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HOW TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING THE FACE OF THE FINANCE DEPARTMENT

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Julie Windsor

Julie Windsor, Managing Director of Talentia Software UK, examines the role that technology is playing in enabling finance professionals’ increased strategic contribution to organisations.

The standing of finance departments has changed substantially in recent years. While finance professionals have previously been unfairly perceived as “number crunchers”, their profile is increasingly becoming deservedly heightened to that of a key business partner – leveraging data and providing analysis on every aspect of the business from products and inventories to customers and employees. As explored within our latest whitepaper, technology has been pivotal in driving this shift to date and, when harnessed to its full capacity, has the potential to transform the role of finance departments within organisations.

Forward-thinking businesses have been quick to see the advantages of new-generation finance technology, particularly as costs for software solutions have come down significantly in recent years. The advent of cloud computing, advances in mobile technology and the increasing importance of big data are all having an impact on the way that firms operate and finance professionals are increasingly taking notice of developments in technology. Specifically, solutions such as corporate performance management systems are enabling a greater concentration on providing strategic business support at an elevated level.

Driving change and achieving operational excellence

Julie Windsor

Julie Windsor

One of technology’s biggest advantages from a finance perspective is its ability to raise the department’s strategic profile. Thanks to advanced analytical tools, finance professionals can now provide real-time business information that can be used to enable informed business decisions, highlighting both where the best opportunities for growth lie and areas in which a company may need to cut back. This provides finance personnel the opportunity to be at the leading edge, helping to drive change programmes rather than being participants of the latest corporate initiative.

Technology can also help the finance function to raise the bar when it comes to the use of business data. The ability for core processes and transactions to be automated frees up time to concentrate on strategic business performance, while standards of service offered to all areas of the organisation can be elevated due to the rich functionality and reporting tools that the latest systems provide.

Assisting data-led strategic decision-making

The change of pace of today’s corporate climate is now faster than ever before, and as such organisations must be in a position to capitalise on new opportunities as and when these emerge in order to achieve and maintain competitive advantage. Partly in reaction to this heightened pace of operations, business priorities can also now shift quickly and once again, accurate data must be available to address and assist these shifting priorities as and when they arise.

When used effectively, financial software solutions should ensure that the very latest data is always at the fingertips of the finance department to assist the business with up-to-date strategic decisions. In addition, the technology should also enable finance professionals to provide the latest view of how the business is performing against budget, providing the big picture of the organisation’s financial health and, perhaps even more crucially, detailed analytics for identified business-critical areas.

Increasing speed and greater collaboration

Technology enables core business tasks such as quarterly finance reports, balance sheets and profit and loss statements to all be produced in significantly reduced timeframes, in comparison to when these were addressed as manual tasks. With many of the latest finance software solutions also hosted in the cloud, finance professionals can access the information that they need from wherever they may be, allowing fast decisions to be made, sound in the knowledge that they are supported by high quality business intelligence. The latest systems also collate and consolidate information gleaned from other systems across the organisation, providing time-saving benefits in the process.

Over and above the aforementioned benefits, however, perhaps technology’s biggest contribution in the changing role of the finance department is the scope that it provides for encouraging collaboration across departments.

A survey that we conducted of 130 Finance Directors and Chief Financial Officers last autumn revealed a notable finding, with more than half of the respondents believing that collaboration across company departments is vital to improving corporate performance. Many new-generation systems now come with integral social portals, allowing finance to build and bolster connections with other departments and get involved in projects where a strategic contribution can be made. This, in turn, helps the finance function to keep in touch with what is happening internally, so that it can help other lines of the business to understand how they can become more effective and profitable.

By allowing finance professionals to provide and access the latest view of how the business is performing against budget and competitors, technology can provide the big picture of a firm’s financial health as well as detailed analysis to drive the business forward in critical areas. However, while technology may hold the key to continuing to enhance the role of finance within organisations, it is important to ensure that the profession is ready and equipped to embrace the latest trends as they emerge. A clear understanding of the corporate benefits that can be derived from technology is a key first step towards an enlightened approach to finance within organisations.

