Category Archives: Technology

Fintech Report: Financial Services Sector Growth

Fintech Report: Financial Services Sector Growth

Financial Services Sector

Fintech, a term typically describing the small financial start-ups competing with established financial institutions, is increasingly playing a role in our business and private lives, making use of analytics, mobile platforms, digital technology and more. With increased consumer expectations and heightened security concerns, interest in the fintech sector is at an all-time high.

Fintech vs. Traditional Banking

Though there’s much hype around financial technology firms, and they’re certainly shaking up the financial services sector as a whole, many experts don’t believe they pose an immediate risk to the systems already in place. Including services such as peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding, and app-based payment tools, fintech developers are forcing financial services to evolve into a more customer-centric sphere than previously experienced, and many customers are more than happy to bypass the haughty attitudes of financial institutions of old and deal instead with innovative and vibrant fintech services.

The fintech sector is, however, still tiny and though perhaps encouraging traditional institutions to change more quickly than they might have otherwise, fintech alone won’t be dominating the financial services sector anytime soon. Of course, there are a few progressive financial institutions that aren’t waiting for the future competition but instead are merging their brands with fintech firms and helping them go mainstream. This combined effort provides a unique benefit to both old and new as the disrupting fintech firms foster better customer engagement and original products while the conventional financial powerhouses support the union with their resources and networks and provide responsible and trustworthy foundations.

Rules & Governance for Fintech Organizations

But just because fintech isn’t yet competing directly with many of the larger traditional financial institutions doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. For this reason, some countries are being cautious with their fintech regulations, concerned that they might repress a promising sector but equally aware of the necessity for proper controls and security. In the US federal regulators are considering a new regulatory framework for fintech organizations, while various states have already implemented their own guidelines. Since digital currencies and blockchain form a fundamental part of many fintech products and services, regulating the fintech industry as a whole becomes an intricate web.

With the recent hacking of Tesco Bank in the UK, however, it’s become apparent that regulations must be put in place, and quickly. After 20,000 customers had money fraudulently taken from their accounts, the UK’s largest grocer saw its stock dropping by 3.3%, but aside from the action required to repair the damage for this particular attack we’re left worrying which other fintech services that we rely on may be threatened. Top regulators for the financial industry are already promising stringent rules and governance measures for the fintech sector, and it’s likely, if not necessary, that the full spread of financial laws will be applied to fintech organizations before long.

Where to Next?

Financial Services Sector

(Infographic Source: Capgemini)

The future of the fintech industry isn’t yet clear, though most are confident that fintech will have a substantial role in years to come. As traditional financial services organizations explore strategic advances to ensure they remain competitive, fintech solutions continue to blaze the trail, sometimes providing inspiration, and yet other times serving as a cautionary tale. The World Fintech Report 2017 finds that already 50.2% of global banking customers are using fintech products or services, and in fact, many are using solutions from a range of fintech providers suggesting a threat to traditional banking loyalty. It’s unsurprising too that the technology is more popular with younger, affluent, tech-savvy users looking for value for money over a one stop shop. Further, it appears that emerging markets typically show the highest adoption rates, with China at 84.4% and India at 76.9%.

As the overall financial services sector undergoes a dramatic shift, the consumers often come up trumps as they’re provided with a range of services both old and new to suit differing risk appetites and product requirements. There is indeed much work still to be done by those in the industry and those who manage and govern it, but for a while yet we’ll see a burgeoning market.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Technology Influencer in Chief: 5 Steps to Success for Today’s CMOs

Technology Influencer in Chief: 5 Steps to Success for Today’s CMOs

Success for Today’s CMOs

Being a CMO is an exhilarating experience – it’s a lot like running a triathlon and then following it with a base jump. Not only do you play an active role in building a company and brand, but the decisions you make have direct impact on the company’s business outcomes for years to follow.

