Month: February 2019

28 Feb 2019
Wealth Managers Need to Re-Think Digitalization

Wealth Managers Need to Re-Think Digitalization

Wealth management clients are not as tech-phobic as the average wealth manager believes, concluded a study conducted by Scorpio Partnership and sponsored by FactSet.

When the research and analysis firm surveyed 877 UK- and US-based wealth management clients, it found that the appetite for digital interactions ran a spectrum.

The average survey respondent was 37 and described themselves as an early adopter or a technology follower and mirrored the technology adoption traits of millennials.

They’re interested in the digital experience, but it has to be engaging and worth something and not a reheated version of what they can get from a different channel, according to Tasha Vashisht, a senior manager at Scorpio Partners during a recent webinar.

“However, they have high expectations,” she said. “They probably will wait and try again if they have a disappointing experience.”

She cited an unnamed wealth manager that posted amount updates online and saw little uptake since the wealth manager already provided the same information through an already existing channel.

“Clients need a reason to log on,” said Vashisht.

Unfortunately for wealth managers, there is no “one size fits all” approach for which content will draw clients online.

What attracts the mass affluent client may not be the same that would attract ultra-high net worth clients.

The most straightforward approach to deploying a digitalization strategy is to ask clients what they want, she said.

Each wealth manager needs a custom digitalization strategy, which could be segmented into onboarding, execution/trade, and dealing with client requests.

One area that wealth managers could stress online is investor education, according to Vashisht. Ultra-high net worth holdings and financial sophistication do not always go hand in hand.

“Year-on-year clients are struggling with basic vocabulary like ‘volatility’ and where risk sits in their portfolios,” she said.

There is no one way to implement a digital strategy, “but as long as you have the internal focus, you are fine,” added fellow presenter Philipp Zerhusen, director of market development at FactSet.

Such programs do not need massive budgets and firms can turn to third-party providers, he added.


27 Feb 2019
Making the Northern digital economy a reality

Making the Northern digital economy a reality

When it comes to the digital economy, politicians and businesses cannot afford to prioritise some parts of the North, and ignore others.

While the politics are always complicated, the case for the Northern Powerhouse has never been clearer. Supporting growth beyond the South East by focusing on infrastructure development, local decision-making and skills not only offers huge economic potential but is the right thing to do in an economy – and a society – that has been too focused around a few London postcodes.

But there’s a real risk that, without a careful approach, we’ll replicate those old mistakes, with those areas well-placed for investment continuing to grow, while others are left behind and out of scope for the new economy.

When it comes to the digital economy – a business environment in which tech and digitally focused companies are able to grow – this risk is even higher. There’s a perception that “tech” jobs exist only for London millennials who never set foot outside of Shoreditch, or for academics moving between London, Oxford and Cambridge. These images could hardly be further from stereotypes of “left behind” towns in Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cheshire.

But why should good, future-proofed jobs be the preserve of the South? Northern communities deserve to benefit from new opportunities created through massive investment and government support. The country’s creative industries sector is growing twice as fast as the economy as a whole, and employment in digital businesses rose by 13.2 per cent from 2014 – 2017. The jobs which are being created are well-paid, with roles requiring tech skills having higher than average salaries.

There’s a risk of speaking about the “North” as if it’s one entity, whereas the truth is more complicated. There have been some big changes in urban areas such as Manchester and Leeds, where digital hubs have been established and where there are good prospects for future growth.

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25 Feb 2019
Why Sheikh Mohammed's vision, leadership style should be taught in schools

Why Sheikh Mohammed’s vision, leadership style should be taught in schools

Dubai’s creative leadership paving the road for emirate to light and shine

Think of leadership and vision and the first name that comes to mind is His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Hence, academia, researchers and business executives have suggested that the vision and style of leadership of Sheikh Mohammed should be taught in the schools and be made a part of the curriculum.

“Dubai’s creative leadership is paving the road for this emirate to light and shine. The unique style of leadership of Sheikh Mohammed is inspiring all of us. The environment that Dubai created paved ways for individuals like us and this is the reason for being here and what I am now. I am indebted to His Highness,” said Dr Manahel Thabet, president of the Economic Forum for Sustainable Development.

“Being a resident of Dubai, I believe his leadership style should be taught in schools. Sheikh Mohammed has taken critical, crucial and quick decision to tame the complicated financial issues that Dubai faced in the past 10-15 years. His vision is distinguishing him from the rest of the world.”

Dr Thabet has been ranked among the 30 smartest people alive worldwide by SuperScholar and is a Guinness World Record holder in mind ability.

She highlighted different styles of his leadership such as Dubai’s march towards being a knowledge-based economy, as well as the creation of incubators and accelerators, which she suggested they should be followed by emerging economies.

