Our cover story this month focuses on the work of Arianne Gallagher-Welcher. As the Executive Director for the USDA Digital…

Our cover story this month focuses on the work of Arianne Gallagher-Welcher. As the Executive Director for the USDA Digital Service, in the Office of the OCIO, her team’s mission is to drive a tech transformation at the USDA. The goal is to better serve the American people across all of its 50 states.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Welcome to a new year of possibility where technology meets business at the interface of change…

Read the latest issue here!

USDA: The People’s Agency

“We knew that in order for us to deliver what we needed for our stakeholders, we needed to be flexible – and that has trickled down from our senior leaders.” Arianne Gallagher-Welcher, Executive Director for the USDA Digital Service reveals the strategic plan’s first goal. Above all, the aim is to deliver customer-centric IT so farmers, producers, and families can find dealing with USDA as easy as using an ATM.

BCX: Delivering insights & intelligence across the Data & AI value chain

We also sat down with Stefan Steffen, Executive Leader for Data Insights & Intelligence at BCX. He revealed how BCX is leveraging AI to strategically transform businesses and drive their growth. “Our commitment to leveraging data and AI to drive innovation harnesses the power of technology to unlock new opportunities, drive efficiency, and enhance competitiveness for our clients.”

Momentum Multiply: A culture-driven digital transformation for wellness

Multiply Inspire & Engage is a new offering from leading South African insurance provider Momentum Health Solutions. Furthermore, it is the first digital wellness rewards program in South Africa to balance mental health and physical health in pursuing holistic wellness. CIO, Ndibulele Mqoboli, discusses re-platforming, cloud migrations, and building a culture of ownership, responsibility, and continuous improvement.

Clark County: Creating collaboration for the benefit of residents

Navigating the world of local government can be a minefield of red tape, both for citizens and those working within it. Al Pitts, Deputy CIO of Clark County, talks to us about the organisation’s IT transformation. He explains why collaboration is key to support residents. “We have found our new Clark County – ‘Together for Better’ – is a great way to collaborate on new solutions.”

Also in this issue, we hear from Alibaba’s European GM Jijay Shen on why digitalisation can be a driving force for SMEs. We learn how businesses can get cybersecurity right with KnowBe4 and analyse the rise of ‘The Mobility Society’.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

  • People & Culture

For our first cover story of 2024 we meet with Lloyds Banking Group’s CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent,…

For our first cover story of 2024 we meet with Lloyds Banking Group’s CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent, Martyn Atkinson, to learn how an ambitious growth agenda, combined with a people-centred culture, is driving change for customers and colleagues across the Group.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Welcome to a new year of possibility where technology meets business at the interface of change…

Read the latest issue here!

Lloyds Banking Group: A technology & business strategy

“We’ve made significant strides in transforming our business for the future,” explains Martyn Atkinson, CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent at Lloyds Banking Group. “I’m really proud of what the team have achieved. There’s loads more to go after. It’s a really exciting time as we become a modern, progressive, tech-enabled business. We’ve aimed to maintain pace and an agile mindset. We want to get products and services out to our customers and colleagues. We’ll test and learn to see if what we’re doing is actually making a meaningful difference.”

AFRICOM: Organisational resilience through cybersecurity

We also speak with U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) CISO Ryan Larsen on developing the right culture to build cyber awareness. He is committed to driving secure and continued success for the Department of Defence. “I often think of every day working in cyberspace a lot like counterinsurgency warfare and my time in Afghanistan. You had to be on top of your game every minute of every day. The adversary only needs to get lucky one time to find you with that IED.”

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ALIC: Creating synergy to scale at speed with Lolli

Since 2009 the Australian Lending & Investment Centre (ALIC) has been matching Australians with loans that help build their wealth. It has delivered over $8.3bn in loans to more than 22,000 leading Australian investors and businesses. Managing Director Damian Brander talks ethical lending and the challenges of a shifting financial landscape. ALIC has also built Lolli – a broker enhancement platform built by brokers, for brokers.

Sime Darby Motors: Driving digital, cultural, and business transformation together

Sime Darby Berhad is one of the oldest and most successful multinational companies in Malaysia. It has a twin focus on the Industrial and Motors sectors. The company employs more than 24,000 people, operating across 17 countries and territories. Sime Darby Motors’ Chief Digital & Information Officer Tuan Jean Tee shares how he makes sure digital, cultural, and process transformation go hand in hand throughout one of APAC’s largest automotive multinationals.

Also in this issue, we hear from Microsoft on the art of sustainable supply chain transformation, Tecnotree map the key trends set to impact the telecoms industry in 2024 and our panel of experts chart the big Fintech predictions for the year ahead.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our final cover story for 2023 explores how Deputy CIO May Cheng is accelerating a digital customer and product-centric approach…

Our final cover story for 2023 explores how Deputy CIO May Cheng is accelerating a digital customer and product-centric approach to IT management for the International Trade Administration (ITA).

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface showcases leaders at the forefront of innovation with digital technologies transforming myriad industries.

Read the latest issue here!

ITA: A better digital government experience

We connect once more with the tech trailblazers at the International Trade Administration. Deputy CIO May Cheng and her team are accelerating adoption of ITA’s customer and product-centric approach to IT management. In addition, their focus is on Agile, DevSecOps, Value Proposition, and Human Centred Design. “In 2023, we launched 13 products, three MVPs and saw enhancements operationalised. Moreover, the digital model has enabled a partnership between business and IT. The result is clearer lines of shared responsibility, transparency in resources, and a continuous learning culture across the agency.”

Businessman touching data analytics process system with KPI financial charts, dashboard of stock and marketing on virtual interface. With American flag in background.

Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Trust: Digitally transforming patient care

The Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is centred on bringing tomorrow’s treatments to today’s patients with a clear mission to provide excellent, specialist care to patients suffering from heart and lung disease. We hear from Andrew Raynes who took up his role as CIO in 2017. He is overseeing a digital transformation program bringing value to staff and patients. “Using the global language of interoperability… we’ll see greater efficiency in terms of use of technology and sweating our assets. Furthermore, exploiting the benefits to support seamless care by allowing standards to do the heavy lifting.”

Toronto Community Housing: Supporting tenants with tech

Toronto Community Housing houses tenants in 106 of Toronto’s 158 neighbourhoods. It ensures over 43,000 low and moderate-income families are supported in their continuously managed homes. Luisa Andrews, VP Information Technology Services tells us it’s the best role she’s had in her career. “It’s the most challenging, and where I’ve seen the most progress in a short amount of time. I’m proud of my team and what we’ve accomplished in five years. We, and our partners, have enabled the corporation, through technology, to do what it needs to do for our tenants.”

Marshfield Clinic Health System:

Marshfield Clinic Health System provides care at over 50 locations across the US state of Wisconsin. Chief Data & Analytics Officer Mitchell Kwiatkowski explains its tech mantra to us: “We’re trying to toe that line while examining new technologies as they come out. We’re aiming to understand what they are, how they can help, and implementing things that are mature enough and show promise. I don’t think healthcare is necessarily risk-averse; it’s a highly regulated area that doesn’t always have deep pockets for investment. However, it’s people’s health at stake, so we have to be careful…”

Also in this issue, we get the lowdown on the tech trends for 2024 from Hitachi Vantara innovation guru Bjorn Andersson. We also hear from the WatchGuard Threat Lab research team with their cybersecurity predictions for the year ahead.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

This month’s cover story charts NAB’s journey to support SMEs with customer-centric digital solutions. Welcome to the latest issue of…

This month’s cover story charts NAB’s journey to support SMEs with customer-centric digital solutions.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface showcases leaders at the forefront of innovation with digital technologies transforming myriad industries.

Read the latest issue here!

NAB: Reinventing Small Business Banking

A passionate advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity of opportunity, Executive GM Ana Marinkovic leads a team of 1,600+ small business experts. They lend over $1.2bn a month to Australian small businesses. National Australia Bank (NAB) plays a major role in propelling entrepreneurship across the country. Delivering better outcomes for small business owners sits at the very heart of NAB’s strategy. “Our scale and connectivity help us to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our business and the communities we operate in,” says Ana.

TUI: Making travel plans mobile

The mobile side of TUI has never been more vital. TUI’s mobile apps were officially launched in 2013 and began as something of a proof of concept. For the entire international industry, moving from web to mobile devices was a huge shift. The initial set of apps were very skeletal and only integrated for UK and Nordic customers.

One of this year’s goals is to accelerate the native journey to make all the customer journeys native. This will further improving the customer experience. After a recent UI refresh, the app look and feel is fresh and sleek, and has plenty of exciting features for customers to enjoy. “Just in the last couple of months we’ve introduced an integration with OpenAI for a travel planner that helps you choose excursions,” Donia adds. “Seeing it grow over the years is so exciting.”

TARA Energy Services: tech fuelling growth

“Continuous improvement is woven into the fabric of the culture at TARA Energy Services,” says its proud Director of IT, Paul Parzen. “Every day, we face new challenges, both operationally in the field and strategically in the boardroom. We must make sure the organisation’s IT strategy for data management, core infrastructure, network architecture, and security is ready to meet them.”

“Some people might say, ‘wow, a pension. That sounds a little boring.’ But at the end of the day, what we do is help people retire in the best way possible and that’s a pretty good place to be.”

Those are the words of Dee McGrath, CEO of Link Group’s Retirement Solutions since May 2019. The company is a global, digitally-enabled business connecting millions of people with their pension assets – safely, securely and responsibly. 

Evara Health: Technology delivering care for all

Evara Health’s mission statement is to help people become healthy and live healthy lives, and that means all people. A lot of health organisations don’t serve everybody and their treatments aren’t available under many types of insurance. However, Evara Heath doesn’t turn anybody away. It supports the underserved and the uninsured, and patients are treated regardless of whether they can afford it. Around 25% of patients have no insurance at all, and over half are covered by Medicaid, which isn’t accepted by everyone.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

This month’s cover story charts NAB’s journey to support SMEs with customer-centric digital solutions. Welcome to the latest issue of…

This month’s cover story charts NAB’s journey to support SMEs with customer-centric digital solutions.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface showcases leaders at the forefront of innovation with digital technologies transforming myriad industries.

Read the latest issue here!

NAB: Reinventing Small Business Banking

A passionate advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity of opportunity, Executive GM Ana Marinkovic leads a team of 1,600+ small business experts. They lend over $1.2bn a month to Australian small businesses. National Australia Bank (NAB) plays a major role in propelling entrepreneurship across the country. Delivering better outcomes for small business owners sits at the very heart of NAB’s strategy. “Our scale and connectivity help us to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our business and the communities we operate in,” says Ana.

TUI: Making travel plans mobile

The mobile side of TUI has never been more vital. TUI’s mobile apps were officially launched in 2013 and began as something of a proof of concept. For the entire international industry, moving from web to mobile devices was a huge shift. The initial set of apps were very skeletal and only integrated for UK and Nordic customers.

One of this year’s goals is to accelerate the native journey to make all the customer journeys native. This will further improving the customer experience. After a recent UI refresh, the app look and feel is fresh and sleek, and has plenty of exciting features for customers to enjoy. “Just in the last couple of months we’ve introduced an integration with OpenAI for a travel planner that helps you choose excursions,” Donia adds. “Seeing it grow over the years is so exciting.”

TARA Energy Services: tech fuelling growth

“Continuous improvement is woven into the fabric of the culture at TARA Energy Services,” says its proud Director of IT, Paul Parzen. “Every day, we face new challenges, both operationally in the field and strategically in the boardroom. We must make sure the organisation’s IT strategy for data management, core infrastructure, network architecture, and security is ready to meet them.”

“Some people might say, ‘wow, a pension. That sounds a little boring.’ But at the end of the day, what we do is help people retire in the best way possible and that’s a pretty good place to be.”

Those are the words of Dee McGrath, CEO of Link Group’s Retirement Solutions since May 2019. The company is a global, digitally-enabled business connecting millions of people with their pension assets – safely, securely and responsibly. 

Evara Health: Technology delivering care for all

Evara Health’s mission statement is to help people become healthy and live healthy lives, and that means all people. A lot of health organisations don’t serve everybody and their treatments aren’t available under many types of insurance. However, Evara Heath doesn’t turn anybody away. It supports the underserved and the uninsured, and patients are treated regardless of whether they can afford it. Around 25% of patients have no insurance at all, and over half are covered by Medicaid, which isn’t accepted by everyone.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Nigel Greatorex, Global Industry Manager at ABB, on how digital technologies can support decarbonisation and net zero goals

Nigel Greatorex is the Global Industry Manager for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) at ABB Energy Industries. He explains how digital technologies can play a critical role in the transition to a low carbon world by enabling global emissions reductions. Furthermore, he highlights the role of CCS and how challenges can be overcome through digitalisation.

Meeting our global decarbonisation goals is arguably the most pressing challenge facing humanity. Moreover, solving this requires concerted global action. However, there is no silver bullet to the global warming crisis. The solution requires a mix of investment, legislation and, importantly, innovative digital technologies.

Decarbonisation digital technologies

It’s widely recognised decarbonisation is essential to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Decarbonisation technology is becoming an increasingly important, rapidly growing market. It is especially relevant for heavy industries – such as chemicals, cement and steel. These account for 70 percent of industrial CO2 emissions; equal to approximately six billion tons annually.

CCS digital technologies are increasingly seen as key to helping industries decarbonise their operations. Reaching our net zero targets requires industry uptake of CCS to grow 120-fold by 2050, according to analysis from McKinsey & Company. Indeed, if successful, it could be responsible for reducing CO2 emissions from the industrial sector by 45 percent.

A Digital Twin solution

ABB and Pace CCS joined forces to deliver a digital twin solution. It reduces the cost of integrating CCS into new and existing industrial operations. Simulating the design stage and test scenarios to deliver proof of concept gives customers peace of mind. Indeed, system designs need to be fit for purpose. Also, it demonstrates the smooth transition into CCS operations. Additionally, the digital twin models the full value chain of a CCS system.

Read the full story here

  • Sustainability Technology

Cybersecurity leader Shinesa Cambric on Microsoft’s innovation journey to identify, detect, protect, and respond to emerging threats against identity and access

This month’s cover story highlights a cybersecurity program protecting billions of users.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface showcases leaders at the forefront of innovation with digital technologies transforming myriad industries.

Read the latest issue here!

Microsoft: Innovation in Cybersecurity

Shinesa Cambric is on a mission to drive innovation for cybersecurity at Microsoft. Moreover, by embracing diversity and opening all channels towards collaboration her team tackles anti-abuse and delivers fraud-defence. Continuous Improvement doesn’t just play into her role, it defines it…

“In the fraud and abuse space, attackers are constantly trying to identify ways to look like a legitimate user,” warns Shinesa. “And this means my team, and our partners, have to continuously adapt. We identify new patterns and behaviours to detect fraudsters. At the same time, we must do it in such a way we don’t impact our truly ‘good’ and legitimate users. Microsoft is a global consumer business and any time you add friction or an unpleasant experience for a consumer, you risk losing them, their business and potentially their trust. My team’s work sits on the very edge of the account sign up and sign in process. We are essentially the first touch within the customer funnel for Microsoft – a multi-billion dollar company.”

ABB: Digital Technolgies contributing towards Net Zero

Nigel Greatorex, Global Industry Manager for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) at ABB Energy Industries, explains how digital technologies can play a critical role in the transition to a low carbon world. He highlights the role of CCS in enabling global emissions reductions and how challenges can be overcome through digitalisation…

“It is widely recognised decarbonisation is essential to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Therefore, it’s not surprising that emerging decarbonisation technology is becoming an increasingly important, and rapidly growing market.”

CSI: How can your IT estate improve its sustainability?

Andy Dunn, Chief Revenue Officer at IT solutions specialist CSI, reveals how digital technologies can contribute to ESG obligations: “Sustainability is a now seen as a strategic business imperative, so much so that 74% of companies consider Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors to be very important to the value of their company. Additionally, we know almost three in four organisations have set a net zero goal. With an average target date of 2044, 50% of organisations are seeking more energy efficient products and services.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsDaZiSO1ho

“Optimising energy use and consolidating servers and storage infrastructure form a strong basis for shaping a more environmentally friendly and efficient IT estate. It no longer needs to be the Achilles Heel of an ESG policy. “

Mia Platform: Sustainable Cloud Computing

Davide Bianchi, Senior Technical Lead at Mia Platform, explores the silver lining of sustainable cloud computing. He reveals how it can help us reduce our digital carbon thumbprint with collaboration, efficient use of applications, containerisation of apps, microservices and green partnerships.

“We’re already on an important technological path toward ubiquitous cloud computing. Correspondingly, this brings incredible long-term benefits too. These include greater scalability, improved data storage, and quicker application deployment, to name a few.”

Also in this issue, we hear from Doug Laney, Innovation Fellow at West Monroe and author of Infonomics and Data Juice. Also, we learn how companies can measure, manage and monetise to realise the potential of their data. And, Deputy CIO Melvin Brown discusses the people-centric approach to IT supporting America’s civil service at The Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

  • Infrastructure & Cloud

Doug Laney is Innovation Fellow at West Monroe and a leading Data & Analytics strategist. We caught up with the author of Infonomics and Data Juice to talk tech and how companies can measure, manage and monetise to realise the potential of their data

Our cover story explores the rise of data and information as an asset.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface showcases leaders aiming to take advantage of data, particularly in a new world of AI technologies where it is the fuel…

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How to monetise, manage and measure data as an asset

Our cover star is pretty big in the world of analytics… We meet the guy who defined Big Data. Doug Laney is Innovation Fellow at West Monroe and a leading Data & Analytics strategist. We caught up with the author of Infonomics and Data Juice to talk tech and learn how companies can measure, manage and monetise to realise the potential of their information. In his first book Laney advised companies to stop being fixated on hindsight-oriented analytics. “It doesn’t actually move the needle on the business. In the stories I’ve compiled over the last decade, 98% have more to do with organisations using data to diagnose, predict, prescribe or automate something. It’s not about asking questions about what happened in the past.”

Canvas Worldwide: A data-driven media business

Continuing this month’s data theme, we also spoke with Alisa Ben, SVP, Head of Analytics at full-service media agency Canvas Worldwide. Data has transformed the organisation, and what its clients do. “We look holistically at the client’s business and sometimes the tools we have might be right for them, sometimes not. It’s more about helping our clients achieve their business outcomes.”

TUI Musement: from digital transformation to digital pioneer

At travel giant TUI, handling data effectively is paramount when communicating consistently and meaningfully with up to 25 million customers annually. David Garcia, CIO for TUI Musement, talks about the tech evolution driving the travel giant’s provision of experiences, transfers and tours. It’s a big part of its operational shift from local to global. “As a CIO, I’ve always been interested in how the tech innovations we drive can support the business and add value.”

Hiscox: making cybersecurity more accessible

Liz Banbury, CISO at Hiscox and president of (ISC)² London Chapter, talks to us about how cybersecurity can become a more accessible, realistic career path for almost anybody. “When I was at school, topics like computer science didn’t even exist,” Banbury explains. “In one of my first jobs, over in Hong Kong, we were still using a typewriter! A lot has changed. My key point here is that there’s a lot of cybersecurity professionals who are really good at their job. They are inspiring, and have come from all walks of life. Crucially, they don’t have a maths, computer science, or technological background at all. But they still make great cybersecurity professionals.

Portland Community College: Risk vs Speed in Cybersecurity

Reet Kaur, former Chief Information Security Officer at Portland Community College, discusses the organisation’s transition to the cloud amid a digital transformation journey. I don’t want to work with people who just say yes all the time. I want my ideas challenged to help forge the excellence in the security programmes I help build.”

DBHDS: Cybersecurity in healthcare

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) exists to create ‘a life of possibilities for all Virginians’ and transform behavioural health. Its focus is on supporting people across the entire commonwealth. It helps them get the support they need in order to take wellness and recovery into their own hands. In an area like healthcare, sensitive information is all over the place, meaning cybersecurity is a priority – and this is where Glendon Schmitz, CISO at DBHDS, comes in. The security team exists to help the wider organisation achieve its objectives with data. We’re there to protect the business, not the other way around.”

Also in this issue, we schedule the can’t miss tech events and get the lowdown on IoT security from the Mobile Ecosystem Forum.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Melvin Brown, Deputy CIO at the Office of Personnel Management, explains the organisation’s ‘sprint to the cloud’ and its determination to modernise at every level.

Our cover story highlights the Office of Personnel Management’s ‘sprint to the cloud’ with technology.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface hears from leaders who champion a people-first approach driving successful technology transformations.

Read the latest issue here!

Culture Modernisation at the Office of Personnel Management

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is a government entity which manages America’s civil service. This month’s cover story explores how an organisation that prioritises people is taking a human approach to IT. Deputy CIO Melvin Brown oversees a portfolio of $500m in programs and a growing workforce of around 300 federal employees and contractors. OPM is undergoing a major cloud transformation… “We want to be cloud-first and cloud-smart as we move forward,” he explains. “So, we created a two-year sprint to the cloud plan where we take all our major applications and move them to the cloud in order to take advantage of all the benefits that brings, from both a security and a utility perspective.”

International Trade Administration: A strategic vision for technology

The International Trade Administration (ITA) strengthens the competitiveness of U.S. industry, promotes trade and investment, and ensures fair trade through the enforcement of trade laws and agreements. We hear from its CIO Gerald Caron who is passionate about involving all stakeholders in ITA’s transformation… “We’re introducing different ways of thinking to drive innovation at the International Trade Administration (ITA). What is the art of the possible? We’re looking to explore possibilities with technology across our business units and build simple foundations for the development of more complex approaches.”

