The cloud: an immense asset companies should protect
Source: Finance Derivative
Chas Moloney, Marketing Director, Ricoh UK & Ireland
With the advent of remote and hybrid working solutions, cloud systems have fast become the norm for the majority – if not all – businesses. The driving need to set up new working structures which allow for greater team agility forced companies to identify ways to transport the office into the employee’s home. The cloud was a perfectly natural fit.
Cloud software offers an incredible level of flexibility, independence and accessibility from everywhere, requiring nothing more than a stable internet connection. For us at Ricoh, the cloud has always represented a vast possibility of growth. We are well accustomed to working in the cloud and, as an integral part of how we do business, this isn’t going to change. We will continue to evolve our cloud technology and study its evolution and crucial role in workplace development. Even in a physical context such as the office, the cloud is an incredible asset to increase productivity and facilitate exchanging and reviewing documents and data.
However, the future of the cloud can’t lie in simply purchasing more memory space – it’s much more than that. Companies need to step forward and develop a distributed system that can allow better management and mitigate any department silos in the business. Cloud, at its most effective, is a collaboration tool. Meaning that the full potentiality of the cloud can only be properly realised if this system is used in the right way by leaders, IT professionals and employees. In fact, in our report Leading Change at Work, we found that across all businesses – public and private – siloed decision making and working practices were the biggest hindrances to productive working.
Therefore, good management of the cloud relies on how it’s managed, distributed, and secured. Distributed cloud environments offer different cloud options, which offers a personalised service so companies can tailor both employee and customer services and outputs. The ability to leverage and scale data across borders by utilising distributed cloud offers businesses an unparalleled opportunity to provide a new form of professional services. Essentially, the cloud can be an incredibly effective tool when it is personalised to the need of the company and the customers.
This isn’t to say the cloud doesn’t have its flaws – like all facets of remote working, the biggest impact on uptime and resilience is a poor network and support from outdated legacy tools. Physical offices are installed with the best high-speed connectivity from the start, but people’s homes are a different matter. A slow internet connection can be frustrating, and it can diminish the tasks completed and cause issues with things like conference calls which will be imperative during this time. Cloud services that are slowed down due to reduced connectivity speeds are not just a nuisance but a cost to a business – it’s effectively a waste of paid licence fees. To prevent this, businesses should create and implement a cloud-based technology platform to create a network environment that can facilitate mobility and increase efficiency. They should also ensure employees have the right hardware to sit alongside their more modern software.
Outdated hardware also poses an incredible threat to cybersecurity, with data security only as strong as your weakest router. The rapid digital transformation towards remote and mobile workstations has exposed private data both of employees and companies to higher risks, making increasingly urgent the need to safeguard personal data and enhance cybersecurity activities.
Today, awareness around cybersecurity and data protection is higher than ever in the past. According to our 2020 report, The Conscious Workplace, 1/5 of managers were worried about the security of their network connections. Investing in these networks will undoubtedly make life easier for your employees, but it will also help prevent security threats. Unfortunately, connecting devices and entire workspaces to the internet can leave you exposed to cyber-attacks, so making sure your network is the best it can be is more critical than ever.
Ultimately, the cloud is a great resource that should be exploited and protected. With hybrid working likely to stick around for longer than anyone originally planned, careful examination and investment must be paid to ensure greater longevity and safety.
How to identify the signs that your IT department need restructuring
Source: Finance Derivative
Eric Lefebvre, Chief Technology Officer at Sovos
For firms to execute transformations and meet their overall vision, it is crucial that their CIOs are able to recognise the signs that their department is in need of some internal change. In the current economic climate, CIOs working to fulfil their organisation’s priorities and meet business goals might hesitate to acknowledge that their IT department needs restructuring, never mind be able to identify the signs.
However, these problems rarely fix themselves and organisational restructuring requires conviction and determination from leadership for it to occur successfully. So, what are some of the key signs that CIOs should look out for?
Struggling to keep up with industry demands
CIOs unsurprisingly are working in an extremely demanding environment at the moment. Meeting these evolving demands is crucial for companies. When demands are not met and not handled properly, this can have a lasting impact on organisational goals and objectives, and even impact the way in which transformations are put into effect.
Depending on the organisation’s structure, the way in which being unable to keep up with demands manifests itself can differ. Despite double digit reductions across the industry, the search for talent across the tech world continues, project costs continue to rise as the cost of labour has increased and schedules have been disrupted by significant attrition. Many companies will also find business costs, such as that of third-party software, are higher than planned and technology debt continues to pile up faster than it can be sunset.
Whilst leadership teams might dedicate their department’s attention on the factors discussed above, they may find that their team will fall short when it comes to timely deliverables and helping maintain your organisation’s tech stack and guide its business transformations. Looking beyond the immediate problems of high costs and considering an internal reshuffle may be the solution for many IT departments.
Internal conflict within the team
Organisational designs with underlying issues can cause constant friction, especially when they go unacknowledged. An IT department that lives in conflict will certainly be reflected in results and less than successful tech transformations. CIOs will find that by adopting an organisational design which works through staffing issues, will better innovate, especially if they can all work together.
