The modem is an abbreviation for Modulator-demodulator and is a program or a device that helps the computer to transmit data. The information on the computer is stored digitally and the data that is transmitted over the cable or telephone lines are analog. The modem converts a digital signal to analog. It is a device that lies between an electrical cable and the computer based on the internet connection type you have.
How Does the Modem Work?
A modem consists of a connector to the cable present at your house. One end of the cable is connected to the modem and the other end that goes out of the wall is tunneled under the house and is connected to the cable distribution unit. This is then connected to an underground cable which connects to the mounted node of your service provider.
The node captures the feed from the service provider and is sent to your home through the cable distribution unit. The coaxial cable which is the connector of the modem is the endpoint. The resultant speed and bandwidth are determined by the subscription chosen by the user.
Functions of Modems
The modem performs many functions apart from converting signals from digital to analog. They are useful to:
1. Reduce the error in transmission
2. Data compression
3. Information regulation on the network.
Types of Modems:
The modem that you have to choose is based on the interconnection you have opted for. Listed below are some of the commonly used modems.
Cable: These modems are coaxial cable modems where one end of the wire is connected to the modem and the other end to the wall socket or the cable box. It is used for high-speed internet connection.
DSL: It can be either connected to an external modem like the cable having a different plug-in or can be connected to an internal modem which is already present in the computer. A phone line is needed for an internal modem for it to dial-in. The difference between dial-up and DSL is that you can use the phone and still be connected to the internet.
Dial-up: This is a type of modem which is redundant. Like DSL, this modem also uses the phone line to connect to the service provider. These are way slower when compared to cable and DSL and very few people use this. The major drawback of this modem is that if you are on the phone, you will be unable to access the internet.
Difference between Modem and Router
Routers and modems are common computer devices which look alike but perform different functions. A modem is a device that is used to connect to the internet as it connects to the ISP. A router is a device that can help in connecting many computers, laptops or smartphones to the same network. Most routers these days are wireless and they help in connecting devices to the same home network. Connecting to the router does not give you access to the internet, a router must be connected to the modem for it.
Modems are used everywhere today and the most common one is that which we use at home to access the internet.
Securing Digital Transformation in Financial Services
By Bindu Sundaresan, Director, AT&T Cybersecurity
In the last year, financial services organizations have been pushed to speed up their digitization strategies faster than they could have ever anticipated. The COVID pandemic has closed the doors of many physical banks, forced them to move many interactions with customers to digital and introduce new measures so employees can carry out their jobs from home.
The uptake of digital banking has been immense with a recent report from World Retail Banking revealing that 57 percent of consumers prefer internet banking in the Covid-19 era. Today, connected consumers expect near-real-time online transactions at their own convenience, 24X7, and they expect banks, credit card providers, and stockbrokers to provide uninterrupted web services wherever they are in the world.
However, while this digitization has enabled banks to fully serve their customers during the pandemic, it has raised the security stakes considerably.
All around the world, while financial services organizations are adapting and taking advantage of digital technology to make consumer banking and payments safer, faster and more convenient, cyber criminals have been looking at ways to exploit these new initiatives.
What are the best ways financial organizations can embrace digital transformation, without compromising on security?
Embracing Digital Transformation Security
Financial institutions have long been a top target for cyber criminals and as these organizations broaden their digital footprint, their risk profiles change, and their attack surface widens.
In fact, a recent report from AT&T Business revealed that many organizations have noted an increase in malicious activity and cyber-related fraud against themselves and their customers, since the coronavirus pandemic struck. The attacks on institutions are typically happening through malware or social engineering campaigns, while customers are especially vulnerable to phishing with cyber criminals sending out fake COVID-related emails disguised as if coming from banks.
To help understand and manage these risks, financial organizations need to be proactive with their cybersecurity. One of the most important steps they can take is embedding security into new services from the very beginning. This will enable business leaders to make informed decisions, allocate resources efficiently, and understand the value of systems and information.
Banks and other financial institutions handle some of the most sensitive information for their customers and business – Personally Identifiable Information (PII), credit card numbers, and account information. However, as access points to reach this information increases, security should be embedded into systems earlier in the development process. To help achieve this, security teams need to work more closely with developer teams at the beginning of development stages when new technology is being introduced, rather than security being bolted on at the end, which is something that has traditionally happened.
Building a security-conscious culture is also essential, particularly as employees today are more frequently working from home. Employees need to be educated about the most current fraud and phishing scams and how to avoid them. They should be instructed to access sensitive data from a secure network, using their company device, and through the prescribed channels—not by clicking a link in a newly received e-mail. Employees should not open unexpected e-mail attachments and should report suspicious e-mails to the company’s IT department.