The role of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has evolved significantly in the past several years. Previously, the job was predominantly about establishing an identity — advertising, brand management and thinking creatively — but today it’s a lot more complex. CMOs are now charged with a variety of responsibilities that span technology, analytics and growth strategy, and because they’re often held accountable for contribution to company revenue, today’s CMOs are also responsible for optimizing operational processes and demonstrating measurable impact.

My personal roles in marketing have evolved over the years, as well. Before leading worldwide marketing strategy and execution as ThreatMetrix CMO, I directed the go-to-market strategy for IBM’s portfolio of Software-as-a-Service solutions. Prior to IBM, I served as a Vice President of Corporate Marketing at DemandTec and focused my role around building a modern demand generation engine and repositioning my company’s business to drastically increase our revenue.

In all of my years as a marketing leader, I’ve learned a few key lessons about what it takes to stay effective and deliver a positive return on investment for my department. Below are five tips for CMOs working to navigate today’s ever-evolving digital and mobile-focused business landscape:

1. Think like a CFO

To succeed as CMO, it’s crucial to embrace financial metrics and look beyond top-line spending numbers. Get comfortable speaking with your finance department about topics such as return on capital, budget variance, accrual accounting and revenue recognition as it applies to your marketing operations. Not only will this help build your credibility amongst other company executives, but it will also help streamline your decision-making process. Furthermore, being well-versed in the responsibilities of your CFO will broaden your business acumen and can also help refine your marketing strategy.

2. Align with sales

In addition to embracing financial metrics, it’s important to establish a close relationship with your sales department, because by deeply understanding the customer journey you’ll be able to strengthen marketing alignment to revenue and ultimately yield a stronger marketing-generated sales pipeline. To build a stronger empathy for your sales team, I’ve found it helpful to start by moving outbound sales development representatives out of the sales team and into marketing. Also, make sure you’re comfortable giving detailed product demonstrations (as sales reps development reps do) and work to ensure you’re prepared to step in and lead the sales department should there ever be a leadership transition.

3. Hire creatively

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It may seem obvious, but it’s important to fully understand that the people you hire will drastically impact your productivity and efficacy as CMO. Build a marketing department of leaders who complement one another. Hire people with extensive business and marketing experience and also hire recent college graduates who can offer digital fluency and an aptitude for lifetime learning. Different perspectives from different generations of workers can offer enormous value, often leading to more creative solutions and better business outcomes. Additionally, by bringing together employees with different backgrounds, you as the CMO can unify your department’s strengths to benefit your individual employees and the business as a whole.

4. Embrace ABM

The school of Account Based Marketing (ABM) may just be gaining traction today, but I predict will be a strategic pillar for all CMOs in the near future. Implementing ABM can result in a variety of benefits, including a more focused sales and marketing strategy, a more closely aligned sales and marketing team, an improved buyer journey and additional revenue.

5. Prioritize content

It’s easy to get caught up in the slew of marketing-specific technologies, analytics solutions and metrics, however to achieve long-term success, it’s important to not lose sight of one of the marketing basics: content. Prioritize writing excellence amongst your team, and orient your department around content publishing. Maintain an editorial calendar to ensure your content marketing themes are upheld, and make sure the content you’re creating is forward-looking and centers around what the market cares about (rather than just what you know or sell).

The role of CMO can be challenging at times, and while it’s unclear how the job may evolve in the future, it’s certain to grow even more complex and all-encompassing as technology and data continue to permeate our world. However, by practicing greater interdepartmental empathy and combining new industry techniques with effective, traditional methods, success can be realized today. Perhaps most importantly, in moving beyond the Chief ‘Marketer’ title and embracing the comprehensive business influence they’re capable of, today’s CMOs can seize the opportunity to serve as dynamic leaders and key, corporate decision-makers along with their CEO and other C-suite colleagues.

By Armen Najarian, CMO, ThreatMetrix

armen-najarianArmen leads worldwide marketing strategy and execution for ThreatMetrix. Previously, he directed the go-to-market strategy for IBM’s $1B portfolio of 100+ SaaS solutions. Armen joined IBM through the $440M acquisition of DemandTec, where as VP of Corporate Marketing he built a modern demand generation engine and repositioned the business supporting a 3x increase in revenue over a 5 year span.