Department leads should have a strong understanding of their team’s work environment and guide them through any long-term or potential problems. When an individual is working in a demanding or complex industry, working well with your team shouldn’t be the main impediment to innovation. By acting quickly to eliminate internal conflict, CIOs can better lead and ensure their team’s focus is entirely on producing more optimal outcomes.
Delays are commonplace
When a large amount of your team’s time is spent setting objectives, budgets and timelines for the projects they are working on, it is vital that they are met. When delays are coming from the IT department, they will inevitably hinder the development of any business transformation, especially if it prompts teams to spend excessive amounts of time rearranging budgets and timelines and therefore hindering innovation.
IT departments are a crucial aspect in many different parts of a company’s transformations, so remaining on track when it comes to timelines and innovation is critical to operational plans. If delays have become commonplace in an IT team, and external factors are impacting projects, CIOs should look at restructuring an IT department to solve these issues.
The strongest team relationships do not happen by accident and are the result of good planning, strong leadership and a motivated team. CIOs can ensure this by providing vision and long-term strategy with clear goals and objectives to produce high levels of quality output.
When internal issues are noticed in an IT department, and are noticeably impacting team morale or productivity, this should indicate the need for departmental restructuring. Be that due to an inability to meet market demands, issues with productivity and meeting deadlines or internal conflict, these issues all risk a department’s functionality and an organisation’s ability to achieve its goals. In short, don’t overlook the warning signs!
Why the future is phygital
Source: Finance Derivative
By Eric Megret-Dorne, Head of Card Issuance Services and Service Operations at Giesecke + Devrient
Digital banking has become increasingly ingrained in people’s everyday lives. Today, 73% of people globally use online banking at least once a month. Traditional bricks-and-mortar banks, which have long relied on the in-person experience with customers, are now having to step up their offering. With new ways of working blurring the work-home boundary, banks must ensure a fast, seamless connection between face-to-face processes and virtual customer experiences.
However, this does not mean that physical and digital banking are in competition with each other. In fact, many continue to use physical bank cards, with 1.12 billion in circulation in 2021, which provides the basis for digital payments and offerings. As a result, the benefits of digitalisation should converge with the comfort of physical touchpoints to create a holistic, “phygital” experience.
The path to phygital
Banks are accelerating their digital transformation strategies to keep up with the fast pace of fintech innovations. To meet the changing needs and preferences of customers, the payment world is leveraging new technologies to create personalised experiences through a range of different channels.
While the digitalisation of banking has been underway for quite some time – particularly for younger generations – events such as the Covid-19 crisis forced banks and customers of all ages to use digital tools and processes to compensate for branch, office, and call centre closures. With branches worldwide typically operating at reduced capacity due to social distancing requirements, consumers embraced online banking to avoid both the virus and potentially long queues.
However, some consumers still enjoy physical touchpoints, meaning a digital-only approach won’t suit everyone.
Striking a balance
It’s all about options – consumers now want to freely switch between traditional and digital channels without being forced into one. But how can banks achieve this phygital balance? One way is to equip physical channels with digital capabilities, so that online tools can augment the physical experience. For example, personalised bank cards with a bespoke design can be activated digitally, offering customers an extra layer of convenience. Having to wait for a new PIN to arrive in the mail is a common bugbear for consumers, so bringing card activation processes into the digital ecosystem will ensure a more seamless experience.
Greater automation in the card issuance and activation process enables the benefits of digital to be integrated into the physical banking experience without being intrusive. For instance, self-service kiosks empower customers to print their own cards, reducing the time between acquisition and card issuance, while still allowing for in-branch expertise if needed.
The personal touch
Phygital strategies also give banks a range of valuable data insights that can help them better serve their customers. This includes data on purchasing behaviours and habits, which can then be utilised to improve banks’ offerings and unify the physical and digital brand experience. Using omnichannel data helps to build a hyperpersonalisation strategy to provide real-time services.
In this way, digital solutions help banks maximise their user experience. Whenever a consumer interact with a bank, it creates data and behaviours. With fragmented databases, legacy systems and real-time data created by interactions with third-party partners through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), it is not always easy for banks to streamline this data from different sources. By understanding patterns in that data and behaviours, banks can tailor and personalise unique experiences for each and every user.
Where security meets innovation
With big data opportunities abound, banks should be mindful of their consumers’ security concerns. Customers are now demanding much more transparency when it comes to how information is stored and collected. At the same time, they still desire greater personalisation via digital methods. Therefore, any successful phygital strategy requires a robust digital security to ensure customers have the same peace of mind as when they complete physical transactions.
To close the gap between innovation and security, banks should utilise tokenised infrastructure, which ensures the safe provision of payment credentials and securing of customer payments across all touchpoints. This is particularly important as regulations such as PSD2 and SCA demand strong authentication requirements.
The use of a token greatly enhances the consumer experience. For example, it allows for card details to be automatically updated for subscription services upon the expiry of an existing one, avoiding any service disruption. Multi-factor authentication can also ensure an additional layer of security, as it combines a password with verifiable human biometrics such as fingerprints or facial recognition.
