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VALUE OF SMART DATA AND ANALYTICS UNLOCKED AT THE 2ND ANNUAL SMART DATA SUMMIT DUBAI

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Audience during a session at the Smart Data Summit 2015

The potential of smart data and analytics to transform businesses and drive revenue growth was brought into the spotlight at the 2nd Annual Smart Data Summit that concluded in Dubai this week. Produced by global conference organizers, Expotrade, the summit was attended by over 300 participants, over two days of keynote presentations, panel discussions and case studies. The event took place on 25-26 May at Sofitel DubaiThe Palm Resort and Spa.

The summit commenced with a welcome address delivered by IBM’s Sunil Mahajan, who went on to make a presentation titled ‘Not Business Analytics as Usual.’ He explained that insights having a profound effect on businesses can be uncovered using big data harnessed from a number of sources and analyzed in different ways. He proceeded to emphasize how faster, easier and smarter analytics services were the need of the hour, and highlighted how IBM has helped organizations realize the value of big data and analytics.Another interesting session on the first day was Facebook’s Mario Vinasco speaking on influencing product decisions with analytics. Using examples of Facebook campaigns such as ‘A Look Back’, Network Experiments including ‘Say Thanks’, and the shuttle bus operation, he explained the extensive analytics completed on each.

Audience during a session at the Smart Data Summit 2015

Audience during a session at the Smart Data Summit 2015

Braintree, a division of PayPal’s Daniel Nelson explored the topic of data science and the mobile revolution in his presentation, which examined how commerce is changing due to the disruptive force of ‘mobile’, early data science successes and presented a snapshot of the future.On the other hand, Twitter’s Anupam Dikhit focused on using smart data to drive real-time personalized marketing at scale. Stressing on the importance of scale, he mentioned how approximately 1 billion tweets generated every two days translated into large amounts of data signals which, in turn, help build recent user profiles. He explained how marketers can use this to tailor targeted campaigns and reach people at the right time, thereby bridging the gap between engagement and conversion.

Flipkart’s Pravin Shinde explained the use of digital analytics to improve marketing of e-commerce portals. Stressing on the importance of data being reliable and collected instantly, he also advocated the use of simple propensity models for better results and zeroed in on mobile as the better avenue for personalized experience. Hyatt International’s Parthasarathi Mandal shared his thoughts on how smarter data meant smarter hotel businesses, taking the audience through interpretations of smart data from a hotel’s perspective, the blurring lines of customer touch points and the happiness equation that links smart data to business growth. His session also included an interactive exercise with the audience.

Panel discussion in progress at Smart Data Summit 2015

Panel discussion in progress at Smart Data Summit 2015

Sessions on Day 1 included speakers from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), Nakheel, Data Aurora, along with premium sponsors Thomson Reuters, HP Big Data, Denodo, Qlik, Wipro, presenting on topics such as the impact of big data on the telecom industry; data governance and security; next generation analytical platforms; data virtualization; discovering the power of big data; redesigning business digitally; using technology to improve customer experience; big data ephemeralization. The panel discussed in detail how big data analytics could reinvent social media marketing.

Day 2 highlights included speakers from Al Ahli Holding Group, UAE University, UAE Exchange, Al Safeer Group of Companies, speaking on optimizing loyalty programs; integration of social media with CRM/ERP systems; big data and quantum computing; building of the brand using smart data. The day’s discussion featured the panel shedding light on the metrics to measure ROI on smart data investments in marketing.

The networking sessions, particularly the lunches sponsored by Badr IT also proved popular, with active discussions taking place during these times.

In only its second year, the Smart Data Summit has been established as the foremost event of its kind in the Middle East. This year’s partnerships included industry leaders such as IBM, Qlik, HP Big Data, Wipro, Denodo, Thomson Reuters and Badr IT. Exhibitors included MDS ap Tech, EnterpriseDB, Qarar, iDashboards, Master Works, Cloudera, Inseyab, GDS, Nutanix, Radix Mena, Bisnode, Enodos, Data’oro, Minodes, arroWebs, Xceed Ventures.

The event was a success, evidenced by the appreciative comments it attracted at the close. Anupam Dikhit, Industry Manager, Twitter, said, “In terms of the way the event has been designed, the kind of speakers that presented, the entire structure and format – I think it’s fantastic. Because you have taken an issue or space that is up coming and a region that is up and coming – we have seen a lot of traction happen in the Middle East over the last few years, so it’s really a sunrise sector here  – and you have got the best of thought-leaders from across the world. That’s not a mean feat.”

