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Digital Ecosystem for Business to Lead the Market – ReadWrite

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Slava Podmurnyi


2020 was a tough year, but we’ve moved on. Within a matter of weeks in 2020, the world has changed dramatically. Many businesses died overnight. But again, we live in an extremely competitive world; when one dies, others fill its niche instantly.

Despite all disasters, the population is growing, but we still stick to our lovely blue globe. Situations like the one we’ve witnessed the previous year became a new normal. Further, we move in time, the harder it will be to compete and survive as a business without a digital ecosystem.

How to Mitigate Risks in the Post-COVID Era?

The key point is the speed; every business must be fast despite any slowing factors – think fast, predict fast, adapt fast. It is hard to do that without innovations. The more automated the business processes, the faster to perform operations.

Go Digital

In the current world, the speed of operations, systematic approach in your business is everything.

Make sure you are digital. Any business without the digital presence and digital operations are already dead or soon will be dead. Your clients must be able to interact with you online as much as possible. They must understand your services without salesmen; they must be able to order any service without a single phone call.

But make sure your intranet is ready for it. Not all businesses use CRMs, not all have shared file storages, not all have knowledge bases. If you are one of those, be ready for big troubles. Your competitors have a great chance to overcome you.

Example of Striving Business

A good example here is the furniture factory that produces and distributes its own products. Without a good website, without an online furniture configurator, or any other digital product, what can it do when reseller stores are closed? Nothing, this type of business can silently wait until lockdown will be lifted and customers will come back again.

Let us open a secret; they won’t. Because of a financial crisis, they will seek cheaper solutions, and more automated businesses can offer them such an opportunity. Those businesses don’t spend money for sales representatives. They spend money toward digital solutions and highly effective personnel who do not spend working hours but are result-oriented and connected to real key indicators.

First Steps

Fire all the ballast, it may sound a bit aggressive, but it is not. If you want to be fast, you cannot do this with a stone chained to your leg. Cut it as soon as possible, increase the speed, introduce KPIs and OKRs, and everything that cannot fit into those will self-destruct.

It may be a sleepy employee; it may be a service provider that feels confident in your partnership just because you’ve worked for 10 years together and doesn’t bring the required value at all.

There are so many opportunities around, you just need to open your mind for it. The crisis is a great test for every business, and you should completely understand how your business can strive in a crisis. Any decision may lead to instant death; there is no time to support laziness and unproductive behaviors.

Supply Chain

Check the supply chain. We don’t do everything in-house; even companies like Apple partner with Samsung to provide the best possible services and experiences for their own customers. Make sure the whole chain is stable enough to sustain lockdowns and economic challenges.

Try to prepare plans B and better C in advance, but if it is too complicated or impossible, support those in need.

If you have a great supplier, but it is a small business, make sure it can make it through. It can deliver great products and services for you, but if it dies, you can have a hole in your processes. Help it, support it, as much as you can. This will reinforce the partnership and will definitely solve near and far future problems.

What to Do?

In general, let’s highlight that speed is everything in our world. If something slows you down, it is a good time to say goodbye. Get rid of the unimportant things in your business operations. Instead, implement faster proceedings via digital solutions.

Eventually, you will see how your business not only survives but starts growing. It is relevant to any company, be it a startup, small business, medium-sized business, or huge enterprise corporation.

The more innovations each company implements, the better service we all will get, and the more productive we will be competing in each market.

After all, COVID-19 quarantine showed the necessity of digital solutions in any company. Whether it is huge enterprises or small businesses/start-ups, now every entity requires external and internal digital collaboration processes to be established.

What Is a Software Gap and How It Ruins Businesses?

Many companies already have pretty big infrastructures, others have very little software footprint, but they all unite one thing. It is the digital gap in many aspects of any business’s life.

Example of Software Gap

For example, a big car dealership may have many automation software, databases, accounting solutions, and so on. However, it is still not possible to make a full cycle totally remote or human-free operating.

The crisis showed that most automated companies dominate less automated and digitized companies.

So that very same car dealership business has a CRM and probably great salesmen ready to use any automation or remote software to sell even when we have distancing and stay-at-home orders.

But their website is quite old. It doesn’t have any configurators or any kind of interactivity (visartech dot com). So a user won’t even call them. Especially when there are competitors on the market with an online configurator, where clients can configure a car of their own dreams, buy it, and conduct the necessary proceedings through the website.

The well-known Volkswagen automaker company has created a People’s Car Project. It was meant to let any person design their “perfect car.” Guess how popular the website became? There were 33 million website hits and 119,000 ideas designed. Amazing, isn’t it?

What’s the Outcome?

When a website becomes one place for ordering, clarification, and paying, most definitely, the “old-style” dealership is gonna lose the battle. Their great salesmen will sit straight without phone calls and will never meet a plan.

This is what I call the software gap. They have a gap between clients and a car review process. Their potential clients are not able to simply see what they will get, and they will just swipe for the next dealership that has it.