Transparency in the Cloud and the Lack Thereof

Transparency in the Cloud and the Lack Thereof

Cloud Transparency

The enterprise cloud is changing the way we do things from our day jobs, to social media, entertainment, and everyday interactions. While many of today’s enterprises are leading the way to complete digital transformation, one concern they often have is the lack of transparency of cloud computing.

It’s a fact that many cloud service providers do not offer customers visibility into their operating environments. Customers have no idea where their data resides physically or virtually, and are not given access to information about specific services or when those services will be upgraded. While this is generally accepted in the consumer world, the enterprise cannot tolerate this lack of visibility, access, and lack of control of their own data or the services that run the business.

The absence of transparency has led some enterprises to consider building private clouds in their own data centers. While this gives them the control and visibility they want, it also comes with a big price tag, not to mention security and operational issues. In the end, it’s not worth the time and resources, and it doesn’t allow the enterprise to take full advantage of the positive features of public cloud services.

On the flip side, public clouds provide many benefits for the enterprise including the ability to quickly launch services that change the way work gets done.

Some of these services include: 1) virtual machines for developers and quality engineers, 2) storage for backups, 3) desktop productivity applications such as email and calendaring and 4) IT, security, legal and customer service workflow applications. Of course, every enterprise wants all these services but unfortunately, the transparency and control that enterprises want is not there today in most public clouds.

In order to make the enterprise cloud the platform that drives all enterprise workflow, a compromise has to be made. Cloud service providers need to give their customers greater visibility and the control they are used to having in their own data centers. Customers should expect the following from their cloud service provider:

  • Choose where your data goes – One primary factor in achieving true visibility and control of data in a cloud service is that customers should be able to request and know where their service and data physically resides (i.e. datacenter locations). This knowledge will help customers overcome some of the fear and lack of confidence that can at times occur with the seemingly ominous idea of data floating around somewhere in “the cloud.”
  • Real availability – An additional element of customers achieving increased visibility of their data in the cloud is the level at which data availability and metrics are available. Instead of customers all being grouped together in large sets of data without the ability to distinguish one from another, availability should be achieved at the customer instance level. With availability at this granular level, customers can be presented with customized metrics specific to each of their instances, instead of a more generic set of metrics applying to a group of customers. This is real availability, and combined with knowledge of the physical location of data and services, customers can achieve true visibility into their data and have a significantly higher level of confidence and trust in the cloud service provider.
  • Deal with the issues – If there is an availability issue then customers should have access to the root cause incident with all the details. If the incident results in a problem that needs to be fixed in the service provider’s software or a change that needs to happen on the infrastructure, then this should remain transparent to the customer. Customers entrust their data to the cloud service provider, and in return they should expect an honest and realistic view into the service provider’s management of that data. When problems arise, they should not be invisible to the customer, the customer should be given information about the issues and insight into how the issues are being resolved.

CloudTweaks Comic

  • Granular transparency – In addition to remaining transparent when issues arise, service providers should also provide customers with a high level of transparency every day, with all transactions impacting a customer instance. Customers are used to running their own services, with the ability to monitor and see their data on a daily basis. As such, service providers should provide customers with the ability to view and download every transaction that is performed on their instance, and remove one of the main hurdles customers face in handing over data to a service provider on the cloud.
  • Full control – Whether it is for compliance, testing or user acceptance purposes, enterprises want complete control of their instances including when their service will be upgraded or when new features will be enabled. Customers should be able to have input on the date and time of upgrades as well as all aspects of the management of their instances. This moves beyond the visibility and availability of services and data and ensures that when services are being changed or updated, the customer has more than just transparency, they have control.

While it’s not a perfect system, cloud service providers are catching on that they need to build and operate a service similarly to how an enterprise runs their services, giving them full access to their data. This transparency will help enterprises have greater confidence in the cloud and will strengthen the relationship between provider and customer.

