The 2015 Review

Posted on : 18-12-2015 | By : Jack.Rawden | In : Uncategorized

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This time last year Broadgate came up with some bold predictions for the year ahead.  Unfortunately these predictions can now be measured and as a way of keeping us honest here is a look back at our predictions from a year ago.

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Cloud becomes the default

Prediction: – There has been widespread resistance to the cloud in the FS world. We’ve been promoting the advantages of demand based or utility computing for years and in 2014 there seemed to be acceptance that cloud (whether external applications such as SalesForce or on demand platforms such as Azure) can provide advantages over traditional ‘build and deploy’ set-ups. Our prediction is that cloud will become the ‘norm’ for FS companies in 2015 and building in-house will become the exception and then mostly for integration.

Reality: – Whilst the cloud in FS companies has seen an increase in demand over the past year, its adoption rate is still slow and the demand for cloud services and computing hasn’t quite kicked off as the ‘norm’ for financial services firms.  Whilst its appeal is increasing and trending towards this direction some organisations still refuse to consider the cloud due to a variety of concerns (Security, lack of controls etc).  Over time (as advocates of the cloud) we feel that the benefits will outweigh their concerns and in house solutions will become the exception.

Intranpreneur‘ becomes widely used (again)

Prediction: – We first came across the term Intranpreneur in the late ’80s in the Economist magazine. It highlighted some forward thinking organisations attempt to change culture, to foster, employ and grow internal entrepreneurs, people who think differently and have a start-up mentality within large firms to make them more dynamic and fast moving. The term came back into fashion in the tech boom of the late ’90s, mainly by large consulting firms desperate to hold on to their young smart workforce that was being snapped up by Silicon Valley. We have seen the resurgence of that movement with banks competing with tech for the top talent and the consultancies trying to find enough people to fulfil their client projects.

Reality: – Intrapareneur culture has been adopted by forward thinking organisations, but the majority of firms are still lacking in this area.  It is becoming more mainstream but again it has a slow adoption rate.  Watch this space over the next few years though as we still believe that Intranpreneur is coming back!

Bitcoins or similar become mainstream

Prediction:- Crypto-currencies are fascinating. Their emergence in the last few years has only really touched the periphery of finance, starting as an academic exercise, being used by underground and cyber-criminals, adopted by tech-savvy consumers and firms. We think there is a chance a form of electronic currency may become more widely used in the coming year. There may be a trigger event – such as rapid inflation combined with currency controls in Russia – or a significant payment firm, such as MasterCard or Paypal, starts accepting it.

Reality: – As keen followers of bitcoins and crypto-currencies it’s been an exciting year and our prediction of “Similar” becoming mainstream hit home with the “Block Chain Revolution” as discussed in one of our newsletter articles.  Major Banks and start-ups are looking for ways to scale and increase efficiency.  Big names from financial services, such as Sir David Walker (Former Executive Director of the Bank of England), are investing and moving into this space.  What this proves is that crypto-currencies are here to stay and 2015 was its breakthrough year. We can only see this becoming a bigger thing in 2016 and beyond.

Bitcoins or similar gets hacked so causing massive volatility

Prediction: – This is almost inevitable. The algorithms and technology mean that Bitcoins will be hacked at some point. This will cause massive volatility, loss of confidence and then their demise but a stronger currency will emerge. The reason why it is inevitable is that the tech used to create Bitcoins rely on the speed of computer hardware slowing their creation. If someone works around this or utilises a yet undeveloped approach such as quantum computing then all bets are off. Also, perhaps more likely, someone will discover a flaw or bug with the creation process, short cut the process or just up the numbers in their account and become (virtually) very rich very quickly.

Reality: – So far this hasn’t happened although we still can’t rule it out for the future.  The risks of this in the long term are still there but so far the attacks have been on a small enough scale that it hasn’t had a widespread effect on the volatility of the currency.  Still – watch this space….