Dr Raed Safadi, chief economic advisor at Dubai’s Department of Economic Development, pointed out that the critical element of Sheikh Mohammed’s vision is flexibility, which helps seize an opportunity that arises and also foresee future challenges.

“This emirate has embraced technological changes before they were common currency. There was fear that technology is going to take away jobs, but we are embracing it – not fearing it,” he said during a panel discussion on leadership organised by Accounting, Audit & Advisory Services Focus Group (AAA), a unit of the Indian Business & Professional Council, in Dubai.

Sanjay Manchanda, CEO of Nakheel Properties, said Sheikh Mohammed is a great inspiration.

“Thanks to the vision of His Highness, they realised that there is somebody capable of [handling Nakheel] and that is how I took my seat as CEO,” Manchanda said during the panel discussion on leadership.

He strongly recommended public to read Sheikh Mohammed’s latest book, Qissati, which reveals a strong message of how Sheikh Mohammed shaped the business and the emirate with his vision. Citing an example, he said: “Dubai started the Government Summit and that has taken his entire vision to global platform of bringing global audience to the UAE.”

Naweed Lalani, head of audit and credit rating agencies supervision at the Dubai Financial Services Authority, also recommended reading 50th chapter of Sheikh Mohammed’s latest book, which talks about leadership.

“His Highness said either innovate or leave – you cannot sit without innovating. The leaders need not necessarily be creative but catalyst for the change.”

Naveen Sharma, convener at AAA Focus Group, said creativity will be an essential talent that people will be judged on by 2020.

“IBM had conducted a global CEO study and the results surprised the world. Creativity was selected as the most crucial factor for future success – way ahead of integrity, openness and even fairness.”

Other keynote panelists, speakers and attendees were Mishal Kanoo, chairman of Kaaf Investments; Abbas Ali Mirza, past president of the IBPC and ICAI Dubai Chapter; Dr Mohammed Abu Ali, dean of the school of business administration and professor of economics at American University; Rahul Mahajan, vice-president fpr digital transformation at Nagarro; and Mahmood Bangara, chairman of ICAI – Dubai Chapter.


23 Feb 2019
DARPA Wants AI to Tell You When It's Dumb

DARPA Wants AI to Tell You When It’s Dumb

Scientists in the Pentagon’s research office are working to build artificial intelligence systems capable of something that stumps most humans: owning up to their own incompetence.

On Tuesday, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency kicked off the Competency-Aware Machine Learning program, an effort to build AI tools that can model their own behavior, recall past experiences and apply knowledge to new situations.

Given these skills, officials said, AI could ultimately assess its own expertise for a given task, and let people know if it doesn’t know what it’s doing.

In general, AI systems work best when they’re applied to very explicit, narrow tasks, and even the most finely tuned tech could fail if situations are slightly changed. A tool that classifies dogs might work flawlessly in broad daylight, but mistake a golden retriever for a black lab when it’s cloudy outside, for instance.

The tech itself doesn’t know how accurate it will be in a given situation or whether it’s properly trained for the task at hand. And in the high-stakes, rapidly changing world of military operations, this uncertainty could be particularly problematic, DARPA said in the solicitation.

“In order to transform machine learning systems from tools into partners, users need to trust their machine counterparts,” officials wrote. “One component to building trust is understanding machine competence” and gaining “an accurate insight into the machine’s skills, experience, and reliability.”

During the four-year program, participants will create tools that can both build memories of past experiences and analyze their own decision-making processes, according to the solicitation. Ultimately, teams will deploy and test the tech on Defense Department platforms, officials said.

Interested teams must submit proposals by April 22.

Today, transforming AI from a useful tool to a “collaborative partner” is one of DARPA’s top priorities. Over the next five years, the agency plans to invest $2 billion in building so-called “third-wave AI,” technology that can reason its way through the world and supply humans with new ideas.

Included in DARPA’s wide-ranging AI portfolio are efforts to automate the scientific process, build computers with common sense, build tech that mirrors insect brains and link military systems to the human body.


20 Feb 2019

Invest In Disruptive Innovation For Big Potential Returns

Invest in disruptive innovation to pursue potent potential profits, seasoned Wall Street money manager Hilary Kramer advised in a recent interview.

The easy money already has been made in the so-called FAANG stocks of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), (NASDAQ:AMZN), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Google’s parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Kramer told me at the latest MoneyShow in Orlando, Florida. However, less-established companies than those could become the next disruptive innovation leaders, she added.

“We’re not just following the momentum like everyone else,” Kramer told me. “We are really finding tomorrow’s and next year’s momentum.”

Key indicators that Kramer said she and her team track involve changes in macrotrends, legislation, geopolitics and consumer tastes to find the next places to invest in disruptive innovation. For example, Kramer said her recommendations typically skip over the social media companies that rose sharply in the past and instead include promising “Baby Boomer” stocks, such as one that provides knee and joint replacements.

