By Nick Nesbitt is Consulting Services Director at Tagetik UK
As explained in Harvard Business Review, legacy technology can become a liability for your business.
Legacy IT systems, as well as in-house built systems based on spreadsheets and macros, can be a real weakness in your finance function. Not only can IT failures leave bank customers without their money for instance. They can also trigger regulatory compliance delay fines and expose businesses to operational risk due to budgeting, planning and reporting errors. Often, when a story about “computer problems” makes headlines it is because a legacy system has outgrown its capacity and become unstable.
The drawbacks of hanging on to a legacy system
The negatives of not replacing your legacy systems are many. Here are the three key ones:
- A legacy system limits you. It can create real technical barriers to innovation. Your IT should allow you to offer modern services and solutions to users and it should be agile enough to adapt to new technologies as they become available.
- Technology becomes old really quickly. Your legacy system doesn’t get better with age like a fine wine. The more you add to it, the less stable it can become. Banks in particular have now been facing this issue for a few years: decades old legacy systems struggle to co-exist with new technologies and are preventing the banking giants from adapting to meet the new demands of customers, regulators and governments too.
- A legacy system is expensive to maintain. Rather than saving you money, maintaining legacy infrastructures can be a real drain on financial resources preventing investment in new technology. Research from Forrester suggests that that only 28 percent of IT spend drives innovation – the remaining three quarters are spent supporting and maintaining old technology.
So, what should organisations do to truly innovate and not just stay in survival mode?
Why Excel is not enough
Research by the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) highlights that, if you want your budgeting and planning process to be relevant and valuable, you have to get it out of spreadsheets (39% use spreadsheets and email as a budgeting solution; 51% admit there are no governance or controls on spreadsheet budgets; 88% of spreadsheets contain errors). Some Excel workbooks take hours to load and it is practically impossible to cope with electronic reporting and data storage requirements manually.
Outsourcing may be an alternative option when it comes to compliance but it comes with the added cost of an ongoing third-party contract to manage. Furthermore, a third party provider will most likely not be responsible for paying fines should there be any mistakes or delays. Even if you could negotiate a contract that held them financially liable, what would an infraction mean to your brand reputation? The collateral cost of cleaning up a public relations nightmare could be devastating.
No one is advocating that Excel be scrapped entirely. In fact, many CPM solutions use Excel as a front end because of its wide familiarity, flexibility and ease of use. However, an Excel interface should only be the window, not the engine. There needs to be collaboration, workflow, line item details, notes/justification and history of all changes made throughout the process in addition to the native capabilities of Excel to turn financial practices, including compliance, into valuable exercises.
The ‘progressive’ CFO thinks differently
Technology is moving fast. There are many powerful, new solutions available and, to be progressive, CFOs need to understand the value of IT and Finance communicating and working together, with the business’ profit, reputation and growth being common goals.
By resisting change and not switching from outdated systems, you put a brake on the development and innovation of the whole business. Legacy systems lack agility, cost a lot to maintain and deliver a poor user experience.
According to the Standish Group, enterprises collectively spend over one trillion dollars per year on IT. While you won’t incur new direct expenses by keeping your existing legacy systems, you’ll continue to pay for it indirectly through change management, risk mitigation and opportunity costs. The crucial question a progressive CFO should be asking is: “How much does it cost the business to keep our current system running?” rather than “How much money will we save by doing this?”
A single, unified solution
When it comes to financial processes and compliance, the approach that makes most business sense is automation and investing in a robust corporate performance management (CPM) platform.
Your total cost ownership is made of visible costs like software licenses but also of invisible costs like training, maintenance, customisation, implementation, IT personnel and more. By upgrading to a unified CPM platform you’ll reduce the cost of ownership of your IT investments which will eventually result in higher Return on Investment for your company.
The key benefit resulting from upgrading your corporate IT and switching to a CPM solution, is that you’d be moving to a single, stand-alone application.
A unified CPM suite can replace the company’s fragmented legacy solutions and modernise and unify key financial processes, as well comply with accounting and regulatory standards. A stand-alone CPM solution provides one single version of the truth simplifying all CPM processes and rationalising the data collected for budgeting, planning, reporting, forecasting and for financial consolidation.
Ultimately, implementing a stand-alone CPM solution provides multiple measurable and transparent results, from single definitions for all your legal entities, to a unified product catalogue, faster adaptation to change, reduction of the time needed for the entire consolidation process, delivery of statutory, financial, planning and management reporting via dashboards and subsequent reduction of the overall costs.
In the end, a single system costs less to maintain.
Investing in a robust CPM system would at minimum streamline reporting and budgeting and guarantee regulatory compliance. Improved decision-making and business intelligence would be added bonuses.