By Allan Leinwand

How Wearable Devices Are Making A Healthy Society Around Us

How Wearable Devices Are Making A Healthy Society Around Us

Wearable Devices

Having smartphones to smarter the way we communicate or stay connected is an old fable. Technology has evolved itself impeccably and over its boulevard, it has created footprints on the health industry in form of wearable devices.

A few decades back, wearable technology started to mold not only itself but the way humans used to live.

How and when it started?

For the former question, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, I believe is the perfect answer. Here necessity points towards the need to live a comfortable life while the invention is nothing other than our wearable devices.

Turning the pages of time and a little after juggling the nerves in my brain, I can recall the calculator watch that got released somewhere in the 1980s. I’m sure many of you might have noticed their entrance. However, things changed with time, and technology started to create new benchmarks. This is where the need to create new standards raised.

In lieu of the same, I can recall the HugShirt (release at the CyberArt festival in Bilbao, Spain in 2004).

Since then wearable technology didn’t look back. Around ten years after this, Statista published a report, which shared 75 million wearable devices got sold in 2012. If this excites you, sit back and be prepared, as the figures for the year 2015 rose in an unmatched manner and exceeded the 2 billion mark. Sounds pretty exciting, isn’t it?

Wearable devices and healthy society

Apart from contributing into travel and entertainment segment, wearable and mobile devices have commendably created their space in the world of health care. Wearable devices today have a remarkable place in the healthcare industry. They not only track your fitness but also recommend you required things and share the same with your doctor. They can work as a remedy and can assist you and your doctor by monitoring your health issues and sharing the reports.

If we talk about the figures, according to a report in 2014 around 29.7 million people were using the wearable devices for fitness, while the very next year it almost doubled and touched the mark of 58.7 million.

stat

Wearable devices have faced a massive acceptance in the United States and this is why it generates maximum revenue of over one billion dollars from the region.

The role played by wearable devices in making a healthy society?

A study reveals that wearable devices are widely preferred for living a healthy life. The figures are expected to increase for all good reasons. However, to attract millennials it might take little more time but the parents have shown huge interest.

Let us have a look at some of the ways in which wearable devices are making us live a healthy life:

  1. Creates awareness: Wearable devices don’t get partial and thus they share the truth. Someday you might feel tired after walking for let’s say 15 minutes, but this doesn’t mean that you walked some extra steps. While you might consider it this way, wearable devices will share the exact number of steps you have taken and the calories you burnt.
  1. Educates: With a wearable device housed around your wrist you can monitor your health at any time while being anywhere. With this, you can understand the loopholes better; subsequently, make better decisions to improve your health. Imagine having a personal nutritionist with you 24 hours a day, guiding you as per your body requirements.
  1. Competition: Let us accept the fact we humans need a push in order to achieve goals, and I believe competition indeed could be a remarkable way. For this, you can have a wearable device that kicks you towards having positive competition with your near and dear ones. Imagine yourself stepping out of the gym with dual feelings; winning over your competitor and burning some extra calories.
  1. Check your sleep: ‘The subconscious state’ is what describes sleep in the best way. At such a stage if you have a device that stays awake for you, just to check if you slept well, your heart rate has been smooth, and the movements throughout the duration, this definitely gives a relaxed feeling. Not only these, but wearable devices can also accordingly plan your wake up time and make sure you follow it by reminding you.
  1. Workout becomes easy: Someday you might be tired, someday active. The same results in fluctuating workouts. While the odd days make you exhausted early, the other days you are a storm. On one hand while being in the former state you work out less and get whacked early, on the other the latter allows you to work more. With a wearable device, you can easily check your workout and eventually maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  1. Assistant for physicians and patients: Some wearable devices are designed to share your health data with your physician. Like this, your physician can’t just have a deep sneak into your health issues but also can diagnose you better. While on one side this allows you to remotely get yourself checked, on the other hand, it saves the time of your doctor without compromising with the health vitality.

