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IBM Cloud Fuels Smart Building Innovation

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IBM Cloud Fuels Smart Building Innovation

CEBIT — IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced several new clients deploying cutting-edge Smart Building solutions built on the IBM Cloud, cementing the company’s commitment to transforming the buildings we live and work in into connected spaces, using Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. New contracts signed with Sodexo, Karantis, R +V Versicherung and HUF Haus, and existing relationships with KONE and Chameleon Technologies, are examples of IBM’s work fueling smart building innovation in connected work and home environments.

Today’s smart buildings generate massive amounts of data. The IBM Cloud provides the foundation to capitalise on this data by offering a powerful service delivery and consumption model that organizations can use to drive operational efficiency, innovation and improved quality of life through smarter buildings.

“Buildings have long mimicked living organisms – plumbing circulates through the walls, wires innervate every room, and concrete and beams provide skeletal support – but until recently, buildings lacked the most critical body part: a brain. The IBM Cloud is the cognitive centre that enables buildings we live and work in to serve our needs in new and unprecedented ways,” comments Bret Greenstein, Global Vice President of Watson Internet of Things (IoT) at IBM.

IBM provides a complete portfolio of offerings to support smarter connected spaces: for example, IBM’s cloud-based Watson IoT platform gathers and analyses exponential data volumes; IBM TRIRIGA helps to increase the operational, financial and environmental performance of a facility; and IBM Maximo provides asset management for real-time visibility of things within buildings.

In the home, IoT analytics coupled with AI capabilities in Watson Assistant enable home and in-home manufacturers, insurers and home care providers alike to cater for individual needs in innovative ways.

Connected Spaces

Sodexo Turns to IBM Maximo to Manage Connected Workplaces

Sodexo is a world leader in Quality of Life services that provides its customers with an integrated offering including food and facilities management services. Sodexo has selected IBM Maximo to transform its worldwide asset management function, and to meet the diverse needs of a wide array of client facilities and demographics, spanning offices, hospitals, research centers, schools and factories.  IBM Maximo provides Sodexo with real time data analysis and optimization across 2.5 million assets, making it easier to streamline global operations. Building an asset management program around Maximo will layer further agility and flexibility into Sodexo’s existing IBM Maximo asset management as-a-service solution.

“At Sodexo, we are highly focused on the consumer journey, ensuring an optimal environment for consumers at all service touchpoints, and always looking for new ways to improve upon their quality of life through our facilities management capabilities,” Keith Hamer, vice president, asset management and engineering, Sodexo.  “Through IBM Maximo, we are now able to deliver a better, connected workplace, which links these advanced technologies to the everyday consumer experience, from walking in the building to going to lunch to when they leave the facility.”

IBM Elevates KONE’s People Flow Innovation with IoT

KONE is a global leader in the elevator and escalator industry, and moves around one billion people each day. By connecting elevators to the IBM Cloud-based Watson IoT platform, the company helps its customers increase the flow of people throughout buildings in many of the world’s busiest cities. KONE is also using IBM Watson IoT to bring the same experience to escalators. Visitors to CeBIT 2018 can experience the conversation between these machines with a virtual reality (VR) and 360-degree video demo on the IBM stand (Pavilions 34 & 35).

“Elevators and escalators are responsible for moving the equivalent of the population of the earth every week and of course they need to perform safely and smoothly,” says HuguesDelval, EVP, Service Business, KONE. “We are already working with IBM to analyze vast amounts of data from sensors embedded in elevators to identify and predict maintenance issues. At CeBIT we are showing how IoT, analytics and insights can take maintenance from the ordinary to the extraordinary.”