Mobile payments, via a tech company, become mainstream

Prediction: – This is one of the strongest growth areas in 2015. Apple, Google, Paypal, Amazon, the card companies and most of the global banks are desperate to get a bit of the action. Whoever gets it right, with trust, easy to use great products will make a huge amount of money, tie consumers to their brand and also know a heck of a lot more about them and their spending habits. Payments will only be the start and banking accounts and lifestyle finance will follow. This one product could transform technology companies (as they are the ones that are most likely to succeed) beyond recognition and make existing valuations seem miniscule compared to their future worth.

Reality: – two words – Apple Pay.  The launch and take up of apple pay is an excellent example of our prediction from 2014 (one that we are quite proud of).  The availability to use it anywhere contactless or even on the tube has put mobile payments right to the forefront of mobile technology and advancement.  This is an area that we predict to continue to grow and an area that still threatens to be a new disruptive technology.

Mobile payments get hacked

Prediction: – Almost as inevitable as bitcoins getting hacked. Who knows when or how but it will happen but will not impact as greatly as it will on the early crypto-currencies.

Reality: – Not yet…a large amount of effort and technology has been implemented to try and keep this new technology as secure as possible. However, like most of the world of cyber security breaches it’s normally not a matter of if but when.

Firms wake up to the value of Data Science over Big Data

Prediction:-Like cloud many firms have been talking up the advantages of big data in the last couple of years. We still see situations where people are missing the point. Loading large amounts of disparate information into a central store is all well and good but it is asking the right questions of it and understanding the outputs is what it’s all about. If you don’t think about what you need the information for then it will not provide value or insight to your business. We welcome the change in thinking from Big Data to Data Science.

Reality: – 2015 was the year of Big Data analytics and the prediction of people wanting to unlock the power of their data using data science seems to have been on the money.  Organisations and individuals are starting to realise the value hidden in their data so much to the extent that the 2016 Gartner prediction is that analytics is the number one most talked about technology trend in 2016.  Within this numerous new and improved tools are on the market that allows organisations to use their data effectively.

The monetisation of an individual’s personal data results in a multi-billion dollar valuation an unknown start-up

Long Sentence… but the value of people’s data is high and the price firms currently pay for it is low to no cost. If someone can start to monetise that data it will transform the information industry. There are companies and research projects out there working on approaches and products. One or more will emerge in 2015 to be bought by one of the existing tech players or become that multi-billion dollar firm. They will have the converse effect on Facebook, Google etc that rely on that free information to power their advertising engines.

Reality: – the realisation that data has a value has been a trend of 2015 and data is can now be valued either by the company, the individual or a market place.  An interesting Tech Crunch article discusses just what valuation such owners can have. Our prediction of an organisation successfully monetising an individual’s personal data hasn’t quite come true yet, but we believe that it’s not far away at all – organisations such as datacoup are starting to try and unlock said value in an individual’s data but it may not be valued at a multi-billion dollar valuation…yet…

Cyber Insurance becomes mandatory for firms holding personal data (OK maybe 2016)

Prediction: – It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume that all financial services firms are currently compromised, either internally or externally. Most firms have encountered either direct financial or indirect losses in the last few years. Cyber or Internet security protection measures now form part of most companies’ annual reports. We think, in addition to the physical, virtual and procedural protection there will be a huge growth in Cyber-Insurance protection and it may well become mandatory in some jurisdictions especially with personal data protection. Insurance companies will make sure there are levels of protection in place before they insure so forcing companies to improve their security further.

Reality:  Not quite started just yet – over the past year we have had numerous meetings around cyber security and cyber insurance.  Whilst organisations are starting to take the threat of an attack more seriously, the level of cyber insurance doesn’t seem to have increased, at least in the U.K.  As new regulations come into place that regulate personal data more stringently this may change, but currently the appetite for a mandatory policy doesn’t exist.

Regulation continues to absorb the majority of budgets….

Prediction: – No change then.

Reality: – No change then.