Irwin Mitchell: Technology with a human touch

Also espousing the importance of a people-centric approach, Graham Thomson, Chief Information Security Officer at Irwin Mitchell, discusses his firm’s transformative legal solutions. “We’re far more than just a law firm,” he says. “I think what sets us apart is that we’re very people focused and an organisation that genuinely cares about not only our customers but our people too. People are your biggest asset, and you have to look after them.”

State of Vermont: Using AI for good

We spoke with Shawn Nailor, Secretary and CIO at State of Vermont, about IT modernisation, tackling cybersecurity state-wide, and how AI is being used for the good of Vermonters. “We’ve got to be practitioners in order to give good guidance on how to use advanced technology and where… We want to establish a practice by which we can lead by example and show good applications or AI tools to advance services and the delivery of products.”

Also in this issue, we round up the must attend tech events; get game-changing AI, Metaverse and ‘moonshot’ insights from Lenovo, and learn why people are at the heart of the decision-making process at energy company newcleo.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Standard Bank CIO Bessy Mahopo on the challenges of operating in a fractured market and how the company overcomes them

This month’s cover story highlights how technology is helping Standard Bank overcome the challenges of a fractured market to both drive business growth and improve services for customers.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

“Time may change me, but I can’t trace time…” sang David Bowie. Changes can be challenging to manage with the path to positive disruption not always a smooth change management journey.

Interface dives deep for insights on understanding, planning, implementing and communicating change across industries.

Read the latest issue here!

Standard Bank: driving Africa’s growth

Standard Bank CIO (CIB – Transactional Banking) Bessy Mahopo explains how one of South Africa’s largest banks is using its own digital transformation successes as a template to support the country’s ongoing technological evolution by overhauling IT from the inside out. “I believe that once we start moving the curve to fifth and sixth generation technology, we’re going to become even more of a value-producer.”

The art of change management with SAP

Maria Villar, Head of Enterprise Data Strategy and Transformation at SAP, talks about the importance of driving change in the technology space and helping businesses thrive with data from the perspective of one of the world’s leading enterprise resource planning software vendors. “My job is about finding out what a good data strategy looks like and continuing to spend time with customers to look ahead…”

Talent transformation journeys with TUI

We caught up with Cerstin Lang, Director for HR Group IT at TUI. She reveals how it’s global For:ward program is driving digital transformation as the travel giant works with training partner Udacity to upskill IT talent. “Our IT goals are focused on developing a structure that supports new ways of working with the right balance to innovate and grow in the future.”

How TransUnion is enabling consumer trust

Alejandro Reskala, CIO Canada, LATAM, Caribbean at TransUnion, about technology transformation at a leading consumer credit reporting agency, its dedication to people, and how it makes trust possible. “TransUnion has always blazed a trail to use technology and data to generate insights that help support financial inclusion.”

Also in this issue, we ask what the birth of ChatGPT means for businesses leveraging tech and learn from Rivery why organisations need to rethink their data strategy with robust operational analytics.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

How Minted is leveraging digital technology to make investment in precious metals, accessible, affordable and simple

Shahid Munir, co-founder of Minted, discusses how his firm is competing with larger banks for a spot at the top table of investment in fintech.

Few industries have boomed like the fintech space over the past few years. With a plethora of new technology at consumer fingertips like never before, banks are being properly challenged by upcoming startups offering an alternative solution. Among these is Minted, aiming to make the buying, selling, transferring and delivery of physical precious metals simple through flexible monthly plans and one-time purchases. The company was founded in 2018 by three close friends – Shahid Munir, Hamzah Almasyabi and Haroon Siddiq – with a shared passion for entrepreneurship, technology and the opportunities the financial industry presented. Their combined drive led to the creation of Minted.

Shahir Munir, Co-Founder, Minted

The rise of Minted

Munir, co-founder of Minted, admits the journey has been a “rollercoaster” since the trio decided to launch their venture. “It’s certainly been exciting,” he explains. “It’s been a great learning curve and was a case of taking an industry where so many people were so used to doing it one way and offering something new. This has been challenging because we have a great product, but no one understood it. We’ve had to go out and educate people first in what has been a journey of growth, but it’s a constant journey.”

A decade ago, financial technology was considered by many as ring-fenced by bigger banks. But Munir stresses he has tried to change that narrative and offer competition which provides tremendous value. “Previously, a bank was the only way you could provide financial products,” he says. “Technology has allowed more innovative and creative solutions to launch and test the bigger banks and what they became bad at which was the customer experience. Now you see bigger banks adopt a lot of the technology and some of the practices used by challenger banks which can only be a good thing. Being in London has also helped because it is one of the leading hubs for fintechs and really supports the financial technology industry.”

Armed with different skillsets, the three co-founders complement each other with a diverse range of experience. With Almasyabi bringing an operations background and Siddiq bringing business strategy, Munir completes the line-up with finance and technology know-how. “I think it’s what sets us apart and makes us different,” he says. “Our backgrounds mean we’re not tunnel visioned and can see clearly when things aren’t working. We have a great thinktank within the business which helps us come up with ideas.”

Making precious metals accessible, affordable and simple

“I recall seeing a meme about how the price of a Freddo chocolate had changed over the years, no longer being its trademark 10p, it was now 200% more expensive and also smaller in size. This led me down rabbit-hole of trying to understand why most items go up in price as years pass and rarely come back down again. I became fascinated with how the government increases the money supply and the concept of inflation – my money buys me less in the future than it does today.

“I met with the other two founders that same night and the thoughts extended from my mind into an intense conversation about quantitative easing, Brexit, cost of living – snacks were being consumed faster than the rate of government borrowing. Where could we park our money, what was better than money? That was when the penny-dropped (pardon the pun). Hamzah proclaimed: ‘What about gold, guys?’”

Digital disruption

Through Minted, customers will have full legal ownership over their gold and can also request to have their gold delivered to a verified address. The gold and silver are stored in a grade 10 vault in the UK with the highest level of security possible. The products are fully insured by Lloyds of London at the current value while in vaulted storage as well as when being transported.

As a digital disrupter, one of the biggest challenges Minted continues to face is a lack of understanding. Customer assurance is an important priority, and the organisation has established several initiatives to gain trust. Minted is registered and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which means the firm operates to the highest financial standards and guidelines as determined by the FCA. “I feel like we need to go that extra mile,” stresses Munir. “What I think we underestimated at first was the extent to which people needed to ask questions until we launched a live chat facility on the website. This function helps build our knowledge base and allows us to hold the customer’s hand throughout the process. We’ve also found success when we’ve attended face to face exhibition events and had one-on-one interactions. It’s been brilliant to see first-hand the customer perception and look at what we can do better to meet their needs.”

Munir says he has noticed a trend of people starting with a “flutter” to test the water and check out the process. “I think it’s important that people build their confidence and recognise the value in what we offer,” he explains. “Once this is done, we often see those same customers make larger transactions. We know our difference can be a challenge for some people to accept which is why education is such an important topic to us. We have to keep doing explainer videos, use social media and hold community sessions to be there for customers.”

Scaling up

Minted recently launched its own app which offers customers an even easier way to manage their gold and silver, as well as introducing a tool to partner with businesses called Minted Connect. Munir believes the move has helped showcase an advanced, modern way for people to own physical items. “I love the app as it just makes things so much easier for customers via the platform,” he explains. “It’s been fantastic, a one-stop solution that helps stores the precious metals for free and allows them to be delivered at any time. In a world where everything is so digitally enabled it is nice to offer something physical – people don’t even buy cars anymore. Hopefully via customer feedback we can make improvements to the app that will help us develop new features.”

Munir believes gold is increasingly being seen as an alternative for savings and affirms global pressures like the threat of inflation amid economic uncertainty has helped people to realise the full potential of Minted’s offering. “In the past if you wanted to save money, you simply open a saver account and start adding money but with gold it was often a little trickier,” he says. “But with Minted we’ve simplified the process and tried to make it as automated as possible. Gold is a great alternative which has stood the test of time.”

Looking ahead, Minted is showing no signs of slowing down and is expanding into different territories. Munir remains positive for the next few years and what comes next for his organisation. “We’re working towards expanding the team because I feel like we’re at the stage now where each of our departments needs its own team of people to run each department,” he explains. “We’re scaling up and branching into new markets such as Turkey, and focusing in on developing the business to business side too.”

“Disruption should drive digitalisation and cloud uptake rather than hindering it.”

Sal Laher, Chief Digital & Information Officer at global enterprise software provider IFS, reveals how a single strategy for cloud and digitalisation helps businesses maximise the rewards of growth.

Digitalisation equals transformation

Digitalisation and the business transformation projects that enable it are again on the radar for many businesses, particularly given the current macro-economics and potential recession being predicted. According to recent data from Research and Markets, The Global Digital Transformation Market size is expected to reach $1,302.9bn by 2027, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.8% in the period 2021-2027.

This renewed focus on digitalisation is aligned to businesses accelerating cloud migration, including readily available SaaS solutions. The Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report finds 92% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy and 80% have a hybrid cloud strategy.

Sal Laher, Chief Digital & Information Officer, IFS

Both trends will go hand in hand as digitalisation and cloud migration continue to drive business efficiencies, process change and consumer service demands. Most organisations are aware of the potential rewards both business models can bring. This is because it is not the first time they are being talked about– this major transformational shift has already been in place for a decade. But some, wary of the disruptive impact of recent global events are holding back from implementing them. However, it is the wrong approach.

Disruption should drive digitalisation and cloud uptake rather than hindering it. Even in isolation, either moving to the cloud, or undertaking digitalisation, will enable faster decision-making, supported by greater compute power and more agile processes, generating faster output and enhancing customer service. Yet, to drive competitive edge, organisations need to combine cloud migration with business transformation and look to maximise those benefits. To do this, they must develop a single strategy covering both elements and move forward with a common approach.

Migrating to the cloud for business transformation

By digitalising, organisations have an opportunity to benefit from faster time to insight, enhanced business and customer connectivity, and operational efficiencies. It allows them to more easily collect and analyse data that they can later turn into actionable, revenue-generating insights.

Over time, they can go further and start to tap into the benefits of artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). But it is the additional compute power and scalability of the cloud that helps them to maximise these benefits and fulfil the potential of digital technologies.

Cloud migration also includes adopting evergreen application (business process) solutions in the cloud with the many SaaS solutions that are available today. That’s why it is important that they adopt a single plan to migrate to the cloud and drive business transformation all in one. This tandem approach also avoids unnecessary customisation, making a business much more agile to change based on actionable data insights.

Adopting a single plan will, in itself, drive up efficiencies and drive down costs. But critically, the two must be linked to ensure that businesses maximise the benefits of the migration process.

It is cloud, after all, that helps businesses adapt to the new digital world, enabling them, for instance, to leverage out of the box business applications, digital analytics tools and low code platforms that deliver informed decision-making and reduce costs. But cloud doesn’t just maximise the benefits for businesses, it also accelerates them. Cloud has become the fulcrum of digital transformation, mainly due to its ability to enable innovation at scale and allow businesses that have digitalised to rapidly launch enterprise-ready products.

Without cloud, businesses will struggle to drive through timely updates to systems and processes. The costs of stakeholder management may ramp up. Moreover, moving to the cloud without doing it within the step-by-step structure of digital transformation risks mistakes being made, increasing the likelihood of data loss and security breaches through misconfigurations.

Optimising the benefits of digital transformation in the cloud

We have seen how important it is to adopt a single strategy for cloud migration and digitalisation and to execute them in tandem. But organisations also need to maximise the benefits of the combined approach. So how can they best do this?

First, they need to avoid procrastination and delay. The benefits of digitalisation and cloud migration working together are compelling – and senior leaders need to seize the initiative and kickstart the transformation. To get the ball rolling, they need to conduct a benchmarking exercise to better understand where their business stands in terms of its capabilities or gaps. This will help to decide where efforts and resources should be focused.

They then need to align their business processes with IT. That’s key as modern business models increasingly emphasise the digitalisation of processes.

Cloud computing and network security concept, 3d rendering,conceptual image.

They should begin by determining their goals and the systems, technologies, and processes currently in use to achieve them. Next, they need to brainstorm and document core business objectives before developing a cloud and digitalisation migration roadmap to guide their implementation. Measuring performance will also be crucial to optimising results. In choosing which metrics to analyse, organisations should concentrate on those that will most positively impact their bottom line or user experience.

Ensuring employees buy into the process of cloud-based digitalisation will also be key. Organisations should use cloud-based digitalisation as an opportunity to strengthen business processes and help employees switch to new ways of working which maximise the potential of the new technology.

Digital readiness

Given all this, it is vital businesses don’t delay on their journey to digital and the cloud. Unfortunately, CIOs often struggle to know where to start with a cloud and digital migration strategy.

Before they begin, they often look to put a complete strategy in place up front. The truth is that it is not necessary. Instead, they need to get going and prioritise what’s most important. Pick one area, settle on a use case, digitalise, and move it to the cloud, demonstrate results – and then repeat incrementally. That will enable the business to showcase value and create momentum. Over time also, this single coordinated approach, will allow it to tap into a wide range of cloud and digitalisation related benefits – and ultimately to maximise the rewards.

For more cutting edge insights read the latest issue of Interface magazine here

Ian Povey, CIO – Head of Payments Services & Technology, on the strategic transformation taking place at NatWest benefitting both the bank and its customers

This month’s cover story reveals how innovation is at the core of change for payments processes at NatWest.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Charles Darwin famously said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” Technology is helping us to evolve. And that evolution is being driven by innovation.

Read the latest issue here!

Payments transformation at NatWest

“It may be a cliché, but a transformation journey really has no end… If you fixate on a constant end state without ‘checking in’ you can, and likely will, fail in your objectives.” A wise outlook from a CIO with three decades of change management experience across banking’s payments panorama.

Ian Povey, CIO – Head of Payments Services & Technology, discusses the strategic transformation taking place at NatWest and how that journey of change and innovation is benefitting both the bank and its customers as it evolves to become a relationship bank for a digital world. “Our environment is always changing – we must be on the back of the ‘Change Dragon’ and steering/influencing as a leader and always learning from our teams for new ideas.”

Customer-Centric transformation at FedEx

We also check in with logistics leader FedEx… Custom Critical CIO Cheryl Bevelle-Orange reveals a “technology-forward yet flexible company” embracing innovation and “paving the way for customers to get more relevant information faster about their packages while delivering with excellence”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=galaZZlrEn0

Continuous Improvement in IT at Mazars

Mazars CIO David Marcelino explains his approach to innovation and leading on a successful IT transformation program at one of the world’s largest audit and advisory firms aiming to improve the digital experience for all its stakeholders. “Change Management, adoption, training and awareness are at the core of every single business technology project we deliver.”

Tech innovation at speed with the US Air Force

We also caught up with George Forbes, Director of Digital Operations Directorate at the United States Air Force, who outlines the importance of innovation within the federal government.

Digital Transformation in healthcare at Avellino

Nancy Selph, Global Head of IT at Avellino Lab, discusses how technology is creating new opportunities to improve health outcomes and the importance of leadership in the industry.

Also in this issue, we round up the key tech events and conferences across the globe; we learn how Minted are making it easy for everyone to invest in gold; and we feature the latest on cloud digitalisation from IFS.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Expert analysis of the tech trends set to make waves this year

Digital transformation is a continuing journey of change with no set final destination. This makes predicting tomorrow a challenge when no one has a crystal ball to hand.

After a difficult few years for most businesses following a disruptive pandemic and now battling a cost-of-living crisis, many enterprises are increasingly leveraging new types of technology to gain an edge in a disruptive world. 

With this in mind, here are what experts predict for the next 12 months…


1. Process Mining


Sam Attias, Director of Product Marketing at Celonis

Sam Attias, Director of Product Marketing at Celonis, expects to see a rise in the adoption of process mining as it evolves to incorporate automation capabilities. He says process mining has traditionally been “a data science done in isolation” which helps companies identify hidden inefficiencies by extracting data and visually representing it.

“It is now evolving to become more prescriptive than descriptive and will empower businesses to simulate new methods and processes in order to estimate success and error rates, as well as recommend actions before issues actually occur,” says Attias. “It will fix inefficiencies in real-time through automation and execution management.”


2. The evolution of social robots


Gabriel Aguiar Noury, Robotics Product Manager at Canonical

Gabriel Aguiar Noury, Robotics Product Manager at Canonical, anticipates social robots to return this year. After companies such as Sony introduced robots like Poiq, Aguiar Noury believes it “sets the stage” for a new wave of social robots. 

“Powered by natural language generation models like GPT-3, robots can create new dialogue systems,” he says. “This will improve the robot’s interactivity with humans, allowing robots to answer any question. 

3d rendering cute artificial intelligence robot with empty note

“Social robots will also build narratives and rich personalities, making interaction with users more meaningful. GPT-3 also powers Dall-E, an image generator. Combined, these types of technologies will enable robots not only to tell but show dynamic stories.”


3. The rebirth of new data-powered business applications


In today’s fast-moving world, technology doesn’t sleep. Through the help of experts, we’ve compiled a need-to-know list of 23 predictions for 2023

Christian Kleinerman, Senior Vice President of Product at Snowflake, says there is the beginning of a “renaissance” in software development. He believes developers will bring their applications to central combined sources of data instead of the “traditional approach” of copying data into applications. 

“Every single application category, whether it’s horizontal or specific to an industry vertical, will be reinvented by the emergence of new data-powered applications,” affirms Kleinerman. “This rise of data-powered applications will represent massive opportunities for all different types of developers, whether they’re working on a brand-new idea for an application and a business based on that app, or they’re looking for how to expand their existing software operations.”


4. Application development will become a two-way conversation


Adrien Treuille, Head of Streamlit at Snowflake

Adrien Treuille, Head of Streamlit at Snowflake, believes application development will become a two-way conversation between producers and consumers. It is his belief that the advent of easy-to-use low-code or no-code platforms are already “simplifying the building” and sharing of interactive applications for tech-savvy and business users. 

“Based on that foundation, the next emerging shift will be a blurring of the lines between two previously distinct roles — the application producer and the consumer of that software.”

He adds that application development will become a collaborative workflow where consumers can weigh in on the work producers are doing in real-time. “Taking this one step further, we’re heading towards a future where app development platforms have mechanisms to gather app requirements from consumers before the producer has even started creating that software.”


5. The Metaverse


Paul Hardy, EMEA Innovation Officer at ServiceNow

Paul Hardy, EMEA Innovation Officer at ServiceNow, says he expects business leaders to adopt technologies such as the metaverse in 2023. The aim of this is to help cultivate and maintain employee engagement as businesses continue working in hybrid environments, in an increasingly challenging macro environment.

“Given the current economic climate, adoption of the metaverse may be slow, but in the future, a network of 3D virtual worlds will be used to foster meaningful social connections, creating new experiences for employees and reinforcing positive culture within organisations,” he says. “Hybrid work has made employee engagement more challenging, as it can be difficult to communicate when employees are not together in the same room. 

“Leaders have begun to see the benefit of hosting traditional training and development sessions using VR and AI-enhanced coaching. In the next few years, we will see more workplaces go a step beyond this, for example, offering employees the chance to earn recognition in the form of tokens they can spend in the real or virtual world, gamifying the experience.”


6. The year of ESG?


Cathy Mauzaize, Vice President, EMEA South, at ServiceNow

Cathy Mauzaize, Vice President, EMEA South, at ServiceNow, believes 2023 could be the year that environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) is vital to every company’s strategy.

“Failure to engage appropriate investment in ESG strategies could plunge any organisation into a crisis,” she says. “Legislation must be respected and so must the expectations of employees, investors and your ecosystem of partners and customers.

“ESG is not just a tick box, one and done, it’s a new way of business that will see us through 2023 and beyond.”


7. Macro Trends and Redeploying Budgets for Efficiency


Ulrik Nehammer, President, EMEA at ServiceNow, says organisations are facing an incredibly complex and volatile macro environment. Nehammer explains as the world is gripped by soaring inflation, intelligent digital investments can be a huge deflationary force.

“Business leaders are already shifting investment focus to technologies that will deliver outcomes faster,” he says. “Going into 2023, technology will become increasingly central to business success – in fact, 95% of CEOs are already pursuing a digital-first strategy according to IDC’s CEO survey, as digital companies deliver revenue growth far faster than non-digital ones.”  


8. Organisations will have adopted a NaaS strategy


David Hughes, Aruba’s Chief Product and Technology Officer

David Hughes, Aruba’s Chief Product and Technology Officer, believes that by the end of 2023, 20% of organisations will have adopted a network-as-a-service (NaaS) strategy.

“With tightening economic conditions, IT requires flexibility in how network infrastructure is acquired, deployed, and operated to enable network teams to deliver business outcomes rather than just managing devices,” he says. “Migration to a NaaS framework enables IT to accelerate network modernisation yet stay within budget, IT resource, and schedule constraints. 

“In addition, adopting a NaaS strategy will help organisations meet sustainability objectives since leading NaaS suppliers have adopted carbon-neutral and recycling manufacturing strategies.”


9. Think like a seasonal business


According to Patrick Bossman, Product Manager at MariaDB corporation, he anticipates 2023 to be the year that the ability to “scale out on command” is going to be at the fore of companies’ thoughts.

“Organisations will need the infrastructure in place to grow on command and scale back once demand lowers,” he says. “The winners in 2023 will be those who understand that all business is seasonal, and all companies need to be ready for fluctuating demand.”


10. Digital platforms need to adapt to avoid falling victim to subscription fatigue


Demed L’Her, Chief Technology Officer at DigitalRoute

Demed L’Her, Chief Technology Officer at DigitalRoute, suggests what the subscription market is going to look like in 2023 and how businesses can avoid falling victim to ‘subscription fatigue’.  L’Her says there has been a significant drop in demand since the pandemic.

