Before the coronavirus pandemic, employees appreciated their IT colleagues. When COVID-19 struck, however, more workers than ever before recognized that without technologically savvy team members, their workflows would stumble, falter, or even fail. Why? Because we all immediately (and more than ever before) came to rely on technology in business.
Are you one of those team members who didn’t think about your IT coworkers every day?
Needless to say, just about every company has realized the value and impact of the IT workers at this point. After all, as revealed in a late 2020 McKinsey survey, executives acknowledge that COVID-19 has sped up their adoption of digitalization considerably. Some posit that nearly seven years of technological evolution happened in the span of a few months. Perhaps the strongest evidence of that was within cybersecurity in IT.
Increased Security in the Age of COVID-19
When massive numbers of employees began telecommuting — at home — during COVID-19, many corporate teams met unparalleled security challenges in IT-related procedures. Not surprisingly, hackers tried to take advantage of the situation, resulting in an 800% increase in reported ransomware attacks, according to MonsterCloud figures.
Teams Can Raise Up IT Service Delivery Post-COVID
In response, IT teams went into overdrive to enforce existing cybersecurity policies and create new ones.
At the same time, IT personnel knew workers needed access to their systems from anywhere. So in addition to figuring out how to make it possible for employees to safely access servers — IT teams had to investigate other security-related solutions.
Plenty of businesses switched from traditional server-based systems to software-as-a-service tools, as an example. Ultimately, moving to the cloud solved accessibility problems for many and helped end-users see the importance of on-the-ball IT teams.
Maintaining the Momentum of IT Heroes
With people moving back to offices and vaccine deployment is on the rise, society has reached a technology plateau. However, it’s only a temporary respite.
Current Technology Demand
The next technology demand will come soon enough because technology in business will continue to move forward at lightning speed.
Current technology demand means that it’s more important than ever for teams to refine their IT service delivery protocols and tools.
If your business weathered the shockwaves of 2020 thanks to technological pivots, now isn’t the time to slow your progress. Instead, lean into IT by continuing to optimize the technological changes that happened during the past year. Here’s where to start:
1. Close remaining gaps.
IT teams are much more prepared to rely on modern technology and serve up advanced cybersecurity measures. Nevertheless, cybercriminals have kept pace, too. Therefore, security will continue to be of critical importance. Remember: When your company zigs, hackers always zag.
Protect your corporate systems first
Many hackers are using social engineering to help break into corporate systems. Ensure you’re ready to combat hackers via a multipronged approach supported by a deep understanding of modern security and privacy trends.
Invest in building your tech stack and educating your IT personnel. Make sure you prioritize the need for cybersecurity measures and allow your IT department to educate the rest of your staff on ways they can operate more safely online.
Many end-users aren’t well-versed in IT security, especially on portals they assume are inherently safe (such as video conferencing software or social platforms). Consequently, they might revert to bad habits that expose your systems, data, and client information.
Now is the time to create new tech use policies that will keep everyone safer and make your security processes more concrete.
2. Stay flexible.
Employees discovered a whole new world of workplace flexibility during the pandemic. To many, working in the office no longer holds the same appeal or necessity. Instead, employees want to be able to work where they’d like using the devices and technology they’re most comfortable with.
Your biggest challenge might be giving workers what they want and need to increase their productivity without risking security or performance.
Solving this challenge requires understanding what remote working team members need on an individual and group basis. Then, plan to sit down with them and figure out the tools that can help them show they’re hitting goals and deliverables, not to mention giving customers the strongest services.
If you decide to integrate new tools into your tech stack, make it your first priority to train personnel on using those tools correctly and securely.
3. Push mobility.
You probably don’t need a survey to determine what makes mobile or remote work hard on employees, although it wouldn’t hurt to canvass your staff.
For example, expecting employees to work from home on personal devices such as tablets or laptops can lead to connection and integration malfunctions and hiccups. The answer to this type of problem could be buying corporate-owned and-managed equipment for all mobile employees.
Not all revisions and upgrades are as costly as ordering a bevy of new computers.
Some team members might only require that you pay for subscriptions to cloud-based tools that will help employees stay tethered and effective on the go. Your overall goal should be one of helping employees maintain their efficiency whether they’re down the street or around the world.
IT was critical to keeping businesses afloat during the height of the pandemic. Now, it’s time to talk about how to improve your IT functions and procedures so you can continue to provide world-class service and solutions to both internal and external stakeholders.
You will want your processes and training to be as seamless as you can make them after the trauma of the last year. You may wish to enlist your IT team in making the training process as painless as possible for other team members. Prepare now, hold your pieces of training now — and you won’t have the added pressure that comes in emergency situations.
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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!