Conclusion

Wearable devices aren’t just a new trend that is gaining all the attention due to their design and style, but they have proved their entity by assisting, guiding, and motivating the general people towards the health. Maybe this is why the wearable device market is increasing high above with every passing day.

By Shahid Mansuri

What Is the Future of Data Warehousing?

What Is the Future of Data Warehousing?

Data Warehousing

There is no denying it – we live in The Age of the Customer. Consumers all over the world are now digitally empowered, and they have the means to decide which businesses will succeed and grow, and which ones will fail. As a result, most savvy businesses now understand that they must be customer-obsessed to succeed. They must have up-to-the-second data and analytical information so that they can give their customers what they want and provide the very best customer satisfaction possible.

This understanding has given rise to the concept of business intelligence (BI), the use of data Big-Data-Santa-CloudTweaksmining, big data, and data analytics to analyze raw data and create faster, more effective business solutions. However, while the concept of BI is not necessarily new, traditional BI tactics are no longer enough to keep up and ensure success in the future. Today, traditional BI must be combined with agile BI (the use of agile software development to accelerate traditional BI for faster results and more adaptability) and big data to deliver the fastest and most useful insights so that businesses may convert, serve, and retain more customers.

Essentially, for a business to survive, BI must continuously evolve and adapt to improve agility and keep up with data trends in this new customer-driven age of enterprise. This new model for BI is also driving the future of data warehousing, as we will see moving forward.

Older BI Deployments Cannot Keep Pace for Success

As valuable as older BI applications and deployments have been over the years, they simply cannot keep pace with customer demands today. In fact, decision-makers in IT and business have reported a number of challenges when they have only deployed traditional BI. These include:

  • Inability to accurately quantify their BI investments’ ROI. Newer BI deployments implement methodologies for measuring ROI and determining the value of BI efforts.
  • A breakdown in communication and alignment between IT and business teams.
  • Inability to properly manage operational risk, resolve latency challenges, and/or handle scalability. While BI is intended to improve all of these, traditional BI is falling behind.
  • Difficulty with platform migration and/or integration.

Poor data quality. Even if data mining is fast and expansive, if the quality of the data is not up to par, it will not be useful in creating actionable intelligence for important business decisions.

Keeping Up with Customer Demand Through New BI Deployments

So how can combining traditional BI, agile BI, and big data help businesses grow and succeed in today’s market? Consider that big data gives businesses a more complete view of the customer by tapping into multiple data sources. At the same time, agile BI addresses the need for faster and more adaptable intelligence. Combine the two, along with already existing traditional BI, and efforts that were once separate can work together to create a stronger system of insight and analytics.

Through this new BI strategy, businesses can consistently harness insights and create actionable data in less time. Using the same technology, processes, and people, it allows businesses to manage growth and complexity, react faster to customer needs, and improve collaboration and top-line benefits – all at the same time.

The Drive for a New Kind of Data Warehousing

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A new kind of data warehousing is essential to this new BI deployment, as much of the inefficiency in older BI deployments lies in the time and energy wasted in data movement and duplication. A few factors are driving the development and future of data warehousing, including:

  • Agility – To succeed today, businesses must use collaboration more than ever. Instead of having separate departments, teams, and implementations for things like data mining and analysis, IT, BI, business, etc., the new model involves cross-functional teams that engage in adaptive planning for continuous evolution and improvement. This kind of model cannot function with old forms of data warehousing, with just a single server (or set of servers) where data is stored and retrieved.
  • The Cloud – More and more, people and businesses are storing data on the cloud. Cloud-based computing offers the ability to access more data from different sources without the need for massive amounts of data movement and duplication. Thus, the cloud is a major factor in the future of data warehousing.
  • The Next Generation of Data – We are already seeing significant changes in data storage, data mining, and all things related to big data, thanks to the Internet of Things. The next generation of data will (and already does) include even more evolution, including real-time data and streaming data.