“Insider’s latest research shows that as of August, nearly a third (30%) of people reported cancelling an online subscription service in the past six months,” he reveals. “This is largely due to the rising cost of living experienced globally that is leaving households with reduced budgets for luxuries like digital subscriptions. Despite this, the subscription market is far from dead, with most people retaining some despite tightened budgets. 

“However, considering the ongoing economic challenges, businesses need to consider adapting if they are to be retained by customers in the long term. The key to this is ensuring that the product adds value to the life of the customer.”


11. Waking up to browser security 


Jonathan Lee, Senior Product Manager at Menlo Security

Jonathan Lee, Senior Product Manager at Menlo Security, points to the web browser being the biggest attack surface and suggests the industry is “waking up” to the fact of where people spend the most time.

“Vendors are now looking at ways to add security controls directly inside the browser,” explains Lee. “Traditionally, this was done either as a separate endpoint agent or at the network edge, using a firewall or secure web gateway. The big players, Google and Microsoft, are also in on the act, providing built-in controls inside Chrome and Edge to secure at a browser level rather than the network edge. 

“But browser attacks are increasing, with attackers exploiting new and old vulnerabilities, and developing new attack methods like HTML Smuggling. Remote browser isolation is becoming one of the key principles of Zero Trust security where no device or user – not even the browser – can be trusted.”


12. The year of quantum-readiness


Tim Callan, Chief Experience Officer at Sectigo

Tim Callan, Chief Experience Officer at Sectigo, predicts that 2023 will be the year of quantum-readiness. He believes that as a result of the standardisation of new quantum-safe algorithms expected to be in place by 2024, this year will be a year of action for government bodies, technology vendors, and enterprise IT leaders to prepare for the deployment.

“In 2022, the US National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) selected a set of post-quantum algorithms for the industry to standardise on as we move toward our quantum-safe future,” says Callan.

“In 2023, standards bodies like the IETF and many others must work to incorporate these algorithms into their own guidelines to enable secure functional interoperability across broad sets of software, hardware, and digital services. Providers of these hardware, software, and service products must follow the relevant guidelines as they are developed and begin preparing their technology, manufacturing, delivery, and service models to accommodate updated standards and the new algorithms.” 


13. AI: fewer keywords, greater understanding


AI expert Dr Pieter Buteneers, Director of AI and Machine Learning at Sinch

AI expert Dr Pieter Buteneers, Director of AI and Machine Learning at Sinch, expects artificial intelligence to continue to transition away from keywords and move towards an increased level of understanding.

“Language-agnostic AI, already existent within certain AI and chatbot platforms, will understand hundreds of languages — and even interchange them within a single search or conversation — because it’s not learning language like you or I would,” he says. “This advanced AI instead focuses on meaning, and attaches code to words accordingly, so language is more of a finishing touch than the crux of a conversation or search query. 

“Language-agnostic AI will power stronger search results — both from external (the internet) and internal (a company database) sources — and less robotic chatbot conversations, enabling companies to lean on automation to reduce resources and strain on staff and truly trust their AI.”


14. Rise in digital twin technology in the enterprise


John Hill, CEO and Founder of Silico

John Hill, CEO and Founder of Silico, recognises the growing influence digital twin technology is having in the market. Hill predicts that in the next 20 years, there will be a digital twin of every complex enterprise in the world and anticipates the next generation of decision-makers will routinely use forward-looking simulations and scenario analytics to plan and optimise their business outcomes.

“Digital twin technology is one of the fastest-growing facets of industry 4.0 and while we’re still at the dawn of digital twin technology,” he explains. “Digital twins will have huge implications for unlocking our ability to plan and manage the complex organisations so crucial for our continued economic progress and underpin the next generation of Intelligent Enterprise Automation.”


15. Broader tech security


Tricentis CEO, Kevin Thompson

With an exponential amount of data at companies’ fingertips, Tricentis CEO, Kevin Thompson says the need for investment in secure solutions is paramount.

“The general public has become more aware of the access companies have to their personal data, leading to the impending end of third-party cookies, and other similar restrictions on data sharing,” he explains. “However, security issues still persist. The persisting influx of new data across channels and servers introduces greater risk of infiltration by bad actors, especially for enterprise software organisations that have applications in need of consistent testing and updates. The potential for damage increases as iterations are being made with the expanding attack surface. 

“Now, the reality is a matter of when, not if, your organisation will be the target of an attack. To combat this rising security concern, organisations will need to integrate security within the development process from the very beginning. Integrating security and compliance testing at the upfront will greatly reduce risk and prevent disruptions.”


16. Increased cyber resilience 


Michael Adams, CISO at Zoom

Michael Adams, CISO at Zoom, expects an increased focus on cyber resilience over the next 12 months. “While protecting organisations against cyber threats will always be a core focus area for security programs, we can expect an increased focus on cyber resilience, which expands beyond protection to include recovery and continuity in the event of a cyber incident,” explains Adams.

“It’s not only investing resources in protecting against cyber threats; it’s investing in the people, processes, and technology to mitigate impact and continue operations in the event of a cyber incident.” 


17. Ransomware threats


Michal Salat, Threat Intelligence Director at Avast

As data leaks become increasingly common place in the industry, companies face a very real threat of ransomware. Michal Salat, Threat Intelligence Director at Avast, believes the time is now for businesses to protect themselves or face recovery fees costing millions of dollars.

“Ransomware attacks themselves are already an individual’s and businesses’ nightmare. This year, we saw cybergangs threatening to publicly publish their targets’ data if a ransom isn’t paid, and we expect this trend to only grow in 2023,” says Salat. “This puts people’s personal memories at risk and poses a double risk for businesses. Both the loss of sensitive files, plus a data breach, can have severe consequences for their business and reputation.”


18. Intensified supply chain attacks 


Dirk Schrader, VP of security research at Netwrix

Dirk Schrader, VP of security research at Netwrix, believes supply chain attacks are set to increase in the coming year. “Modern organisations rely on complex supply chains, including small and medium businesses (SMBs) and managed service providers (MSPs),” he says.

“Adversaries will increasingly target these suppliers rather than the larger enterprises knowing that they provide a path into multiple partners and customers. To address this threat, organisations of all sizes, while conducting a risk assessment, need to take into account the vulnerabilities of all third-party software or firmware.”


19. A greater need to manage volatility 


Paul Milloy, Business Consultant at Intradiem, stresses the importance of managing volatility in an ever-moving market. Milloy believes bosses can utilise data through automation to foresee potential problems before they become issues.

“No one likes surprises. Whilst Ben Franklin suggested nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes, businesses will want to automate as many of their processes as possible to help manage volatility in 2023,” he explains. “Data breeds intelligence, and intelligence breeds insight. Managers can use the data available from workforce automation tools to help them manage peaks and troughs better to avoid unexpected resource bottlenecks.”


20. A human AI co-pilot will still be needed


Artem Kroupenev, VP of Strategy at Augury, predicts that within the next few years, every profession will be enhanced with hybrid intelligence, and have an AI co-pilot which will operate alongside human workers to deliver more accurate and nuanced work at a much faster pace. 

“These co-pilots are already being deployed with clear use cases in mind to support specific roles and operational needs, like AI-driven solutions that enable reliability engineers to ensure production uptime, safety and sustainability through predictive maintenance,” he says. “However, in 2023, we will see these co-pilots become more accurate, more trusted and more ingrained across the enterprise. 

“Executives will better understand the value of AI co-pilots to make critical business decisions, and as a key competitive differentiator, and will drive faster implementation across their operations. The AI co-pilot technology will be more widespread next year, and trust and acceptance will increase as people see the benefits unfold.”


21. Building the right workplace culture


Harnessing a positive workplace culture is no easy task but in 2023 with remote and hybrid working now the norm, it brings with it new challenges. Tony McCandless, Chief Technology Officer at SS&C Blue Prism, is well aware of the role organisational culture can play in any digital transformation journey.

Workers are the heart of an organisation, so without their buy in, no digital transformation initiative stands a chance of success,” explains McCandless. “Workers drive home business objectives, and when it comes to digital transformation, they are the ones using, implementing, and sometimes building automations. Curiosity, innovation, and the willingness to take risks are essential ingredients to transformative digitalisation. 

“Businesses are increasingly recognising that their workers play an instrumental role in determining whether digitalisation initiatives are successful. Fostering the right work environment will be a key focus point for the year ahead – not only to cultivate buy-in but also to improve talent retention and acquisition, as labor supply issues are predicted to continue into 2023 and beyond.”


22. Cloud cover to soften recession concerns


Amid a cost-of-living crisis and concerns over any potential recession as a result, Daniel Thomasson, VP of Engineering and R&D at Keysight Technologies, says more companies will shift data intensive tasks to the cloud to reduce infrastructure and operational costs.

“Moving applications to the cloud will also help organisations deliver greater data-driven customer experiences,” he affirms. “For example, advanced simulation and test data management capabilities such as real-time feature extraction and encryption will enable use of a secure cloud-based data mesh that will accelerate and deepen customer insights through new algorithms operating on a richer data set. In the year ahead, expect the cloud to be a surprising boom for companies as they navigate economic uncertainty.”


23. IoT devices to scale globally


Dr Raullen Chai, CEO and Co-Founder of IoTeX, recognises a growing trend in the usage of IoT devices worldwide and believes connectivity will increase significantly. 

“For decades, Big Tech has monopolised user data, but with the advent of Web3, we will see more and more businesses and smart device makers beginning to integrate blockchain for device connectivity as it enables people to also monetise their data in many different ways, including in marketing data pools, medical research pools and more,” he explains. “We will see a growth in decentralised applications that allow users to earn a modest additional revenue from everyday activities, such as walking, sleeping, riding a bike or taking the bus instead of driving, or driving safely in exchange for rewards. 

“Living healthy lifestyles will also become more popular via decentralised applications for smart devices, especially smart watches and other health wearables.”

The digital landscape is changing day by day. Ideas like the metaverse that once seemed a futuristic fantasy are now…

The digital landscape is changing day by day. Ideas like the metaverse that once seemed a futuristic fantasy are now coming to fruition and embedding themselves into our daily lives. The thinking might be there, but is our technology really ready to go meta? Domains and hosting provider, Fasthosts, spoke to the experts to find out…

How the metaverse works

The metaverse is best defined as a virtual 3D universe which combines many virtual places. It allows users to meet, collaborate, play games and interact in virtual environments. It’s usually viewed and accessed from the outside as a mixture of virtual reality (VR), (think of someone in their front room wearing a headset and frantically waving nunchucks around) and augmented reality (AR), but it’s so much more than this…

These technologies are just the external entry points to the metaverse and provide the visuals which allow users to explore and interact with the environment within the metaverse. 

This is the ‘front-end’ if you like, which is also reinforced by artificial intelligence and 3D reconstruction. These additional technologies help to provide realistic objects in environments, computer-controlled actions and also avatars for games and other metaverse projects. 

So, what stands in the way of this fantastical 3D universe? Here are the six key challenges:

Technology

The most important piece of technology, on which the metaverse is based, is the blockchain. The blockchain is essentially a chain of blocks that contain specific information. They’re a combination of computers linked to each other instead of a central server which means that the whole network is decentralised. This provides the infrastructure for the development of metaverse projects, storage of data and also allows them the capability to be compatible with Web3. Web3 is an upgraded version of the internet which will allow integration of virtual and augmented reality into people’s everyday lives. 

Sounds like a lot, right? And it involves a great deal of tech that is alien to the vast majority of us. So, is technology a barrier to widespread metaverse adoption?

Jonothan Hunt, Senior Creative Technologist at Wunderman Thompson, says the tech just isn’t there. Yet.

“Technology’s readiness for the mass adoption of the metaverse depends on how you define the metaverse, but if we’re talking about the future vision that the big tech players are sharing, then not yet. The infrastructure that powers the internet and our devices isn’t ready for such experiences. The best we have right now in terms of shared/simulated spaces are generally very expensive and powered entirely in the cloud, such as big computers like the Nvidia Omniverse, cloud streaming, or games. These rely heavily on instancing and localised grouping. Consumer hardware, especially XR, is still not ready for casual daily use and still not really democratised.

“The technology for this will look like an evolution of the systems above, meaning more distributed infrastructure, better access and updated hardware. Web3 also presents a challenge in and of itself, and questions remain over to what extent big tech will adopt it going forward.”

Storage

Blockchain is the ‘back-end’, where the magic happens, if you will. It’s this that will be the key to the development and growth of the metaverse. There are a lot of elements that make up the blockchain and reinforce its benefits and uses such as storage capabilities, data security and smart contracts. 

Due to its decentralised nature, the blockchain has far more storage capacity than the centralised storage systems we have in place today. With data on the metaverse being stored in exabytes, the blockchain works by making use of unutilised hard disk space across the network, which avoids users within the metaverse running out of storage space worldwide. 

In terms that might be a bit more relatable, an exabyte is a billion gigabytes. That’s a huge amount of storage, and that doesn’t just exist in the cloud – it’s got to go somewhere – and physical storage servers mean land is taken up, and energy is used. Hunt says: “How long’s a piece of string? The whole of the metaverse will one day be housed in servers and data centres, but the amount or size needed to house all of this storage will be entirely dependent on just how mass adopted the metaverse becomes. Big corporations in the space are starting to build huge data centres – such as Meta purchasing a $1.1 billion campus in Toledo, Spain to house their new Meta lab and data centre – but the storage space is not the only concern. These energy-guzzlers need to stay cool! And what about people and brands who need reliable web hosting for events, gaming or even just meeting up with pals across the world, all that information – albeit virtual – still needs a place to go.

“The current rising cost of electricity worldwide could cause problems for the growth of data centres, and the housing of the metaverse as a whole. However, without knowing the true size of its adoption, it is extremely difficult to truly determine the needed usage. Could we one day see an entire island devoted to data centre storage? Purely for the purposes of holding the metaverse? It seems a little ‘1984’, but who knows?”

Identity

Although the blockchain provides instantaneous verification of transactions with identity through digital wallets, our physical form will be represented by avatars that visually reflect who we are, and how we want to be seen. 

The founder of Saxo Bank and the chairman of the Concordium Foundation, Lars Seier Christensen, argues, “I think that if you use an underlying blockchain-based solution where ID is required at the entry point, it is actually very simple and automatically available for relevant purposes. It is also very secure and transparent, in that it would link any transactions or interactions where ID is required to a trackable record on the blockchain.”

Once identity is established, it is true that it could potentially become easier to assess creditworthiness of parties for purchasing and borrowing in the metaverse due to the digital identity and storage of each individual’s data and transactions on the blockchain. However, although it sounds exciting, there must be considerations into how it could impact privacy, and how this amount of data will be recorded on the blockchain. 

Security

There are also huge security benefits to this set up. The decentralised blockchain helps to eradicate third-party involvement and data breaches, such as theft and file manipulation, thanks to its powerful data processing and use of validation nodes. Both of these are responsible for verifying and recording transactions on the blockchain. This will be reassuring to many, given the widespread concerns around data privacy and user protection in the metaverse.

To access the blockchain all we will need is an internet connection and a device, such as a laptop or smartphone, this is what makes it so great as it will be so readily available. However, to support the blockchain, we’re relying on a whole different set of technologies.  Akash Kayar, CEO of web3-focused software development company Leeway Hertz, had this to say on the readiness of the current technology available: “The metaverse is not yet completely mature in terms of development. Tech experts are researching strategies and

testing the various technologies to develop ideas that provide the world with more feasible and intriguing metaverse projects.

“Projects like Decentraland, Axie Infinity, and Sandbox are popular contemporary live metaverse projects. People behind these projects made perfect use of notable metaverse technologies, from blockchain and cryptos to NFTs.

“As envisioned by top tech futurists, many new technologies will empower the metaverse in the future, which will support the development of a range of prolific use cases that will improve the ability of the metaverse towards offering real-life functionalities. In a nutshell, the metaverse is expected to bring extreme opportunities for enterprises and common users. Hence, it will shape the digital future.”

Currency & Payments

Whilst it’s only considered legal tender in two countries, cryptocurrency is currently a reality and there is a strong likelihood that it will eventually be mass adopted. However, the metaverse is arguably not yet at the same maturity level, meaning cryptocurrency may have to wait before it can finally fully take off. 

Golden Bitcoin symbol and finance graph screen. Horizontal composition with copy space. Focused image.

There is no doubt that cryptocurrency and the metaverse will go hand-in-hand as the former will become the tender of the latter with many of the current metaverse platforms each wielding its native currency. For example Decentraland uses $MANA for payments and purchases. However, with the volatility of crypto currencies and the recent collapse of trading platform FTX indicating security lapses, we may not yet be ready for the switch to decentralised payments. 

Energy

Some of the world’s largest data centres can each contain many tens of thousands of IT devices which require more than 100 megawatts of power capacity – this is enough to power around 80,000 U.S. households (U.S. DOE 2020) and is equivalent to $1.35bn running cost per data centre with the cost of a megawatt hour averaging $150. 

According to Nitin Parekh of Hitachi Energy, the amount of power which takes to process Bitcoin is higher than you might expect: “Bitcoin consumes around 110 Terawatt Hours per year. This is around 0.5% of global electricity generation. This estimate considers combined computational power used to mine bitcoin and process transactions.” With this estimate, we can calculate that the annual energy cost of Bitcoin is around $16.5bn. 

However, some bigger corporations are slowly moving towards renewable energy to power their projects in this space, with Google signing close to $2bn worth of wind and solar investments in order to power its data centres in the future and become greener. Amazon has also followed in their footsteps and have become the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. 

They may have plenty of time yet to get their green processes in place, with Mark Zuckerberg recently predicting it will take nearly a decade for the metaverse to be created: “I don’t think it’s really going to be huge until the second half of this decade at the earliest.”

About Fasthosts

Fasthosts has been a leading technology provider since 1999, offering secure UK data centres, 24/7 support and a highly successful reseller channel. Fasthosts provides everything web professionals need to power and manage their online space, including domains, web hosting, business-class email, dedicated servers, and a next-generation cloud platform. For more information, head to www.fasthosts.co.uk

Todd Salmon, Executive Advisor for Strategic Services at GuidePoint Security, on the cybersecurity challenge of keeping up with the pace of the ever-changing digital world

This month’s cover story explores how GuidePoint Security, an elite team of highly trained and certified experts, cut through cybersecurity chaos and confusion to put control back in customers’ hands.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface welcomes in 2023 with a need-to-know list of what we can expect from technology this year and how it can allow enterprises to gain a competitive edge in a disruptive and increasingly digital world. Faced with everything from process mining and AI to quantum-readiness and the metaverse we cut through the hype to bring you the facts.

Read the latest issue here!

GuidePoint Security: digital transformation in cybersecurity

“Cybersecurity is in such a reactive mode because of the sheer volume of risks and vulnerabilities an organisation faces,” says Todd Salmon, Executive Advisor for Strategic Services at GuidePoint Security. “We see a lot of copycats and repeat attacks happen, but at the end of the day it’s all about creating solutions to help combat those problems.”

GuidePoint’s elite team of highly trained and certified experts, cut through cybersecurity chaos and confusion to put control back in customers’ hands. Helping them make the smartest, most informed cyber risk decisions, and choose and integrate the best-fit solutions to build the most effective cybersecurity program, Salmon discusses the challenge of keeping up with the pace of the ever-changing digital world.

bp: a strategic reinvention

“We are investing in digital to drive process efficiency and improve insights; but also to develop our people with the skills we need for now, and the future at bp. This means we are playing to win while caring for our people through investing in their personal development,” says Head of Strategic Transformation Nick Hales.

“After setting the right foundations through various remediation and compliance initiatives, we embarked on our digital transformation journey,” adds Strategy & Transformation Manager Emmanouela Vlachantoni. “There was a clear opportunity to standardise and streamline our controls environment to reduce complexity and increase insight.”

Fairfax County: winning the IT war with cybersecurity

Meanwhile, across the pond, we learn how Fairfax County in the State of Virginia is reaping the rewards of a cybersecurity program enabling government services and keeping citizens safe. “My role is to educate our leadership to ensure they understand the business value of cybersecurity as it relates to government services. Being accountable for the security of their systems and data is a key factor in developing a successful cyber program,” explains CISO Michael Dent.

Also in this issue, we round up the key tech events and conferences across the globe and, with the help of the experts at Fasthosts, take a deep dive into the metaverse… Can virtual reality become our reality? Read on to find out.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Nick Hales, Head of Strategic Transformation and Emmanouela Vlachantoni, Strategy & Transformation Senior Manager, on the journey to reinvent business processes that are reimagining bp

This month’s cover story reveals how bp’s Strategic Transformation leaders are on a journey to reinvent business processes that are reimagining the energy giant.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Our final issue of Interface for 2022 covers some of this year’s hot tech topics: digital transformation, cybersecurity, data & analytics, customer-centricity and more…

Read the latest issue here!

bp: a strategic reinvention

“We are investing in digital to drive process efficiency and improve insights; but also to develop our people with the skills we need for now, and the future. This means we are playing to win while caring for our people through investing in their personal development,” says Nick Hales.

“After setting the right foundations through various remediation and compliance initiatives, we embarked on our digital transformation journey,” adds Emmanouela Vlachantoni. “There was a clear opportunity to standardise and streamline our controls environment to reduce complexity and increase insight.”

Fairfax County: winning the IT war with cybersecurity

Meanwhile, across the pond, we learn how Fairfax County in the State of Virginia is reaping the rewards of a cybersecurity program enabling government services and keeping citizens safe. “My role is to educate our leadership to ensure they understand the business value of cybersecurity as it relates to government services. Being accountable for the security of their systems and data is a key factor in developing a successful cyber program,” explains CISO Michael Dent.

Piedmont Healthcare: data & analytics at the heart of growth

The power of data cannot be under-estimated… At Piedmont Healthcare Mark Jackson, Executive Director of Business Intelligence is building a data strategy driving speed to insight at scale. “Tool selection has played an important role in our ability to scale the BI program and deliver rapid insights in a dynamic environment.”