HUF Haus and IBM Team to Present the World’s First ‘Learning House’

German pre-fabricated home manufacturer, HUF Haus, and IBM have partnered to create the first house in the world that learns from its occupants. Based in the HUF Haus model house park in Hartenfels, Germany, the smart bungalow named “Ausblick”, understands its residents through their interactions. Thanks to a network of sensors, data is collected in the IBM Cloud, analyzed by the Watson IoT platform and transformed into insights about residents’ behavioural patterns. HUF Haus uses Watson Assistant, IBM’s digital assistant to ensure the home and its occupants can interact together in a natural way. Through voice commands, facial recognition and understanding residents’ behavioural patterns, the HUF Haus learns how to optimise comfort for the occupants and adapts to changing living or working situations. For example, the light in a home office can be switched on at a certain time or a PC can automatically be booted up based on the occupants’ daily work schedule. Residents always have control over the commands, which can be overwritten or reset at any time, for example via a touch display or by voice command.

“We are a family-owned company with a 105-year old home-building pedigree, but we recognize that the learning house is the future,” said Georg Huf, managing partner of HUF Haus. “With IBM we have found a renowned partner who accompanies us on our journey into the new age of living. Homes are getting smarter, and our customers take it for granted that the Internet of Things plays a large part in that transformation. With our self-learning show house “Ausblick” we are setting a new megatrend in the entire construction industry.”

Chameleon Technology’s I•VIE enables users to have a conversation with their energy

UK-based designer and manufacturer of in-home displays for smart meters and connected homes, Chameleon Technology, is using IBM’s enterprise grade voice assistant, Watson Assistant to create a new intelligent, interactive device for homeowners. I•VIE enables homeowners to control, interact with and understand their energy in new ways. I•VIE pulls data from multiple sources including real-time energy used and retailer tariffs, the weather forecast, calendar data, electric car charge levels, and even driving patterns, to help homeowners better understand and control how and when they consume energy. I•VIE can offer ever more valuable insights, such as determining the optimal time to sell any additional energy back to the grid for maximum profit amid complex tariff rules and regulations.

Homeowners can ask I•VIE to check their schedule and identify what time they need to arrive at work the next day, and then I•VIE will automatically charge their electric car to the required level, set home temperatures, and use the most efficient source of power throughout the day, selling the excess back to the grid for a profit. I•VIE can offer valuable money saving insights, and can tailor the home to suit customers’ lifestyles and budgets providing enhanced comfort, security and well-being. I•VIE removes the complexity from the digital energy landscape for the homeowner and helps them to save energy and money.

R + V Versicherung and IBM Launch Smart Home Project To Provide Emergency Aid to Senior Citizens 

R + V Versicherung, one of the largest insurers in Germany, in conjunction with MalteserHilfsdienst, a not-for-profit non-governmental humanitarian aid agency, has selected IBM as a partner in a new smart home project designed to provide emergency assistance for vulnerable residents in medical emergencies. In its initial pilot, the insurer equipped 25 apartments with sensors and modern security technology to identify emergency situations and immediately provide an alert when abnormalities occur. Using the IBM Watson IoT platform on the IBM Cloud, the system learns from the behaviour of each resident and establishes a view of their daily routine. Any anomalies to this can trigger a warning message.  For example, if an elderly woman who usually gets up at 8:00am is still in bed at a later time than usual, the system analyzes this data and sends a warning message to healthcare professionals to intervene. Full results from this trial are expected by April 2019 and may be used to introduce new approaches to preventative care in the insurance industry.

“Smart Home is an interesting future market for insurers. We are very excited about what the future might hold, as a result of this pilot,” said R + V’s CEO Norbert Rollinger. “Temperature and smoke sensors measure the air in the room, a water monitor reports an overflowing sink or bathtub. Door contacts and motion detectors sound an alarm when something suspicious opens. Bed occupancy can also be recorded. The system quickly learns the personal habits of each resident so we can deliver a truly personalized service.”

IBM and Karantis Build AI-Driven Approach to Assisted Living for UK Elderly Population

UK-based care management provider Karantis has partnered with IBM to develop Karantis360, a smart cloud-based solution designed to enable assisted living through non-intrusive monitoring of individuals in their own homes, residential care, sheltered housing, or healthcare facilities. Leveraging IBM Watson IoT, delivered via a mobile application, Karantis360 learns changes in behaviour over time and flags exceptions to routines and habits as these occur.