Invest in Disruptive Innovation Through Undervalued, Growing Companies

Kramer, a Wall Street professional who leads the GameChangersValue AuthorityTurbo Trader and Inner Circle advisory services for individual investors, added that her analysis involves identifying the most undervalued companies that have the greatest growth quarter-over-quarter on the top- and bottom-lines. The process led her to recommend London-based multinational medical equipment manufacturing company Smith & Nephew plc (NYSE:SNN) for those seeking to invest in disruptive innovation for orthopedics reconstruction, advanced management of hard-to-heel wounds, minimally invasive joint surgery and products to repair broken bones.

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17 Feb 2019
How To Compete In A Winner-Takes-All Digital Global Economy

How To Compete In A Winner-Takes-All Digital Global Economy

Digitalization, the growing use of digital technologies in the ways businesses interact with each other and with their customers and suppliers, has radically changed the rules of the market game in almost every industry.

So has globalization, the integration of domestic and overseas markets.

In some industries, digitalization and globalization have created a winner-take-all game in which the company that wins the game accrues almost all the pay-off.

How? By attaining either a scale or a network advantage.

A scale advantage is the cost gains associated with large production size. A network advantage is the revenue gains associated with a large distribution network.

A good example is the e-commerce industry, where Amazon has achieved the size to be the winner-take-all. Then there’s the search engine industry, where Google is the winner-take-all player. And the social media industry, where Facebook is the winner-take all.



16 Feb 2019
Is Your Company Ready For AI?

Is Your Company Ready For AI?

One of the biggest mistakes IT champions make when pitching trendy transformative technologies like AI, blockchain or quantum computing to executives is not doing their homework. They often fail to identify the problem they are trying to solve, determine whether it’s worth solving and understand whether their company is positioned to solve it.

This article proposes a simple four-part framework your champions can use to assess AI readiness so stakeholders can get a good early read on the likelihood of success before you invest too much time and effort in AI initiatives. To animate this framework, I will apply it to a real-world scenario — assessing organizational readiness for AIOps, or the application of AI technology to transform IT operations.

The framework comprises four elements.

    1. Problem Identification

How often does someone in a spirited meeting regarding a business or IT challenge say, “Wait a minute. What problem are we trying to solve?” Often, in-depth discussions about solutions become disconnected with problems, a major reason why technology initiatives often get shot down during executive review. It’s critically important that your champion is clear about the problem AI solves and its underlying cause.

To demonstrate to stakeholders that the problems an AIOps initiative will address are understood, champions should answer assessment questions like these:

  • Are there one or more key metrics or KPIs (e.g., downtime, service levels) that AIOps can directly impact?
  • Can identified IT operations problems and their causes be clearly linked to AIOps capabilities and benefits?
  • Is it clear that your current technology or process can’t be easily tweaked to solve the same problems?

Of course, you can generalize these questions and apply them to any IT initiative, not just AIOps.

  1. Strategy Alignment

Champions and sponsors of IT initiatives must establish a clear connection between chain-of-command priorities and technology solution investments. Without this, they are unlikely to gain executive traction for their initiatives. In the case of AIOps, it’s important to tightly link potential benefits with key priorities of the CIO and VP of operations such as reducing business disruptions or freeing up resources for strategic projects like cloud migrations or M&A.

Champions can establish strategic alignment by answering these assessment questions:

  • Are IT operations processes, challenges, pain points or use cases mapped to AIOps solution capabilities?
  • How are IT operations performance outcomes — such as fewer major incidents or faster mean time to resolution (MTTR) for incidents — linked to these process challenges?
  • How are key executive-level priorities, strategic objectives or key business initiatives linked to anticipated IT operations performance benefits?
  1. Business Case Viability

This focuses simply on determining whether a reasonable business case can be made. At a minimum, this means that your champion has identified key business drivers and is comfortable that the business value can be quantified in a relatively straightforward manner. A high-level business case with ballpark estimates of the potential value would be even better. A formal business case and ROI analysis that includes more validated estimates (e.g., after a PoC evaluation) comes later.

In the case of AIOps, this translates into validating that process improvements can be measured and quantified into financial benefits. This includes identifying major process areas where this can be reliably estimated like cost savings from automation, downtime reduction and savings from reducing the mean time to resolution for incidents.

While some technology initiatives are justified based on soft/qualitative benefits alone, you should assume that you’ll need harder justification to win executive approval for a program like AIOps.

Here are example assessment questions:

  • Can we reliably baseline current process performance and metrics such as team utilization and effort taken to complete specific tasks?
  • Do we know what success looks like and how to measure it? For example, can we strategically align and roll up measurable benefits such as cost savings, downtime reduction and process cycle time savings?
  • Will we be able to estimate process performance and metric improvement (e.g., effort saved due to automation, downtime reduction) based on a proof of concept or other approaches?

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