Also in this issue, CalArts CTO Allan Chen explains how an IT strategy based on coordination and collaboration is supporting six schools; Information Tech VP Fausto Sosa de la Fuente reveals the people-centric transformative IT process at construction industry giant CEMEX; and we take a look at the latest insights from McKinsey highlighting the lessons CEOs can learn from successful digital transformations.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

John MClure, CISO at Sinclair Group – a diversified media company and America’s leading provider of local sports and news – talks about the evolution of cybersecurity and the cultural shift placing it at the forefront of business change

This month’s cover story explores how Sinclair Broadcast Group is embracing the evolution of cybersecurity and placing the role of the CISO at the forefront of business transformation.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Communication, secure and at speed, is a vital component of the transformation journey for both the modern enterprise and its relationship with stakeholders, be they customers or partners. Putting the right building blocks in place to deliver successful change management is at the heart of the inspiring stories in the latest issue of Interface.

Read the latest issue here!

Sinclair Broadcast Group: a cyber transformation

Our cover star John McClure progressed from a career in the military and work as a consultant in the intelligence industry to fight a new kind of foe… As CISO for Sinclair Broadcast Group, a diversified media company and America’s leading provider of local sports and news, he talks about the evolution of cybersecurity, the battle to meet the rising velocity and sophistication of cyber-attacks and the cultural shift of the role of CISO placing it at the forefront of business change.

“Sinclair is unique in terms of its different business units and how it operates. It’s my job as CISO leading our cyber team not to be an obstacle for the business; we’re here to help it move faster to keep up with market forces, and to move safely. We’re here to engineer solutions that work for the enterprise but also help us maintain a positive security posture.”

State of Florida: digital government services

We also hear from CIO Jamie Grant who is leading the State of Florida’s Digital Service (FL[DS]) on its charge to transform and modernise the way government is accessed and consumed. He is building a team of talented, goal-oriented and customer-obsessed individuals to drive a digital transformation with innovation at its heart. “Leadership is really about developing the team and investing in the people. And it turns out that when you get their backs, they appreciate it and then you can achieve anything.”

ResultsCX: putting people first

Jamie Vernon, SVP for IT & Infrastructure at AI-powered customer experience solution specialist ResultsCX, discusses what drives customer care in the 21st century, and the part technology has to play.

“We are the custodians of our customers’ customers,” says Vernon. “In this increasingly tenuous relationship with their customers, they trust us. My leadership takes that responsibility very seriously, and charges each of us with doing everything we can to provide a perfect call, or email, or chat, every time, thousands of times a minute, around the clock and around the calendar.”

Jamie Vernon, SVP for IT & Infrastructure at AI-powered customer experience solution specialist ResultsCX, discusses what drives customer care in the 21st century, and the part technology has to play.

“We are the custodians of our customers’ customers,” says Vernon. “In this increasingly tenuous relationship with their customers, they trust us. My leadership takes that responsibility very seriously, and charges each of us with doing everything we can to provide a perfect call, or email, or chat, every time, thousands of times a minute, around the clock and around the calendar.”

Also this month, Sarita Singh, Regional Head & Managing Director for Stripe in Southeast Asia, talks about how the fast-growing payments platform is driving financial inclusion across Asia and supporting SMEs with end-to-end services putting users first, and we get expert advice for the modern CEO from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our cover story this month reveals how Dr Roman Salasznyk, Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton, and his team are driving innovation at the IT services specialist to deliver digital solutions supporting federal agencies in their quest to drive mission-critical programs

This month’s cover story charts how IT services specialist Booz Allen Hamilton is delivering digital solutions to support federal agencies in their quest to deliver mission-critical programs.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Technology is changing lives; from banking to transport and manufacturing to healthcare, the scaling of digital transformation journeys across global industry sectors is enabling and enhancing our lives… Harnessing the power of tech, to manage everything from the evolution of our supply chains to our response to medical emergencies like COVID-19, is changing the game.

Read the latest issue here!

Booz Allen Hamilton: innovation in public health

Our cover story this month reveals how IT services specialist Booz Allen Hamilton is delivering leading edge solutions to support federal agencies in their quest to deliver mission-critical programs.

“We’ve made a concerted effort to invest and provide leading-edge capabilities to support some of our client’s most pressing public health challenges across the federal government space,” says Salasznyk. “Technology must add value, solve a business problem, and deliver measurable improvements in efficiency and effectiveness.” That efficiency is driven by over 29,000 experts around the world driving digital journeys, developing analytics insights, engineering, and cybersecurity solutions while working shoulder-to-shoulder with clients to choose the right tech to realise their vision and transform.

Nuffield Health: digital transformation for a healthier tomorrow

Nuffield Health is the UK’s largest healthcare charity (independent of the NHS) operating 37 hospitals and 114 Fitness & Wellbeing Centres. IT leaders Jacqs Harper and David Ankers describe the organisation’s incredible digital transformation and how its people-first attitude runs deep. Nuffield’s beneficiary-centric approach means “driving experiences” to be optimal and best-in-class is paramount. “What was really compelling when I joined Nuffield was how much of a difference this business can make to the nation in terms of improving its health,” says Ankers. “And equally, how we as a team can make the lives of practitioners so much easier. There’s a huge amount of value IT can add.”

Also in this issue, we hear from Celonis on why process mining can help companies stop wasting money on tech they don’t need, and we present the latest analysis from consultancy giant McKinsey’s Technology Council highlighting the development, future uses and industry effects of advanced technologies across 14 key trends.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our cover story this month investigates how Fleur Twohig, Executive Vice President, leading Personalisation & Experimentation across Consumer Data & Engagement Platforms, and her team are executing Wells Fargo’s strategy to promote personalised customer engagement across all consumer banking channels

This month’s cover story follows Wells Fargo’s journey to deliver personalised customer engagement across all its consumer banking channels.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Partnerships of all kinds are a key ingredient for organisations intent on achieving their goals… Whether that’s with customers, internal stakeholders or strategic allies across a crowded marketplace, Interface explores the route to success these relationships can help navigate.

Read the latest issue here!

Wells Fargo: customer-centric banking

Fleur Twohig, Wells Fargo

Our cover story this month investigates the strategy behind Wells Fargo’s ongoing drive to promote personalised customer engagement across all consumer banking channels.

Fleur Twohig, Executive Vice President, leading Personalisation & Experimentation across the bank’s Consumer Data & Engagement Platforms, explains her commitment to creating a holistic approach to engaging customers in personalised one-to-one conversations that support them on their financial journeys.

“We need to be there for everyone across the spectrum – for both the good and the challenging times. Reaching that goal is a key opportunity for Wells Fargo and I have the pleasure of partnering with our cross-functional teams to help determine the strategic path forward…”

IBM: consolidating growth to drive value

We hear from Kate Woolley, General Manager of IBM Ecosystem, who reveals how the tech leader is making it easier for partners and clients to do business with IBM and succeed. “Honing our corporate strategy around open hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) and connecting partners to the technical training resources they need to co-create and drive more wins, we are transforming the IBM Ecosystem to be a growth engine for the company and its partners.”

Kate Woolley, IBM
Kate Woolley, IBM

America Televisión: bringing audiences together across platforms

Jose Hernandez, Chief Digital Officer at America Televisión, explains how Peru’s leading TV network is aggregating services to bring audiences together for omni-channel opportunities across its platforms. “Time is the currency with which our audiences pay us, so we need to be constantly improving our offering both through content and user experiences.”

Portland Public Schools: levelling the playing field through technology

Derrick Brown and Don Wolf, tech leaders at Portland Public Schools, talk about modernising the classroom, dismantling systemic racism and the power of teamwork.

Also in this issue, we hear from Lenovo on how high-performance computing (HPC) is driving AI research and report again from London Tech Week where an expert panel examined how tech, fuelled by data, is playing a critical role in solving some of the world’s hardest hitting issues, ranging from supply chain disruptions through to cybersecurity fears.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our cover story this month reveals how Sarita Singh, Regional Head & Managing Director for Stripe in Southeast Asia, and her team are driving financial inclusion across the region and supporting SMEs with end-to-end services putting users first

This month’s cover story reveals how Stripe’s payments platform is driving financial inclusion across Asia.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Opportunities for innovation and growth via the adoption of new technologies are everywhere. However, organisations are faced with a bewildering array of choices to help them transform and choosing the best option to drive positive disruption is a tough call. We take a look at some of these fascinating journeys…

Read the latest issue here!

Stripe: increasing the GDP of the internet

Sarita Singh, Regional Head & Managing Director for Southeast Asia, Stripe
Sarita Singh, Regional Head & Managing Director for Southeast Asia, Stripe

This month’s cover story explores the genesis of fast-growing payments platform Stripe. Sarita Singh, Regional Head & Managing Director for Southeast Asia, leads a team driving financial inclusion across the region, supporting SMEs with end-to-end services putting users first.

“We’re building products and the financial infrastructure to help our users go cross-border, beyond their domestic boundaries, to widen their markets and drive efficiencies within their financial services infrastructure. With Stripe under the hood, businesses  are able to focus on what they do best without wasting time researching, purchasing, integrating, and maintaining dozens of payment technology point solutions because Stripe is a platform that offers all of them, and is already integrated.”

IAG: tech procurement linked to purpose

We speak with IAG’s CPO & VMO Claire Ledder, who reveals the transformative approach to technology procurement being deployed by an Australian market leader home to several leading insurance brands. “We’re now able to tackle sourcing and contracting with an end-to-end approach capable of measuring the value delivered.”

IAG’s CPO & VMO Claire Ledder
Portrait Photography

U.S. Department of State: facilitating diplomacy with tech

Todd Cheng Director of IT Customer Service at the U.S. Department of State, talks about the ever-evolving relationship between technology and diplomacy. “We’ve been through the process of updating the IT model at State to a new, more customer centric version of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).” By his calculations, these changes have benefited the organisation by reducing network disruption by some 400,000 hours of diplomacy every month.

Afni

Afni’s CISO Brent Deterding explains how breaking down the traditional and perceived barriers between security and the boardroom can transparently position cyber effectiveness as a critical enabler of improved business outcomes.

Afni’s CISO Brent Deterding
Afni’s CISO Brent Deterding

Also in this issue, we hear from Zoom on the future of work and report again from London Tech Week where an expert panel gave advice for businesses on anticipating and preparing for cyber risk against a backdrop of geopolitical uncertainty.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our cover story this month explores how Wei Li, Vice President & GM for AI & Analytics at Intel, and his team are powering Artificial Intelligence to enable the digital journey from data to insights

This month’s cover story explores Intel’s AI technologies powering the digital journey from data to insights…

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

In this issue of Interface, we speak with a diverse group of tech leaders blazing a trail that others can follow to navigate the journey towards transformation.

Read the latest issue here!

Intel: AI Everywhere

We met with this month’s cover star Wei Li at the AI Summit during London Tech Week where Intel’s AI & Analytics leader delivered a compelling keynote speech and explained how the tech leader is powering Artificial Intelligence to enable the digital journey from data to insights.

“AI Everywhere means that anybody should be able to apply and use AI,” says Li, explaining the pledge Intel has made to further democratise the use of technologies such as AI. “We provide not only the hardware for AI, but also AI software and solutions for everyone to accelerate their data to insights journey. Software is the bridge between hardware and the millions of developers and billions of users.”

London Tech Week

During London Tech Week Chris Philp MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), discussed the launch of the UK’s Digital Strategy with an expert panel. We take a look at what this means for Britain’s approach to expanding the reach of its digital economy to drive growth, boost productivity and create more better-paid jobs.

ENGIE: collaboration through data

We speak with ENGIE’s Group Chief Analytics Officer Thierry Grima, who outlines the extraordinary data transformation the global utility giant is going through, and how the ground-breaking data connection of 170,000 global team members is benefiting the business. “As a business, we need to unlock the value of data because it’s no longer a competitive advantage. It’s just a necessity.”

Elsewhere, Jim Brady from Fairview Health Services reveals how his dual role as CISO and VP Information Security & Infrastructure/Operations is uniting security and operational technology to break down silos and drive a transformation with people power at its heart. “I love people, helping them and interacting with them in a positive way. There are several hundred people on my team, but I still spend time with them one-on-one and in small groups, even now that we’re largely working remotely.”

Also in this issue, S. M. Jaleel’s CIO Teoman Buyan explains how the right company culture can drive a positive technology transformation and Sal Laher, Chief Digital & Information Officer at global enterprise software provider IFS, talks about the importance of developing a more environmentally friendly approach to technology that weaves sustainability into the software fabric.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

This month’s cover story reveals the cycles of transformation, being led by CDO Lucho Torres, which are driving the disruptive digital journey at Peru’s second largest financial services group

This month’s cover story reveals reveals the cycles of transformation driving the disruptive digital journey at Scotiabank Peru, the country’s second largest financial services group.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

A customer-centric vision is often an important factor in the journey towards a digital transformation where a commitment to continuous improvement can bring scalability and lasting growth. Interface taps the brains behind some of the biggest tech successes happening across the globe today…

Read the latest issue here!

Scotiabank Peru

Lucho Torres, SVP & Chief Digital Officer at Scotiabank Peru is on a mission to leverage the trust in a global banking leader founded in 1832 and lead a transformation to create “the most relevant, simple and fast digital bank for consumers and businesses” across Peru. “The challenge was to build a digital bank with scalability and sustainability. We have created a customer-centric value proposition by building and taking to the market our own digital platforms and financial products to deliver personalised and intuitive customer experiences.”

IBM

We speak with IBM’s AI & Data guru Jean-Philippe Desbiolles who gives us a fascinating overview of his book AI Will be What you Make of It: The 10 Golden Rules of Artificial Intelligence. “I am passionate about the fact that at IBM we are transforming businesses by leveraging technologies in a broad sense of the word. And one of those key technologies is Artificial Intelligence.” Listen to our podcast with Jean-Philippe here or you can watch it below…

Digital Transformation in healthcare, education and telecomms

Also in this issue, Michael Haenelt, CIO at the Weed Army Community Hospital tells us the story of the development of a state-of-the-art medical facility at Ft Irwin, in California’s remote Mojave Desert, where a commitment to digital transformation is at the beating heart of the organisation.

Elsewhere, Michelle Murphy, superintendent of the Rim of the World Unified School District, reflects on 34 years in education and the way technology has driven change; talk with Tecnotree CEO Padma Ravichander about how the global provider of IT solutions for telcos is empowering digital communities; and hear the story of a unique challenge to digitise the self-sufficient City of Medicine Hat in Canada.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

This month’s cover story explores the customer-centric digital transformation journey of leading insurer AXA being led by UK & Ireland CIO Darrell Ryman

Our cover story this month explores how leading insurer AXA‘s customer-centric digital transformation journey is refining the art of the possible to unite business with technology.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

The opportunity to leverage data & analytics to transform organisations seeking to sharpen their digital focus and better connect with internal and external stakeholders is at the forefront of a revolution in connectivity driving both operational efficiency and growth. In this issue we bring you some inspiring stories that reflect the impact today’s innovations are having on shaping the business journeys of tomorrow…

Read the latest issue here!

AXA

This month’s cover story explores the customer-centric digital transformation journey being led by AXA’s UK & Ireland CIO Darrell Ryman. “It’s both a challenge and an opportunity for the insurance industry,” he reflects. “Many of the legacy systems firms use are now outdated and based on the nine-to-five business operating model – they’re not designed for the modern digital experience.” Ryman’s IT team is driving that transformation pivot by focusing on three key pillars: developing a digital backbone, becoming a digital business and creating a digital ecosystem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6wxgQ2gAmI

XGS

Today’s on demand transactions require custom logistics solutions. We discover how flooring supply chain specialist Xpress Global Systems (XGS) is combining existing data with employee experience to deliver technology solutions that form the core of the company’s humanised approach to digital transformation.

EY

Also in this issue, Ken Priyadarshi CT AI leader of EY Technology, explains how the leading professional services network is developing Digital Twins to deliver big-data and low-latency scenario planning models for financial services: “It’s time for the digital twin to become a mainstream tool for the C-suite and go beyond the traditional manufacturing or operational use-cases.”

Data management driving efficiency and growth

Elsewhere, we learn how specialist insurance broker Howden is achieving success in Asia by establishing a structured, data-driven, engagement and distribution strategy; and reveal the way America’s leading critical infrastructure damage prevention firm, Stake Center Locating, is future-proofing by transferring its expertise from legacy systems to the cloud.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our cover story examines how Microsoft is accelerating innovation for sustainable growth by providing specialised solutions supporting financial health for enterprises and their customers in the Azure cloud

Our cover story this month reveals how Microsoft is supporting future-first financial services in the cloud.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Digital transformation can take many forms, powering the strategies to achieve goals across a diverse range of sectors from education and manufacturing to business development and health. In this issue we explore some of these compelling success stories.

Read the latest issue here!

Microsoft

Gracing this cover of Interface is Bill Livezey, Director of Financial Services for Intelligent Cloud at Microsoft. Bringing a quarter century of experience at the tech giant to his latest role, he explains how it is accelerating innovation for sustainable growth by providing specialised solutions supporting financial health for enterprises and their customers. A broad set of data models and tools in Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud work together and allows for its partners to join in quickly building differentiated experiences in an industry-compliant and secure public cloud.

Virtusa

Today’s businesses require change at a scale and speed that defies traditional ways of working. By delivering deep digital engineering and industry expertise through client-specific and integrated agile approaches, we learn how Virtusa, in conjunction with key partners like Pega, is driving digital transformation with the pace and passion of a startup delivered with expert execution on a global scale.

Bossard

Also in this issue, we hear from Bossard, a leading global provider of product solutions and services in industrial fastening and assembly technology. Chief Information Officer Georg Meyer reveals how IT is supporting its efforts to achieve ‘proven productivity’ while working towards its 200th anniversary strategy goals.

Digital Transformation supporting Sustainability

Elsewhere, we discover how the School District of Oconee County has transformed the lives of its teachers and students through the pursuit of digital transformation; and reveal the way SodaStream is leading the fight against plastic pollution, aligning its operational and digital goals with sustainable solutions and products that truly help to preserve our planet. 

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Bridewell Consulting has outlined its top 10 cybersecurity predictions for 2022.

Bridewell Consulting has outlined its top 10 cybersecurity predictions for 2022.

Compiled by its skilled consultants, and coupled with data gathered from its 24/7 security operations centre in 2021, the company warns of the automation of security threats, increased risks for remote workers, and more nation-state attacks on the UK’s critical national infrastructure and supply chains.

“Cyber threats are always evolving and 2022 will be no different. Attackers will use new technologies to launch more sophisticated attacks and remain under the radar, while businesses will use technology to strengthen defences and drive efficiencies. Heading into 2022, organisations need confidence that their systems, data and processes remain protected, regardless of how the landscape evolves, and ultimately that comes down to developing an agile and adaptive security strategy”

MARTIN RILEY, DIRECTOR, MANAGED SECURITY SERVICES, BRIDEWELL CONSULTING

Top 10 cybersecurity predictions for 2022

1. 2022 will be the year of remote risk. With remote and hybrid working here to stay, expect to see a large increase in mobile malware attacks. Cybercriminals will evolve and adapt their techniques to exploit the growing reliance on mobile devices and remote working.

Social engineering will remain the initial attack vector for deployments of malware, phishing and ransomware, with an increase in deepfake technology making attacks more technologically convincing in 2022.

Phishing volumes have already surpassed levels seen in 2020, and this year we’ll see a rise of update-themed phishing emails designed to trick remote employees into believing they are legitimate updates, as well as those used to tailgate employees into restricted areas under the guise of being a new employee hired during lockdown.

2. Ransomware will become automated. Human operated ransomware will be the biggest cyber risk for organisations in 2022. Different from traditional commodity ransomware attacks, we’ll see more cybercriminals with a high level of offensive security knowledge gain access to organisations and survey the environment for an extended period before launching a potentially devastating attack on data and systems.

The risk presented by human-operated ransomware will only increase as wormable variants such as WannaCrypt and NotPetva are utilised more. Additionally, automation will play a key part in the evolution of modern ransomware and malware attacks, with machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) used to remove some of the mistakes that allow businesses to respond to current threats.

3. Volume of hackers-for-hire will increase. Over the past few years, groups such as REvil and DarkSide have appeared and disappeared after carrying out very public attacks against numerous industries. In 2021, we saw a number of hacker groups arrive, have a big impact, and then vanish as quickly as they came, only to repeat the same process again a few months later.

In 2022 we can expect more of the same; in particular, large attacks on lucrative targets such as supply chains and cloud providers to maximise ransom value and payments. Managed services and thirdparty suppliers will also be under greater risk. Phishing-as-a-Service will become commonplace on dark web forums, increasing attack volumes.

4. Zero-Trust will become the de facto cyber security approach. With the rise of hybrid working, Zero-Trust will become critical in 2022. Lack of secure cloud configuration will continue to cause security breaches and organisations will seek to separate users and devices from data, applications, infrastructure, and networks, through the Identify, Authenticate, Authorise and Audit model (IAAA).

More CIOs and CISOs will roll out system-wide Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) with stricter rules around conditional access built-in and supported by session information and telemetry to develop a comprehensive audit trail for real-time detection of a policy breach. Extended Detection and Response (XDR) will also become the technology of choice for Zero-Trust, enabling rapid detection and response of threats across endpoint, network, web and email, cloud and importantly, identity.

5. Organisations will turn to hybrid SOC models to plug skills gaps and aid consolidation. As the cyber skills shortage grows and enterprises lack security professionals with the depth of knowledge and technical skills to develop more advanced capabilities required for running a cloud-native modern Security Operations Centres (SOC), we will see more organisations turn to hybrid SOC models which combine the cyber skills of in-house teams with the expertise of a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP).