How New Data Warehousing Solves Problems for Businesses

So how do new data warehouses change the face of BI and big data? These new data warehousing solutions offer businesses a more powerful and simpler means to achieve streaming, real-time data by connecting live data with previously stored historical data.

bi-data-a

Before, business intelligence was an entirely different section of a company than the business section, and data analytics took place in an isolated bubble. Analysis was also restricted to only looking at and analyzing historical data – data from the past. Today, if businesses only look at historical data, they will be behind the curve before they even begin. Some of the solutions to this, which new data warehousing techniques and software provide, include:

  • Data lakes – Instead of storing data in hierarchical files and folders, as traditional data warehouses do, data lakes have a flat architecture that allows raw data to be stored in its natural form until it is needed.
  • Data fragmented across organizations – New data warehousing allows for faster data collection and analysis across organizations and departments. This is in keeping with the agility model and promotes more collaboration and faster results.
  • IoT streaming data – Again, the Internet of Things, is a major game changer, as customers, businesses, departments, etc. share and store data across multiple devices.
  • To Thrive in the Age of the Customers – Businesses Must Merge Previously Separate Efforts

Now that we are seeing real-time and streaming data, it is more important than ever before to create cohesive strategies for business insights. This means merging formerly separate efforts like traditional BI, agile BI, and big data.

bi-data

Business agility is more important than ever before to convert and retain customers. To do this, BI must always be evolving, improving, and adapting, and this requires more collaboration and new data warehousing solutions. Through this evolution of strategies and technology, businesses can hope to grow and improve in The Age of the Customer.

Examples of the Future of Data Warehousing

And what exactly will the future of data warehousing look like? Companies like SAP are working on that right now. With the launch of the BW/4HANA data warehousing solution running on premise and Amazon Web Services (AWS) and others like it, we can see how businesses can combine historical and streaming data for better implementation and deployment of new BI strategies. This system and others like it work with Spark and Hadoop, as well as other programming frameworks to bring data and systems of insight into the 21st century and beyond.

Want to learn more about BI, agile BI, the future of data warehousing, and all things big data?

(Originally published November 1st, 2016. Are you an influencer? If so, contact us for more information regarding our syndication programs)

By Ronald van Loon

Data Management and the Internet of Things

Data Management and the Internet of Things

Data Management

The Internet of Things (IoT) has taken software development to new levels and with the many points of contact it provides creates a myriad of opportunities and, of course, challenges. The number of developers working on IoT applications are consistently increasing as businesses across industries recognize the value of such apps and search for new ways to keep ahead of their competitors. In the past, SAP SQL Anywhere has operated as an embeddable database option for mobile devices, but the upsurge of IoT has seen constant evolution of this product and the latest version delivers ‘mission-critical services to Internet of Things systems and data-intensive apps.’

Managing the Data

The number of Internet of Things devices and applications being managed today is prodigious, and Gartner estimates that by 2020 we’ll have 25 billion connected devices. This will undoubtedly provide many positive gains for our day to day personal and business lives, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when considering the massive volumes of data collected and sent off by each one these devices. Due to the processing, sharing, and analysis requirements of data, it’s become essential to implement effective database management systems to help developers structure new builds and manage applications going forward.

cloud-sap

For developers building database-powered IoT applications, data management, synchronization, and data exchange technologies are essential to swift design, build, and deployment. Moreover, database management software ensures data is synchronized across mobile devices and remote offices meaning that vital data can be accessed from countless locations at any time. Working together with SAP HANA or SAP Business Suite software, SAP SQL Anywhere offers data management and collection solutions for mobile and remote environments through data synchronization technology that helps ensure transactions are replicated between the enterprise and remote devices in a consistent and scalable manner. Deployments consisting of tens of thousands of devices can be carried out, involving complex operations over the long term with zero data loss. Furthermore, because SAP HANA provides communication via satellite locations organizations are now able to collect and access data from locations with only intermittent connections or low bandwidths. Thanks to smart and secure synchronization for both on-premise and cloud systems, along with always-on and always-available operations, organizations benefit from reduced downtown and improved data protection encryption and data isolation.