Using IoT sensors via EnOceanGmbh, it can track whether a patient has got out of bed, used the bathroom, boiled the kettle, or left the house, sending alerts via a mobile app in case of any unusual behaviour which may indicate a need for emergency intervention. Services like these may lead to national healthcare providers like the National Health Service (NHS) being better able to care for elderly patients, particularly those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

“In the UK alone, there are now 10.8 million people over 68 years old, 97% of which would prefer to stay in their own homes. Developed in partnership with IBM, Karantis360 is a totally new development in assisted living,” says Nick Hampson, Managing Director, Karantis. “We moved to the IBM Cloud to unlock the AI and IoT services which weren’t previously available to us and, combined with EnOceanGmBH sensors have now built a secure system designed to deliver genuinely smarter care with complete confidentiality and data security. This is a system trusted by clients and relied on by families and residents so that they can live more independently and safely in their own homes for longer.”

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TCI: A time of critical importance

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TCI: A time of critical importance 1

By Fabrice Desnos, head of Northern Europe Region, Euler Hermes, the world’s leading trade credit insurer, outlines the importance of less publicised measures for the journey ahead.

After months of lockdown, Europe is shifting towards rebuilding economies and resuming trade. Amongst the multibillion-euro stimulus packages provided by governments to businesses to help them resume their engines of growth, the cooperation between the state and private sector trade credit insurance underwriters has perhaps missed the headlines. However, this cooperation will be vital when navigating the uncertain road ahead.

Covid-19 has created a global economic crisis of unprecedented scale and speed. Consequently, we’re experiencing unprecedented levels of support from national governments. Far-reaching fiscal intervention, job retention and business interruption loan schemes are providing a lifeline for businesses that have suffered reductions in turnovers to support national lockdowns.

However, it’s becoming clear the worst is still to come. The unintended consequence of government support measures is delaying the inevitable fallout in trade and commerce. Euler Hermes is already seeing increase in claims for late payments and expects this trend to accelerate as government support measures are progressively removed.

The Covid-19 crisis will have long lasting and sometimes irreversible effects on a number of sectors. It has accelerated transformations that were already underway and had radically changed the landscape for a number of businesses. This means we are seeing a growing number of “zombie” companies, currently under life support, but whose business models are no longer adapted for the post-crisis world. All factors which add up to what is best described as a corporate insolvency “time bomb”.

The effects of the crisis are already visible. In the second quarter of 2020, 147 large companies (those with a turnover above €50 million) failed; up from 77 in the first quarter, and compared to 163 for the whole of the first half of 2019. Retail, services, energy and automotive were the most impacted sectors this year, with the hotspots in retail and services in Western Europe and North America, energy in North America, and automotive in Western Europe

We expect this trend to accelerate and predict a +35% rise in corporate insolvencies globally by the end of 2021. European economies will be among the hardest hit. For example, Spain (+41%) and Italy (+27%) will see the most significant increases – alongside the UK (+43%), which will also feel the impact of Brexit – compared to France (+25%) or Germany (+12%).

Companies are restarting trade, often providing open credit to their clients. However, there can be no credit if there is no confidence. It is increasingly difficult for companies to identify which of their clients will emerge from the crisis from those that won’t, and whether or when they will be paid. In the immediate post-lockdown period, without visibility and confidence, the risk was that inter-company credit could evaporate, placing an additional liquidity strain on the companies that depend on it. This, in turn, would significantly put at risk the speed and extent of the economic recovery.

In recent months, Euler Hermes has co-operated with government agencies, trade associations and private sector trade credit insurance underwriters to create state support for intercompany trade, notably in France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK. All with the same goal: to allow companies to trade with each other in confidence.

By providing additional reinsurance capacity to the trade credit insurers, governments help them continue to provide cover to their clients at pre-crisis levels.

The beneficiaries are the thousands of businesses – clients of credit insurers and their buyers – that depend upon intercompany trade as a source of financing. Over 70% of Euler Hermes policyholders are SMEs, which are the lifeblood of our economies and major providers of jobs. These agreements are not without costs or constraints for the insurers, but the industry has chosen to place the interests of its clients and of the economy ahead of other considerations, mindful of the important role credit insurance and inter-company trade will play in the recovery.