Given the evolving standards and timelines that define today’s regulatory environment and the need for efficient and transparent financial processes, moving from legacy systems to newer models is a required exercise to gain agility, cost-savings and improved user experience. Letting automated systems do the heavy lifting offers the best and fastest solution. Don’t let your legacy system become a liability – upgrade now and stay competitive without running into unnecessary organisational risks, added costs and lengthier processes.
CEO Hisham Itani and Resource Group Recognized in the 2020 Global Banking & Finance Awards®
Global Banking & Finance Review has awarded Hisham Itani the Chairman and CEO of Resource Group, Technology CEO of the Year Middle East 2020 in recognition of his vision, strategy and strong leadership that have contributed greatly to Resource Group’s success in winning the Most Innovative Holding Group Middle East 2020 in this Global Banking & Finance Awards®.
Resource Group is an investment group with a portfolio of diversified businesses that capitalizes on technology and human talent for value creation. The company has proven that it has gone the extra mile to develop innovative solutions aimed at improving people’s lives and helping Lebanon transition toward a knowledge-based economy. Global Banking and Financial Review, the renowned online and print magazine identified a number of areas that Resource Group has excelled. The company has been awarded Most Innovative Holding Group Middle East 2020, and Hisham Itani the Chairman and CEO, receives the award for Technology CEO of the Year Middle East 2020. Under his leadership, Resource Group has grown from a family security-printing business to a diversified international investment group, with a portfolio of companies across 10 sectors in over 75 countries.
Wanda Rich, editor Global Banking & Finance, said “Mr. Itani took the security printing business to another level and expanded into different technology verticals in an impressive list of success stories”. The list includes digital security, smartcard manufacturing, mobile value added solutions, cyber security and secure communication solutions, telecom infrastructure and managed services, elections supply chain services, lottery systems and operations, mobile and virtual reality games, among others.
Resource Group’s focus on technology has had a constructive and tangible impact on government automation and on citizen experience in target markets.
Editor Wanda Rich says “We are proud to offer Resource Group these prestigious awards and wish them continued success and growth into 2021 during these challenging economic times”.
Global Banking and Finance Review is a renowned online and print magazine. The magazine’s website alone receives over 7 million page views annually. Global Banking and Finance Review provides a balanced view with formative and independent news from the financial community. The Global Banking & Finance Awards® were created to recognize companies of all sizes that are prominent in particular areas of expertise and excellence within the global financial community. The awards are known throughout the global banking and financial community. They reflect the innovation, achievement, strategy, progressive and inspirational changes taking place within the financial sector.
Bouncing back in 2021: Digital Transformation is no longer a choice as dependence on 5G, IoT and Data increases in society and business
By Ivan Ericsson, Head of Quality Management, Expleo Group Limited
The global pandemic has put enormous strain on businesses and brought into sharp focus the importance of being agile, adaptable and able to increase the pace of innovation and change at short notice – catapulting technology right to the top of the agenda for many organisations.
As the economy works to get back on its feet, technology is only going to play a bigger role in our lives. At Expleo, as experts in digital transformation and the reliable implementation of technological innovations, we’ve outlined the biggest tech-driven trends that we expect to see in 2021 and beyond.
1) “Digital transformation” no longer a choice
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught businesses anything, it’s that they need to be poised to respond to abrupt market disruption at any moment, making digital transformation mandatory overnight.
With no room for delay, hugely complex corporations – that have historically been slow to adopt technology – have had to accelerate their reliance on technology just to keep afloat in recent months. Digital change, at speed, has become the norm.
Even last year, the idea of an unscheduled video conference call might put people on edge – now most of us wouldn’t think twice about calling a colleague over Teams or Zoom even for a 2-minute conversation. At the same time, social infrastructure has moved with the needs of its users, with telecoms giants strengthening and opening up networks so we can keep communicating despite social distancing.
There are now very few excuses left for operating in a non-digital way. All businesses need to be intelligent businesses that can change direction nimbly, with speed, confidence and composure. As we see more businesses putting this into practice, it’ll likely result in an increased number embracing and normalising some of the behaviours of tech-savvy giants like Apple and Amazon, who have no doubt thrived during this period.
Their success can largely be attributed to normalising an agile approach. By ensuring all applications have testing facilities built in – a “quality shadow” if you will – it allows for continuous improvements, and the ability to change direction quickly and confidently, when needed. This is particularly valuable today as the world becomes more fast-paced and increasingly unpredictable.