Secure & Always On Solutions

When considering the volume of data flowing into and out of our connected devices a primary concern is security. Countless data breaches have come to light in recent times, and due to the often highly private nature of data, it’s essential that data management systems provide the necessary level of security. Customized mobile and IoT applications certainly have their advantages, but when controlling and synchronizing data across numerous IoT systems, mobile devices, and remote environments, it’s essential that the chosen data management solution is able to provide secure and reliable processes when required. SAP SQL Anywhere manages these needs through data protection encryption and data isolation and allows intelligent devices to connect to the enterprise securely while collecting data reliably and safely delivering it into the SAP HANA platform for consolidation and analysis. The strong encryption capabilities of SAP SQL Anywhere ensure data is protected and secured even during transmission and exchange.

For professionals needing progressive and reliable SQL database solutions, SAP SQL Anywhere provides an extensive range of tools and features able to create data-drive applications for remote operation, collection, and aggregation of massive amounts of data generated by IoT devices and applications, flexible, standards-based platforms, and much more. And due to increased developer productivity and optimized performance and availability, developers are able to swiftly release new applications and accurately monitor them going forward, thus ensuring businesses make the most of today’s IoT opportunities while surmounting the relevant challenges.

You can now purchase SAP SQL Anywhere in the SAP Store, and until Dec 31 receive 15% off your purchase with promo code SQL15.

Sponsored spotlight series by SAP

By Jennifer Klostermann

Will Chatbots Finally Make Mobile Payments Popular?

Will Chatbots Finally Make Mobile Payments Popular?

The Future of Chatbots

We’ve profiled several digital wallet platforms that aim to change how we make payments. Apple, Samsung, and Google all have mobile wallet apps hoping to convince users to use their smartphones instead of credit/debit cards and bank accounts to send money and pay for purchases. By 2020, analysts project 56 percent of the consumer population to use mobile payments.

However, digital wallet adoption is still low. Avivah Litan, an Analyst at Gartner, credits the ease of use of current payment systems with this slow transition.

It’s incredibly easy to swipe or dip a credit or debit card at a payment terminal and U.S. consumers are used to this mature payment application where they know they are well protected from financial loss…..It will take a lot of persuasion and financial incentives to get consumers to change their payment habits.

And it looks like this persuasion isn’t going to come from digital wallets, but rather chat programs.

The Rise of Chatbots

Chat bot

(Infographic discovered via LinkedIn)

Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular mobile chat apps in the world, with over 900 million registered users on the platform. To compete with other messaging apps like Kik, Line, and Telegram, Facebook added chatbots to the service in April 2016, its enterprise partners quickly created over 11,000 chatbots on the service.

These chatbots are a faux form of artificial intelligence – human-like interactions with a conversational tone powered by a backend database the bot navigates based on user responses. The natural feel and personality of these bots made them instantly popular among users.

It wasn’t long before brands like Domino’s and Taco Bell allowed customers to place orders using these chatbots. Media outlets like the Wall Street Journal and CNN implemented bots to help readers browse the news. Retailers like Sephora and Target implemented personal shoppers.

Soon, the financial industry caught on and major players are now working on their own bots.

The Coming of Financial Chatbots

During the recent Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas, MasterCard announced its upcoming Facebook Messenger chatbots. One MasterCard Bot, named Kai, is for consumers, allowing users to check account information, monitor spending levels, and even learn good financial habits. The other MasterCard Bot for merchants uses its Masterpass digital wallet to complete Messenger transactions.

Although launching on Facebook’s Messenger platform, MasterCard intends to eventually release its bots on every major messenger platform. Michelle Moore, head of digital banking at Bank of America, agrees with MasterCard’s direction.

“What will banking be in two, three or four years?” Moore asked. “It’s going to be this.