Taking the UK as an example, trade credit insurers provide cover for more than £171billion of intercompany transactions, covering 13,000 suppliers and 650,000 buyers. The government has put in place a temporary scheme of £10billion to enable trade credit insurers, including Euler Hermes, to continue supporting businesses at risk due to the impact of coronavirus. This landmark agreement represents an important alliance between the public and private sectors to support trade and prevent the domino effect that payment defaults can create within critical supply chains.

But, as with all of the other government support measures, these schemes will not exist in the long term. It is already time for credit insurers and their clients to plan ahead, and prepare for a new normal in which the level and cost of credit risk will be heightened and where identifying the right counterparts, diversifying and insuring credit risk will be of paramount importance for businesses.

Trade credit insurance plays an understated role in the economy but is critical to its health. In normal circumstances, it tends to go unnoticed because it is doing its job. Government support schemes helped maintain confidence between companies and their customers in the immediate aftermath of the crisis.

However, as government support measures are progressively removed, this crisis will have a lasting impact. Accelerating transformations, leading to an increasing number of company restructurings and, in all likelihood, increasing the level of credit risk. To succeed in the post-crisis environment, bbusinesses have to move fast from resilience to adaptation. They have to adopt bold measures to protect their businesses against future crises (or another wave of this pandemic), minimize risk, and drive future growth. By maintaining trust to trade, with or without government support, credit insurance will have an increasing role to play in this.

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What Does the FinCEN File Leak Tell Us?

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What Does the FinCEN File Leak Tell Us? 2

By Ted Sausen, Subject Matter Expert, NICE Actimize

On September 20, 2020, just four days after the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a much-anticipated Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the financial industry was shaken and their stock prices saw significant declines when the markets opened on Monday. So what caused this? Buzzfeed News in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released what is now being tagged the FinCEN files. These files and summarized reports describe over 200,000 transactions with a total over $2 trillion USD that has been reported to FinCEN as being suspicious in nature from the time periods 1999 to 2017. Buzzfeed obtained over 2,100 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and over 2,600 confidential documents financial institutions had filed with FinCEN over that span of time.

Similar such leaks have occurred previously, such as the Panama Papers in 2016 where over 11 million documents containing personal financial information on over 200,000 entities that belonged to a Panamanian law firm. This was followed up a year and a half later by the Paradise Papers in 2017. This leak contained even more documents and contained the names of more than 120,000 persons and entities. There are three factors that make the FinCEN Files leak significantly different than those mentioned. First, they are highly confidential documents leaked from a government agency. Secondly, they weren’t leaked from a single source. The leaked documents came from nearly 90 financial institutions facilitating financial transactions in more than 150 countries. Lastly, some high-profile names were released in this leak; however, the focus of this leak centered more around the transactions themselves and the financial institutions involved, not necessarily the names of individuals involved.

FinCEN Files and the Impact

What does this mean for the financial institutions? As mentioned above, many experienced a negative impact to their stocks. The next biggest impact is their reputation. Leaders of the highlighted institutions do not enjoy having potential shortcomings in their operations be exposed, nor do customers of those institutions appreciate seeing the institution managing their funds being published adversely in the media.

Where did the financial institutions go wrong? Based on the information, it is actually hard to say where they went wrong, or even ‘if’ they went wrong. Financial institutions are obligated to monitor transactional activity, both inbound and outbound, for suspicious or unusual behavior, especially those that could appear to be illicit activities related to money laundering. If such behavior is identified, the financial institution is required to complete a Suspicious Activity Report, or a SAR, and file it with FinCEN. The SAR contains all relevant information such as the parties involved, transaction(s), account(s), and details describing why the activity is deemed to be suspicious. In some cases, financial institutions will file a SAR if there is no direct suspicion; however, there also was not a logical explanation found either.

