Data analytics and the remote workforce

November 30, 2021

Before the pandemic hit, senior leaders had a relatively clear vision of how the future workplace should progress for their business. While measures and strategies vary from one to another, the consensus was that action plans would happen primarily in the office environment.

Over the last year, many businesses have firsthand experience of the benefits remote working has compared to the traditional office working environment. These benefits have resulted in the growing development of hybrid working. Due to its recent success, businesses in the finance industry have begun incorporating hybrid working and considering its benefits towards productivity, employee engagement and agility.

Core data is pivotal for the hybrid workforce

Over the last few years, we have experienced advancements in data analysis and improved data capabilities. With the disruption to the working environment, businesses have voiced their concerns about which individuals or positions can remain remote. The rise of new data means businesses can approach this transition with more confidence and ensure they prepare for a more hybrid and remote working environment.

Areas to consider within hybrid workforce data:

Capacity Planning – The first area of hybrid data for finance businesses is measuring its workforce capability and availability for work i.e. who is available to perform particular jobs and whether they work remotely or in the office. This data is critical to minimise the shortage of resources, lack of capacity and a resulting impact on customer experience. It’s not only about availability but also whether people are ready with the necessary tools to operate remotely. The transition to hybrid remote working in finance requires resources, training and additional support.
Time – The next area to consider in terms of data and informed decisions focuses specifically on time. Remote working means people will inevitably be working at different times, balancing childcare or other personal commitments. Finance businesses can make more informed decisions when they understand how working hours translate into productivity and use this information to determine where people work, focusing not on work as a place but more as an activity.

Analysis of work performance

Approaching overall work performance depends on having sufficient information from an employee and manager perspective. Businesses with a good concept of their current workload and future expectations can utilise the skills available to manage their workflows.

Hybrid working creates multiple possibilities

Hybrid working presents a range of opportunities but implementing it incorrectly in the wrong manner can result in massive costs for finance businesses. Getting it right, however, can create multiple possibilities. The difference between getting it right or wrong is very dependent on making decisions based on vital data trends.

Implementing working data trends, regardless of where the work is happening, reveals insights and information for use in the world of hybrid working. The challenges of implementing hybrid remote working resulted in many businesses in finance feeling unprepared for the new normal. Many lacked the required systems or had developed the skills needed to support this workplace shift. Today, finance businesses can potentially capture data, assess it and use it effectively for their employees, customers and the future success and competitiveness of the organisation.

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The impact of digital transformation on the fintech industry

November 30, 2021

Onguard’s fintech measurement tool has been monitoring trends and changes over the last few years. The latest data from the Visma Onguard Fintech barometer indicates that the number of businesses intending to implement a digital transformation strategy within the next 6 to 12 months has doubled since 2019.

The Fintech Barometer consists of an annual survey of finance professionals in the UK and the Netherlands. Finance professionals are questioned about their payment behaviour, the application of fintech and what technologies they believe are emerging within their organisation.

The impact of digital transformation on the fintech market

The study suggests that the overall success of fintech is dependent on how a particular business is applying digital transformation processes. In the Netherlands, digital transformation is common, with over 50% of businesses in process of applying digital technologies. In the UK, the rate is a little lower, with around 24% in progress.

When assessing top technology trends used by finance professionals, AI has emerged as the top choice, with nearly half of businesses selecting it as one of the top three technology trends forecast to impact the sector. The ability to measure and assess data is a growing requirement for finance professionals, increasing from around 37% in 2020 to 44% in 2021.

The future of fintech

Looking ahead, blockchain technology is regarded as a major part of the next stage of the fintech era, with nearly 65% adopting the technology or having a plan in place for blockchain use. These results suggest that finance professionals recognise the importance of integrating digital transformation strategies, particularly after the pandemic and all of the associated challenges we have had to endure.

A few years ago, nobody could have predicted how the world would change and the survey findings highlight the impact the challenges of the last year have had on finance professionals towards innovation and the fintech industry. This results in an emerging trend towards digitisation, creating data-driven insights and increasing adoption of new fintech services. More businesses are actively focused on digital transformation measures and industry experts anticipate this to continue over the next few years.

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What COP26 commitments mean for the finance industry

November 24, 2021

Climate strategies need to be supported by clear strategies and data. Finance leaders will play a leading role in creating the necessary plans and delivering sustainability reports.

The climate summit ended with several commitments and announcements targeting climate action and requiring significant implications for businesses and organisations. Countries agreed to adopt the Glasgow Climate Pact involving putting an end to fossil-fuel subsidies, phasing out coal, implementing measures for carbon markets and supporting climate efforts in poorer nations.

The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), a group of 450 financial institutions within the region of $130 trillion of assets, has committed to financing a transition towards a net-zero economy. 

COP26 provided an early insight for businesses into the future and how regulations are transforming. For finance professionals working with businesses with climate targets, the next big step is creating a clear and comprehensive strategy. It’s one thing to pledge a goal and another to deliver on them with consistent actions. Partnerships and collaboration between the public and private sectors are critical to meeting climate commitments. Businesses may also have to partner with other organisations across multiple industries to reach their net-zero targets.