Since external IT services are ubiquitous in today’s business environment, it is imperative that as financial services organizations assess technology providers to provide that these services do not pose an immediate impact, while also strategizing how best to fortify resilience against third-party challenges. Many third-party services are critical to an organization’s success, including technical support, cloud-based financial applications, security monitoring, email and data backup solutions. Vendor management is a complex and time-intensive task which many organizations do not, and in many cases, cannot dedicate the time and resources to managing. For companies with a small number of vendors, this can be manageable, but most organizations will need additional support to create and implement these programs effectively. By dedicating resources to developing a program, organizations can begin to understand and eliminate the threats posed by third parties.
Financial institutions should also consider implementing a Zero-Trust approach within their security strategy. Zero Trust is a cybersecurity model with a tenet that any endpoint connecting to a network should not be trusted by default. With Zero Trust, everything and everyone— including users, devices, endpoints —must be properly verified before access to the network is allowed. The protocols for a Zero Trust network outline specific rules in place to govern the amount of access granted to users, based upon the type of user, their location, and how they are accessing the network. If the security status of any connecting endpoint or user cannot be resolved, the Zero Trust network will deny the connection by default.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, financial organizations have been forced to change the way they operate. Employees are now working more frequently from home and many banking services can now be done online. While these steps have been vital to keep the finance industry moving during the pandemic, they have introduced new security challenges.
As these organizations embrace digital transformation and are shifting to the cloud, simplifying technology infrastructure and outsourcing workloads to third parties, they are also expanding their cyber risk. Cyber has become more prolific across systems, platforms, and people — employees, customers, and partners — and enterprise leadership must correlate all of this to stay ahead of the adversary and help protect the organization’s most valuable assets.
Financial institutions therefore must be increasingly vigilant, and increasingly well-equipped technologically, to protect themselves from sophisticated attacks. In this way, digital transformation becomes both a critical contributing factor in the problem of growing cyber risks today—and a critical resource for solving it.
Using technology to optimise your finance
By Mark Pullen, CEO, Xledger
Covid-19 restrictions and ongoing uncertainty have prompted a fundamental switch in mindset across a multitude of different sectors. Many organisations have begun to recognise that outsourcing their finance can make them more agile and give them the competitive edge they need to compete and scale effectively in today’s market.
Solving the pain points
Inefficient processes are prone to causing delays and errors which can have a huge impact on the bottom line when viewed at scale. They can also negatively impact the client experience, causing frustration with missed deadlines and mounting uncompleted tasks.
New finance technology is automating many of the daily, monotonous back office functions such as bank reconciliation and invoice entry, meaning that the nature of the work that a finance professional provides will change. This presents a huge opportunity as it gives these employees the opportunity to be involved in higher-level work. Technology can also provide a resource that gives real time insight, allowing for better strategic decision making, which is so key in the current climate.
Optimising your finance function
Outsourcing high-value services within the finance function can improve workflow by implementing a defined and transparent process which streamlines operations. For a finance department, this can speed up areas that require internal controls such as expense reporting and cash release, but it can also speed up the full lifecycle of a project; from time tracking and resource to accounting and billing.
There is also a cost efficiency benefit when outsourcing, as management bandwidth is effectively increased by eliminating the need to be involved in many of the day to day processes. Instead this time can be focused on other business priorities and planning for future growth.
Outsourcing accounting functions to bespoke and standardised technologies means using data led processes that can be measured, optimised and benchmarked against in-house requirements. These processes can also be undertaken remotely, boosting the resilience of your business in these uncertain times.
Case study box-out: RPC Tyche
RPC Tyche is a global insurance software supplier with offices in London, Paris, and the USA. Initially a division of award-winning law firm RPC, but now a stand-alone entity, RPC Tyche’s main software offerings support capital modelling, and pricing commercial insurance and reinsurance.
As part of a restructuring process following the de-coupling with the law firm RPC, RPC Tyche had to separate its back-office processes. They remained under the umbrella of the law firm while the changes were taking place, so initially had some flexibility with the shared finance system, but time was running out to separate the two entities cleanly. As a stand-alone company, RPC Tyche now needed its own financial system; one that could align with its new business processes and that could be implemented quickly to deliver the organisation’s business objectives. Furthermore, they needed a new finance solution that could help them grow exponentially, facilitate a globally diverse group structure, and still maintain efficiency when operating as a small team.
Gavin Dilley, Chief Finance Officer for RPC Tyche commented, “Following an initial discussion with a third-party advisor regarding Xero and Quickbooks, we were recommended Xledger because we required a swift and scalable solution. After contacting Xledger, their tried and tested implementation methodology ultimately assured us that we would achieve the fast-paced implementation needed for our go-live objective. We also really liked that Xledger was a multi-tenanted, true cloud solution with its scalability setting it apart from the competitors.”