So what deems certain activities to be suspicious and how do financial institutions detect them? Most financial institutions have sophisticated solutions in place that monitor transactions over a period of time, and determine typical behavioral patterns for that client, and that client compared to their peers. If any activity falls disproportionately beyond those norms, the financial institution is notified, and an investigation is conducted. Because of the nature of this detection, incorporating multiple transactions, and comparing it to historical “norms”, it is very difficult to stop a transaction related to money laundering real-time. It is not uncommon for a transaction or series of transactions to occur and later be identified as suspicious, and a SAR is filed after the transaction has been completed.

FinCEN Files: Who’s at Fault?

Going back to my original question, was there any wrong doing? In this case, they were doing exactly what they were required to do. When suspicion was identified, SARs were filed. There are two things that are important to note. Suspicion does not equate to guilt, and individual financial institutions have a very limited view as to the overall flow of funds. They have visibility of where funds are coming from, or where they are going to; however, they don’t have an overall picture of the original source, or the final destination. The area where financial institutions may have fault is if multiple suspicions or probable guilt is found, but they fail to take appropriate action. According to Buzzfeed News, instances of transactions to or from sanctioned parties occurred, and known suspicious activity was allowed to continue after it was discovered.

Moving Forward

How do we do better? First and foremost, FinCEN needs to identify the source of the leak and fix it immediately. This is very sensitive data. Even within a financial institution, this information is only exposed to individuals with a high-level clearance on a need-to-know basis. This leak may result in relationship strains with some of the banks’ customers. Some people already have a fear of being watched or tracked, and releasing publicly that all these reports are being filed from financial institutions to the federal government won’t make that any better – especially if their financial institution was highlighted as one of those filing the most reports. Next, there has been more discussion around real-time AML. Many experts are still working on defining what that truly means, especially when some activities deal with multiple transactions over a period of time; however, there is definitely a place for certain money laundering transactions to be held in real time.

Lastly, the ability to share information between financial institutions more easily will go a long way in fighting financial crime overall. For those of you who are AML professionals, you may be thinking we already have such a mechanism in place with 314b. However, the feedback I have received is that it does not do an adequate job. It’s voluntary and getting responses to requests can be a challenge. Financial institutions need a consortium to effectively communicate with each other, while being able to exchange critical data needed for financial institutions to see the complete picture of financial transactions and all associated activities. That, combined with some type of feedback loop from law enforcement indicating which SARs are “useful” versus which are either “inadequate” or “unnecessary” will allow institutions to focus on those where criminal activity is really occurring.

We will continue to post updates as we learn more.

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How can financial services firms keep pace with escalating requirements?

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How can financial services firms keep pace with escalating requirements? 3

By Tim FitzGerald, UK Banking & Financial Services Sales Manager, InterSystems

Financial services firms are currently coming up against a number of critical challenges, ranging from market volatility, most recently influenced by COVID-19, to the introduction of regulations, such as the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and Fundamental Review of the Trading Book (FRTB). However, these issues are being compounded as many financial institutions find it increasingly difficult to get a handle on the vast volumes of data that they have at their disposal. This is no surprise given that IDC has projected that by 2025, the global “datasphere” will have grown to a staggering 175 zettabytes of data – more than five times the amount of data generated in 2018. As an industry that has typically only invested in new technology when regulations deem it necessary, many traditional banks are now operating using legacy systems and applications that haven’t been designed or built to interoperate. Consequently, banks are struggling to leverage data to achieve business goals and to gain a clear picture of their organisation and processes in order to comply with regulatory requirements. These challenges have been more prevalent during the pandemic as financial services firms were forced to adapt their operations to radical changes in customer behaviour and increased demand for digital services – all while working largely remotely themselves.

As more stringent regulations come in to play and financial services firms look to keep pace with escalating requirements from regulators, consumer demand for more online services, and the ever-evolving nature of the industry and world at large, it’s vital they do two things. Firstly, they must begin to invest in the technology and processes that will allow them to more easily manage the data that traditional banks have been collecting and storing for upwards of 50 years. Secondly, they must innovate. For many, the COVID-19 pandemic will have been a catalyst for both actions. However, the hard work has only just begun.