Sustainability Reporting

Following a strategy, businesses need to deliver on what actions should be taken and report on their progress. For the finance industry, one of the most developments was the IFRS Foundation announcement of developing the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) and the IFRS Foundation consolidation of the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) and the Value Reporting Foundation (VRF).

The new sustainability board provides a path for sustainability reporting to become a common language that helps businesses deliver a consistent and connected strategy that drives vital decisions.

CFOs should start getting data from the source and measuring, managing and reporting on metrics. An important factor in this entire process is training the finance team for the future. Some industry experts believe there aren’t enough finance professionals that exist and understand sustainability reporting. Goals have to be reinforced by systems, processes and data. Businesses that utilise this data and information will create clear communication with investors and ultimately deliver greater access to capital.

Businesses recognition of the climate crisis is an opportunity for finance professionals to take more control of business decisions. It is an opportunity for finance professionals to take a leading position rather than being led. Finance people need to recognise that individuals are emphasizing individual responsibility towards the environment and the community.

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How finance leaders are accelerating their focus on data

November 17, 2021

How can finance leaders leverage analytics and cloud systems to improve their business functions?

Our workforce today is experiencing significant change. Technology and the rise of automotive products are transforming how processes are done and how senior leaders manage their business, particularly in the case of CFOs. In the last year, digital technology has accelerated the need for businesses to adapt their working models to remain flexible, smarter and efficient.

Businesses that enhance their focus on data and analytics to support their transformation are often considered more successful. Investing in these products, however, is only the beginning. There are several things financial leaders should consider to leverage the potential of analytics on the finance service.

Investing in cloud technology

Businesses are consumed in data but yet are still hungry for additional insights. The ability to utilise data insights can determine the success of a business, and while many leaders believe they are capable of leveraging data, studies suggest that those leading the way are experiencing a 7% higher revenue growth.

This process involves the following measures:

  1. Real-time insights in data allow businesses to be proactive and explore what is happening through analysing trends and analytics.
  2. Businesses will often interpret data in various ways. Cloud technology will allow finance leaders to measure data more flexibly and transparently. This will support overall decisions and ensure finance avoids any unnecessary or time-consuming efforts.
  3. Being capable of benchmarking information is important for businesses to understand how they compare to others.

Businesses are looking towards the future and appreciate that investing in cloud and finance technology will ultimately benefit their organisation. For over 50% of businesses, the cloud has moved beyond an idea to a reality in terms of integrating cloud-focused HR tools. This represents a key force in transforming today’s workplace, enabling businesses to make smarter decisions. 

Create a clear plan

To enable growth, remain resilient and flexible, businesses need to ensure they have a clear strategy on how they can operate in the cloud. Consistent planning represents a key factor for exploring new growth options. An annual report is no longer sufficient. Applying tools like AI, ML and predictive analytics enable businesses to deploy reports and plans more effectively while reducing potential risk to their business.

Leverage the potential of collaborating data

Consolidating finance, HR and data in one place can create multiple benefits. It can lead to better outcomes while enabling each area to reach its own goals. Consolidating all information enables a business to think more holistically and ultimately make better decisions for the long term.

The success of a business will depend on whether your team has the necessary tools to be more efficient, flexible and operate securely. Being open and capable of collaborating are the new ways of working, and the cloud allows this in many ways. Not only will this lower time spent on manual tasks, but it also enables businesses to make real-time, data-driven plans to grow and attract the best talent.

Measuring results

For most, salary and benefits represent the biggest expense, meaning two major cost drivers are people related. Businesses often spend money on products and technology that fail to show ROI or direct benefits to employees. If employees aren’t satisfied, engagement will drop, and benefits to a company will be lost. This has become even more challenging as the pandemic has made it easier for people to move jobs.

With finance playing a critical part in business decisions, it must be capable of determining what data is needed and analysing it effectively to deliver the necessary actions. Measuring employee engagement and goals is one big step in talent retention.

Making the commitment

Cloud systems enable businesses to target specific talent and identify the skills and experience needed for the most vital roles. Not only will it improve finance functions, but it also enables HR teams to determine the best candidates, highlight potential engagement issues and identify what employees are looking for in a business.

Consolidating finance, HR and data in the cloud integrate valuable insights across your organisation, enabling teams a better understanding of their data, where there may be potential gaps and how to optimise particular areas to generate better and smarter results.


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Highlighting the power of data to drive innovation in the finance industry

November 10, 2021

Unleashing the power of new data cloud solutions requires a smarter approach towards BI. For those operating in the financial services industry, Snowflake has become an established leader. The cloud-data platform is already used by approximately 6 out of 10 of the financial industry Fortune 500 companies. Now the business is looking to introduce a new financial services data cloud, a platform that integrates industry data and governance capabilities, including a range of customer solutions. By combining financial data and industry-specific tools into a single platform, Snowflake intends to support further innovation, collaboration and drive a new wave of fintech products.

For financial services businesses, connectivity is important, but to make the most of these new offerings, businesses need to explore ways to really put their data to work effectively.