Companies will use providers to plug gaps in defences while developing in-house expertise in tools and techniques including EDR, XDR and intelligence-based threat-hunting. Hybrid SOCs will also be used to facilitate consolidation of security tools, driven by a growing desire from the board to reduce security costs, maximise ROI and improve efficiency.

6. Rise in 5G and connected devices will increase IoT risks. 5G will continue to be rolled out globally in 2022 and increase the number of connected devices within organisations, particularly within industrial IoT. Manufacturing and Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) will remain the sectors most susceptible to security issues, with more factories and facilities becoming connected and more organisations reliant on IoT devices for measuring and monitoring processes remotely. Expect to see the introduction of more government guidance and standards to bolster IoT security as uptake increases.

7. Organisations will shift focus from prevention to detection and response. As the speed and complexity of attacks continue to grow, demand for managed security services, such as Managed Detection and Response (MDR) will rocket. No longer the luxury of large enterprises, in 2022 expect all companies to seek to shift from prevention to response and look to implement early warning systems to alert on early signs of a potential breach.

Security Orchestration Automated Response (SOAR) solutions, such as Microsoft Sentinel, will be critical alongside MDR to help to improve the efficiency. Traditional tools such as anti-malware software and spam blockers will still be important, but these will increasingly be combined with proactive tactics, such as MDR, threat hunting, and ethical hacking to ensure any vulnerabilities are identified and mitigated immediately.

8. Critical National Infrastructure will face more threats. CNI will face increased activity from nation state groups, which are likely to prioritise green energy targets given the global focus on the development of sustainable infrastructure. The oil and gas sector will also be the subject of more directed attacks from hackers-for-hire as they attempt to target high-value income industries.

9. Cybersecurity transformation will drive digital transformation. Digital transformation became a necessity for businesses in 2021, driven largely by Covid-19. Probably the biggest mistake we saw in 2021 was a reactive approach to security transformation, whereby security was only considered afterwards. In 2022, expect to see this model flipped with a rise in mature companies who seek to use cybersecurity transformation as the driver for digital transformation.

Cybersecurity will shift from a box-ticking exercise to a business enabler, with CISOs and CIOs working directly with the CEO to develop an adaptive and customisable security model to ensure cybersecurity is as strong as possible before broadening the attack surface further.

10. Cybersecurity vendors will start to consolidate. Microsoft and Google will evolve to become leaders in cybersecurity. Microsoft has already announced a huge commitment to growing its cybersecurity offering and given the company’s dominance in the collaboration market and Google has already taken huge steps to bolster its security expertise.

As both companies continue to build their expertise, we expect to see traditional cybersecurity players start to lose market share as they struggle to keep up with the visibility, coverage and collaboration benefits the global giants can offer.

ABOUT BRIDEWELL CONSULTING

Bridewell Consulting is the second-largest and one of the fastest-growing, privately-owned, cybersecurity services firms in the UK, with its security operations centre protecting some of the country’s most critical national infrastructure.

It also delivers a vast number of services across aviation, financial services, government and oil and gas. The company hold a number of industry accreditations including NCSC, CREST, ASSURE, IASME Consortium, Cyber Essentials Plus, ISO27001, ISO9001 and are PCI DSS QSA Company. The company was recently named Cyber Business of the Year in The 2021 National Cyber Awards and won the SME 100 Growth (Under £10M) and Tech Company of the Year awards at the Thames Valley SME Growth Awards 2021.

Article is taken from Interface – Issue 28

Our cover story investigates how the latest cybersecurity technologies ensure the Commonwealth Bank and its customers are protected from cybercrime

Our cover story this month charts how the Commonwealth Bank is strengthening its cybersecurity posture to protect 16 million customers

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Cybersecurity, and the need to share data safely and securely, goes beyond the day to day requirements of one organisation, it’s about enterprises at all levels collaborating to develop an ecosystem for the greater global good.

Read the latest issue here!

CommBank

Our cover star Memo Hayek, General Manager Group Cyber Transformation & Delivery at CommBank, is leading a team on such a journey while executing the technology transformation required to fortify cybersecurity for CommBank. Leveraging the latest cutting-edge technologies from partners including AWS and Palo Alto Networks – in demand as the global attack surface grows – Hayek is flying the flag for women in STEM careers and delivering the strategies to ensure the bank, its Australian community and the wider global economy are protected from cybercrime.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQNXY2duLZs

Philip Morris International

Also in this issue, we learn how Philip Morris International (PMI) is instigating a digital revolution in the travel retail sector, merging the physical and online worlds by implementing a number of CX-driven initiatives framed around PMI’s IQOS brand which is helping smokers to non-smoke products.

Valtech

We hear again from global business transformation agency Valtech on its efforts to embrace diversity across the length and breadth of its organisation to make it better able to provide solutions that touch all of society. Una Verhoeven, VP Global Technology, gives her perspective on the diversity debate and how that’s further supported in the technological evolution with the rise of composable architecture.

Digital Transformation

Elsewhere, we discover how biotech firm Debiopharm’s digital transformation journey is ushering in a new era for drug development and clinical trials. We also reveal the innovative global IT transformation plans of market-leading tile manufacturer Terreal.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our exclusive cover story this month explores how IAG Firemark Ventures is disrupting insurance to reimagine the customer journey today…

Our exclusive cover story this month explores how IAG Firemark Ventures is disrupting insurance to reimagine the customer journey today

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Technology with the capacity to enhance customer journeys and evolve in line with our changing needs is the holy grail that the companies featured in this packed issue of Interface are on a quest to deliver…

Read the latest issue here!

Our cover star Scott Gunther, General Partner at IAG Firemark Ventures, embodies that pioneer spirit. Leading the investment arm of Australia and New Zealand’s largest insurer to think like a startup and drive innovation in the FinTech & InsurTech space, Gunther’s vision is being realised… “We not only provide staple financial services but the solutions that can make the world a safer place by reacting to everything from natural disasters to life-changing events.”

Trusted by 95% of Fortune 500 companies, Microsoft Azure is delivering transformative cloud journeys for organisations at all levels. Laurent Pierre Jr, General Manager for Azure Customer Experience Engineering Support (CXP), reveals how by creating a high trust environment, the speed at which you and your team can execute and perform becomes a force multiplier.

Keeping with the theme of transformative tech, BSI talk us through the innovation behind the extraordinary world of immersive auditing, outlining its advantages and the potential for a continuous wave of disruption set to provide deeper client value and change the dynamics of assurance forever.

Also in this issue, we hear from Lockton Re on how its global reinsurance business is benefiting from the deployment of smart solutions that leverage new technologies; speak with the CIO at the Office of Inspector General (a part of the US Department of Health & Human Services); discover advances in the digital approach to identity validation with Okta and get the lowdown from Vodafone on how blockchain has the potential to disrupt telcos.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our exclusive cover story this month takes a drive down the information superhighway with Auto Club Group and the Automobile…

Our exclusive cover story this month takes a drive down the information superhighway with Auto Club Group and the Automobile Association of America.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

A customer centric approach to the creation and deployment of digital services is something that unites the business transformation journeys we explore in this issue of Interface.

Read the latest issue here!

Our cover story examines how one of the oldest organisations in the US – the Automobile Association of America (AAA) – and Auto Club Group, among its largest affiliates, are building trust in technology through cybersecurity to support more than 14 million members with a range of digital services. Chief Information Security Officer, Gopal Padinjaruveetil, explains: “Cybersecurity can be the brake in the information vehicle so a business doesn’t have to slow down, enabling it to accelerate change with confidence without putting the organisation, and its members, at risk.”

Elsewhere, we discover how insurance giant Generali is leveraging analytics and AI on a global scale for a structured approach to insurance services delivering long term security and peace of mind for its customers as a lifetime partner.

Delivering innovation on a global scale, SAP’s customer-centric business technology platform currently serves 91% of the organisations making up the Forbes Global 2000, while a staggering 70% of all global transactions touch an SAP system. We find out more…

Also in this issue, we hear from Insider on why Apple’s iOS15 update will impact ecommerce and data gathering; we get the lowdown from EY on the four key steps organisation should take to accelerate their digital transformation and learn from Pulsant how to identify and achieve your business transformation goals.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

IT heads say data leaks in the home will cause the biggest security headache over the next two years as…

IT heads say data leaks in the home will cause the biggest security headache over the next two years as hybrid working arrangements see employees buying and installing their own technology, according to new research by Brother UK.

More than a third (34%) of the respondents cited the issue as their top concern as more decentralised purchasing decisions for devices such as laptops, printers and scanners are creating more data vulnerabilities. 

The research, which surveyed 500 IT leads working for UK businesses, found that just 13% expect employees to be in the office full time over the next two years.

Work to minimise security risks was signalled by almost a quarter (23%) of respondents anticipating that office technology would be centrally procured with employees purchasing home tech from approved supplier lists over the next two years, up from 19% that currently have this procurement model.

However, 11% of IT leads said they expect all office and home technology to be procured by employees on their own over the same period, compared to 5% that currently operate in this way, which could signal some additional challenges for security in the future.

Other top concerns included data security in the office (27%), network security for remote workers (13%) and accountability (12%).

Mike Mulholland, head of services and solutions at Brother UK, said: “The immediate challenge for IT leads in managing people working from home is ensuring that the technology connected to business systems is secure.

“This is part of a wider opportunity for the channel, as they help customers respond to new challenges from the workforce becoming more dispersed, by providing new solutions and services.

“But it’s important that suppliers consult with clients on balancing the efficiencies gained from decentralised procurement against the security and integration that’s more assured from centralised decision making.

“Helping customers to build lists of approved technology for employees to procure from may pay dividends in productivity and security benefits.

“It will also be important for IT vendors and partners to advise when managed services can offer the best outcomes for businesses. Managed print services, for example, gives IT managers full oversight of print fleets wherever they may be, enabling them to manage security settings, firmware updates, and diagnostics from afar.”

Overall, the research found security to be the top priority for IT heads. Almost two-thirds (63%) saw the issue to be as being ‘very important’ over the next two years, compared to 52% that said the same for productivity, 50% for cost-efficiency and 48% for sustainability. Nearly half (49%) associate security with business resilience, while two-thirds (66%) said they are currently working towards improving their IT security in order to underpin resilience.

Ben Nicklen – chief operating officer for workplace data analytics firm Tiger – explores the range of comms channels that are available and shares when there’s a need to ‘start video’

Transformation has accelerated on a global scale for organisations throughout 2020. Many businesses and employees who hadn’t previously adopted the latest collaboration technology, are now doing so – and swiftly.

The numbers tell a significant story. For example, Cisco WebEx and Google Meet have seen 100 million meeting participants in a single day, 200 million recorded for Microsoft Teams, and a staggering 300 million for Zoom.

So, while we might feel lucky to have access to all this technology, some of these working practices are maybe taking their toll on individuals that are experiencing ‘Zoom fatigue’.

There has never been a greater requirement for organisations to stay connected. At this moment in time, millions of businesses across the globe will be logging into meetings, answering calls, checking instant messages and clearing inboxes.

With a range of collaborative tools now firmly at a modern-day company’s disposal, it’s no surprise that there has been a rise in certain intuitive technology as colleagues speak to one another while working remotely. For the enterprises that are used to operating from an office, they will have experienced many more video calls compared to pre-pandemic times.

But are some teams prioritising video, when a traditional call might do? Especially when this method can drive conversations to be wrapped up swiftly and ensure urgent matters are handled there and then.

There has, in fact, been a significant shift in traditional telephony throughout 2020. Organisations have also used it as a central component to newly rolled-out customer schemes that are based upon keeping in touch. And for companies that have had to shut physical stores, diverting their phones can mean many are still able to trade. 

How communication continues to evolve 

Thinking about productive business calls pre-pandemic, these were typically made in their car or on public transport when travelling between meetings. So, when employees who are so used to communicating on the move, are suddenly told to stay put in their home and adopt a more video-friendly approach, it’s no wonder that several may have struggled to transition.

For workforces relatively new to Teams, Zoom and Google Meet calls can bring a sense of apprehension. Colleagues might be worried about Wi-Fi speeds, the flow of the conversation, how they act on screen and what impression their background makes.

There’s a certain level of trust attached to video too, with many employees perhaps feeling as though they always have to be based in an office-style setting when firing up their cameras. And none of these concerns would enter their minds when making an audio call.

However, this isn’t a case for pitting the phone against video – or choosing one over the other. In fact, it’s about understanding the critical role both play in a company’s entire suite of collaborative technology.

To truly know which comms method is required, a good place to start is to consider why a call has to be made in the first place. Is there something visual that’s required? Or does an employee want to replicate those ‘water cooler’ moments to feel better connected and less isolated? If these resonate, then perhaps video is the best course of action.

Once that’s been decided, add an agenda so that individuals know the reasons behind the meeting and where they’re required. For the longer calls, a good tip is to include regular breaks, so employees don’t get distracted or lose focus. Having simple guidelines in place – and communicating them effectively – can help to underline why video is preferred over a quick-fire phone call or less urgent email.

Why more organisations must revisit their suite of comms software

Throughout 2020, there has understandably been a dramatic increase in collaborative tools. It’s anticipated that enterprises have experienced 10 years of remote working transformation – within six months. So, there is a real need to provide an all-around communicative approach to ensure that customer and colleague comms remain of the highest quality.

With human integration and social interaction now a huge priority for teams working in isolation, video is here to stay. And business leaders must utilise a combination of intuitive tech in the right way – understanding how each one positively impacts their workforce’s productivity and well-being, alongside the organisation’s overall bottom line.

That’s where workplace analytics plays a pivotal role. Not only does it support ambitious firms to remain agile and be able to adapt swiftly to economic flux, but it helps their managers to gain visibility of employees’ activities – providing the vital data to make business-critical decisions that truly enhance the colleague and customer experience in both the short and longer-term.

Learn more about emerging trends across the tech panorama in the latest issue of Interface

Oliver Goodman, Head of Engineering at Telehouse, explains the impact AI is having on data centre security and energy efficiency

Demand for data centre (DC) services has been steadily rising every year, but since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, that demand has skyrocketed with people and businesses more reliant on them than ever before. Despite some operators scrambling to overcome capacity shortages, the sector has coped well with the increased demand and has even achieved greater recognition with the UK government giving the sector a voice on COVID-related matters and DC workers being given key worker status.

Relying on human monitoring and intervention can be problematic when trying to stay on top of three of a DC’s biggest challenges – energy efficiency, electricity costs and cybersecurity – when demand is rapidly rising. This is where AI can help. 

Maximising energy efficiency and minimising cost

It’s no secret that DC facilities are power hungry, so it would be easy to assume the sector has a negative environmental impact. However, this simply isn’t the case. A recent survey of UK commercial operators revealed that 76.5% of the electricity they purchased is 100% renewable – 6.5% is between 0 and 50% renewable, 7% is between 50% and 99% renewable and 10% is purchased according to customer demand. But that doesn’t mean DC operators aren’t going further to improve energy efficiency, and this is one area where AI can help.  

The load (the amount of energy consumed by servers and network equipment in server halls) can vary at given time depending on the network demand and accommodating the load efficiently is challenging without the intervention of AI. For example, if the load suddenly goes up in one server hall, additional chilling is required to keep the servers cool and running efficiently. Energy efficiency gains can be made by knowing exactly when to switch that additional chiller on and when to switch it off. 

By collecting, aggregating and analysing operational data, AI can set certain trigger points and execute actions – such as switching the chiller on or off – at exactly the right moment. Machine Learning can also by deployed to understand load patterns and predict when fluctuations in load will occur, allowing DC operations to react efficiently. In an uninterruptable power supply (UPS), AI can switch between efficiency modes automatically in response to changing load levels, ensuring the system runs as close to the optimum efficiency for the load at any given time. 

This can also be applied to reducing electricity overheads. Balancing energy efficiency with the cost of electricity is a constant struggle for DC operators. With loads increasing every year, operators are faced with growing electricity bills. Attempts to keep electricity costs low can impede upon the energy efficiency of the facility. For example, running chillers at 10% of their capacity is one way to minimize electricity costs but this means the chillers will run inefficiently. 

IT Programmer Working in Data Center Syst
IT Programmer Working in Data Center System Control Room.

AI can be used very effectively in control systems to help operators balance cost and efficiency. This is improving over time but there is an onus on the manufacturers to make these developments faster so that operators can build greater levels of automation on top of those systems to help strike the right balance.

Robust cyber security measures

Increasing cyber security in DCs largely comes down to understanding behavioural patterns in the IT infrastructure and reacting immediately when a typical pattern is disrupted by an atypical behavioural event. This is very similar to the way cyber security works in a conventional office-based business. Each company device will have its typical usage pattern and AI can understand how individual devices typically interact with the network. A device logging on to the network outside of regular working hours and extracting data from the system would be an unusual behavioural event and AI can recognise this then disable the device’s network access and notify the business of a possible attempted security breach. 

In the context of a DC, AI will monitor the behavioural pattern of every server and will react accordingly to any event that diverges from the typical pattern. These AI capabilities can be leveraged at an extremely granular level to further enhance security. For example, if a server’s behaviour suddenly changes after somebody has been present in its server hall. This kind of granularity offers huge potential for DCs from a cyber security perspective and will continue to improve security as demand for their services grows.

Where humans would typically struggle to make data-informed split-second decisions that could improve energy cost and efficiency or stop a data breach, AI is helping the DC sector to evolve. It’s an exciting time for the sector and we can expect to see decision-making becoming more intelligent and autonomous as AI-driven solutions continue to evolve. 

Learn more about emerging trends across the tech panorama in the latest issue of Interface

Local surgical hubs, new technology to speed up diagnosis, and innovative ways of working, will help the NHS to tackle…

Local surgical hubs, new technology to speed up diagnosis, and innovative ways of working, will help the NHS to tackle growing waiting lists and treat around 30% more patients who need elective care by 2023 to 2024.

Backed by a new £36bn investment in health and social care over the next three years, ‘doing things differently’ and embracing innovation will be the driving force to get the NHS back on track.

The funding will see the NHS deliver an extra nine million checks, scans, and operations for patients across the country, but it’s not enough to simply plug the elective gaps. The NHS will push forward with faster and more streamlined methods of treatments.

Surgical hubs already being piloted in a number of locations are helping fast-track the number of planned operations, including cataract removal, hysterectomies and hip and knee replacements, and will be expanded across the country. Located on existing hospital sites, surgical hubs bring together the skills and resource under one roof while limiting infection risk and providing a COVID-secure environment, with more planned to open in the coming year.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “This global pandemic has presented enormous challenges for the NHS and led to a growing backlog – we cannot go on with business as usual.

“We are going to harness the latest technology and innovative new ways of working such as surgical hubs to deliver the millions more appointments, treatments and surgeries that are needed over the coming months and years to tackle waiting lists.”

GP surgeries are also using artificial intelligence to help prioritise patients most in need and identify the right level of care and support needed for patients on waiting lists.

Using the latest technology and locally led innovation will increase efficiencies, make every penny count and increase activity levels to tackle rising backlogs.

Martin Riley, Bridewell Consulting’s Director of Managed Services, explains why a cyber security strategy can future proof your business and provide the platform for a successful digital transformation

Regardless of sector, digital transformation has become a business necessity for organisations in 2021. Described as the most important trend in business today, 65% of the globe’s GDP is expected to be digitalised by the end of 2022. And with promised benefits including improved operational efficiency, agility and employee productivity, it’s no surprise that businesses are going digital.

However, while there’s no denying the importance of digital transformation, different levels of organisational maturity can lead to different approaches and this is particularly apparent when it comes to security. Many organisations often take a reactive approach, whereby business and technology transformation are the priority and security is only considered afterwards. However, the risks from putting security on the backburner can be numerous, including higher costs and extended timelines to retrofit crucial security fixes.

Martin Riley
Martin Riley

More mature companies have a different approach – one that puts security transformation first, ahead of digital transformation, to ensure the best possible future-proofed outcome. Their success is now providing a valuable proven blueprint for other firms to follow. So, to reap the benefits of this approach where should you start?

Shift your mindset

Before embarking on any transformation, it’s imperative to get your strategy right. Move away from thinking purely about digital transformation and cyber security as separate strategies and instead develop a cyber security transformation strategy. This will ensure that you can reduce risk and improve your cyber resilience, even as your attack surface grows.

It may be that security transformation becomes the driver of your digital transformation. For example, if you have identified vulnerabilities within your legacy IT infrastructure that necessitates a need to move critical data to the cloud.

Take critical national infrastructure as an example… The convergence of IT and Operational Technology (OT) as well as increased legislative requirements, such as the Network and Information Systems (NIS) Regulation, is driving a clear need for cyber security transformation. Organisations need to adapt to gain a holistic view of cyber security across physical OT and cloud systems before transformation can take place.

Understand your risks

Digitalising your business ultimately introduces new risks. For example, new digital channels can broaden your attack service, while poorly configured cloud-based infrastructure can pose easy targets for cyber attackers. There’s also risks from the internet of Things (IoT) which increases sensitive data proliferation (and by association, vulnerabilities), as well as authentication and access risks posed by remote working and connected supply chains. Before embarking on a transformation plan, you need to understand the security implications of any changes.

Assume zero-trust

In order to ensure that security is front of mind in your transformation you need to adopt a philosophy of a zero trust, where no individual or device is trusted. This involves verification by authenticating and authorising based on all available data points, utilising just-in-time and just-enough-access to limit user access and using analytics to drive threat detection. Not only does this help businesses to be prepared for cyber threats, but also articulates the value of security transformation to other departments.

Embed security from the outset

It can be tempting to simply keep investing in a growing number of security technology tools as and when your transformation takes place. However, all too often there is little integration, overlap and there are gaps in the coverage these tools offer. And while a well-configured set of security tools can provide coverage, many drive threat alerts that are false positives or benign positives, leading to fatigue and alert blindness. Instead, ensuring security is a critical part of the initial design of your transformation strategy.

