Technology is a practical requirement of every modern business. You’ll use computers throughout the workday to communicate with others, manage projects, and coordinate resources. You’ll rely on cloud computing, email servers, data storage, artificial intelligence and countless other tech services to operate. And over the years, you’ll be responsible for finding and integrating new technologies into your business if you want to remain competitive and continue increasing efficiency.
The trouble is, integrating new technology can sometimes be problematic. While technology can often lead to increased efficiency, increased productivity, and increased profitability – this is far from a guarantee. If you want to integrate new technology effectively, you’ll need to be on the lookout for the critical challenges that stand in your way – and find a way to avoid them.
Starting With the Right Motivation
First, you need to confront your own motivation for incorporating new technology in the business. Namely, are you adopting new technology purely for its own sake? Are you interested in buying the latest gadgets or upgrading to the latest service just because you can?
You need to have a measurable, objective reason for upgrading. Are you interested in greater security? Higher efficiency? A function that your current technology infrastructure can’t handle? There are plenty of valid reasons for upgrading or adding to your technological arsenal, so if you don’t have something concrete, it may not be worth upgrading.
Choosing the Right Development Partner
If you’re custom building a new solution, you’ll need to choose the right development partner. A bad choice here could leave you with a faulty product, an unprofitable venture, or other protracted headaches.
When reviewing potential partners, you’ll need to consider the following, at minimum:
- Capabilities. What are the capabilities of this organization? Do they have the manpower necessary to build you a product in a timely manner? Do they have the experience, credentials, and/or resources to accomplish what you need? What kind of reviews and testimonials do they have to offer?
- Timeline. In some cases, you may be under pressure to construct and deploy a new system quickly. Not all agencies will be able to meet your demands – especially if they’re backed up with previous projects.
- Ongoing support. Most tech projects aren’t one-time deals. You’ll need to find a partner who’s willing to provide you with ongoing support – including regular updates and upgrades and fixes to problems that inevitably arise.
- Price. You’ll also need to consider price. You may be able to find an agency that serves you well in every capacity – but if it’s too expensive, it could wreck your budget.
Creating (or Finding) the Right Solution
If you’re buying an established solution, you’ll need to do a thorough review to ensure it meets all of your needs – without being so bulky that it causes you to lose money.
- Accessibility. How easy is it for your employees to access this technology? Platforms that can be accessed from any device with an internet connection and systems that are convenient have an edge here.
- Intuitiveness. Intuitive platforms don’t require much training or education to use properly. They also tend to be used consistently, regardless of the individual preferences of the users utilizing them.
- Core functionality. Obviously, you’ll need to think about what it is this platform does. What is its primary purpose?
- Integrations. How does this platform fit with the rest of your tech infrastructure? Is it easy to establish integrations? Are there any gaps that need to be closed?
- Future potential. Are the developers actively supporting this product? Will they continue to add to it and/or improve it in the future?
Managing Existing Technologies and Integrations
There aren’t many modern businesses that need to build a new technology infrastructure entirely from scratch. Instead, they likely already rely on many devices, systems, and software applications to make the business work properly. In many cases, businesses will need to find a way to maintain continuity; their existing solutions need to remain operational during the transition and may need to be compatible with future tech products permanently.
Fortunately, more modern tech solutions are designed to be integration-friendly and modular, so it’s easy to adapt to new systems.
Getting Stakeholders Onboard
Oftentimes, stakeholders will need to be convinced that the technology investment is going to be a profitable one. If they’re traditionalists who favor old-school business practices or if they’re unconvinced of the benefits of switching, this can be an uphill battle.
Convincing Employees to Favor Change
Stakeholders aren’t the only ones who may need to be convinced. As you’re integrating a new POS system, a new customer portal, a new project management platform or something similar, you’ll need to think about how your employees are going to respond. Most people are, by default, reluctant to embrace change; if you tell them you’re overhauling the system they’ve used for the last 10 years, they may resist the idea.
To be successful here, you need to ensure the new addition is going to mark a positive change – and warm employees up to the concept gradually.
Your new tech systems won’t mean much unless your employees are willing and able to use them consistently (and as you intended them to be used). This often means you need to spend time training your employees to use this tech correctly – and provide them with helpful resources they can consult if they need assistance.
You bought this new piece of technology to increase efficiency. How can you tell if it’s doing its job? Startups need to measure the effectiveness of their new tech if they’re going to be confident in its usefulness. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of continuing to pay for an inefficient or ineffective product.
- Usage. If this is customer-facing technology, are your customers actually using it? If it’s an internal system, have employees adopted it – or are they resisting it in some way?
- Bottom line performance. Depending on the platform, you’ll likely have several bottom-line performance metrics you can use to determine the platform’s effectiveness. For example, does the new automated phone dialing system allow salespeople to make 10 percent more calls each hour? Does your new online portal boost total sales?
- Profitability. It’s great to know that your new technology is effective – but does it offer a positive return on investment (ROI)? Think about how much you’re paying to use this technology. Does it provide a measurable benefit in excess of those expenses?
New Security Concerns
You’ll also need to think about the new security concerns that will likely be introduced by your acquisition of new technology. As your startup becomes more technologically complex, it’s going to present bigger, more complicated security challenges.
- Third-party vulnerabilities. If your entire business relies on the software provided by a third-party vendor, and that vendor suffers a massive data breach, is your company going to be affected? Managing third-party vulnerabilities must become one of your highest priorities.
- Internal dependencies. Which internal systems are dependent on each other for operative success? If you experience an outage or a problem, you need to be able to navigate this web cleanly.
- Employee and operational flaws. Employees can become security risks if they don’t follow best practices. Each new platform that requires an employee login can potentially be hacked – and easily so – if your employees don’t practice good password management habits.
The Promise of New Technology
These challenges can be intimidating, especially for a young entrepreneur attempting to create a startup from scratch or scale one to new heights. But the promise of technology makes all the extra effort worth it. With the right setup, you can easily multiply your productivity, reduce your costs, and establish a scalable model that’s relatively easy to expand. All you have to do is recognize these key challenges proactively and devise a strategy to help you deal with them in turn.
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!