A large proportion of our predictions were there or thereabouts.  If anything we may have been a too forward thinking in certain areas, but we still feel like these areas will continue to drive technology change in 2016.

Data privacy/security – you can run but you can’t hide?

Posted on : 18-12-2015 | By : Jack.Rawden | In : Cloud, Cyber Security, Data, General News, Innovation

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Security and privacy are among some of the top themes discussed throughout 2015 and will likely remain an equally popular topic in 2016.

On one hand, consumers’ private data is increasingly being revealed through major security breaches and hacks, causing widespread outrage. On the other, in the face of terror, many are willing to voluntarily give up more and more of their privacy to be (or at least feel) more secure.

At the same time, new technologies offer solutions in healthcare, payments and entertainment, to name a few, with the potential to have a highly positive impact on the quality of our everyday lives. Their adoption however is often almost synonymous with sharing highly intimate data, raising concerns of many.

All of the above stir the data privacy/security debate. How much privacy are we willing to give up and in exchange for what?

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Your kids’ A.I. frenemies

In many cases it’s not even just about our data and our security…

For example, the scandal over the recent V-Tech hack, exposing data of 6.4 million children and the launch of the widely boycotted A.I., Wi-Fi enabled Barbie, designed to engage in dialogue with kids and ‘treasure’ their secrets, beg the question whether we are really willing to risk not only ours, but also our children’s sensitive data being revealed, in exchange for more interactive play experience.

Data collected via high-tech toys could not only be used for commercial reasons, but also for example to identify the times you leave home to drop off your kids to school.

 

‘Terrorised’ into sharing data?

In the wake of Paris attacks, European parliament civil liberties committee dropped its opposition to EU counter-terror plan to collect air passengers’ data. Data protection watchdogs described this as “the first large-scale and indiscriminate collection of personal data in the history of the European Union”.

The passing of laws allowing the EU to collect and store our personal data in the name of terrorism prevention means irreversible changes to the extent to which we are invigilated, taking us yet another step closer to the Big Brother reality scenario.

Nevertheless, it seems like privacy becomes irrelevant to the scared masses.

The UK media is heating up the atmosphere with warnings that a UK terror attack is only a matter of time and escalating fear through falsely labelling tube fire alarm incidents ‘terrorist’ scares; the Brits are concerned with safety. According to Dr David Purves, psychologist specialising in trauma “When something dramatic happens, such as the attacks in Paris, something called the ‘availability heuristic’ kicks in”. This means that certain things, such as a terrorist attack, seem more likely than they really are. The UK national counter-terrorism security office (NACTSO) publishing official advice on how to behave in case of a terror attack, including to ‘run or hide rather than lie down and play dead’, doesn’t necessarily contribute to our sense of security.

In this context, we either chose to turn a blind eye or even support governments’ and EU institutions’ steps depriving us from our privacy. The question is whether there is an end to this? Under more severe terrorist threats, how much surveillance are we willing to agree to?

 

IT health-care?

According to Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter, Britain is on ‘the brink of a personalised healthcare revolution that could scarcely have been predicted a few years ago.’; the NHS is soon to go high-tech with new proposals announced in mid-2015. Within the next five years, UK patients are very likely to be able to use the Internet to order prescriptions or access their health records, as well as speak to their GP. Wearable healthcare devices are also going mainstream, with estimates of 70% of us using them by 2025 (IDC).

A world in which we are much more in control over our wellness by being able to constantly track and monitor the state of your health and reach the expertise of our doctor through video calling does sound idyllic.

However, healthcare digitisation also has serious data security implications. Hacked healthcare data could be used for several purposes; imagine your potential employer or insurer could use it to assess the state your health? What if a hacker could tweak your health records?

A NHS spokesman said: ‘Ensuring patient confidentiality is of upmost importance to everyone working in the NHS and the robust processes already in place to ensure that patient data is protected extends data held electronically’, but let’s be realistic – if self-driving cars and Pentagon are being hacked, wearable health & wellness devices and the NHS are far from ‘unhackable’.