Use security intelligence to your advantage

Move away from a focus on prevention to response and make security intrinsic throughout the business by implementing proactive measures such as Managed Detection and Response (MDR). By combining human analysis, artificial intelligence and automation to rapidly detect, analyse, investigate and actively respond to threats, MDR can encourage alignment of security transformation with digital transformation.

Cyber Technology Security Protection Monitoring

An adaptive and customisable security model, MDR can be deployed rapidly and cost-effectively as a fully outsourced service or via a hybrid SOC. It helps develop a reference security architecture that enables you to safeguard on-premise and legacy systems, cloud-based infrastructure applications and SaaS solutions, whilst also protecting and responding to new security and user identity threats as well as reducing cyber risk and the dwell time of breaches.

Engage third party support

Finally, don’t neglect to seek help from outside your organisation. By engaging a security architect early on in your project lifecycle, you can benefit from robust and detailed analysis and expertise to ensure the correct decisions are made, tracked and traced from beginning to end. They can also help you understand the interdependencies across your IT estate, identify risks and suggest best practice, as well as legal and regulatory obligations to ensure you continue to be able to withstand a range of cyber attacks throughout your transformation.

Reaping the rewards of cyber security transformation

Every business is on a digital transformation journey, regardless of size or objectives. However, as organisations transform, so do technology and cyber threats. Those that fail to adopt a more proactive and efficient system for mitigating risks and handling, responding, detecting and learning from cyber security attacks will find themselves falling behind and the security function unable to keep up.

Ultimately, cyber and digital security should be thought of as inseparable – and those that can plan and integrate both into their transformation projects from the very beginning will be in the strongest position to succeed and future-proof their business.

By implementing a robust cyber security transformation process and proactive security measures, such as MDR that can support secure digital transformation, you can reap the benefits of a stronger, structured system for managing, isolating and reducing threats and continue to pivot, transition and serve in the new digital economy without leaving security on the side-lines.

Bridewell Consulting

Bridewell Consulting is a specialist cyber security and data privacy consultancy. NCSC Certified and CREST accredited, it provides reliable, high-quality security and risk consulting services; helping its customers protect not just their data, but their reputation, customer trust and bottom line. Providing four core service areas: cyber security, data privacy, penetration testing/red team assessments and managed security services, Bridewell’s expert team of professionals possess specialist industry experience and proven capabilities. They can deliver effective cyber security and data privacy services across financial services, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, technology, retail, media, government, aviation and 24×7 critical services. As a vendor agnostic business, Bridewell is able to effectively and honestly engage with business executives and provide advice, guidance and services in a way that is most appropriate for each organisation, ensuring that proposed solutions are aligned with its clients’ strategy, business objectives and the wider IT architecture.

Learn more about emerging trends across the tech panorama in the latest issue of Interface

we.CONECT offer a virtual and hybrid approach to live events planning delivering tomorrow’s business engineering today

we.CONECT was founded in 2011 by two self-confessed “passionate event industry geeks” with an entrepreneurial spirit. Henry Fuchs and Daniel Wolter saw an opportunity to meet the need for change within the event industry with a new approach to b2b-conferences within the innovation, enterprise and tech sectors.

Henry Fuchs

“We have grown by more than 50% yearly ever since,” reveals Henry. “Today, we serve engineering and manufacturing, automotive, digital transformation and the IT sectors across DACH, Europe and the US market. Our focus has always been on interactions and creating forums and platforms for meetings and connections. This allows decision-makers to interact and network with their peers and get the latest ideas and industry trends. In our environment, they will be given opportunities to grow their businesses and skill sets.”

A diverse network

we.CONECT boasts a 50,000+ strong network, taking pride in having companies as clients rather than simply defining their attendees as the audience. “Our ambition is to fuel them with new ideas, new connections and new inspiration,” pledges Daniel. “We attract everyone from specialists and strategists to management newbies, geniuses and visionaries to help the world’s biggest brands, most innovative companies, and the most promising start-ups, shape tomorrow´s business.”

Daniel Wolter

The rollcall of clients is impressive… Adidas, Adobe, Amazon, BASF, BMW, Coca-Cola, Daimler, Google, Paypal, Nasa, Tesla, Apple are all part of we.CONECT’s network of business partners enjoying unique event experiences alongside the likes of Bosch, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Nvidia, Samsung, Siemens and SAP.

The 1.5 million business users in we.CONECT’s ecosystem demand excellent networking and learning opportunities. “Our events are packed with more than 30 session formats covering different interactivity levels – strongly geared to our customers’ needs,” says Henry. “The problem solving and discussion focused world café-sessions and our ‘Live Tech Take’ are two great examples of formats our clients greatly appreciate.” 

Digital ‘managed’ events

we.CONECT’s Digital Managed Event (DME) offering is for exhibitors that don’t want to share their leads with others. “They bring the content and the crowd; we assist with the hosting, event infrastructure and marketing of the event,” explains Daniel. “With a DME, exhibitors have an opportunity to tailor-make an event relevant to their product and solution; it’s a chance to invest in your own exclusive and customised format.”

Hybrid connections

we.CONECT’s hybrid business event portfolio offers business leaders from all over the world exclusive content, leads and an opportunity to be a part of evolving business communities to gather information, share knowledge, network with peers and find solutions for business-critical challenges. “We believe it’s imperative to be part of a new world of networking with other global players and niche businesses both live and fully digital in an ever-changing world,” asserts Henry. “The hybrid format delivers in that regard. It offers total flexibility, is COVID-compliant and enables both the audience and the exhibitors a chance to make the most of their experience.

hubs101

Daniel and Henry began innovating with the digital transformation of events back in 2016 through the development of their own event app platform and in 2018 with their own first digital events – long before Covid became an issue.

“When the pandemic hit, we were able to react with agility and digitalise our entire event portfolio in 2020,” recalls Daniel. “One of the key enablers was our own virtual event platform, hubs101. It’s a complete platform, built on our event insights and know-how with the latest technology in focus. We’ve gradually developed it over the years, like the company itself, with constant tweaks and improvements. hubs101 has now been road-tested by more than 10,000 customers and hosted over 500 events, which is just the beginning…” 

The we.CONECT team continually add new functions to improve usability based on the feedback received from each event. These invaluable insights contribute to the continued innovation of 30 different session formats that inspire attendees to interact and learn from each other’s experiences.

The timing of the public release of hubs101 with the pandemic was a coincidence but the team felt the platform had reached a stage where it could be beneficial for others. “Before Covid, we’d launched the platform to host 12 online events,” remember Henry. “When the lockdowns started, we identified the potential for virtual events and were able to scale up the platform to host most of the used-to-be on-premises events, working on over a hundred in 2020.”

AI matchmaking

hubs101 users can enter their event interests, business goals, and expectations on the platform; that data is sorted and matched with other participants’ entries. The AI matchmaking function enables hubs101 attendees to find the business partners they’re looking for and connect with them immediately. This saves time and avoids the uncertainty to connect with the right person on an on-premises event, and thus helps businesses reach their ROI more quickly. 

Germany, Berlin, 18.09.2019 – Industry Of Things conference in Berlin 2019. Marcel Wogram for WeConect.

“Our goal is to provide event attendees with the best event experience,” adds Daniel. “Therefore, we’re constantly searching for ways to take the current online event experience on hubs101 to the next level. Right now, users can attend a virtual event smoothly and find the right business partners with an AI matchmaking function. And we aim to expand that function to include not only attendee matching but also interest matching. In the future, hubs101 users can expect to meet the right person and get suggestions for the right event, based on their own goals and expectations they provide to the platform.”

The pandemic has accelerated the process of event digitalisation. Henry and Daniel have embraced the challenge and are determined to continuously help define the future of the event industry, and to transform as many events as possible to a full-scale hybrid experience. “In these times when marketers worldwide rank virtual events as a top three method to generate leads, boost revenue and improve brand impact, we.CONECT and hubs101 can help shape and improve any company’s future strategy and tactics for events and meetings.”

Learn more about emerging trends across the tech panorama in the latest issue of Interface

The Mobile Ecosystem Forum’s SMS Protection Registry, which was developed and piloted in the UK, is now being launched in…

The Mobile Ecosystem Forum’s SMS Protection Registry, which was developed and piloted in the UK, is now being launched in Ireland and Singapore.

The Registry significantly reduces the impact of smishing (SMS phishing) and spoofing by SMS.

In the UK, many major banks and government brands are currently being protected with 352 trusted SenderIDs registered to date. Over 1,500 unauthorised variants are being blocked on an ever-growing list, including 300 senderIDs relating to the government’s coronavirus campaign.

Government agencies, including HMRC and DVLA, are participating in this ecosystem wide anti-fraud solution which is supported by BT/EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, along with the UK’s leading message providers.

The cross-stakeholder working group has seen a significant drop in fraudulent messages being sent to the UK consumers of the participating merchants. Following the success in the UK, The Ireland SMS SenderID Protection Registry is being launched.

The Registry is also launching in Singapore as The Singapore SMS SenderID Protection Registry. With strong interest from numerous other territories, MEF expects new Registries will soon follow.

“There are millions of faked SMS sent by fraudsters trying to steal passwords every day,” says Dario Betti, CEO of the Mobile Ecosystem Forum “We need to help consumers and organisations fight back. Thanks to the collective efforts of the British mobile industry MEF has managed to show a way: a Registry for SMS short-code names.

“The fight against fraudsters is a relentless one, it will never stop. But we are happy to celebrate one successful tool created in the UK.”.

This month’s exclusive cover story focuses on how global digital agency Valtech is on a mission to inspire organisations to…

This month’s exclusive cover story focuses on how global digital agency Valtech is on a mission to inspire organisations to embrace inclusivity, supporting everyone to succeed in tech…

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Technology and its ability to transform the human experience for all the stakeholders of any business, from customers to employees to partners, is the defining theme of this issue of Interface.

Read the latest issue here!

At the heart of this line of inquiry, our cover story reinforces why technology should be for everyone. Valtech, a global digital agency focused on business transformation, is on a mission to encourage organisations to embrace inclusivity, “inspiring everybody to have an authentic voice” by supporting women and people of all walks of life to succeed in tech-based careers. Our interviewee, Sheree Atcheson, Global Director of Diversity & Inclusion, pledges: “We are trying to do something that leaves the world better than we found it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W25hWRdDMA

Elsewhere in this issue, we explore the rise of AI in banking and learn how solutions are being deployed by UnionBank of the Philippines. Dr. David Hardoon, Senior Advisor for Data & AI, explains how the bank is better leveraging data to drive financial inclusion with the delivery of services to the underserved and unbanked. We also speak with Alexandre Kozlov, Head of International IT at Kelly Services, and discover how the staffing giant is embracing business relevant IT with tech that puts people – clients, candidates and recruiters – first.

Also in this issue, we.CONECT tell us how they are using technology to bring people together for virtual live events; we explore AI’s influence on data centre management, and discover why security can future-proof your digital transformation journey.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Ericsson and Vodafone have completed the first deployment of a new energy-efficient 5G radio in London as part of their…

Ericsson and Vodafone have completed the first deployment of a new energy-efficient 5G radio in London as part of their collaboration to improve network energy performance.

Situated on the roof of the Speechmark, Vodafone UK’s central London office, the controlled deployment of Ericsson’s antenna-integrated radio solution (AIR 3227) saw Vodafone’s daily network energy consumption decrease by an average of 43% in direct comparison to previous generations of radio technology, and as much as 55% at off-peak times.

Future-proofing 5G networks

Designed for future-proof and sustainable networks, Ericsson’s new radio is 51% lighter in comparison, and its more compact design and improved energy management features will help to optimize overall site footprint, making 5G rollout and 4G upgrades faster and easier.

1500 of the new radios will now be deployed across Vodafone’s network by April 2022, helping to reduce Vodafone’s forecasted energy consumption of its future 5G network and support a sustainable and responsible 5G rollout.

Vodafone partnering with Ericsson to drive efficiency

Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK, commented: “Our strategy is simple; turn off anything we don’t need, replace legacy equipment with up-to-date alternatives and use the most energy efficient options available. The success of this trial allows us to explore new ways we can more effectively manage the energy consumption of our network with our partner Ericsson.

“There is no silver bullet to manage our network energy consumption – it is about putting sustainability at the heart of every decision and adding up all the small gains to make a material difference.”

Björn Odenhammar, Chief Technology Officer, Networks and Managed Services, Ericsson UK and Ireland, added: “Building on the success of an award-winning 5G network in London, it is another fantastic achievement for Vodafone and Ericsson to reduce network energy consumption by a daily average of 43%.

“Sustainability is central to Ericsson’s purpose and our new radio will help Vodafone to reduce network energy consumption, simplify network rollout and efficiently manage the expected growth in data traffic of both current and future 5G networks. Together we are building the 5G network of the future – one that delivers the highest possible performance with improved resource efficiency and low environmental impacts.”

5G services evolution

Ericsson and Vodafone UK first launched commercial 5G services in 2019. The strong working partnership was recognised for a high performing best-in-class 5G network in London in 2020. In June 2021, it was announced that Ericsson will be supporting Vodafone’s entire cloud-native 5G Core Standalone for packet core applications – a critical milestone to deliver 5G Standalone connectivity services.

The two companies have also been collaborating to reduce the environmental impact of site upgrades and speed up network deployment through the use of drones and Ericsson’s Intelligent Site Engineering service.

Learn more about emerging trends across the tech panorama in the latest issue of Interface

The global Machine Learning (ML) market is estimated to grow by a CAGR of 43% by 2029, according to a…

The global Machine Learning (ML) market is estimated to grow by a CAGR of 43% by 2029, according to a new report from ResearchAndMarkets.

The major drivers for the ML market are identified as the proliferation in data generation, technological advancements in ML and the increased adoption of connected devices and their data driven application. Enterprises are now awash in data related to their customers, prospects, internal business processes, suppliers, partners and competitors.

The ResearchAndMarkets report found that, often, businesses can’t control this flood of data and convert it to actionable information for growing revenue, increasing profitability and efficient business operation. Organisations of all disciplines across the globe suffer a serious problem of managing data in the form of data retention, understanding dark data, data integration for proper analytics, data access and others.

Data volumes set to rise exponentially

Machine learning offers a promising solution to gain economic benefits from the increase in data with the help of predictive analysis and reducing fraud. The volume of data collected by businesses worldwide is estimated to double every year with a lack of understanding of data now cited as a primary reason that overruns project costs to the tune of 20-35% of operating revenues.

Big data capabilities can assist in providing constant changing customers preferences helping companies to improve customer satisfaction, enjoy faster decision making and develop strategies for launching new products while exploring new markets.

Machine Learning in BFSI remains indispensable

The global Machine Learning market has been segmented on the basis of verticals, deployment modes, organisation size and service. The vertical segment is further sub-segmented into banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI), retail, telecommunication, healthcare and life sciences, manufacturing, government and defence, energy and utilities and other verticals. The BFSI segment leads the verticals in terms of revenue in the global ML market with around 21.9% market share in 2020.

BSFI is primarily driven by a growing demand for ML to automate the process of loan approval, for fraud prevention, risk management, investment predictions, marketing and other strategies. Prominent banks across the globe including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, U.S. Bank and others have adopted ML to realise the potential benefits of data driven decision making.

Machine Learning in healthcare promises significant opportunities

The healthcare and life science vertical is anticipated to grow at the highest rate over the forecast period (2021-2029) growing at a CAGR of 44.3% over the forecast period. This high growth rate is attributed to the fact that ML solutions offer wide potential across the healthcare industry. This include patient data & risk analysis, in-patient care and hospital management, medical imaging and diagnosis, drug discovery, life style monitoring and management, medical diagnosis and imaging, precision medicine and more.

Additionally, key companies are providing various ML systems across healthcare; these include Google Deep Mind Health, IBM Watson and others. Moreover, increasing healthcare expenditure also leverages huge adoption opportunities for ML. According to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations, global healthcare expenditure is expected to reach $18.28 trillion globally by 2040.

Learn more about emerging trends across the tech panorama in the latest issue of Interface

The summer of 2021 has shown a vast variety of extreme weather events around the world and thereby given an…

The summer of 2021 has shown a vast variety of extreme weather events around the world and thereby given an outlook on the consequences of the climate crisis. To limit global warming to safe levels, we need to do everything we can. The latest report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms that it is crucial to reduce our emissions drastically and, on top of that, remove unavoidable and historic carbon emissions from the air permanently. Climeworks’ carbon dioxide removal via direct air capture technology is the only solution that can reduce atmospheric concentration of CO2 in a scalable manner, by capturing CO2 from the air today and storing it permanently underground.

Swiss Re’s pioneering commitment

Swiss Re committed in 2019 to reach net-zero operational emissions by 2030 by reducing their carbon footprint and removing any residual emissions. The company is committing to a unique long-term partnership with Climeworks.

Swiss Re and Climeworks are launching a cutting-edge collaboration by signing the worlds’ first 10-year carbon removal purchase agreement. This first of its kind agreement is worth $10m.

Both the length and the total value of the partnership are, so far, unrivalled in the voluntary carbon market for this type of innovative high-quality carbon removal. The partnership with Swiss Re is of integral importance to Climeworks: the re/insurance industry is at the forefront of assessing complex risk structures including those of climate change. Re/insurers are capable of structuring those risks and allocating them in an efficient way. Swiss Re’s unique long-term commitment sends a strong signal emphasising that a pure climate solution like Climeworks’ technology is important to reach the Paris Agreement climate targets.

Supporting the rapid scale up

This commitment is by its nature providing a structure for interested buyers to enter into similar purchase agreements with Climeworks. Swiss Re is sending a key demand signal to carbon removal solution providers and investors. Pioneering customers like Swiss Re and their long-term commitment prove that a market for measurable and permanent carbon dioxide removal already exists today and will grow significantly in the future.  

Bringing climate solutions to scale not only requires the right demand signals, but also de-risking and financing. This is why the partnership between Swiss Re and Climeworks goes beyond the pioneering 10-year carbon removal purchase agreement with further joint activities being assessed together.

About Climeworks’ direct air capture and storage technology

Powered solely by renewable energy, Climeworks’ direct air capture plants capture CO2 from the air. In Iceland, Climeworks’ partner Carbfix mixes the CO2 with water and pumps it deep underground where it reacts with the basaltic rock formations and mineralizes: the CO2 literally turns into stone. Climeworks’ technology is scalable and does not compete with arable land. This September, Climeworks is going to launch its new large-scale direct air capture and storage plant ‘Orca’ in Iceland, bringing large-scale direct air capture technology to reality.

By Robert Hewitt, MB BS, PhD, Biosample Hub The UK has over 150 hospital-associated biobanks, and the function of these…

By Robert Hewitt, MB BS, PhD, Biosample Hub

The UK has over 150 hospital-associated biobanks, and the function of these biobanks is to provide researchers with consented and carefully processed clinical samples. However, three years ago, the annual report of a UK agency called Medicines Discovery Catapult came up with a shocking finding. A survey conducted by the organisation found that 80% of SMEs (small-to-medium sized biotechs) found accessing samples from the NHS ‘unexpectedly difficult with the result that 75% imported samples from abroad.

This is not a problem exclusive to the UK. Biotech companies everywhere in the world have great difficulty accessing high quality patient samples to support their research and development. And at the root of the problem is the simple fact that patient samples most often originate in a healthcare setting in the public sector. Biotechnology companies are in the private sector and therefore have reduced access.

Hospital biobanks

Hospital biobanks generally exist in teaching hospitals and academic centres. They are publicly-funded and are established for the purpose of supporting research in associated universities and institutes. They require dedicated staff and expensive equipment—such as liquid nitrogen freezers—so the start-up and maintenance costs are considerable. While the start-up phase may be funded by research grants, it is harder to obtain research funding for the on-going maintenance costs of these unglamorous-yet-essential core facilities. So, many biobanks survive on funding provided by their own institution. A typical hospital biobank may have 2-3 staff working extremely hard within a very tight budget to provide professionally-curated clinical samples for in-house researchers.

One way in which biobanks can develop an independent income stream is to charge a fee for the provision of patient samples. However, this must be approached with caution as it is illegal to make a profit from the sale of human tissue in many countries. So, biobanks are allowed to charge a carefully calculated cost-recovery fee.

Access to a biobank’s samples is decided by scientific and ethical committees that are populated by various institutional members (scientists, clinicians, administrators, ethicists), with the frequent addition of a patient representative. These committees judge the merits of each application for samples, and they operate according to institutional policies.

One issue that sometimes reduces the likelihood that samples will be provided to industry is the concern that some patients may not want their samples to be used by commercial organisations that make a profit from them. Whether patients react in this way is very much dependent on how matters are presented to them and whether or not the societal value of industry research is emphasised.

In many cases these biobanks are open to applications from industry, in theory at least. Biobanks of different specialities can be found in various national and regional biobank directories, but unfortunately their level of interest in working with industry is often obscure. So, we have the problem that useful biobanks are hard to find.

Biotechs and Big Pharma are very different

Sample access problems are bigger for smaller, younger biotech companies than for established pharma companies. For one thing, these pharma companies will have had many years to develop networks of hospitals supplying samples. Additionally, the fact that pharma companies conduct clinical trials gives them access to hospitals, doctors and patients. Many large pharma companies have teams of dedicated clinical sample procurement staff and their own in-house biobanks, which often dwarf those found in typical hospital biobanks.

In contrast, a small biotech company, particularly a start-up, has none of these advantages and certainly cannot afford to have staff dedicated to sample procurement.

Looking ‘abroad’

In general, the easiest way for biotech companies to obtain samples is to get them from a commercial broker. These companies have the sole focus of providing clinical samples for industry, and naturally they are driven by the need to make a profit.