For further insight into how technology is transforming the role of finance, more information is available in the latest whitepaper from Talentia.

About Julie Windsor, Managing Director of Talentia Software UK

A graduate of Cambridge University, Julie started her career in the software industry with a leading financial services company and later moved to a subsidiary of US giant, Control Data, where she was responsible for introducing solutions targeted at HR. Recognising that new developments in software were about to change the face of HR, Julie was part of a team that formed HRM Software, which focused on talent management solutions for major international businesses. As a director and board member of HRM Software, Julie worked with over 50% of the top 100 UK companies and helped to turn it into the market leader in its field. After the merger with Cezanne Software in 2006, Julie was appointed Director of Operations for the UK and Benelux and was a member of the board. Following the acquisition of Cezanne Software Holding Limited by Talentia Software (formerly known as Lefebvre) in 2013, Julie is Managing Director of Talentia Software UK and on the board of Talentia Software Holding Limited.
Picture Caption: Julie Windsor, Managing Director of Talentia Software UK

About Talentia Software

Talentia Software is a leading international supplier of HR and finance software solutions, with over 25 years’ experience striving to always deliver the best possible service to customers worldwide. The product range includes Human Capital Management solutions with Talentia HCM, and Corporate Performance Management solutions with Talentia CPM (consolidation, reporting and budgeting). The group supports more than 3600 customers in over 30 countries, ranging from SMEs to large international organisations. Located in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, together with a network of partners across Europe, the USA, South America, Australia, Asia and Africa, Talentia delivers and supports customers globally. (www.talentia-software.co.uk)

Technology

Using AI to combat fraud risk

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Using AI to combat fraud risk 1

By Andrew Foster, VP consulting, AppZen

Fraud experts use three factors to explain the motivation for an individual to commit fraud – pressure, opportunity and rationalisation. While the percentage of employees committing fraud is very low, this model, known as the Fraud Triangle, is used to explain what lies behind it for those who do commit it.

Coronavirus has had a huge impact in driving up fraud levels because it has increased all three elements of the Fraud Triangle and has pushed the risk of financial fraud to unprecedented levels.

Many people are clearly now under increased financial pressure. Coupled with this, companies have changed working practices, and cut or furloughed staff, putting traditional controls under intense pressure and creating more opportunities for those few individuals who are now more able to rationalise fraud.

Combatting rising fraud risk

Finance professionals and business managers are clearly facing many challenges in the current climate and fraud mitigation may not be the top priority. Unfortunately, attempted business spend fraud is increasing and will go up in the coming months and years. By taking proactive steps and implementing the right approach it is possible to protect company expenditure and also to save time and money.

At a time when costs are under great strain and adding investigative staff is a hard sell, how can organisations stop would-be fraudsters? It turns out there is some good news. By rethinking controls regimes and mining the data already coursing through existing enterprise systems, businesses can identify, investigate, and remediate potential fraud – and even prevent it in the first place.

AI-powered software developed specifically for finance teams can revolutionise spend and expense management, enabling organisations to quickly and accurately identify spend risks and combat fraud. This approach helps companies rely less on an auditor’s luck in catching a few bad actors and more on a systematic, data-driven and fair approach.

There are four key reasons why AI understands financial documents better than anyone else:

  1. AI looks at everything: every transaction, every line item.
  2. AI remembers everything, so it can spot anomalies and duplicates over time.
  3. AI doesn’t just look at the transactions themselves, but at their context.
  4. AI is continuously learning from the collective experience, insight, and problem spots from their large
    Andrew Foster

    Andrew Foster

    enterprise customers.

Analysing huge volumes of information without an army of analysts

AI software reads financial documents – like POs, receipts, and contracts – and extracts meaning from all the structured and unstructured data in those documents to identify the problem areas. Because AI can process such a huge volume of transactions, it’s extremely accurate at recognising when something is awry. Most of the time, it isn’t fraud – it’s a duplicate receipt, or someone expensing an out-of-policy item. Regardless, AI systems save finance teams’ time by highlighting only high risk transactions that need review and eliminating the need to spend time spot checking transactions (the majority of which are just fine).