Broadgate’s Crystal Ball – Our predictions for 2016

Posted on : 18-12-2015 | By : richard.gale | In : General News

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During the past few weeks, 2016 trend predictions have flooded our news feeds. After compiling and combining them with our view on the approaching changes, here’s Broadgate’s view on IT in 2016.

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Adaptive Security Architecture

In the context of companies’ growing awareness of the importance of security and the need to build it into all business processes, end-to-end, Gartner predicts that the near future will bring more tools to go on the offensive, leveraging predictive modeling, for example, allowing apps to protect themselves (!). Therefore, go on offensive and build in security to every project, product, process and service, instead of treating it as an add on and an afterthought or having separate “security” projects.

 

IoT and Big Data Science

IoT will gradually overtake every-thing and generate data-rich insights about us. Gartner notes that the rapid growth in the number of sensors embedded in various technologies of both personal and professional use will lead to the generation of tons of intelligence on our daily patterns. The more ‘things’ and areas of our lives IoT takes over, the more data is going to be collected. According to Gartner, by 2020, the number of devices connected to the Internet is expected to reach 25 billion. As each year is moving us much closer to the IoT big data/even bigger insights reality, it will be challenging to find efficient ways of digging through and making sense of the constant generation of streams of data.

As we stated this time last year, talking about the ‘future’ of 2015 –  Loading large amounts of disparate information into a central store is all well and good but it is asking the right questions of it and understanding the outputs is what it’s all about. If you don’t think about what you need the information for then it will not provide value or insight to your business. We welcome the change in thinking from Big Data to Data Science.

 

Connected Devices

Our bodies are going to be increasingly connected to the Internet through smart devices within the next couple of years. This is reality, not Sci-Fi; those, who claim that wearables will struggle to find their place in everyday life in 2016, should familiarise themselves with the outcomes of Gartner’s October Symposium/ITxpo. It is predicted that in two years, 2 million employees, primarily those engaged in physically demanding or dangerous work, will be required to wear health & fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment (Gartner). According to a different source, in nine years, 70% of us are going to use wearables (IDC).

 

The Hybrid Cloud

Following our 2015 prediction of cloud becoming the default coming true, towards 2016 the integration of on-premises cloud infrastructure and the public cloud is becoming an operating standard; the demand for the hybrid cloud is growing at a rate of 27% (MarketsandMarkets). Google’s hire of Diane Greene, co-founder of VMware, to head up Google Cloud, shows Google’s commitment to offering services to enterprise cloud customers. A hybrid Kubernetes scheme is said to be part of the deal (Knorr, Infoworld), which will likely have a significant impact the growth of the hybrid cloud in 2016.

 

The outsourcing of personal data

Barely a week goes by without another retailer or bank losing customer information by getting hacked. This is becoming a serious and expensive problem for firms, each one is having to put complex defense mechanisms in place to protect themselves.

We think the outsourcing of responsibility (and sensitive data) to specialist firms will be a growing trend in 2016. These firms can have high levels of security controls and will have the processing ability to support a large number of clients.

Obviously one potential issue is that these organisations will be targeted by the criminals and when one does get breached it will have a much greater impact….

 

We are truly excited to see what 2016 will surprise us with!

5 Minutes With Mark Prior

Posted on : 18-12-2015 | By : Maria Motyka | In : 5 Minutes With

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Which recent tech innovations are you the most excited about?

I get most excited about how my business can benefit from technology (whether it’s new or not). It’s my team’s job to understand our business; its processes, strategy and competitor landscape and bring technology to bear to address those challenges.
Smith and Williamson is a very client centric business – there is a great opportunity to leverage even well-established technology like IPT, Workflow and Document management to improve the service we provide to clients. Additionally Cloud based collaboration tools offer new ways to engage with our clients 1-1 and perhaps open up new markets for services.