Brokers generally find it difficult to obtain their samples from hospitals and biobanks in western Europe, where ethical concerns about the sale of human tissue are prevalent. Some countries in eastern Europe and parts of Asia provide a more reliable source. The USA is one industrialised country where brokers are much more accepted, with many US hospital biobanks being willing to supply brokers. The majority of brokers are based in the USA, and many of these have sample procurement operations that extend across global networks.

Scientifically-speaking, the main disadvantage of using a broker is that sample provenance may be lacking (brokers tend not to reveal their sources for business reasons) and along with this there may be uncertainty about the quality of the samples and hence the reliability of resulting research.

Encourage some practices, discourage others

It must surely be best practice for any researcher to obtain biosamples direct from source, that is, directly from the hospital biobank that collected the sample from the patient. In this way, they can have the most confidence that samples and data have been collected professionally. So biotechs should ideally obtain their samples direct from hospital biobanks.

To encourage this, we need to make it easier for biotechs and hospital biobanks to find each other. Biotechs can search a number of biobank directories to find suitable partners, but this is often a difficult approach. Many of the biobanks listed may not be open to working with industry, or may give companies a low priority. Use of biobank directories often results in a lot of disappointing false leads.

One initiative that offers a solution is the online platform, Biosample Hub. This international platform is dedicated to bringing biotechs and academic/hospital biobanks together, and its use is restricted to these two groups. It includes a directory of biobank and biotech members, a directory of sample requests and social networking features. The only reason for biobanks to be on the platform is to supply industry, so the problem of false leads is minimised. One other key aspect of the platform is that it is not-for-profit, so this overcomes the ethical concerns of many biobanks.

Another way to encourage this is to make it more attractive for hospital biobanks to work with industry. In other words, there need to be more and bigger incentives. The problem is that for many hospital biobanks, local academic researchers get top priority, other academic researchers get second priority, leaving industry at the end of the queue. This is natural, because these biobanks are established as institutional initiatives, with the purpose of serving their own institution. The focus of academic biobanks is very much on research productivity as measured by publication impact, and unfortunately industry, for reasons of intellectual property, faces restrictions about how much work it can publish and when.

The incentive of funding is certainly the most viable option for getting hospital biobanks to work with industry. Biobanks need funding and often operate on shoestring budgets. Much has been written on the subject of biobank sustainability, especially financial sustainability. One approach is for biobanks to charge industry a cost-recovery fee for its samples and also to charge a fee from additional sample processing services, such as cutting sections and extracting DNA. This approach seems to be especially well understood by French biobanks, who use the term valorisation for the process of adding and yielding value from their samples. Almost half of the biobanks that have joined Biosample Hub are French and most offer additional sample processing services. All French hospital biobanks are certified according to the French norm NF S96-900 which must also make them more attractive to industry.

Another approach is to make external grant funding of biobanks conditional on service to industry. This could be aided by making it mandatory for funded biobanks to make their sample access policies public, by requiring annual reports on sample distribution and perhaps even having industry representatives on sample access committees. Patient representatives are well accepted, so why not industry representatives?

Samples that lack provenance

New regulations are likely to have a major impact on how biotech companies source their clinical samples. An example is provided by the new European regulation governing manufacture of in vitro diagnostic devices, which comes into force on the 26th May 2022. To demonstrate conformity, makers of IVDs must show that the biospecimens used to validate their devices have undergone acceptable pre-analytic processing. This will require the sourcing of samples from biobanks that are certified to meet specific quality management standards. As a result, diagnostics companies will need to obtain samples from known sources that provide full provenance information.

This need for provenance information will put pressure on commercial brokers to change their business practices and reveal the source of their samples. One way in which brokers may mitigate this is by using binding contracts with both the provider and the requestor of samples, to prevent them from interacting independently of the broker. Of course, not all companies or biobanks will be comfortable with such restrictions.

There are technological solutions that can be used to ensure the reliability of provenance information of samples and use of these will be beneficial. The use of blockchain is one example. This digital technology allows tracking of the transfer of biospecimens from the patient donor to the researcher in a secure, transparent and ethical manner, with all transactions documented in an incorruptible shared digital ledger.

What do patients want?

In order to speed up development of new therapies, diagnostics and vaccines, do we want to allow biotech companies to have access to the best quality patient samples? Or do we want this access to be blocked for a variety of possibly short-sighted reasons? The time seems ripe for a major change in the way clinical samples are sourced by industry and by smaller biotech companies in particular. Now more than ever, as a result of the pandemic, the general public understands the importance of biotech and pharma companies.

As reported by the BBC, the UK government spends £2.3bn every year on keeping old technology chugging along. While it…

As reported by the BBC, the UK government spends £2.3bn every year on keeping old technology chugging along.

While it spends £4.7bn altogether on IT across all departments, almost half of that goes to patching up systems – some of which date back three decades.

The Cabinet Office has stated that it’s taking action to reduce the reliance on outdated technology.

A report that the Office published warns that the spend on obsolete systems over the next five years could each £13bn to £22bn.

Some service, the report says, ‘fail to meet even the minimum cyber-security standards’.

The Home Office spends the most on IT, compared to other government departments, but still relies on 12 legacy systems. Attempts to retire them have repeatedly failed.

The report also reveals that the performance of government systems isn’t being monitored effectively.

A performance management system was implemented nine years ago, but is not only obsolete now, but it soon fell into disuse.

Commenting on the report, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Office minister Fleur Anderson said Michael Gove had “created a culture of waste and inefficiency”.

“It is unacceptable that taxpayers’ money is being pumped into failing and outdated infrastructure.

“Keeping old and broken systems going is what this Conservative government does best. They desperately need an upgrade.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman said the government had accepted the report’s recommendations in full.

“We are reducing our reliance on legacy IT, moving away from costly, insecure and unreliable technology and laying the foundations for future digital transformation.”

Major car manufacturers are leveraging advanced technology to prioritise a different formulation for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, according to Environmental…

Major car manufacturers are leveraging advanced technology to prioritise a different formulation for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, according to Environmental Leader. Ford, VW, Tesla and others are looking to replace nickel or cobalt batteries with lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP), as the components are cheaper.

CEO of VW, Herbert Diess, has committed to using LFP in Volkswagen’s entry-level EVs in order to lower costs. Ford has also confirmed that it will be using these new types of batteries in commercial EVs.

Additionally, Tesla founder Elon Musk has announced the company will be making a ‘long-term shift’ towards LFP.

Importantly, making this change also helps to reduce human rights issues over cobalt mining.

LFP isn’t new technology, but it has helped boost EV adoption thanks to lowering battery costs.

In 2020, lithium-ion battery pack prices dropped 89% in real terms to $137/kWh (compared to 2010 prices), and average prices will be close to $100/kWh by 2023, according to BloombergNEF

At the $100/kWh price point, BNEF expects vehicle manufacturers will be able to produce and sell EVs at price parity with non-EV vehicles in some markets.

Ericsson organised a dedicated virtual event, Ericsson Digital Unboxed 2021, for Jazz Pakistan, to share its thoughts on industry leadership…

Ericsson organised a dedicated virtual event, Ericsson Digital Unboxed 2021, for Jazz Pakistan, to share its thoughts on industry leadership and discuss digital infrastructure.

Ericsson’s global and regional experts and thought leaders showcased the latest insights, use cases and technologies tailored to Jazz Pakistan.

During the virtual event, Ericsson shared its technology vision and updates, and also discussed the possibilities for consumer and enterprise segments. It delved into several topics revolving around creating a differentiated user experience for sports, spectrum strategies, and dedicated networks with a focus on B2B segments.

As part of the event, the latest Ericsson ConsumerLab reports were also presented and discussed. Several demos were also part of the event like Edge Compute Gaming, where low latency access can enable a better gaming experience, and Ericsson Industry Connect, a channel-ready cellular network for factories and warehouses, built to streamline ordering, installation, and management for Enterprise IT.

Abdul R. Usmani, VP of Network, Jazz said: “Digitalisation is everywhere and is now part of our daily lives. At Jazz, we aim to provide state-of-the-art end-to-end services to our customers, focused on data-driven networks as well as the need to accelerate technology advancements in the areas of AI, FinTech and digital content.

“The Ericsson Unboxed event showcased several valuable insights which will accelerate the next phase to meet the evolving demands of connectivity. We are looking forward to more insights and are confident in the next step of the digitalisation journey.”

Ekow Nelson, Vice President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa and Head of Ericsson Pakistan added: “Ericsson’s partnership with Jazz spans over many years with several recent wins and shared successes in the areas of network rollout and digital services. Our world is witnessing challenging times due to COVID-19 and connectivity has never been more critical than ever.

“At Ericsson, we endeavor to automate and accelerate our networks and technology to meet the demands of an ever-changing world. We are working closely with Jazz to provide the best possible connectivity, ensuring that Jazz networks run optimally as demand grows and the need for digitalization expedites.”

Brother UK has partnered with Datalogic to provide technology resellers with the opportunity to buy Auto-ID products on subscription. The…

Brother UK has partnered with Datalogic to provide technology resellers with the opportunity to buy Auto-ID products on subscription.

The ranges of both vendors will be made available through Brother’s Managed Label Service (MLS) platform, which will give businesses the option of spreading the upfront cost of new labelling and scanning devices, software, services and supplies over a monthly payment plan.

The move will include Datalogic’s barcode scanning hardware and partners supplying the equipment will be able to simply integrate Brother labelling devices into customer deals via MLS, and vice versa.

The vendors say the partnership will make it easier for resellers to specify label printers and barcoding technology for bespoke Auto-ID systems, and provide them with access to a joint technical support team.

Ged Cairns, head of Auto-ID business unit at Brother UK, said: “Customers are increasingly looking to buy all hardware, software and solutions as a service, as they look to simplify purchasing decisions and turn capex into opex for affordability.

“Vendors working side-by-side can help partners responding to these changing customer needs faster, by providing considered guidance and expertise of how technology can work as part of a full system and by supporting one another through shared payment platforms.

“With Datalogic by our side, we’re well positioned to help partners as they handle the growing demand for Auto-ID systems.”

Jonathan Brown, UK&I Channel Country Manager, at Datalogic, added: “Brother’s MLS platform is providing another string to partners’ bows as they target growth in the Auto-ID market, so it’s an excellent platform to open up to the resellers we work closely with too.

“Our new partnership recognises the value that two vendors working together can provide resellers, which is especially helpful for those breaking into the Auto-ID market for the first time.”

The move follows Brother UK’s Auto-ID team striking a new deal with specialist distributor BlueStar, which will now carry the company’s thermal and mobile print range as part of a pan-European arrangement.

UtterBerry, a tech giant whose innovations have been used on some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world, is…

UtterBerry, a tech giant whose innovations have been used on some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world, is bringing some of its operations to Leeds, Yorkshire, creating 800 jobs – as reported by the Yorkshire Post.

The business’s primary objective is producing sensors which monitor the movements of infrastructure – for example, bridges and tunnels – in real time. It allows those working on the infrastructure to be warned in advance if anything’s wrong, preventing potential accidents.

The new Leeds hub will also design and manufacturer contactless COVID-19 symptom scanners. UtterBerry is aiming to roll these out across the globe.

Heba Bevan, founder and CEO of UtterBerry, is keen to help those who lost their jobs during the pandemic find meaningful work again, and to attract more women into a typically male-dominated industry.

“What attracted me to Leeds was I knew there was a huge amount of talent around Yorkshire because you have got amazing universities,” she said.

“There is a huge pool of undergraduate and graduate talent.

“Engineers want to do good and provide sustainable developments. The pandemic showed us just how much we are lacking in manufacturing.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said that the investment was “fantastic news for Leeds”.

As reported by DroneLife, Verizon has launched a Robotics Business Technology Division in a bid to involve itself further in…

As reported by DroneLife, Verizon has launched a Robotics Business Technology Division in a bid to involve itself further in the unmanned sector.

Verizon states that it “expands enterprise solutions for drones and ground robotics”.

It acquired Skyward, a drone management company, in 2017 and has since used drones for emergency response and the maintenance of its own network.

It has also worked closely with businesses like UPS or delivery projects, and to leverage the power of 5G.

The new division will continue to enable autonomous solutions for Verizon.

“Enterprises in many industries are adopting drones and ground robots to gather data, survey and monitor infrastructure, and automate logistics operations,” says Mariah Scott, Head of Robotics Business Technology.

“By integrating these fleets with one operational platform, and leveraging Verizon’s advanced connectivity solutions, businesses can speed up time to insight, increase automation of their operations and deliver greater value.”

“Robots are a critical aspect of the 5G future. The formation of this new business unit will accelerate the symbiotic relationship between humans and machines, paving the way for Verizon to transform the way businesses approach innovation and the future of work,” adds Elise Neel, VP of New Business Incubation.

“Our talented team of roboticists will leverage the power of Verizon’s network, paired with the sophistication of next-generation software, to orchestrate and unify robotic experiences. This work will help deliver on the promise of making the fourth industrial revolution a reality.”

According to a new study, technology could create a way for indigenous communities in the Amazon to curb deforestation in…

According to a new study, technology could create a way for indigenous communities in the Amazon to curb deforestation in a major way, as reported by the BBC.

Conservationist groups have supplied indigenous citizens of the Peruvian Amazon with satellite data and smart phones to allow them to monitor the removal of trees. As a result, tree losses have been halved in the first year of the project.

The researchers wanted to see if putting information directly into the hands of those living in the forests themselves could make a difference to the rapid deforestation that has plagued these areas for decades – with great success.

The controlled study was randomised, using 76 remote villages in the Amazon, with 36 randomly-assigned people participating.

Thirty-seven other communities served as a control group, where normal forest management resumed.

When suspected deforestation was picked up by satellite information, coordinates and photos were loaded onto USB drives and delivered up the Amazon river. Then, the data was downloaded onto apps which would show the participants the locations.

It could then be confirmed whether or not the deforestation was unauthorised, and community members would decide on the best approach. If drug dealers were involved, they could decide whether to report to law enforcers. Otherwise, they would intervene directly.

“It’s quite a sizeable impact,” said Jacob Kopas, an independent researcher and an author on the paper. “We saw evidence of fewer instances of tree cover loss in the programme communities compared with control communities.

“On average, those communities managed to avert 8.8 hectares of deforestation within the first year. But the communities that were most threatened, the ones that had more deforestation in the past were the ones pulling more weight and were reducing deforestation more than in others.”

Indigenous groups welcomed the research. “The study provides evidence that supporting our communities with the latest technology and training can help reduce deforestation in our territories,” said Jorge Perez Rubio, the president of the Loreto regional indigenous organization (ORPIO), where the study was carried out.

Our exclusive cover story this month, features global retail giant Carrefour, which is transforming its operations on a massive scale…

Carrefour City Levallois Crise Sanitaire COVID 19 © Nicolas Gouhier

Welcome to a very special edition of Interface Magazine!

There are few enterprises with a heritage and scale enjoyed by Carrefour. The 63-year-old global grocery and retail giant is undergoing enormous change across its numerous territories and grocery formats, and not before time. Sitting, as it does, at a pivotal moment in its history, Carrefour is facing, and meeting, the challenges of size and legacy as it leverages tech and data to transform into a company ready for the challenges ahead. We caught up with Carrefour’s leadership team across its numerous territories and divisions to find out how it’s transforming its operations on a global scale…

Read the latest issue here!

Carrefour has embraced a widespread ongoing transformation, as the retail landscape experiences monumental shifts in behaviour. And the person Carrefour looked to, to deliver this incredible programme of change, was the then rather youthful 45-year-old Alexandre Bompard who joined the Group as Chairman and CEO in July 2017. Bompard has a proven track record in delivering change having been at the helm of French retail chain Fnac-Darty. Bompard’s “Carrefour 2022” transformation plan “embodies the goal of bringing eating well – healthy, fresh, organic, local food – to within everyone’s reach”, said Bompard upon its launch. “To become the world leader in the food transition for everyone”.

Elsewhere in this issue, we speak to Cesar Augusto Dos Santos, Director of IT and CIO of giant Brazilian Communication Service Provider Claro, regarding its digital transformation at scale, as the company enters an exciting new phase of its evolution. Plus, we have some fascinating and insightful content covering digital transformation, business goals versus business purpose and a guide to new working practices that could change your company overnight!

Enjoy the issue!

Andrew Woods (Editor)

Three in four senior corporate executives believe increasing financial investment is necessary to protect intangible trade secrets, according to new analysis commissioned by global law firm CMS and conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit…

A new report released today commissioned by global law firm CMS and conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit reveals that trade secret protection is rapidly rising up the corporate agenda as firms widely recognise the commercial imperative to protect vulnerable assets in light of more business conducted online and across borders. 

With more companies relying on an ever-greater proportion of intangible or ‘secretive’ assets, the findings show a marked shift in how executives are planning to tackle employee leaks, supply chain vulnerability, corporate espionage and cyber-attacks. According to a global survey of 314 senior executives across a range of industries, the three most valuable types of proprietary information held by organisations are customer databases (42%), product technology (40%), and R&D information (23%).

The report, ‘Open secrets? Guarding value in the intangible economy’, reveals that trade secret protection is no longer just a concern for the legal department, but a top priority at the board and C-suite level. The majority (75%) of respondents agree that increasing financial investment was necessary to protect their trade secrets. Measures must be taken to raise awareness of these assets more widely among employees, with 28% of respondents viewing a lack of in-house experience with trade secrets as a safeguarding challenge.

The most significant threats to the security of trade secrets are weaknesses in cybersecurity (49%) and employee leaks (48%). As firms increasingly store and share sensitive information across virtual and distributed workforces, companies face a range of unpredictable insider threats, including intentional leaks from disgruntled employees. This is the biggest concern for the UK, whilst the fear of cybercrime is front-of-mind for business leaders in France, China and the US, worsened by poor internal cybersecurity expertise.

Tom Scourfield, Co-Head of IP Group at CMS said: “Fifty years ago, a company’s value was derived solely from its physical capital. Today, the world’s most successful firms are built on intangible assets that are often secretive by nature – algorithms, customer data, product formulae. This report shows that firms must start taking a more holistic approach to protecting these intangible assets, from computer software to company values balancing restrictions with incentives – and importantly engage every level of their workforce. Without this strategy, protecting trade secrets will remain an uphill battle for many.”

Significantly, four out of five of the top measures that companies are planning to implement over the next two years focus on minimising employee leaks. These range from harsher measures such as closer surveillance of employee’s electronic activity through to more collaborative approaches that centre on improving the company culture and introducing innovative staff incentives.

“Willingness to snoop” is highest in China, Singapore and the United States. It is also a top preferred measure for executives in Technology, Media and Telecommunications, with 36% of respondents planning to implement surveillance over the next two years, reflecting the growing tensions between employers and employees in the technology sector. Efforts to improve work culture are clearly felt more widely in other industries, with almost a third (31%) calling for corporate values to shift towards encouraging trade secret protection.

As companies become increasingly wary of cybercrime and ransomware attacks, the majority (82%) agree that leveraging cybersecurity software is key to protecting their organisation in the long-term. However, only half (53%) believe it is the most effective deterrent or have already restricted digital and physical access to confidential information (55%). 

Hannah Netherton, Employment Partner at CMS adds: “It’s overwhelmingly clear that the threat of employee leaks is driving a need for new strategies to guard valuable assets. Companies must find the right balance between perfecting their cybersecurity protections and creating a healthy company culture that incentivises trade secret protection and encourages speaking up through appropriate channels – even the most rigorous of protocols won’t prevent every employee leak or a disgruntled whistleblower. 

“The pandemic has opened doors to a digital workspace, where it’s easier for employees to accidentally or purposefully access and expose confidential information. It is impossible to protect trade secrets if employees are not aware of the sensitivities around these assets, so putting the right values and measures in place has never been more important to an organisation’s success.”

Aukje Haan, Co-Head of Commercial at CMS added: “With the introduction of the Directive on Trade Secrets, businesses will get a range of options to safeguard their most prized proprietary information. However, there are prerequisites to be able to invoke those options. Identifying and taking reasonable steps will be crucial, from NDAs, cybersecurity efforts through to employee regulation, as well as specific requirements depending on the nature of the business, e.g., online businesses will need to take more cybersecurity measures whereas manufacturing companies will need to take more physical measures on the factory floor.“

We must remove the obstacles to electrification by adopting smart-charging technologies

 by David Watson, Founder and CEO of Ohme

There are seismic changes underway in the automotive world, as the UK gears up to meet its 2030 climate targets. Electric vehicle numbers are going in the right direction – in 9 years, there will be nearly 10 million EVs on Britain’s roads, close to 1 in every 3 cars.

OEMs clearly mean business as Jaguar Land Rover and Ford have already announced that their models will be entirely electric by 2030. However, the journey to electrification is not simply a case of ramping up the numbers of EVs on Britain’s roads. The industry must wake up to the importance of smart tech to make mass adoption possible. 

Smart charging, specifically, holds the key to unlocking the EV technology revolution by maximising infrastructure capacity, lowering the cost barrier to adoption, and gathering data on charging patterns and driver behaviour. Without it, Britain’s ability to meet its climate targets hangs in the balance.

How will our infrastructure cope?

Our national grid will struggle to handle such an huge influx of EVs draining its resources, without smart-charging helping us  balance the grid. If 10 million EVs plug in at similar times, for example before work in the morning, the unprecedented demand could cause the grid to collapse under the pressure. Ohme’s own calculations show that if numbers of this scale plug in at once using dumb chargers, this could add 70 GW to peak demand. Even if just 30% of these owners plugged in using dumb chargers, it would add 21 GW to peak power requirement – a 33% increase in the power required. 

By using smart charging technology, we can prevent such a surge by shifting EV technology demand by time and location to ensure the grid isn’t overwhelmed, allowing electricity to be consumed effectively and sustainably. 

