the kind of company culture that’s necessary to confidently and smoothly guide the business forward.

In order to gain the trust of their teams, leaders must drill-down on the mission and vision of the company, and be transparent about any big decisions – which are especially apparent in the current climate. They must clearly outline the reasoning behind any such decisions in order to instill confidence. Only when employees wholly support the mission and vision of the company’s strategy will they be driven to perform because of their intrinsic motivation, rather than solely to reach KPIs.

Simon Sinek argues that trust is inherent in building long-term performance as trustworthy leaders create the environment for their employees to thrive. Still, though, many CEOs focus too much on driving performance without ensuring that their teams are built on trust. At a time when it’s vital for all hands to be on deck, businesses must work to establish trust at all costs – and performance will follow.

Agility is Key

If the COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it’s that, unexpected circumstances will hit you like a ton of bricks, and you need to be ready to act. C-level executives need to commit to keeping up with the pace of digital transformation and stay on top of new trends and technological opportunities.

Creating an agile environment means recognizing that data is now the most important resource that modern companies have: Business leaders need to equip their teams with all of the data they need to make quick decisions.

Fundamentally, agility also requires being an excellent decision-maker, even when leaders don’t have enough time to conduct an in-depth analysis of the information available. In turn, employees will support leadership when they make what might seem like radical decisions in changing circumstances as they trust their judgment.

Merging Roles & Team Collaboration

One historical problem with C-suite roles has been the inability of executives to see outside of their position’s immediate remit and understand the operations of other sides of the business. However, it’s now crucial that C-level leaders wear multiple hats and facilitate cross-departmental collaboration. Uncertain times require innovative solutions, and often they only come as a result of diverse perspectives.

This can be a challenge for more technical roles, where leaders such as CTOs, CIOs, or even CDOs (Chief Data Officer) might have a wealth of engineering or data-related experience, but also need to grapple with strategic business matters. It’s vital that such roles have an excellent understanding of business functions and are able to think strategically.

One example of a new C-suite position that merges these skill sets is the Chief Digital Officer. A Chief Digital Officer would encompass everything digital – IT, data, software development, and even marketing – while possessing a solid business acumen and leadership skills.

Leaders like this with a wider skill set are better able to facilitate collaboration between teams, as they understand more deeply the roles of different departments. While a collaborative approach is nothing new to the tech world – Steve Jobs famously championed collaboration at all levels of Apple – businesses need it more than ever to be able to strategically and innovatively guide the path forward into this changing landscape.

Just take Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who took the company from being characterized by competition between teams and employees to now evaluating employee performance based partly on how much they helped their colleagues succeed. Microsoft is today valued at over $1 trillion (up from $300 billion when Nadella started in 2014).

2020 has been a rocky ride for all businesses, from startups to enterprises. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to take and lessons to learn. As many organizations adopt a fresh approach when it comes to things like digital transformation, sales strategies, and marketing channels, they should consider doing the same with their C-suite too.

Image Credit: energepicom; pexels

Marcin Niczyporuk

CTO at intive

Marcin Niczyporuk is the chief technology officer at Intive, a digital transformation company that works with clients in the automotive, finance, media and communications and technology sectors, among others.


Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending



Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play

London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 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; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs



Deanna Ritchie

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!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations



Deanna Ritchie

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!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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