Perfect memory

AI systems remember every transaction and document ever processed, which makes catching duplicates over time, across departments, or price or quantity anomalies, straightforward and easy. They will systematically identify which employees are over the policy line; for example, which employees are consistently spending slightly higher than the stipulated meal limit, delivering an objective way to see who is pushing the limit of T&E policy, not being diligent, or even committing fraud.

Using collective market insight

AI software vendors have large numbers of companies using their systems and by collecting information across all their customers they have unrivalled insight into a lot of different kinds of misbehaviour. This enables them to spot trends or common fraudulent behaviours. As their systems learn, they share patterns that represent high risk (without sharing the transaction data) so that all users of their systems can benefit from what they’ve seen and learned from the entire customer base. This increases their effectiveness and accuracy in identifying and stopping expenses fraud.

Customisable controls

Of course, in many cases, what’s out-of-policy for one company is in line with policy at another. AI systems combine the benefits of scale with individual controls that let each customer automate their own policies and tailor the risks they care about most by creating custom rules to build their own spend policies, controls and risk levels.

Conclusion

Through an automated, AI-driven approach, finance teams can catch duplicates, stop wasteful or over-the-limit spend, identify data entry typos, find incorrect receipts and block out-of-policy expenses, far more quickly and effectively than any manual process ever could.

In these times where resources are being stretched to the limit and fraud risk is at a record high, streamlining the process and removing error-prone manual tasks gives finance teams far better visibility into patterns of behaviour and spend within an organisation, and eliminates wasteful, fraudulent or out-of-policy spend.

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The role of wearables in the future workplace

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The role of wearables in the future workplace 2

By Stefan Spendrup, Vice President of Sales Northern and Western Europe at SOTI

With the world having to adapt fast to social distancing, the avoidance of touching surfaces where viruses can be transmitted, and the increased monitoring of healthcare, it’s no wonder that the wearable tech market, which offers solutions to all these dilemmas, is set to grow 137% by 2024.[1]

While the places that we work in have already been disrupted with perspex screens, one-way systems, hand sanitising stations and ‘bubbles’, the next big disruption in the workplace is going to be wearable devices. Statistics show that by connecting workers to one another and to resources, 50% of companies expect to see a boost in productivity.[2] Where will this boost come from? Here are some of the key areas that wearable devices are impacting in the future workplace and the challenges that need to be overcome.

COVID-19 prevention

With many medium to large workplaces playing host to hundreds, if not thousands of people, it is an impossible task to keep all touchpoints on doors and barriers clean. At the same time, access must be controlled for safety and security. While electronic passes have existed for a long time, using wearables to grant access can help keep people moving, eradicating the need to touch surfaces and reducing the spread of viruses.

More advanced possibilities include ordering a lift in advance from a smartphone to help ensure a flow of traffic in busy high-rise buildings, booking meeting rooms to aid with test and trace records, and replacing lunch queues with bookable slots.

One of the key indicators of COVID-19, and in fact many transmittable diseases, is a rise in body temperature. Wearables in the workplace can keep track of any changes in people’s vital signs to help identify and isolate members of staff that are unwell, preventing the entire workforce from becoming ill.

Safety and situational awareness 

By gaining insights into their business operations in real-time, wearables also allow employers to make smarter decisions and take a more proactive approach to ensure the safety of their employees. Wearable devices can be personalised and configured to a worker’s exact needs and specifications. They can also be equipped with haptic response capabilities that employers can use to inform workers if they are operating in an unsafe manner. After all, one bad twist or bend could result in a workplace injury and take that person out of action.

The data capture capabilities of wearable technology can help determine which tasks workers are performing incorrectly, and which may be contributing to inefficiency or poor performance. Organisations can also produce daily, weekly, monthly and yearly reports/scorecards to track performance and identify trends. This can help in targeting risks and mitigating those risks to decrease the potential for injuries and other safety incidents. This can also help identify high-risk employees and situations so employers can intervene accordingly with additional training or tools, helping to combat injuries, fatigue and lost productivity.