Like all industries if we can both improve the service to the client through technology and at the same time lower the cost of servicing a client we will be successful.

From a pure technology perspective I’m looking forward to improvements in price and functionality of end user devices – particularly low cost 2in1 windows devices displacing the desktop or traditional clam laptop as the default end user device. I hope the combination of these devices, windows 10, office 365, Wi-Fi and IPT will provide a better mobile platform that’s easier to manage and support and offers a seamless user experience regardless of location and connection type.

Looking ahead I’m also interested in how graphene will impact IT – whether it’s in battery technology or the size and speed of microprocessors, it appears to have the potential to be revolutionary (and it was invented in the UK!!).

 

How do you see business applications in wealth management adopting As-a-Service operating models?

Firms buy solutions that best meet their needs – how those solutions are delivered is often secondary, however vendors that deliver their solution (only) as a service are I feel better placed to rapidly adapt and evolve their offering as it’s a single code set, single port etc. This should keep their costs down and by passing those savings to customers they will drive adoption and create a virtuous circle. It should also mean they can focus development resource on new features rather than maintaining multiple code sets and branches.

 

In your opinion, what are the biggest data security risks that financial organisations are currently facing and how can they be overcome?

I think everyone understands the need for perimeter security, good patch management, access controls etc. But I think an area this is sometimes overlooked are “end users” either inadvertently or deliberately exposing data. We need to ensure we classify our data based on risk, educate our employees and have appropriate audit trails and controls based on data classification (all easier said than done). Service like MS Office 365 and OneDrive mean this has to be driven as much by policy and education as by IT.

 

Why did you choose Broadgate to assist you? What value has working with Broadgate brought to your team?

I’ve known the team for many years and trust them to do a good job for their clients.

Broadgate’s engagement style is collaborative and consultative, unlike other firms where every conversation is viewed as a selling opportunity.

 

Which technology trends do you predict will be a key theme for 2016?

Every year we think it will be cloud – maybe this year it will happen (though personally I’m not sure it will) Financial service firms are still hesitant to put client data into the public cloud and many firms say the cost of cloud is more than the marginal cost of adding capacity to their own facilitates.
Hosting strategies are difficult to formulate as the options are many and varied with no clear leaders. I think Google will drive into MS market share (a few years ago I can’t recall anyone seriously considering alternatives to MS Office) which should ensure healthy competition and better options for their customers.

The Digital Banking revolution: It’s time to leave the trenches

Posted on : 08-12-2015 | By : admin | In : Finance

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A couple of weeks ago Lloyds Banking Group announced a reduction in workforce of 9000 staff and the closure of 200 branches as it digitises it’s business, saving an estimated £1 bn over the next 3 years. Understandably, unions have “reacted with anger” regarding the 24% tax payer owned bank piling on further redundancies to the 45,000 posts already removed since 2008.

Of course, they are not alone as all the major high street banks look to remove costs and technology and social evolution are dramatically changing the banking industry.

Whilst the human impact of this cannot be brushed over, we should not expect this to be anywhere near the final end game. The large retail bank are under siege from all directions, be in challenger banks, technology start ups, alternative funding networks (such as Crowdfunding and Peer-to-Peer networks), mobile payments and of course regulation.

Looking at the latest information, the estimates of technology staff in the big four are:

  • Barclays – xxxx
  • HSBC – xxxx
  • RBS – xxxx
  • Lloyds – xxxx

Still a lot, right? Since 2008, the banks have been steadily reducing the size of their technology organisations in a death-by-a-thousand-cuts mode. During this time, incumbent technology staff have donned their tin hats and kept their heads down in the trenches waiting for the sniper bullets to go silent. Clearly, this isn’t going happen.

The challenges mentioned and the rise of digital banking will only accelerate the workforce reduction. So what are the main technology drivers leading this revolution:

List out bullets

List out bullets

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For those staff involved at the front line of this change, it will be an exciting time. For those still in “tin hat” mode, probably not.