Legacy technology

Traditionally, due to tight budgets and no overarching regulatory imperative to change, financial institutions haven’t done enough to address their overreliance on disconnected legacy systems. Even when faced with the new wave of regulation that was implemented in the wake of the 2008 banking crash, financial services organisations generally only had to invest in different applications on an ad hoc basis to meet each individual regulation. However, as new regulations require the analysis of larger data sets within smaller processing windows, breaking down any and all data siloes is essential and this will require financial institutions that are still reliant on legacy systems to implement new technologies to meet the regulatory stipulations.

With this in mind, solutions which offer high-quality data analytics and enhanced integration will be key to the success of financial institutions and crucial to eliminate data silos. This will enable organisations to achieve a faster and more accurate analysis of real-time and historical data no matter where they are accessing the data from within smaller processing windows to keep pace with regulatory requirements, while also benefiting from low infrastructure costs.

This technology will also play a huge part in helping financial institutions scale their online operations to meet demand from customers for digital services. According to PNC Bank, during the pandemic, it saw online sales jump from 25% to 75%. Therefore, having data platforms that are able to handle surges in online activity is becoming increasingly important.

Real-time analysis of data

Tim FitzGerald

Tim FitzGerald

While the precise solution financial services institutions need will differ based on the organisation, broadly speaking, the more data they are storing on legacy solutions, the more they are going to require an updated data platform that can handle real-time analytics. Even organisations that have fewer legacy systems are still likely to require solutions that deliver enhanced interoperability to help provide a real-time view across the business and enable them to meet the pressing regulatory requirements they face. Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that moving transactional data to a data warehouse, data lake, or any other silo will never deliver real-time analytics, therefore, businesses making risk decisions based on this and thinking it is real-time is completely inappropriate.

As such, financial services firms require a data platform that can ingest real-time transactional data, as well as from a variety of other sources of historical and reference data, normalise it, and make sense of it. The ability to process transactions at scale in real-time and simultaneously run analytics using transactional real-time data and large sets of non-real-time data, such as reference data, is a crucial capability for various business requirements. For example, powering mission-critical trading platforms that cannot slow down or drop trades, even as volumes spike.

Not only will having access to real-time data enable financial institutions to meet evolving regulatory requirements, but it will also allow them to make faster and more accurate decisions for their organisation andcustomers. With many financial services firms operating on a global basis, this is vital to help them keep up not only with evolving regulations but also changing circumstances in different markets in light of the pandemic. This data can also help them understand how to become more agile, help their employees become productive while working remotely, and how to build up operational resilience. These insights will also be vital as financial institutions need to consider the likelihood of subsequent waves of the virus, allowing them to gain a better understanding of what has and hasn’t worked for their business so far. 

Innovation

The financial services sector is fast-paced and ever-changing. With the launch of more digital-only banks, traditional institutions need to innovate to avoid being left behind, with COVID-19 only highlighting this further. With more than a third (35%) of customers increasing their use of online banking during this period, it is those banks and financial services firms with a solid online offering that have been best placed to answer this demand. As financial institutions cater to changing customer requirements, both now and in the future, implementing new technology that provides access to data in real-time will help them to uncover the fresh insights needed to develop new and transformative products and services for their customers. In turn, this will enable them to realise new revenue streams and potentially capture a bigger slice of the market. For instance, access to data will help banks better understand the needs of their customers during periods of upheaval, as well as under normal circumstance, which will allow them to target them with the specific services they may need during each of these periods to not only help their customers through difficult times but also to ensure the growth of their business. As financial institutions not only look to keep pace with but also gain an advantage over their competitors, using data to fuel excellent customer experiences will be essential to success.  

With the current economic uncertainty and market volatility, it’s critical that financial services are able to meet the changing requirements coming from all angles. With COVID-19 likely to be the biggest catalyst for financial institutions to digitally transform, they will be better able to cater to rapidly evolving landscapes and prepare for continued periods of remote working. As they look to achieve this, replacing legacy systems with innovative and agile technology solutions will be crucial to ensure they can gain the accurate and complete view of their enterprise data they need to comply with new and changing regulations, and better meet the needs of consumers in an increasingly digital landscape, whether they are located in an office or working remotely.

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