As you can see, any company must avoid those gaps as much as they can. Even the smallest crack can ruin the business in matters of a month.

The Ecosystem Saves Business

It sounds terrifying, but only if you’re not doing anything. Many companies are already on their way to a digital transformation – they work on covering and re-thinking those gaps.

Logically, the only way to avoid any gaps is to build the Ecosystem.

It is natural because its main purpose is to glue all company’s processes and goods together.

Any ecosystem is consistent and self-sustainable. Even deadly wounded, it tries to find a way out by any available means.

Well-known Examples of Ecosystems

We all know that any well-implemented ecosystem sells. Usually, it includes more services and better integration between them than others. The most ostentatious examples are Apple and Google.

Both built amazing products, software, and hardware. Both of them have created amazing ecosystems that the rest of the world uses.

We all saw how Nokia lost its smartphone leader position when Apple presented its ecosystem. For users, it was amazing as all applications are in one place, no need to surf the web, download a calculator, etc.

What Are Your Next Steps?

The same rule applies to any other business. The already mentioned dealership desperately needs to build at least a simple digital ecosystem to sustain future problems and win the competition.

They should add a configurator, integrate it with the CRM, implement synchronization with the car manufacturer. It all helps to check the availability of the goods and order things automatically. As you can see, it looks like a small but lifesaving ecosystem.

Let’s go deeper into details. Usually, any business has a web page. Pretty rarely, there is a mobile app, and some kind of CRM to track sales and marketing activities.

At some point, business managers come to realize that all customer-business interactions must be automated and available online to prevent a possible gap. What do they do? Correct, they implement the digital ecosystem.

What Lies Behind the Digital Ecosystem?

The core of any digital ecosystem is a backend that holds the business logic. It is the brain of the whole infrastructure. Usually, the backend process allows us to input information and make some decisions.

For example, calculate your Credit Score based on the data received from third-party services like credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Those organizations have their own servers and are able to respond with it.

Once you have a backend, you need some sort of a client, a web page, an application, or usually both. This is a kind of gateway for your customers and employees. It helps them to interact with your backend and other nodes of the digital ecosystem.

You may have numerous services or products with a bunch of backends and clients, but they must be connected to each other to avoid gaps.

Ecosystems for Small Businesses

Let’s try to model an ecosystem for a small business company.

For instance, the company sells ice cream. It has 2 shops and a delivery service.

Develop a Website for Your Ecosystem

In order to create an ecosystem for this business, we need to start with a website. It should have essential information about the product, contacts, and provide an ability to order takeaway or delivery directly on the web page. It is truly significant for your business.

But the website is just a client, so it cannot store any data persistently. All the information is available only during the session. In order to store all the data and process payments, a back-end solution is required. Besides that, we also need integration with delivery services. It helps to synchronize the data through web requests with a third-party service provider and return to the client with waiting time and a delivery price.

There are many third-party service providers that any business interacts with. Imagine how convenient it is to have a comprehensive connection with all of them. Just think about it; based on your sales data, a system can automatically order new ice cream from manufacturers. Or even build forecasts on which ice cream will be popular in the next few weeks according to weather conditions and tv-shows releases.

Build a Mobile App for Your Ecosystem

Even such a small ecosystem gives businesses some real advantages over their competitors. The system may be indefinitely upgraded with more services that meet the customers changing moods.

For example, mobile users prefer to use applications instead of mobile-friendly websites. It requires businesses to create mobile applications for iOS and Android and connect them to the backend. It leads to an increased presence and improved service for the customers.

Take Care Of Wearables

In certain cases, there is a need to create an application for smartwatches, so customers can see the delivery status and alerts right on their hands.

In collaboration, a new value is born. Having an idea to deliver ice cream together with flowers, and integration with a flower salon is essential. Here businesses can implement as many integrations as they need to fulfill the greatest demands of their customers.

All of these interactions are nearly impossible to achieve manually. Everything must be connected with each other and communicate clearly. This is the only way when customers can see the crucial information about their orders on their screens in a matter of seconds.

That’s exactly what lays the foundation for further growth. Such a business can scale up to satisfy the increasing demands of the highly competitive market.

Wrapping Up

Every business needs some sort of an ecosystem, simply to connect all business nodes together. The better ecosystem, the more effective the business itself.

With the right tools in your hands that you are easy to use, you’re stable and mistakes-free. This way, your business can stand out on the market and satisfy your most demanding customers’ needs.

Image Credit: ketut subiyanto; pexels; thank you!

Slava Podmurnyi

Entrepreneur, Co-Founder, and CEO of Visartech Inc.

Co-Founder, and CEO of Visartech Inc. (https://www.visartech.com/), a software development agency that creates software, web/mobile apps, and immersive experiences via games, 3D models, interactive apps, XR (VR, AR, MR) apps, and custom digital solutions for specific business goals. He dreams to make the world a better place with art and technology.

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Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending

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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 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!

Radek Zielinski

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

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Politics

Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs

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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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Politics

UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations

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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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