2) Big data/AI/predictive analytics
We’re moving into a space where big data can be extracted from the most seemingly innocuous places. In a hyper-connected world, a move as simple as a dog walk could offer huge swathes of data to the right companies. Many businesses already realise the benefits of capturing and utilising big data, but not all have taken advantage of it. The businesses that move quickest are most likely to reap the rewards in a more impactful way than their ‘data shy’ competitors. Where data used to be a side effect of business operation, it is now the driving force.
As businesses begin to rely more heavily on data to make critical decisions, independent assurance becomes increasingly important to get those decisions right. Forward-thinking, data-driven organisations must therefore assure that the data is correct in the first place, to avoid giving businesses false confidence and risk them moving in the wrong direction – something that is rarely affordable in today’s competitive and fast-paced environment. If businesses are not 100% confident in assuring the quality and accuracy of their own data, they should look to a third party for support.
A key data trend we expect to see moving further into 2021 is the increased use of predictive analytics. At the moment, businesses will often use data analytics to give us insights into our past activities, or to tell us where we are right now. However, the real value lies in knowing where we are going and how we are going to get there. Data analytics will help to identify the optional levels that can be pulled to drive change and realise business benefit.
Secondly, as intuitive technology advances and becomes more accessible, we expect over the next 12 months to see companies of all sizes begin to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) to drive intelligent analytics. In this context, AI refers to various technologies that allow machines to learn, sifting through ‘messy’ big data in order to find and unlock valuable predictive insights into future events. This allows businesses to better adapt their strategy to likely future outcomes and get a head start in the market.
However, with this ever-increasing emphasis on data and data protection, ethical AI will have a more prominent role to play in 2021 and beyond. Protected, usable Data is a by-product of good data security and privacy measures; however, the public remain wary of how their data is being used, particularly after the fallout from Cambridge Analytica’s use of data to influence an election. Businesses, therefore, must give their customers confidence that their data is secure and protected.
3) Moral relevance/corporate altruism
Research shows that young people are increasingly researching and considering the ethics of brands they’re purchasing from. And it won’t be long before this attitude starts seeping into every other aspect of their lives, with more and more people wanting to work for what they consider to be “purpose-driven” businesses.
Talent is the lifeblood of any company, so for big corporations, many of whom were born to create profit, this could put them in a tricky position. They might already be influencing society in a positive way – but this is unlikely to have ever been their main goal.
Moving forward, however, all organisations will have to start thinking about the “Triple Bottom Line”. That means considering the environmental and social impact of your business, alongside your commercial imperative.
We’ll soon see a mindset switch across businesses, from ‘competing’ to ‘advancing’. Instead of wanting to be the “best,” the question will be, how can I better serve the world around me?
In line with this, businesses will have to start thinking more about how to use tech for good, as we’ve seen with the likes of Microsoft Teams connecting tens of millions of people every day, during this very dark time.
2021 is likely to bring even more inroads when it comes to using technology to improve society, whether it’s developing bespoke problem-solving technologies or using IT to ‘eco-proof’ existing sectors, the goal for businesses is to rise to this challenge and build a better future for people and the planet through the use of technology. But all organisations will continue to need to be able to justify technology use and prove that they’re using it ethically, and in a secure manner.
4) 5G new networks – just about all big trends are driven by/reliant upon faster networks – particularly relevant for a more distributed workforce
Greater access and utilisation of 5G networks across the country will underpin and accelerate all of the key trends discussed. Everything we do on our smart devices we can expect to do at higher speed, greater capacity and with lower lag times.
As our digital footprints extend beyond simple web browsing and into our daily lives through smart technology, we are creating huge amounts of data every minute. This vast flow of data is increasingly dependent on new high bandwidth networks to facilitate it. Therefore, the merging of technology and engineering will become critical in ensuring big data is carried successfully to drive analytics and drive business.
The fact we have managed to successfully work from home during COVID is a glowing recommendation for the quality of the networks as they exist today, and they will only get better.
The telecoms industry is already working overtime to ensure that people all over the country get reliable access to the internet – and the fact that there is still inequality in this area proves just how challenging this is. But, in line with this trend toward hyper automation, which will make data extraction and analysis a part of everyday life for businesses, the consolidation of tech and engineering will be ever more important.
Forward-thinking companies will look to incorporate 5G networks into their business strategy. This could be from an internal perspective to enhance the abilities of their remote workforce. Alternatively, this could relate to their own products or offerings – developing an internet of things (IoT) strategy, improve user experience, or bring products to market faster by analysing big data and adapting quicker. Either way, with increasingly improved networks, businesses are expected to take advantage of the huge increase in accessible and usable data.
For businesses to truly reap the benefits of these new technologies, they must be developed and adopted in the right way.
Quality assurance, trust and security are three key requirements that the technology of the future depends on to succeed. Having these requirements at the heart of any digital transformation will ensure that systems perform reliably, having been tested and assured.
