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Automated Professional Services: Your Very Own Digital Agent

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cibsys via cibsys (license)

As 21st century’s technology get cheaper, more powerful and more flexible, it is looking ever more likely that many of the traditional professional services will no longer need to be provided by actual humans. Automation services, building on the combined forces of big data, cloud technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are now prime to become the next big bang. Current solutions range from business intelligence and data processing to payroll assistance and cost analytics (insert link to s4it blog). Big players are already on the scene: Last October, KPMG and PwC both announced their first forays in the automation field, with KPMG introducing the KPMG Enterprise investment and Pwc launching their MyFinancePartner portal. With more products to be introduced later this year, we expect to see major disruptions in the market landscape very soon. Read More

The “Smartphone Bank” of the 21st Century

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Rightmove Property Search on a black iPhone via photopin (license)

The race for real-time digital interaction in financial service is really heating up. After the 100% digital “online-first” banks of Fidor AG and Atom Bank, we are now seeing the first ever “mobile-first” bank, or more accurately a “smartphone bank”. Number26, a 2 years-old start-up from Germany who in April raised their first significant round of VC fund from Valar Ventures (10 million Euros), is the first to coin the term, and is promising to completely change the usual banking experience with current accounts. Read More

Does The Rise of Fintech Reflect The Future of Banking?

Tags: , , Business, Cloud, Uncategorized
photo credit: Hamed Saber via photopin cc

photo credit: williamcho via photopin cc

We have previously blogged about the effect of disruptive technologies on the banking industry. As we speak there is an ongoing battle to determine the future of banking as an industry. Today’s news is densely populated with comments about company’s developing mobile payment solutions and alternative methods to borrowing money. Speculation has arisen as to how companies like the tech giant Alibaba might cooperate or even challenge financial institutions. FinTech startups are getting ever increasing funding and support in the UK. With the introduction of new technologies, it would appear as if the race to find the next financial success story has begun. However a question arises: does this highly competitive market reflect the future of banking? Read More

When To Fix The Process, Not The Break

Tags: , , Advice, Business, Process Design, Strategy, Uncategorized
photo credit: Hamed Saber via photopin cc

photo credit: ralphbijker via photopin cc

There are many ways to deal with ineffective and inefficient process. You can create workarounds. You can bubble-wrap it with additional processes as a form of assurance. You can always do nothing, especially if you don’t care enough about the results at stake. And sometimes – if you are serious about long-term value of the process – you can fix the root cause itself.

cibsys has recently conducted a process efficiency review for one of our clients. Within that assessment, weidentifiedactivities in the operational process that were a form of assurance rather than value-adding activities. Effort-intensive manual intervention was used to assure that system errors were caught before appearing to customers. Such manual intervention, of course, did not address the root cause of the problem. Neither did it guarantee timely and appropriate fixes. Read More

5 Questions to Ask Your CIO as Non-Executive Director

Tags: , , , , , , Advice, Assess, Organization, Strategy, Uncategorized
photo credit: jamuraa via photopin cc

photo credit: jamuraa via photopin cc

Chris Ham, Managing Director of cibsys, has spoken in cooperation with John Holland at the Eleven Canterbury event ’New Technology Trends – Risks and Opportunities for Non-Executive Directors and Boards on the 20th of January at the Institute of Directors. Often Non-Executive Directors find themselves in the position to ask critical questions about unfamiliar topics and this event aimed to equip them with the necessary tools and a critical set of questions to be able to stand up to seasoned IT executives.

In the following, we have picked five interesting questions which you can use to “penetration test” your CIO with. For your convenience, we have added related blog articles below the questions.

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If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Fix It

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BrokenFrom a business perspective the saying “if it is not broken don’t fix it” is often applied to IT.  Finding the investment to keep up with the market can be a challenge, and it is often tempting to just avoid any efforts or costs of an upgrade.  Even on our mobile phones we all fear that notification that a new version is available and hit the upgrade button with trepidation; not knowing if the app will successfully install or worse, the whole phone dies.  When applied in the business enterprise that trepidation translates into an inertia to upgrade that can become a massive penalty down the line as the gap to the latest version opens up.  This gets worse as the enterprise gets larger and the decision making more centralised.

Disasters Don’t Always Happen In One Hit – Are You Prepared For Escalation?

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photo credit: barryskeates via photopin cc

photo credit: barryskeates via photopin cc

When we think of this day in 2001, everyone’s mind naturally turns to the devastation caused across the world. A day that caused irreplaceable amounts of human loss; and on it’s 12th anniversary I’m reminded of the effect the disaster took in wider terms. When I remember the days of trauma that followed I also remember our struggles to support the business and keep it running. Our biggest challenge was Diesel – but what does that have to do with IT?

In an emergency the data centre will run on backup power from diesel generators – it will last a day. Most business people will not even be aware of this kind of fail-over; in the worst case the data centre will shut down. Planning for orderly shut down (see our previous blog) is an essential part of BCP in the real world. In practice, catastrophic failure is unusual, there is often a long protracted disaster in the making.

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The Real World of IT Financing – A True Story

Tags: , , , , , , , , Assess, Business, Strategy, Uncategorized
photo credit: Steve Snodgrass via photopin cc

photo credit: Steve Snodgrass via photopin cc

Inspired by recent projects being undertaken by cibsys, I started thinking about some war stories I have heard through the years. The following blog post looks at an example of what could and does go wrong if you don’t ask important questions about IT financials.

The outline of the story was to resolve an IT budget crisis, where the COO was forecasting 10% over, dealing with figures in excess of ten million. In other words, there was a pressing need for fast remedial action to prevent disaster.  The regional CIO was a brilliant technical lead with fantastic ideas, who delivered amazing software surrounded by like-minded technical staff.  The one lonely voice in his management team who was screaming to be heard was his business manager who could see the pending crisis of budget and funding but was not being listened to.  The reality was that the forecast was way off, there was no real spend tracking and that the ledgers actuals were so far behind the reality of spend that no one really knew what was being spent and where the money was going.   There was dire need for proper departmental financial controls and proper forecasting in addition to the basic ones in finance department.

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IT Strategy and User Behaviour – Matching the User Agenda

Tags: , , , , , , , , Business, CIO, Strategy, Strategy4IT, Uncategorized
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photo credit: marfis75 via photopin cc

Are you using you IT strategy to set your user behaviour?  Or are they setting yours?

 
As I was discussing in the blog entry here last week, a good CIO will use his IT strategy not just for tool and service selection but to guide cajole and generally point his users towards better IT usage.  A good IT strategy is holistic and will incorporate processes and usage, not just the technology and applications used.

Aligning Business and IT Strategy

Tags: , , , , , Process Design, Strategy, Uncategorized
photo credit: anneh632 via photopin cc

photo credit: anneh632 via photopin cc

Recent surveys suggest that business strategy and success is increasingly being underpinned by a successful IT strategy.  I have suggested many times on this blog ways and means to achieve an effective understanding of an IT strategy and landscape, but how do you assure your IT strategy is aligned to your business strategy?

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