Streamlined processes and increased productivity 

Wearable technology will also help organisations increase their efficiency and productivity in several ways.[3] There is a larger demand for products to be made faster and cheaper across industries. Consumers are looking for the easiest and quickest ways to buy products and services. Wearables can help speed up production costs, cut down on operational expenses and alleviate unnecessary strain on workers.

These devices can help automate previously manual processes, help to develop a more hands-free environment, and collect and share data on a local network. For example, leveraging wearable technology to design and test new products in simulated environments can increase design accuracy and enable organisations to identify and rectify any issues before products are released. This also removes the need for physical design prototypes, cutting down on development time and production costs.

Personalised and effective training

Organisations can leverage wearable technology to streamline their training and make it more efficient and tailored to the specific employee receiving the training. Wearable technology also boosts performance, improves employee satisfaction and increases knowledge retention amongst employees. Wearables allow organisations to create immersive task simulations for training purposes. Wearables will take scenario training to an entirely new level by placing employees in simulated situations that closely mimic what a day on the job will truly look like. Instead of watching actors deal with fake situations on a television screen, employees will have the opportunity to work through the scenarios themselves, venture down their decision-making paths and chart their own courses of action. The days of one-dimensional presentations are over as we usher in a new era of interactive training.

Wearables also allow for a more in-depth product knowledge training experience. Rather than asking employees to read various sales sheets, product sheets or corporate brochures, wearables can give employees three-dimensional training on how various products work. They can test out products in real-life scenarios without ever leaving the building. This type of immersive training will ensure employees know everything (specs, benefits, etc.) there is to know about a product and its use cases, helping them sell, advise or troubleshoot products more effectively.

Challenges and concerns related to wearable technology 

When implementing wearable technology into an organisation, it is also introducing a new level of data collection and, as a result, a new area of security concern. It becomes increasingly important to protect the device and the data housed within the device from unwanted access, the same way a company would protect employee information, financial records, etc. And security is not the only concern related to new IoT devices. Organisations will need to worry about compliance, management, updates and more.

Having one central platform can help breakdown organisational silos to eliminate downtime, build applications faster, and manage all mobile and IoT devices in one place, including wearable technology. Wearables are already revolutionising the way workers do their jobs, from law enforcement officers using body cams to gather evidence or record their interactions with the public, to hospital workers using wireless pendants to streamline communication and improve the patient experience. COVID-19 is only accelerating this push towards this integration. It is exciting when we look at the potential and possibilities for wearables in the workplace, but organisations that take the time and care to ensure their devices are properly managed, will reap the most benefits.

[1] https://www.globaldata.com/wearable-tech-market-set-to-grow-137-by-2024-but-smartwatches-to-see-a-10-decline-in-revenue-this-year-due-to-shipment-delays-and-tighter-consumer-wallets-says-globaldata/

[2] https://wiprodigital.com/2017/07/13/wearables-and-connected-workers-how-manufacturing-will-change-forever-part-1/

[3] https://soti.net/resources/blog/2017/are-you-ready-to-wear-able/

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Endpoint Security Industry: An Overview

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Endpoint Security Industry: An Overview 3

Endpoint protection is the practice of stopping unauthorised actors and campaigns from targeting endpoints or access points of end-user computers like desktops, notebooks, and handheld devices. Endpoint security solutions guard against cybersecurity risks to these access points on a network.

From standard antivirus applications, endpoint security has developed to offer robust protection from advanced ransomware and emerging zero-day attacks. Nation-states, organised crime, hacktivists and deliberate and unintentional insider attacks are at risk of organisations of all sizes. Endpoint defence is also seen as the forefront in cybersecurity, which is one of the first locations businesses look to protect their business networks. Digital Audio Workstations [DAWs] Market

Modern EPPs harness the cloud’s ability to manage an ever-growing hazard intelligence database, release bloat endpoints correlated with locally storing all this intelligence, and the maintenance needed to keep these databases up-to-date. It also provides superior speed as well as scalability to access this data in the cloud. The EPP includes a single console for system administrators that is mounted on a network gateway or server that enables cybersecurity experts to centrally monitor the protection of each computer.