By prioritising a seamless customer experience combined with an ability to create, test, and scale digital solutions and operationalise at pace, businesses will be in the best possible position to take advantage of the potential being unlocked by these new technologies.
Ahli Bank, Oman, is SunTec’s 50th customer for its Indirect Taxation Solution
SunTec’s GCC VAT compliance solution to help Ahli Bank automate end-to-end VAT compliance process, manage regulatory changes, and seamlessly integrate it with the existing IT ecosystem
SunTec, the world’s #1 relationship-based pricing and billing company and the provider of #1 GST and VAT compliance solution for Banks and Financial Services in GCC and India, has partnered with Ahli Bank, Oman, to provide its GCC VAT compliance solution.
The win is a landmark one for SunTec as it marks the 50th customer for its indirect taxation solution. SunTec has garnered 24 customers in India and this is the 26th customer in the Middle East to acquire the solution.
VAT is likely to be introduced in Oman in early 2021 and Ahli Bank has taken the proactive step of adopting a VAT compliance solution to ensure operational efficiency, enhance revenue, and augment customer experience.
Amit Dua, President – Client Facing Groups, SunTec, said, “We are delighted to partner with Ahli Bank, Oman in what marks a historic win, in their journey to ensure VAT compliance. We understand that the VAT landscape is evolving within the GCC, and therefore, our solution offers agility to respond to these changing regulatory requirements. With the Xelerate platform and GCC VAT compliance solution, Ahli Bank can digitize the entire VAT compliance process and comply with least number of changes to their existing technology infrastructure.”
He added, “VAT is a crucial step that the GCC countries have taken to implement tax regimes. It is imperative for banks and financial institutions to have a robust and scalable solution to accommodate their specific needs. Ahli Bank joins the list of more than 20 banks who have adopted our GCC VAT Compliance solution. I’m proud to say that approximately 3 billion transactions per annum are processed through our GCC VAT/ GST compliance solution across our client base.”
Said Abdullah Al Hatmi, CEO at Ahli Bank, added: “It is extremely crucial for us to be ready for VAT compliance. We are very happy to partner with SunTec to deploy GCC VAT compliance solution. With SunTec we will have a single solution in place covering all aspects of VAT compliance and we will be future-proofed given that any future regulatory changes will be handled by the solution with ease.”
SunTec’s GCC VAT compliance solution based on the Xelerate platform will enable the bank to smoothly comply with GCC VAT regulations and manage potential regulatory changes with ease. The single end-to-end solution helps automate the entire VAT compliance process including centralized rule-based tax determination, input tax recovery, tax invoice, reconciliation, corrections, adjustments, statements, and regulatory reporting.
SunTec GCC VAT Compliance solution is architected to meet the unique needs of banks and financial services firms and can easily integrate with existing IT systems. The solution is designed to process all taxable transactions across business lines and applications, reduce cost of compliance, mitigate potential risk of compliance violations, penalties, and reputational risk.
Top 8 Tax Scams to Watch Out For
It is tax time and that means finding the best way to file your taxes and to get a refund...
CEO Hisham Itani and Resource Group Recognized in the 2020 Global Banking & Finance Awards®
Global Banking & Finance Review has awarded Hisham Itani the Chairman and CEO of Resource Group, Technology CEO of the...
Euro zone business activity shrank in January as lockdowns hit services
By Jonathan Cable LONDON (Reuters) – Economic activity in the euro zone shrank markedly in January as lockdown restrictions to...
Volkswagen’s profit halves, but deliveries recovering
BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen reported a nearly 50% drop in its 2020 adjusted operating profit on Friday but said car...
Global chip shortage hits China’s bitcoin mining sector
By Samuel Shen and Alun John SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – A global chip shortage is choking the production of machines...
Iran’s oil exports rise ‘significantly’ despite sanctions, minister says
DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – Iran’s oil exports have climbed in recent months and its sales of petroleum products to foreign buyers...
Nissan to source more UK batteries as part of Brexit deal ‘opportunity’
By Costas Pitas LONDON (Reuters) – Nissan will source more batteries from Britain to avoid tariffs on electric cars after...
Muted recovery for UK retailers in December ends worst year on record
By David Milliken and Andy Bruce LONDON (Reuters) – British retailers struggled to recover in December from a partial coronavirus...
Chinese phone maker Honor partners with key chip suppliers after Huawei split
By David Kirton SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) – Chinese budget phone maker Honor said on Friday it had signed partnerships with...
Oil down $1 as China COVID-19 cases trigger clampdowns
By Noah Browning LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Friday, retreating further from 11-month highs hit last week, weighed...