Dr. Dirk Jungnickel, Senior Vice President – Business Analytics, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), said, “It has been a very pleasant and interesting event. I had some very good conversations during the breaks and also the presentations so far have been first-class. It’s a good mix of vendors and consumers of big data technologies or people who are applying the technologies.”

Kamran Bader, Managing Director, Data’oro, said, “The event provided an excellent opportunity to network and learn from industry experts and big data practitioners. A very well organized and structured summit.”

Hisham Assaf, Regional Director – Middle East, iDashboards, said, “The significant attendance of decision makers and senior executives made the event a very effective platform for networking and discussing the most important challenges associated with the delivery of data and insights to support business strategy.”

Martina Boettcher, Regional Director of Marketing, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, said, “The summit provided a rich and diverse overview and it was particularly interesting to hear from various industries. There was a ‘take-away’ from each speaker, regardless of your own level of involvement in Big Data.”

Muhammad Imran, Marketing Manager, ACA Steel Constructions Contracting, said, “The summit was very informative for new upcoming professionals in the industry. It was favorable for networking, well-organized, and a source of inspiration for organizations already having inhouse IT departments.”

Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East, organizers of the conference, said, “The Smart Data Summit successfully highlighted the tremendous importance of smart data and analytics in today’s connected world. The last two days have demonstrated the impact that data analytics can have across sectors and industries, establishing this event as the premier event of its kind in the region. We thank our sponsors, delegates, speakers and partners and look forward to bringing next year’s edition to this audience.”

For event details, visit www.smartdatadubai.com

About Expotrade 

Expotrade is a global conference and event organizer with its head office based in Melbourne, Australia and a regional office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Expotrade has delivered some of the largest, most successful B2B industry conferences and events. For almost 10 years, our unique blend of knowledge, experience and flexibility has accomplished an array of consistently top quality events. Today, Expotrade events enjoy such a distinctive edge, they are amongst the best patronized in the calendar.

For more information, visit www.expotradeglobal.com

Technology

Financial transformation is the new digital transformation

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Financial transformation is the new digital transformation 1

By Luke Fossett, ANZ Head of Sales for global recurring payments platform, GoCardless

The term ‘digital transformation’ has become somewhat synonymous with COVID-19. As teams and operations became decentralised, companies looked to quickly build their remote tech stacks, striving for ‘business as usual’ despite the circumstances.

But in the background of COVID’s chaos, different regions and industries experienced major changes, sparking a different breed of transformation beyond the digital spectrum.

Take Australia as an example. In July, the market saw the local arrival of Open Banking, as well as further detail into the regulated and planned transition away from the existing Direct Debit system to the central-backed New Payments Platform (NPP) and it’s Mandated Payment Service. With these changes comes the impetus for a wave of ‘financial transformation’; a term that describes the process of making financial operations, processes and outputs more efficient.

Despite its potential for broad interpretation, financial transformation has the potential to produce use-cases that drive value for the customer; from things like seamless payment experiences, to data-rich APIs and integrations, to managing real-time bank to bank payment and the automation of everything from customer acquisition to using data to retry a failed transaction on the date that gets the best success. These innovations are well within reach for enterprise organisations, however, to extract real value, business leaders need to plan their financial infrastructure in parallel with making digital investments.

With the right deployments, financial transformation can reap significant rewards from a customer and internal operations perspective – so here’s why business leaders should be paying attention:

Value speaks volumes to the C-suite 

Financial transformation benefits enterprise organisations as well as small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) that need to create efficiencies as they scale, but translating its value is not always easy.

Payments are a complex part of any business, impacting many different consumer-facing and internal functions. Yet the role of ‘payments specialist’ is a rarity in most organisations.

Responsibility for financial transformation often falls – and gets lost – somewhere between the Chiefs of Technology, Information and Finance. That’s why leaning on platform providers and payments experts as early as possible, is key to understanding your customers and capabilities, before you implement and invest.

Outsourcing financial transformation initiatives is a much easier sell to enterprise decision-makers than redirecting IT resources to new DevOps projects. Credible payment providers, and the specialised knowledge that comes with good ones, are in most cases a more cost-effective solution than employing a full-time expert. Translating the value of financial transformation to achieve buy-in from the C-level boils down to maximising efficiency and return on investment (ROI).

A simple solution is using automation for tasks like streamlining processes, such as collecting payments on time without human contact. Find the sweet spot between how you want your customers to pay, and how they prefer to pay; then offer those options, while making sure they can be done with little to no touch internally.