Moore is referring to Erica, Bank of America’s newly launched chatbot that can give advice on bills, initiate money transfers, and more. Although not yet available to customers, Erica is being fervently tested at the bank as a way to reduce operational and customer service costs.

Allowing customers to navigate their bank account through an automated Messenger program not only saves money, but it helps overcome the hurdles encountered by digital wallets and other mobile payment options.

Unlike a mobile wallet, chatbots are more convenient than traditional plastic cards, because they provide more information and utility in a conversational interface. You can’t check your balance or transfer money using just your card, but you can with a chatbot.

Chatbots in Small Business

Although major brands are used as examples in this article, it’s small business that will inevitably benefit from chatbots. With such a solid infrastructure being built, smaller businesses can take advantage of this new technology to provide innovative services not yet available by major brands.

MasterCard’s secure Masterpass platform acts as an infrastructure that can be used by smaller teams to enable mobile messenger payments and purchases to open a new sales avenue. Initial costs are minimal, as are operational costs, as the bots run on the servers of the messenger platform.

Facebook’s developer tools walk you through how to create a chatbot for FB Messenger, as do Kik, LINE, and Telegram. Using these APIs, businesses can create powerful chatbots to keep users engaged and generate an ROI.

The Final Word

While the conversational interface of chatbots makes them attractive to both investors and users, there’s still a long road ahead. There are already tens of thousands of chatbots crawling around messenger programs, and many users still aren’t aware they’re available. Widespread adoption is still several years off.

Still, experts in both the financial and technology sectors are keeping an eye on chatbots, which have prominently featured in Facebook’s F8 conference, the Money 20/20 conference, and CES 2016. Businesses looking to disrupt the financial industry need look no further for the perfect avenue to do it.

By Brian Penny

Waiting for IT? Rise Up Citizen Coders! Cloud Now Eliminates the Need for Developers

Waiting for IT? Rise Up Citizen Coders! Cloud Now Eliminates the Need for Developers

SaaS Application Development

All we seem to hear about is the shortage of developers, people who can code. Times are changing in response to this need. Ever hear of “Low Code” or “No Code”? Now you can modify and connect your applications, as needed without developers. Cloud makes this possible.

Can you use Excel? Know somebody on your team who can? You or they don’t need to be spreadsheet jockeys but just have a basic faculty. Guess what? In a couple of weeks, this is your answer to your shortage of developers. You do this by taking advantage of the Lo Code/No Code Movement through tools like QuickBase.

Quickbase and its kin basically provide a Graphic User interface (GUI) that enables you to drag and drop elements needed to get different SaaS programs to produce unique reports or to link with other programs to produce integrated data. These apps created by low- and no-code platforms are mostly hosted on the web and fill roles in eCommerce, sales, digital form filling, and other basic computing needs.

Now, keep in mind that this is not going to produce a brand new program to manage your big data research, but that’s not the point: it’s designed to fulfill business needs simply and quickly. The beauty of this approach is that often there is a disconnect between what the business wants and what IT thinks the business wants. Here the business can directly build the application to get exactly what it wants.

Sounds like a pretty good idea, doesn’t it? You bet it is and the market is responding. Clay Richardson, an analyst at Forrester, says: “We expect the demand for new apps will drive the low-code platforms market to grow at 50-60% YoY for the next three to four years.”

The big SaaS providers have recognized the need and responded as well. Salesforce.com offers App Cloud Mobile. App Cloud is a one-stop shop for building, running, managing, and optimizing apps. Using the services included in the App Cloud you can build any kind of app, and connect it to all your systems.

The brave new world of cloud computing continues, enabling all kinds of organizations to raise the bar in performance and service to customers. Sure there is a shortage of developers but here is a way around it. What are you waiting for?

(Originally published Oct 27 th, 2016. You can periodically read John’s syndicated articles here on CloudTweaks. Contact us for more information on these programs)

By John Pientka

CloudTweaks Comics
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