Tell your story

Don’t assume that having large data sets means your business is smarter or will lead to better decision-making. Instead of having data spread across several platforms and lost in silos within your business, a new cloud solution let you access and deploy data where and when necessary. 

Connectivity and access to data represent only one of the challenges; you have to be able to use your data effectively. In reality, only a small fraction of financial employees appreciate how to use data effectively. For many, data tends to become overwhelming and complicate workflows or possibly be ignored altogether.

To unlock the value of their data businesses need smart systems that enable them to access data and allow for impactful storytelling tools to support managers, users and customers find value and meaning in their data. Individuals need data infrastructure that facilitates, rather than distracts from the creative process.

Personalise your data

This is particularly important for financial services businesses because when money is involved there is a potential risk that data can act as a barrier between a business and its customers. Providing people with numbers doesn’t necessarily empower them to make better decisions. It can lead to an assumption that customers will defer to what the data says without really comprehending what the information means.

New cloud solutions bring data closer to the customer and the related teams but we need storytelling tools to reveal the value and meaning within data and to be able to deliver real insights. Data’s value often comes down to the way it is used in genuine human interactions. Including a data storytelling element enables employees and customers to relate to information more freely and integrate it into workflows and other interactions.

Applying your data effectively

As new financial services data cloud gains momentum, businesses can use their connectivity to support data storytelling. We’ll see more benefits including, an accelerated path towards fintech innovation, smarter and more accessible data products and more effective collaboration. 

Using data efficiently is a multi-step process. Businesses have invested time and money collecting data from other sources and spent even more moving data into the cloud. Modern cloud systems are enabling organisations to unify their data systems and make them far more accessible.

The businesses that will lead the financial services industry will continue to innovate and utilise new cloud solutions. Today’s world is more connected, and data is far more accessible. To utilise the true potential of data we need to dedicate ourselves to innovation, leveraging and communicating our data. This means developing ways to make data more accessible to everyone and finding creative ways to tell compelling stories with it.


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COP26: How data and technology can facilitate climate action

November 3, 2021

For the first time, finance is a vital part of the COP26 climate summit, highlighting the role finance plays in supporting the economy towards net zero. Finextra, an attendee of COP6, listened to the ‘Green Horizon Summit’ by the Green Finance Institute, a daily insight running throughout the conference.

Expert industry speakers from technology, climate change and finance contributed to the latest discussions. These representatives explore how the private sector can support an accelerated move towards net-zero and how crucial reliable data and green technology are to tackle climate change.

After the first day of COP26, several climate-focused commitments were announced by governments. These measures included:

-A plan to eliminate deforestation by 2030 and funding valued at $3 billion for green investments in developing economies.
-Rockefeller and Ikea foundations launched a Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, with a commitment of $10 billion towards renewables.
-India pledged to reach net-zero by 2070.
-Brazil will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.
-The UK and India will finance a 140-nation renewable solar grid.

Despite the promises, many agree that more needs to be done beyond public finance. Private green finance opportunities need to increase to ensure capital flows go towards climate and nature-focused investments.

Starting the discussions, representatives highlighted the necessity to facilitate collaboration between the private and public sectors and data was considered the driving force. Industry experts explained that the public and private sectors must work together, and that is why data is so important. We have the resources available, but we need to ensure we use them properly.

The UK Government made it compulsory for large businesses to display data following the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), becoming the first G20 nation to announce this step into law. With a diverse number of the existing standard, TCFD will be important in enabling stakeholders to compare overall performance and commitments.

Being carbon neutral since 2007, technology leader Google highlighted its support for TCFD last year. In 2020, Google announced new targets regarding climate action, including becoming the first major business to operate on continuous carbon-free energy by 2030.

The work by google indicates the important role of technology in the transition to net-zero. How can these techniques be applied to other businesses? With more data and the rise of data analytics, businesses can explore the entire supply chain. It is simpler to comprehend the impact of assets. Technology can also be applied to benefit the customer. Last year, Google committed to supporting a billion users in making more sustainable and smarter decisions. For example, when searching for flights, customers can now view the carbon footprint of various flight options.

Other industry experts voice these methods, suggesting that people need the information to make informed decisions. The challenge is now scaling these solutions to tackle the climate crisis we face. We need to incorporate this knowledge with data analysis. If we focus on data, the rest will follow, in terms of generating consistency of reporting and accountability for informed decisions.

Implementing AI to many of these problems shows big potential. AI systems can help facilitate change in businesses worldwide but requires sourcing reliable and consistent data and collaborating closely with other partners. Decision making works most effectively if people are capable of discussing the problems in an informed manner. So, while information is viewed as useful, information concerning what we can all do is transformational.

Finance and technology were highlighted as two vital areas in ensuring our climate goals are met at the last conference. So, what is required from the COP26 climate summit? Firstly, sufficient money must be invested to enable and facilitate the changes required. Secondly, banks need clear information on their decision-making process, in terms of who to support and who to ignore. This entire process is driven by data, so all stakeholders, whether it be an NGO or a customer, remain confident in the entire process.

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