Fintech-led transformation 

‘Best-in-class’ platform providers typically describe innovative fintech companies, who, as opposed to generalist banks, are deemed specialists in niche elements of financial services.

Again, using the example of Australasia, there are nearly 5,000 active fintechs, and it’s a market that legacy-laden big banks are tapping into. For example, Australia’s largest bank, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, recently partnered with venture capital firm Square Peg, and AI-focused capital fund Zetta Ventures Partner;  pouring $AUD28 million into new financial technology that delivers better digital banking services to its customers.

Fintech-led transformation doesn’t only have to benefit the customer; it can offer significant value for financial teams too.

In an enterprise environment, choosing the right technology allows for slick front end payments, but the true value comes in optimising financial management behind the scenes.

Take the rising consumer demand for subscription services as a use-case. According to Zuora’s Subscription Impact Report, 50 per cent of all subscription companies are growing just as fast as they were before the pandemic, while 18 per cent are actually seeing subscriber growth rates accelerate. With this trend comes a rise in companies looking to invest in recurring billing platforms that make it easy to accept regular payments, however, finding a low-touch platform that offers the financial infrastructure to support subscription-based payments will generate much greater ROI. There is no point blowing budgets on a ‘rip and replace’ billing platform if internally, finance teams still have to revert to a manual process of uploading payment files in a spreadsheet.

The future is financially transformed

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s latest Consumer Payment Behaviour survey shows that in 2007, cash was used for 69 per cent of all transactions, while last year it accounted for just 27 per cent. Additionally, over 50 per cent of Australian businesses prefer bank-to-bank payments, known as Direct Debit, over credit cards as a way to collect payments.

Payment preferences are rapidly evolving, and keeping up with consumer payment trends is key to staying competitive. To be effective, however, you need to have the infrastructure to support and accept diverse payment methods.

‘Payments as a Service’ (PaaS) is a phrase used to describe platform providers that connect multiple payment systems, enabling companies to offer several payment options while replacing outdated practices like paper-based Direct Debit.

In 2020, the most successful enterprises are utilising PaaS providers, built for self-serve and high rates of conversion. Take Bulb, for example; the UK-based energy company allows users to sign-up, switch energy providers and lock-in their payment preferences, all in under two minutes. Better yet, the process requires almost no people management.

Taking a visionary lens on financial transformation means building greater payment efficiencies for both the customer and the enterprise. Additionally, the specialist and agile nature of fintech platforms puts the organisations who use them on the cutting-edge of innovation, future-proofing operations in a fast-moving market without significant investments in research and development.

Best-in-class platform providers are driving financial transformation change; helping business navigate and plan so they are prepared for today, and for what’s coming.

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RegTech 2020: Exploring financial crime and the emergence of RegTech in the USA

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RegTech 2020: Exploring financial crime and the emergence of RegTech in the USA 2

with host, Alex Ford, VP Product and Marketing, Encompass, and guests, Dr Henry Balani, Head of Delivery, Encompass; Pawneet Abramowski, Chief Compliance Officer

Today, financial institutions deal with increasingly complex transactions and regulations that are continually changing. For the financial services industry, the cost of regulatory obligations has dramatically increased in recent years and, as a result, there has been a strong demand for more efficient reporting and compliance systems to better control risks and reduce compliance costs.

The complexity of regulation has made it more difficult for compliance and legal teams to manage risk. Also, the rise in large monetary fines, the impact of reputational damage, personal liability and even prison sentences have all played a factor. However, it remains essential that RegTech and AI is not seen as the only answer to addressing all financial crime risk, but rather a tool that, if used properly, can create more efficiency in the management of money laundering, bribery, corruption and fraud.

This month’s insightful and thought-provoking RegTech 20:20 podcast, from Encompass Corporation, delves into these topics from a US perspective, as guests, Dr Henry Balani, Head of Delivery, Encompass, and Pawneet Abramowski, Chief Compliance Officer. Pawneet has more than 17 years of combined experience in both public and private sectors with a focus on compliance and Henry has experience supporting innovative technology solutions that address issues of financial crime and money laundering. He advises technology firms as a Non-Executive/Board Director.

Encompass Corporation aims to demystify RegTech for listeners and understand what practitioners and experts are doing to overcome organisational challenges. This time,

Pawneet discusses how the US is at the forefront of the utilisation of technology, while also reflecting on the long history of money laundering and financial crime there, saying that “the birth of RegTech in the last 5-7 years has been really prominent in the United States”.