An Evolution in Endpoint Security

Over the years, the defence of endpoints has progressed from primitive antiviruses to more sophisticated next-generation antiviruses using advanced technologies, new and improved identification and the response of endpoints, and the OS-Centric Optimistic Security strategy. In a constant basis, it shifts. Network vulnerabilities from yesterday are today’s strengths.

Tomorrow’s vectors of attack will inevitably be defended. And then, it’s off. Yet there has been a step-change in the cybersecurity world. The global pandemic got humanity to fewer than 12 parsecs in the Future of Jobs. In two weeks, strategy plans that were set out to be applied in two years were followed. Attacks grew as the perimeter of the network extended indefinitely. And the CISO obeyed and kept the company secure. To focus on endpoint defence, the cybersecurity world aligns.

Key Components of Endpoint Security

Endpoint encryption and application control, two main components of an efficient endpoint protection solution, are important endpoint security layers that prevent problems such as data leaks from occurring deliberately or accidentally by copying or moving data to removable media devices. Endpoint encryption completely encrypts endpoint data, like notebooks, cell devices, and other endpoints, as well as directories, archives, and portable storage devices, such as CDs and USB drives, for your business.

Application monitoring, a key component of robust endpoint protection initiatives, avoids the operation of unauthorised software on endpoints. Regulation of software addresses the problem of workers installing unauthorised or unsafe software on mobile devices that may build network bugs and result in unauthorised entry.

Endpoint security is handled in the business environment by a central management server that tracks and handles all endpoint connexions to the network. However, security solutions such as antivirus software are monitored and managed at individual endpoints in the consumer environment, without the need for central administration.

The Risks of Endpoint Threats

Security is rapidly changing in today’s mobile world, and endpoints now form a new perimeter, and companies need to secure their data across networks. As companies expand, so do their vulnerabilities, and all businesses must secure endpoints regardless of size or stature. However, there is no apparent, easily guarded line that can hold all the data in and attackers out of the system with the growth in telecommuting, more workers requested or compelled to operate from home, the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud services.

Endpoint threats help to know what kind of susceptibilities exist to gain an improved understanding of what is required from endpoint protection. A few kinds of attacks that are or are becoming more common are listed below. It is necessary to bear in mind, however, that many more forms of attacks exist and attackers every day learn new methods. Legal ramifications: Infringement of data and loss of personal or confidential information is a serious problem that can lead to considerable legal harm. Reputational damage: Businesses suffering data breaches and cyber-attacks are at risk of adverse public opinion, leading to reduced brand and reputational damage.

A Glance at Importance of Endpoint Security in Today’s World

Endpoint security strategies play a significant role in defending against today’s increasingly advanced cyber threats. Today’s cyber-attacks need a new line of security protection. For a variety of factors, an endpoint defence framework is a critical part of enterprise cybersecurity. First of all, data is often the most important asset a company has in today’s business environment and losing that data or access to that data could put the whole business at risk of insolvency.

Businesses have now had to deal with not only a rising number of endpoints but also an increase in the number of endpoint forms. These variables make it more difficult for enterprise endpoint protection on their own, but they are exacerbated by remote work and BYOD policies that make perimeter security increasingly inadequate and generate vulnerabilities.

The threat landscape is also becoming more complex: hackers are constantly seeking new ways to gain access, steal data or trick employees into distributing confidential data. The endpoint security platforms have become a must-have in terms of protecting modern companies because of the cost of a large-scale breach, cost of transferring resources from business objectives to tackling threats and the actual financial cost of enforcement breaches.

An entry point for threats is given by any computer, such as a tablet, smartphone or laptop. Endpoint security seeks to properly protect any endpoint connecting to a network at these points of entry to block access attempts and other risky activities. The corporate network security perimeter has effectively collapsed as more companies accept activities including BYOD (Bring Your Device) and remote/mobile workers.

The need for effective endpoint protection measures, especially because of the increase in mobile threats, has increased substantially. A centralised security solution is no longer sufficient for today’s ever-shifting and undefinable security limit, with workers relying on mobile devices and laptops to work and connect to business networks. Endpoint security offers a further shield to centralized security controls at the point of entry for some attacks and the point of exit for sensitive information.