Implementation and training
Following conversations with Xledger, RPC Tyche created a project management team to keep everything on track on their side, an arrangement that Gavin emphasised “worked really well.” He said that “as a small project team, the flexibility to undergo substantial configuration during the training sessions with the Xledger consultants brought focus and enabled us to dedicate sufficient time to the system without distractions.”
Although the implementation was expected to take three months, RPC Tyche experienced hold-ups owing to the separating of back-office processes, so they were pleased when it was mutually agreed to facilitate a one-month delay.
“The implementation process was highly effective, and we’re very happy with the results,” said Gavin. “Since implementing the Xledger solution, we’ve been so pleased we haven’t had to dip back into the old system as the transfer of historic data has been particularly successful.” RPC Tyche had a large volume of historic data and transactions, including timesheets and work in progress reports that were all successfully migrated to Xledger during implementation. “We’re particularly happy with how easy it has been to onboard our new Finance Controller, due to flexible training and the system being so intuitive.”
Gavin added, “Since implementing Xledger, we have far greater reporting flexibility, better distribution of skills within the finance team and are naturally more self-sufficient because we can make amendments to the system without relying on the software provider.
The system is easy to use, and the purchase order functionalities, integrated workflows and automation of processes have enabled us to be highly efficient, even as a small finance team. Not to mention that the Xledger support team are incredibly responsive, so we can continually maintain productivity.”
Signaling digital talent: how tech officers can score board seats
By Katrien Demeeseter, Managing Director at Russell Reynolds
As financial institutions increasingly grapple with unprecedented business disruptions and the bar is raised for innovation, the needs of corporate boards are evolving fast. In today’s shifting business landscape, boards of global financial services firms are navigating emerging challenges in data management, cybersecurity and digitization – areas where functional technology officers have in-depth, hands-on knowledge.
In the face of growing competition thrusted by neobanks and challenger banks, like N26 and Monzo, there appears to be a widespread digital divide that’s putting global banks and financial services firms at a distinct disadvantage. In Arizent’s Digital Banking Report 2020, 75% of banking respondents identified digital transformation as a top priority while innovation, operational excellence and culture development ranked as the three lowest priorities. This reveals a trouble paradox in banking, considering the lowest ranked priorities are influential and foundational in making digital transformation happen.
To bridge the digital gap, more corporate boards are filling seats with tech-savvy talent. For example, there has been a recent influx of tech and digital director additions to 300 S&P Global boards, of which more than a third joined within the last two years according to recent research reported by Russell Reynolds Associates. In Europe, 65% of corporate boards have at least one ‘tech’ non-executive director in 2020, compared to 76% of corporate boards in the Americas.
Despite boards needing more functional tech expertise, executives from the technology industry are earning the lion’s share of the new ‘tech seats,’ not functional technology leaders such as chief information officers (CIOs), chief digital officers (CDOs) or chief technology officers (CTOs) who have hands-on technology skills as well as direct corporate governance experience. And, going back to the research report from Russell Reynolds Associates, globally, financial services is among the sectors where technology and digital-focused directors are the least represented on boards, trailing behind healthcare, consumer and technology sectors.
Tech officers can bridge the digital gap in financial services
Tech-savvy board directors play a key role in enriching the overall digital fluency of boards and raising fellow directors’ awareness of technology risks, challenges and opportunities. But functional technology officers, in particular, advance digital fluency a step further and help boards evaluate an organization’s readiness and specific needs for any given technology. Given their previous experience in implementing new technology to overhaul business processes, technology officers are skilled at educating fellow board members and management teams, while also providing organizational oversight on technology transformation.
Additionally, technology officers are well versed in syncing up technology adoption with overall business strategy, knowing that in today’s landscape the two are one in the same. They are also adapted to the creative sparring that happens in board rooms about technology adoption and have experience bringing everyone together onto the same page, turning potentially contentious debates into productive resolutions.
Traditionally, the technology officer, particularly the CIO role, has been viewed as a supporting positioning rather than a strategic function. But now that digital transformation initiatives are core to organizational success, this outdated perception must be adjusted. Strategic initiatives are not only being implemented by technology officers, they’re also being initiated and led by them. Moreover, corporate governance, risk and compliance (GRC) processes, especially in critical areas like cybersecurity and GDPR compliance, are now largely being led by functional technology officers.
Tips for tech officers to build corporate board readiness
Despite espousing the expertise and skills needed to help boards thrive, joining a board can be difficult for technology officers, even for seasoned chief information officers, chief technology officers, chief information digital officers, chief data/analytics officers, etc. That is because board selection committees unfortunately often have an oft-held misconception that technology officers lack the broader business and strategic acumen compared to fellow C-suite players, like the CEO, Business Unit Leader, CFO or COO.