Henry, having had more than 25 years’ of financial services industry experience, speaks about how so many transactions worldwide are cleared in a US bank and how the US dollar is a powerful weapon, especially when money laundering comes into play.

When asked about her thoughts on technology assistance, Pawneet suggests that organisations are having to continuously evolve their programme and controls, telling the audience: “I think that’s where this desire for having technology assist in making things more efficient and operationally effective”.

Henry gives listeners an insight into regulatory penalties being a driver in changing behaviour, suggesting that this type of enforcement is a successful method.

 “…as we see the increasing use of these penalties, organisations are noticing the reputational damage as embarrassing. We have seen a lot of these companies coming to RegTech firms asking for solutions to help them identify these potential challenges and issues”

Later on in the podcast, he goes on to speak about the challenges for regulated banks in the US. Breaking down the latest data and survey figures, Henry insists that the US has huge workforces in this organisation of growth. “To be a compliance professional, you are certainly in huge demand.”

Technology advancement is increasing at a rapid rate in the US. Regulated firms have a challenge not only to stay ahead of criminals, but there is often a rush to introduce new technology and continue to improve the experience of customers. Regulated bodies in the US, especially banks, have long been reinventing and adapting their compliance programmes to meet both their legal and community obligations and, as Pawneet explains, “it feels like a constant regulatory revolving door as a compliance professional”.

More expert commentary, RegTech conversation and industry insight can be found in the full episode of RegTech 20:20. You can listen here  https://www.encompasscorporation.com/regtech2020-podcast/, and across all major podcast players

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86% of UK businesses face barriers developing digital skills in procurement

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86% of UK businesses face barriers developing digital skills in procurement 3

A shortage of digitally savvy talent, and a lack of training for technical and soft skills, hinder digital procurement initiative

Research from Ivalua, a leading provider of global spend management cloud solutions, has shown that a majority of UK businesses (86%) face significant barriers developing digital skills in procurement. The findings reveal that a shortage of digitally savvy talent (31%), a lack of training for technical and soft skills (28%) and a lack of understanding of the skills required (13%), are some of the main barriers preventing UK business from developing the digital skills they need. Additionally, over half (55%) of UK businesses say that digital skills in procurement are less advanced compared to other departments

The research, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Ivalua, surveyed 200 UK-based procurement, supply chain and finance professionals about the true nature of digital skills within procurement, and the challenges businesses looking to digitally transform will face. More than eight-in-ten (84%) UK businesses believe that the skill set required of procurement professionals has shifted from procurement-first to digital-first. The study also highlighted that most respondents believe that greater digitalisation (84%) and better digital skills (83%) in procurement would have enabled UK businesses to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak more effectively.

“Over the last decade, the role of procurement has transformed from one of cost-cutter to a vital ally that can help inform and enable a business’s strategy. The global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend even further, reinforcing the importance of procurement as businesses adapt to the new normal,” commented Alex Saric, smart procurement expert at Ivalua. “However, for too long, procurement has been seen as a digital laggard, with technology adoption trailing behind other departments. In order to keep its seat at the table in strategic discussions, procurement must ensure it has people with the right skills in-house, as well as easy to use technologies, or risk being unable to offer significant strategic value.”

Challenges in hiring digital skills in procurement

As part of ongoing digital transformation efforts in procurement, the report found that UK businesses have started to introduce new technologies such as data analytics (55%), cloud-based platforms (53%), automation (35%) and AI/machine learning (30%) in the last 12 months.

But when it comes to deploying these technologies, UK businesses are finding it difficult to complement them with the digital skills required. The study found that 88% find it challenging to hire the right digital skills to work with technologies such as AI, cloud-based platforms or data analytics, while 76% say they are concerned that existing procurement teams will struggle to work with new technologies. Developing digital skills is vital for businesses, as 91% of respondents say that improving digital skills can make procurement more strategic, while 94% say it will help them gain a competitive advantage.

“In a rapidly evolving business environment, digital skills are essential for procurement teams to analyse and mitigate risk, identify new opportunities and collaborate with suppliers. However, procurement teams are struggling to both attract digital talent and upskill existing teams, which puts them at risk of falling behind competitors, losing market share, and struggling to identify risk and opportunities ahead of time,” comments Saric.

“To address the digital skills gap in procurement, UK businesses need to ensure they are focusing on adopting tools that are easy to use and improve access to actionable insights. By making procurement smarter, businesses are giving teams the tools and skills needed to thrive in the new normal, allowing the business to react and proactively address the shifting sands of a post-COVID world.”

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