Best of both worlds
Every consumer has unique preferences when it comes to banking. Therefore, banks must evolve by bringing both physical and virtual touchpoints into a ‘phygital’ world. Only a phygital approach can meet the needs of all end users – whether they favour an in-person experience, an online one, or a blend of the two. The holistic data insights, personalisation opportunities, and optimised security ensured at every touchpoint are also critical in building future-ready banks.
The tech-enabled R&D opportunities Pharma is still missing.
Neil Thomas, Partner and Head of Health Care and Life Sciences for EMEA at Infosys Consulting
The life sciences industry is arguably experiencing the greatest period of disruption and transformation ever witnessed. The convergence of COVID, global geopolitical and supply chain obstacles, and the reality of climate change has left the industry grappling with higher costs, difficult operating conditions, and market flux. However, these threats also run alongside an explosion of technological advancement.
Capitalising on today’s nascent technologies, pharma now has the opportunity to realise radical transformation – especially within the most challenging area of R&D. While considerable breakthroughs have been achieved through digitalisation, opportunities to streamline innovation are being missed. Here we explore three areas in which pharma can focus on technologies to drive cost-effective transformation in R&D and beyond.
Embracing blockchain for cost-effective R&D
As with all sectors, data is the true lifeblood of life sciences, but despite leaps in its use in R&D, there is still a lack of effective strategies that ensure the safe and effective use of big data to drive cost-effective innovation. Consider blockchain, a technology already used to significant effect in the financial services sector, similar in its high security and data regulation levels.
Clinical trial data is an essential component of drug development, and the integrity and security of this data are critical to ensuring patient safety and bringing new drugs to market. However, to realise the power of data within R&D, companies must be able to securely access and analyse sensitive data at scale.
As recent research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences highlights, “one of the major problems in the use of big data in medicine is that medical data has been collected across different states, hospitals, and administrative departments using different protocols. Therefore, new infrastructure resources are required to better cross-examine the medical data through proper collaboration between different data providers.”
Blockchain distributed ledger technology can help to address some of the challenges associated with managing vast sets of clinical trial data, including data privacy, security, and transparency – especially when considering the collaborative nature of today’s R&D. By storing clinical trial data on a blockchain, pharmaceutical companies can ensure that patient data is protected and anonymised while providing greater transparency and accountability to the numerous stakeholders involved in the process.
Furthermore, blockchain technology can help streamline data management. Automating processes such as data verification and validation reduces the time and cost of managing clinical trial data, freeing up resources to focus on other aspects of drug development. Trust, transparency, and immutability – the three fundamentals of blockchain – align perfectly with the requirements of the pharma industry. By improving data security, transparency, privacy, and efficiency, blockchain can help to improve patient safety, increase trust in the drug development process, and accelerate the pace of innovation in the industry.
Realising the potential of personalised precision medicine
One of the pervasive issues in the industry is the escalating costs of R&D. Not only that but patients and governments increasingly want more for less, especially in this new era of personalisation. As Elias A. Zerhouni, MD, former director of America’s National Health Institutes and Centres, accurately predicted, we are now in the era of P4 medicine – predictive, personalised, pre-emptive, and participatory. Now individuals expect services to be tailor-made and targeted to their specific needs.
Personalised precision medicine aims to provide individualised treatments based on a patient’s genetic makeup, lifestyle, and other factors and relies heavily on the effective use of big data and AI. This is where blockchain technology could come into its own, enabling big data and AI to come together to develop hyper-personalised medicine at scale.
While personalisation is often associated with higher costs, AI can reduce the cost of drug development for hyper-personalised medicine by enabling researchers to predict drug efficacy and safety more accurately. By analysing vast amounts of data, including genetic data, medical histories, and drug response data, AI can identify biomarkers and other indicators that can predict how an individual patient will respond to a given drug. This can reduce the need for expensive clinical trials and help researchers identify promising drug candidates more quickly.
AI-enabled hyper-personalisation approaches can also help researchers design clinical trials that are more targeted and efficient, reducing the cost and time required to bring a drug to market.
As the above research summarises, “Advanced machine learning approaches such as artificial intelligence and deep learning represent the future toolbox for the data-driven analytics of genomic big data. The emerging progress in these areas will be indispensable for future innovation in health care and personalised medicine.”
Bring potential to life with 3D printing
Developing personalised medicine through AI opens many doors, but production is another challenge. This is where 3D printing technology can support the development of small-batch medication, whether for prototyping or personalisation. For example, 3D printing can allow pharmaceutical companies to easily adjust the production process to accommodate small batch sizes, allowing the fast development of prototypes and custom medications for individual patients, supporting the aim of ‘batch of one’, through personalised precision medicine.
By enabling more targeted drug development, more efficient clinical trial design, and more accurate prediction of drug efficacy and safety, AI is critical to R&D and will be fundamental to the realisation of personalised medicine. Add to this the secure foundation of blockchain and the potential of 3D printing to support effective production, and the roadmap for future medicine is paved with today’s most innovative technologies. Through focused digitalisation within R&D, the industry can realise innovative channels for growth that could redefine life sciences for the better of all.