Furthermore, particularly in financial services, some boards’ selection committees prefer to go with a candidate from a recognizable fintech company because they believe that’s where the best technology talent is coming from.
So what does it take for technology officers to overcome these limiting preconceived notions and become corporate board directors? Below are key considerations for technology officers looking to move onto the next step in their career, exhibit leadership capabilities and enhance their chances of securing a seat on a reputable corporate board in the financial services sector:
- Broaden your scope: Actively seek opportunities within your organization to take on additional responsibilities that heavily rely on your strong affinity with technology and digitalization. For instance, taking on the company-wide sponsorship for agile roll-out, evolving into a COO role, or leading an innovation and incubation initiative.
- Emphasize strategic achievements: Simply being a dutiful order taker or a proven executioner does not strengthen one’s candidacy for a board seat. After all, boards are ultimately charged with leading the long-term success of their organizations. Therefore, board members must serve as strategic assets and consultants for the organizations they serve. It is crucial to underscore your strategic achievements and outline how they align to specific corporate goals.
- Acquire alternative board experience: Unlike other functional leaders, such as CFOs and CHROs, many organizations do not yet have their technology officers sit on the executive committee. However, this arrangement is changing across organizations so it is possible that more technology officers will find themselves participating on executive committees, thus gaining more comprehensive board interface. But when this is not possible, technology officers can proactively refine their board experience by applying for a board position in a subsidiary of the company they work for or gaining alternative board experience in an association or nonprofit organization.
- Diversify your expertise: Technology officers who have worked across different sectors or across different functions will increase their chances for being selected for a board seat, as it makes them better lateral thinkers and more malleable in the eyes of nominating committees. Broaden your professional horizon by gaining experience within various areas of financial services, such as financial institutions, investment banking, commercial banking, wealth management, corporate finance, real estate, payments and fintech or within other sectors.
- Be vocal about your ambition and expand your network: Most board openings are communicated through the networks of board directors, meaning their contacts will likely be the first to find out about the opportunities. Developing your network strategically with those who serve on corporate boards and informing them about your desire will greatly increase your chances of learning about open board positions and eventually securing the seat.
What type of financial services tech leader are you?
All financial institutions and firms are at different phases of the digital transformation journey and, therefore, the requirements for tech-savvy talent on each corporate board will vary. As corporate board selection committees further diversify their boards, they will increasingly consider candidates that possess specific experiences that not only align to the company’s strategy, but perhaps most importantly, fill existing gaps within their current board composition.
Within this more holistic framework, it is important to think about what type of financial services tech leader you are so you can better establish your candidacy. What are your strengths and where does your focus lie? There may be an inclination to try and paint yourself as a Jack or Jane of all trades on your CV, but you may be able to better personalize your search and brand yourself as a problem-solver by considering the following four profiles of tech leaders:
- The Visionary Technology Leader syncs up technology transformation efforts with the organization’s commercial and strategic goals. Board directors with this profile do not just focus on innovating for the sake of disruption. They consider how any and all of the tools will empower employees and customers, and advance the long-term vision of the financial institution or firm.
- The Transformer, has strong experience with legacy technology and a proven track record shifting to a future proof agile technology framework. In a world where technology transformation can be a definitive make or break, this board member helps boards and the management teams make the functional shift not only from a technology perspective but also in terms of people and process impact. When approaching a challenge, the Transformer identifies where the obstacles are and outlines how an organization can accelerate its efforts to get over them.
- The Operator is inspired by efficiency and security. Apart from traditional organic revenue growth, business growth is also triggered by optimizing processes, improving productivity and mitigating any underlying security risks that could be costly in the short- and long-term. The Operator is able to target each of those areas, directing organizations on how they can implement technology to operate more efficiently. Within this category, you often find the Chief Information Security Officers.
- The Data Evangelist, who is focused on leveraging data to drive success and improve customer experiences (CXs), deeply understands external marketplace conditions and where an organization rates in delivering on customer expectations and brand promises. When serving on a Board, they are constantly exploring how data can be employed to understand their customers better, communicate with customers and improve CXs.
Board opportunities look bright for tech officers
The rapid digitization and subsequent technology gaps ensued by COVID-19 are changing the criterion for filling board seats. Not only are more “tech seats” expected to open on corporate boards, it is likely that financial institutions and firms will seek out candidates that have first-hand, practical technology skills. This means that selection committees will have to fish beyond the usual pools of C-suite candidates and fintechs that they are currently recruiting candidates from.
As the need for functional tech experience increases, there is no justifiable reason why a seasoned technology officer should be overlooked for a corporate board seat in the financial services sector.
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