At the same time, this smart tech solves the problem of managing renewable energy surplus. At the moment, the industry struggles to harvest and store excess wind power, for example, when demand is low and supply is high – when the wind blows and we’re asleep. 

The bottom line is that we can’t afford wastage when confronted with such ambitious climate targets. Today, the industry’s solution to this problem is huge, expensive investment in infrastructure – namely megabatteries, backup generation capacity and grid reinforcements. But by using smarter technology, we can achieve the same goal, without the cost. Smart charging enables drivers to draw surplus energy from the grid into their EV batteries at off peak times, turning the car batteries themselves into the perfect storage solution – effectively utilising our natural resources at all times of the day.

Affordability is key

We will never remove ICEs from Britain’s roads unless we can demonstrate that switching to electric doesn’t have to cost the earth. And while the cost of buying an EV might be falling as more affordable models come on to the market, for many, EV ownership still remains out of reach. Bringing down the running costs of  EVs through smart-charging will be critical if EVs are to become mainstream, particularly in a post-pandemic economy.

Smart charging solutions allow consumers to tap into cheap energy by identifying the  best times to charge. In fact, in some cases when there is surplus energy on the grid from renewables, drivers can even get paid to charge their vehicles, dramatically reducing running costs over time.

EV owners can additionally unlock a short-cut to huge savings by combining a smart-charging app like Ohme’s with a time-of-use (TOU) tariff. For example, using the two together brings the approximate cost of driving 10,000 miles down by £280 annually for Nissan Leaf drivers, and by a jaw-dropping £350 for Tesla X drivers.

Joining the dots with data

Smart-charging does not only protect the grid and benefit consumers, it can also help energy suppliers. Smart-charging technologies deliver the ability to ‘connect and control’ the nation’s charging infrastructure – providing the data for energy companies to be able to direct power to where it’s needed, when it’s needed. 

Smart charging also provides an invaluable connection between energy companies and energy consumers, unlocking the data that will help them better serve their customers by understanding their behaviours. By working with smart charging data platforms, OEMs can unlock powerful insights into driver behaviour. This powerful insight can also shape an OEM’s strategy from vehicle design right through to add-on services such as insurance and after-sales care.

Data is key here – it allows us to build a smart, networked system which is able to manage large fluctuations in energy supply and demand whilst providing powerful insights to help both energy companies and OEMs shape their service offers. 

The time is now

The industry is laser focused on production, but the EV revolution can’t be realised in Britain without the right tech to support it.  The answer to breaking down the barriers to mass adoption is staring us in the face – smart-charging technologies. 

Smart tech improves affordability, protects and preserves our infrastructure, and joins the dots between EV stakeholders. It’s a triple win for EV owners, energy companies and car manufacturers, and its adoption at scale will see us well on our way to meeting our 2030 climate targets.

For the purpose of this podcast, we firmly believe that Kelly Smith, Chief Digital and Information Officer at Hagerty –…

For the purpose of this podcast, we firmly believe that Kelly Smith, Chief Digital and Information Officer at Hagerty – a brand known for perpetuating the love of driving and North America’s largest classic car insurance provider, would be best suited.

Kelly brings more than 25 years of technology experience to the table and leads Hagerty’s enterprise digital strategy, capitalizing on emerging opportunities to support Hagerty’s rapid growth.

In addition, Kelly champions the integration of information and technology into all aspects of the business including team building, customer experience, development and product management. Prior to joining Hagerty, Kelly served in senior roles at MGM Resorts and Starbucks.

Data analytics is certainly not a new concept. It’s something we have been fascinated with, both personally and professionally, for…

Data analytics is certainly not a new concept. It’s something we have been fascinated with, both personally and professionally, for decades but its an area which continues to see dramatic change when it comes to our understanding and indeed our application analytics tools. Data is key to transformation. We knew that already. But what we don’t know, as much as we love discussing it, is how far data analytics can truly take us. In order to try and understand where we can go, Transformation Executive Paul Bailo joins the Digital Insight to take a look at where we are. What are we seeing right now in terms of our data analytics maturity and what does it say about the opportunities ahead of us? 

Featuring… Swisscom, State of New Jersey and Cementos Pacasmayo, plus much, much more…

Welcome to another packed issue of Interface Magazine!

Following the success of an exciting B2C portal, we revisit the dynamic partnership between Swisscom and Accenture to find out more about the follow-up: a brand new B2B offering…

Read the latest issue here!

In June 2020, Interface Magazine published an in-depth feature on telco giant Swisscom’s new omni-channel platform – created in conjunction with Accenture – which transformed Swisscom’s B2C offering. Accenture delivered the framework for this digital omni-channel platform (DOCP) and, over time, Swisscom was able to run it independently. In the story, we mentioned that the company was also planning a B2B transformation. At the time, the plan was in its infancy.

Now – again, hand-in-hand with Accenture – Swisscom has launched this exciting new element of its business. We spoke with three people directly involved with this next step – Stephan Schneider, MD of Accenture; Anne-Thérèse Morel, Head of Capability Management at Swisscom Business Customers; and Matthias Piller, Solution Train Engineer at Swisscom – to gain a broader insight on what has changed since our last catch-up.

Elsewhere, we sit down with Luis Miguel Soto Valenzuela, CIO of Cementos Pacasmayo, to discuss the company’s digital and customer experience transformation, and its dedication to improving Peru. And we catch up with Poonam Soans, Chief Data Officer of the State of New Jersey, who explores how she is overseeing a data-driven revolution to better serve its citizens.

Enjoy the issue!

Andrew Woods

Editor In Chief

Sam Holding, Head of International at SparkPost reveals the role of email in enabling marketing teams to be agile and to successfully meet the changing needs of the business and of their target audiences…

This week, The Digital Insight welcomes Sam Holding, Head of International at SparkPost.

Sam Holding, Sparkpost
Sam Holding, Sparkpost

Sam reveals the role of email in enabling marketing teams to be agile and to successfully meet the changing needs of the business and of their target audiences…

Listen to the podcast here!

“So, I’m Sam Holding and I head up the international business for SparkPost. Over the past 20 years, I’ve worked in digital advertising and ad tech and I’ve experienced just how important a really well executed digital program is for a business and seen how email is a key component within that.

I was fortunate enough to be offered an opportunity to join the SparkPost team 18 months ago. SparkPost is an email sending and deliverability platform. What that means is we send a lot of mail. We’re the world’s largest and most reliable email sender. We deliver almost 40% of the commercial email sent globally. To put that into context, that’s about 4 trillion emails that we support our clients to send. We’ve also got the world’s largest email data footprint, which we make available to our customers, for them to use, to make data-driven decisions and drive better performance from their email programs…”

Cierra Dobson, strategy director at design and technology agency, Rufus Leonard, explores how brands of all shapes and sizes can adopt the successful strategies of category-defining service brands to grow their market share and take the lead…




Cierra Dobson, Strategy Director at design and technology agency, Rufus Leonard

Brands are increasingly building a service wrapper around their core products to unlock new revenue streams and grow or protect profit margins. Accelerated by the pressures of Covid-19 and enabled by digital, brands are trying to respond to the ongoing challenge of commoditisation by moving from transactional to long-term value driven relationships with customers. Service brands – whose primary offer is an intangible outcome rather than a physical product – are naturally better positioned to excel in this new reality, sometimes even redefining the categories in which they operate.

Being a service brand doesn’t automatically inoculate your business from commoditisation. Rather, service brands tend to possess a more customer-centric organisational mindset, a more robust technology infrastructure, and greater operational flexibility due to the inherent nature of delivering outcomes rather than physical products. In effect, service brands tend to have the raw materials to become experience-driven businesses.

The strength and resilience of service brands

Together, these traits affect the relationship service brands have with customers, i.e. the length, breadth and depth. Consider a robo-investment brand like Betterment— the customer journey stretches over years (length), spans numerous touchpoints (breadth) and deepens over time as more customer data is generated (depth). If customer experience is a canvas, service brands tend to have a bigger one, with more opportunities to provide value, delight, educate and entertain. It’s no surprise that service brands tend to have been early adopters of CX principles like personalisation and seamlessness.

Such relationships also necessitate a robust digital ecosystem. From communication, to content, to transactions. Forrester notes organisations that use technology to make a meaningful difference to people’s lives grow 4x faster than their competitors.[1] All brands should consider their tech architecture as the foundation for value-adding CX.

Find inspiration from category-defining leaders

  • Wise is a service brand that originated in a highly commoditised category.

With 10 million customers, a reported 70% growth in revenue, doubling profits YoY from March 2020, and a recent valuation of $5 billion[2], Wise (formerly TransferWise) is a fintech unicorn truly deserving of the title. Wise combines frictionless customer experience with category-beating low fees and speed for international money transfers. But the brand’s mission statement, “Money without borders”, has acted as a powerful North Star for its recent expansion into new services[3]. The statement describes an outcome, and the company’s newest services—like banking accounts designed for people who live, work and travel all around the world—tightly align to that outcome. Brands looking to strategically expand their services should start with a clear mission; what is the outcome you want to deliver for your customers and the world?

  • Domino’s is a product brand in a fairly commoditised category

The 2000’s were a rough decade for Domino’s. But a bold move to re-invent their entire offer from ingredients to delivery has since paid off. Besides making the pizza more edible, Domino’s focused on a core need: their customers want to get pizza with as little effort as possible. They pioneered the real time pizza progress tracker, allowing customers to worry less about when it might arrive. Their AnyWare platform allows customers to order from an ever-expanding list of channels with as little as a click of the ‘Easy Order’ button. Designing an effortless, user-centric delivery experience has helped Domino’s revenue grow from $1.6B in 2010 to $4.1B in 2020, (Papa John’s revenue grew from $1.1B to $1.8B in the same period)[4]. Brands should ask themselves, ‘how could we make the experience around our core offer meaningfully better for customers?’   

  • Peloton is a premium brand which straddles both products and services.

Peloton was never just a stationary exercise bike. But now it’s fair to say they’ve created a fitness ecosystem to rival the likes of Nike. The expansiveness of their offer makes them difficult to categorise. It’s digitally enabled exercise equipment, it’s a virtual fitness coach, it’s a streaming service for fitness content, it’s a social platform… Motley Fool contributor Neil Patel sums it up, “Peloton sells hardware that is differentiated by software.”[5] The ecosystem combines data, content and community interaction to make the customer experience feel empowering and addictive[6]. Brands that want to expand their offer should think strategically about their digital ecosystem; is your tech stack fit to deliver truly category-defining experiences?

All three brands have expertly used customer experience design, branding and technology to deepen the relationship they have with customers and win market share.

How to add value to your offer by designing meaningful experiences

  • Take inspiration from your brand purpose and identity. What outcomes does your brand ultimately hope to deliver for your customers and what tends to get in the way? Brainstorm service experiences that deliver on your promise. Even small changes, like using less jargon in website copy, can make a significant difference.
  • Take inspiration from your brand purpose and identity. What outcomes does your brand ultimately hope to deliver for your customers and what tends to get in the way? Brainstorm service experiences that deliver on your promise. Even small changes, like using less jargon in website copy, can make a significant difference.
  • Take inspiration from your brand purpose and identity. What outcomes does your brand ultimately hope to deliver for your customers and what tends to get in the way? Brainstorm service experiences that deliver on your promise. Even small changes, like using less jargon in website copy, can make a significant difference.

All brands have the opportunity to think like a service brand by putting customer experience and outcomes at the heart of their growth strategy. Purpose, empathy, and tech infrastructure are the keys to creating differentiated and meaningful experiences that can come to define a category.


[1] Forrester; Dare To Disrupt With Technology-Driven Innovation Report, 2019

[2] Sifted, TransferWise becomes Wise, 22/02/21

[3] Wise Blog, World Meet Wise, 22/02/21

[4] Macrotrends yearly revenue reports

[5] Motley Fool, Here’s Peloton Will Continue Being Valued Like a Technology Company, Neil Patel, 21/08/2021

[6] OnePeloton.co.uk, Our Story

Gayle Carpenter, Founder and Creative Director at Sparkloop, discusses her incredible journey and the way she has smashed– and continues to smash – gender-based barriers in business…

It seems incredible, in 2021, that female founders remain a rarity – especially when it’s been proven, time and again, that the influence of women entrepreneurs is an incredible force for good. The Treasury recently commissions Alison Rose, CEO of Natwest Group, to lead her own independent review of female entrepreneurship in the UK [LINK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-alison-rose-review-of-female-entrepreneurship] digging deep into just how influential women can be and exposing the barriers they face.

The goal of the review was to tap into the economic potential of female entrepreneurs; one of its key findings was that up to £250bn of new value would be added to this country’s economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men. In response to Rose’s report, the government now has plans in place to increase the number of female entrepreneurs by 50% by 2030 – this is around 600,000 women.

The business case for why this is so important is crystal clear – it’s the much slower march of the way society views women that still needs an overhaul. You’ll hear people claim that sexism no longer exists in the UK because there are no specific laws that bar women from doing anything men do in business, but that’s a deeply short-sighted claim that completely discounts the pervasive nature of negative gender-based stereotypes. 

Even the highly successful Gayle Carpenter, Founder and Creative Director at Sparkloop, faced that one-dimensional mindset from her father when she was choosing what to study. While her passion lay in the arts, she initially chose a business degree, because he’d told her, “girls can do art, but if you want to get a proper job, you’ll need to do business”. Carpenter soon realised she’d made a mistake, and switched to art and design – something that didn’t stop her launching her own business 15 years ago, flying in the face of what Carpenter Senior expected.

Challenging perceptions

“The two things – arts and business – are completely united now,” she says. “My father’s viewpoint spurred me on to prove him wrong in the fact that you could be artistic and commercially creative, and make a career out of it.” Carpenter describes Sparkloop as “an ideas business”, a creative agency which specialises in branding, and all the associated channels of delivery. While the fundamentals of what Sparkloop does, as a business, haven’t changed much in a decade and a half, the way it delivers what it creates certainly has.

“The channels in which we deliver our strategy are beyond the imagination, now,” she explains. “You can’t recognise the output from 15 years ago. So, whilst staying true to our core skills and beliefs, we do make sure that we’re just one step ahead in terms of technology.” This has enabled Sparkloop to remain at the top of its game, and, unsurprisingly, the words and attitude of her father have stayed with Carpenter every step of the way, challenging her to continuously prove his perceptions wrong.

“Part of the reason there’s such a gap in female entrepreneurship is the perception of women in leading roles,” she says. “My dad, bless his soul, had a really old-school attitude towards girls in business – but have we actually moved on that much? There’s still that perception that if you were to start a family, you will be at home, potentially, or at least have to take a step back in order to do that. And that’s a real challenge for many women. Sadly, I do genuinely see that kind of ‘old boys network’ idea at play, but I think you can find or start your on network, and what I’m seeing now is a much more diverse network of people who are like-minded, rather than it being a ‘who you know, not what you know’ situation. It’s really, really nice.”

Everyday barriers

Times are indeed a-changing, but Carpenter has still been up against her fair share of barriers – the kind that remain common today. “I’ve been in a lot of male-dominated teams, and even at creative head level, there would be stereotypical response to my opinions; I was seen as ‘feisty’ as opposed to ‘assertive’, yet the ego-driven, crazy creative director who would throw hissy fits constantly was just ‘eccentric’! It’s interesting how we’re labeled, and how that’s so set within the psyche. But I am seeing it change.”

When we talk about those deep-rooted prejudices, language choice is often how they emerge. People are so used to describing powerful women as ‘difficult’ for standing their ground, and praising men for the same behaviour, that they don’t always realise how damaging that can be and how it influences their own viewpoints and actions surrounding women leaders. For Carpenter, personally, the best way around that has been to take what she’s learned and make sure others know they can come to her for guidance and advice.

Creating the change

“I would say I take much more of a mentoring role,” she says. “I like nothing more than when I started to work with, or collaborate with, clients or other people in my sector and they then almost outpace me. It’s a sign of success in terms of how they’ve grown. I never set out to do it in a structured way, but I’ve worked with a lot of clients who have just naturally asked me for advice, or 360 feedback, and that’s turned into more of a conversation and a bit of mentorship, where they’ve then gone onto do really great things with the confidence and the voice to make a difference. That’s really heart-warming for me.”

Carpenter’s team, just by chance, happens to be very diverse, including her ‘right-hand woman’ whom she brought on board as a junior and who is now a great senior creative. And Carpenter herself has been the recipient of a mentor’s sage advice, which – consciously or unconsciously – shapes the way she has worked with juniors now. 

“When I was at university, I did some experience at a small agency, headed up by a male and female team, and I later went back to work for them – it was one of the happiest places I’ve worked,” she says. “Looking back on it now, in this particular creative head, who was female and had children, I can identify the qualities I’ve noticed in woman leaders and that I would like to draw on myself – kind, but firm, and with a real tenacity. I actually didn’t realise, until now, how much of an impact that particular personal situation had on me, perhaps because it was the only time within my career where I had been working for a female head. So it enabled me to start as I meant to go on, very early.”

The future’s bright

For Carpenter, it’s important to reiterate the fact that giving women equal opportunities shouldn’t be seen as a threat to men, and opening doors for one doesn’t close any for another. It’s also vital to highlight that diversity isn’t just about men and woman – it’s a far broader conversation including gender, sexuality, race, health, and beyond. But regarding female leadership, the issue still lies within perceptions creating barriers that needn’t, and shouldn’t, be there.

“I’ve got a son, and I want to be a role model for him as much as I do for other women, to know that it’s right and fair to have this diverse attitude going forward,” Carpenter explains. “I certainly see that playing out in him, which is wonderful. He doesn’t see male and female roles in the same way that we ever would have, as kids, so that’s fantastic. Additionally, my other half works in finance, which isn’t the most diverse industry, but some of his favourite roles have been when he’s had female bosses, because he says they often have more divers teams which have been more successful.”

Things are moving in the right direction, from Carpenter’s perspective. The fact that gender is an everyday topic of conversation, now, is a step forward, and she’s seeing a general increase in the numbers of women in business. “It’s a lot more split, now, in terms of who I’m seeing as decision-makers,” she says. “There’s a real blend, and that’s really reassuring. I think you just have to have a certain mindset or ambition, regardless of gender, and if you have that sort of natural instinct it’s hard to let go of it. I’m constantly trying to stay one step ahead of myself, always challenging myself. I talk to other female – and male – leaders and use their mentorship to spur me on. 

“Just stay true to yourself, don’t be something you’re not. As a woman, you don’t have to try to be a man to be successful – be who you are and have confidence in that. Never take your eye off the ball, look after your clients, value your team, and that will pay you back in dividends. Most importantly, don’t be afraid of failure. Test, learn, challenge yourself, keep moving forward, and be prepared to make measured risks – it’s the only way you’ll grow.”

After a year in lockdown, the Office for National Statistics has revealed data showing that productivity per worker during the…

After a year in lockdown, the Office for National Statistics has revealed data showing that productivity per worker during the pandemic has increased by 0.4%. 

Businesses have adapted to digital and flexi-working and the benefits they entail have now solidified themselves in our working culture norms. Across the UK, the dialogue has been changed as employers from the Civil Service to PwC have announced official structures for flexible working in the long-term, cutting office space by around 40% to reflect this. 

However, many businesses, including some giants such as Goldman Sachs, continue to denounce the idea of flexi-working in the long term, going against the grain of what employees are calling for. As restrictions are eased, employees are now being called back to the office, triggering calls for increased flexibility in order to maintain the increased flexibility they have seen during the pandemic.

This is supported by landmark research by Theta Global Advisors, showing that a lack of flexibility from businesses has resulted in negative impacts on productivity, mental health and working cultures. Workers want to choose how and where to work going forward in order to be more productive, safeguard their mental health, and achieve a better work/life balance.

According to the research, more than half of workers feel that the leaders and decision makers are “out of touch” and do not understand the processes required to ensure efficiency and productivity.

Working from home has also blurred boundaries between work and private life, with bosses messaging and emailing late in the evening and during out-of-hours, leading to employees feeling increasingly drained and unable to relax.

With a third of UK workers seeing their company’s headcounts decrease but workloads increase, a perfect storm is brewing.

Chris Biggs, Partner at consultancy and accounting Theta Global Advisors, says: “To ensure people are at their happiest and most productive, flexibility is needed in both where and when they work. Freedom from the office must also mean freedom to go to the office to account for different experiences, priorities, and conditions.

“With companies adopting new policies and substantial differentiation in the experience of working during COVID-19, it seems working environments will never return to what they were in 2019.”

Technology has played a vital role in changing the way people eat and view their health. The strategy& report, “An appetite for opportunity: How changing dietary goals can drive growth in retail and consumer goods”, explores how…

The internet as a teacher: COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on health

From the endless memes about inevitable weight gain – glossing over the fact that this has often been caused by illness, depression and anxiety – to the laser-focus on mental health, how we function and what we put into our bodies has become more of an open talking point since the pandemic began. This inevitably means that people have spent more time researching the best options for their personal needs online.’Our research shows the pandemic, and resulting lockdowns, have seen some consumers altering their diets to better support their mental wellbeing’, the strategy& report states. ‘We see indicators of this shift to overall wellbeing when we look at Google Search data. It’s clear there has been sustained interest in ‘vitamins’ over the past five years, with a significant spike in January 2021′. The first lockdown also saw a huge spike in Google Searches for ‘sugar substitute’.

Increased reliance on technology has changed how we acquire food

This shift isn’t new, but COVID-19 has accelerated it. In the UK, many supermarkets had to quickly adjust their online services when the first lockdown caused an enormous surge in the demand for delivery and click-and-collect slots. Additionally, the popularity of takeaway websites and apps has exploded.According to strategy& data, 21% of consumers fo