Differentiating Endpoint Security from Anti-Virus Software

What separates endpoint protection from popular anti-virus applications is that endpoints are responsible for or more of their protection in the endpoint security framework. This goes against network security, where security measures protect the network as a whole instead of certain computers and servers. Endpoint defence, however, is not carried out exclusively on smartphones.

Common endpoint defence techniques with security tools on a central server or control board and tools on individual devices provide a two-pronged approach. Still, by some definitions, certain simpler types of protection fall under the safety umbrella of the endpoint. That said, modern concepts of endpoint protection typically define more sophisticated methodologies, including intrusion detection and behaviour-blocking elements that either end-users or intruders recognise and block threatening activities and behaviours.

Common Trends in Endpoint Security

Endpoint security trends forecast the future of endpoint threat management and the solution features that we will see in the future in the industry. As trends for the year 2018, several developments have been facing, including machine learning and AI, SaaS-based endpoint defence, layered protection against file-less attacks, putting IoT devices under the protective umbrella, etc.

Today’s methods can achieve better remediation, which ensures that operations such as deleting data, terminating procedures, and rolling back photos of the system can spare IT, employees, the tedium of manually reimaging violated systems.

Endpoint Security Software Features to Look for in 2020

There were 4.1 billion accounts of data threats in the first half of 2019 alone. Therefore, employing an endpoint security framework has become essential for every enterprise. Some of the top endpoint security software features to look for: Securing devices, especially USB ports, generating reports, Device-based and user-based security policies, Application Control, Remote patch installation to quickly fix critical vulnerabilities, Strong secure communication encryption algorithm, Receiving configuration security/status alerts, Browser management

In 2020, companies must secure more ends than ever with the global pandemic COVID-19 requiring more workers to operate remotely. Attackers know that human beings, who now often operate beyond the regulated environment created by office computers and networks, are the weakest link to security. Forced outside of the formal system, individuals are more vulnerable to weaknesses and generate openings for attack.

The Future of Endpoint Security

In 2020 and the near future, enhancing endpoint protection needs to be a top priority. The borderless and non-discriminatory existence of cyber-attacks means that sharing their experiences and working together to defend themselves and the general population is essential for the cybersecurity industry. Endpoint security has grown from modest beginnings of protecting standard PCs to protect complex networks in large enterprises, protecting varied environments like business-issued hardware, programmes for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and more.

For corporations and private clients, cybersecurity used to be all about protecting the endpoint. Since then, rapid technological growth has forced security firms, such as Bitdefender, to develop new techniques and business strategies that could meet the needs of ever-larger organisations. 86% of all infringements are financially motivated, where risk actors are after financial data, intellectual property, health records, and consumer identities of companies that can be easily sold on the Dark Web.

Cybersecurity has repeatedly become one of the leading anxieties for companies around the world in recent years, and this pattern will worsen in 2020. We expect to see an increase in new specifications as businesses increasingly recover from the current pandemic. The evolution of large-scale breaches symbolises a growing trend in the number and gravity of security breaches. Data breaches frequently disclose confidential information that also puts consumers at risk of identity fraud, damages the reputations of firms, and puts businesses responsible for violations of compliance. Cyber Observer, a comprehensive solution for cybersecurity management and understanding, estimates that by 2021, cybercrime harm is expected to exceed $6 trillion annually.

Conclusion

Security is constantly evolving and there is a possibility that the future might hold much more than what we have seen. We cannot, however, ignore the changes that have been seen from the past several years to where we have gotten to today.

Who We Are

Adroit Market Research is a global business analytics and consulting company. Our target audience is a wide range of corporations, manufacturing companies, product/technology development institutions and industry associations that require understanding of a market’s size, key trends, participants and future outlook of an industry. We intend to become our clients’ knowledge partner and provide them with valuable market insights to help create opportunities that increase their revenues. We follow a code– Explore, Learn and Transform. At our core, we are curious people who love to identify and understand industry patterns, create an insightful study around our findings and churn out money-making roadmaps.

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