Fo our first cover story of 2024 we meet with Lloyds Banking Group’s CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent,…

Fo our first cover story of 2024 we meet with Lloyds Banking Group’s CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent, Martyn Atkinson, to learn how an ambitious growth agenda, combined with a people-centred culture, is driving change for customers and colleagues across the Group.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Welcome to a new year of possibility where technology meets business at the interface of change…

Read the latest issue here!

Lloyds Banking Group: A technology & business strategy

“We’ve made significant strides in transforming our business for the future,” explains Martyn Atkinson, CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent at Lloyds Banking Group. “I’m really proud of what the team have achieved. There’s loads more to go after. It’s a really exciting time as we become a modern, progressive, tech-enabled business. We’ve aimed to maintain pace and an agile mindset. We want to get products and services out to our customers and colleagues. We’ll test and learn to see if what we’re doing is actually making a meaningful difference.”

AFRICOM: Organisational resilience through cybersecurity

We also speak with U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) CISO Ryan Larsen on developing the right culture to build cyber awareness. He is committed to driving secure and continued success for the Department of Defence. “I often think of every day working in cyberspace a lot like counterinsurgency warfare and my time in Afghanistan. You had to be on top of your game every minute of every day. The adversary only needs to get lucky one time to find you with that IED.”

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ALIC: Creating synergy to scale at speed with Lolli

Since 2009 the Australian Lending & Investment Centre (ALIC) has been matching Australians with loans that help build their wealth. It has delivered over $8.3bn in loans to more than 22,000 leading Australian investors and businesses. Managing Director Damian Brander talks ethical lending and the challenges of a shifting financial landscape. ALIC has also built Lolli – a broker enhancement platform built by brokers, for brokers.

Sime Darby Motors: Driving digital, cultural, and business transformation together

Sime Darby Berhad is one of the oldest and most successful multinational companies in Malaysia. It has a twin focus on the Industrial and Motors sectors. The company employs more than 24,000 people, operating across 17 countries and territories. Sime Darby Motors’ Chief Digital & Information Officer Tuan Jean Tee shares how he makes sure digital, cultural, and process transformation go hand in hand throughout one of APAC’s largest automotive multinationals.

Also in this issue, we hear from Microsoft on the art of sustainable supply chain transformation, Tecnotree map the key trends set to impact the telecoms industry in 2024 and our panel of experts chart the big Fintech predictions for the year ahead.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

This month’s cover story charts NAB’s journey to support SMEs with customer-centric digital solutions. Welcome to the latest issue of…

This month’s cover story charts NAB’s journey to support SMEs with customer-centric digital solutions.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface showcases leaders at the forefront of innovation with digital technologies transforming myriad industries.

Read the latest issue here!

NAB: Reinventing Small Business Banking

A passionate advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity of opportunity, Executive GM Ana Marinkovic leads a team of 1,600+ small business experts. They lend over $1.2bn a month to Australian small businesses. National Australia Bank (NAB) plays a major role in propelling entrepreneurship across the country. Delivering better outcomes for small business owners sits at the very heart of NAB’s strategy. “Our scale and connectivity help us to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our business and the communities we operate in,” says Ana.

TUI: Making travel plans mobile

The mobile side of TUI has never been more vital. TUI’s mobile apps were officially launched in 2013 and began as something of a proof of concept. For the entire international industry, moving from web to mobile devices was a huge shift. The initial set of apps were very skeletal and only integrated for UK and Nordic customers.

One of this year’s goals is to accelerate the native journey to make all the customer journeys native. This will further improving the customer experience. After a recent UI refresh, the app look and feel is fresh and sleek, and has plenty of exciting features for customers to enjoy. “Just in the last couple of months we’ve introduced an integration with OpenAI for a travel planner that helps you choose excursions,” Donia adds. “Seeing it grow over the years is so exciting.”

TARA Energy Services: tech fuelling growth

“Continuous improvement is woven into the fabric of the culture at TARA Energy Services,” says its proud Director of IT, Paul Parzen. “Every day, we face new challenges, both operationally in the field and strategically in the boardroom. We must make sure the organisation’s IT strategy for data management, core infrastructure, network architecture, and security is ready to meet them.”

“Some people might say, ‘wow, a pension. That sounds a little boring.’ But at the end of the day, what we do is help people retire in the best way possible and that’s a pretty good place to be.”

Those are the words of Dee McGrath, CEO of Link Group’s Retirement Solutions since May 2019. The company is a global, digitally-enabled business connecting millions of people with their pension assets – safely, securely and responsibly. 

Evara Health: Technology delivering care for all

Evara Health’s mission statement is to help people become healthy and live healthy lives, and that means all people. A lot of health organisations don’t serve everybody and their treatments aren’t available under many types of insurance. However, Evara Heath doesn’t turn anybody away. It supports the underserved and the uninsured, and patients are treated regardless of whether they can afford it. Around 25% of patients have no insurance at all, and over half are covered by Medicaid, which isn’t accepted by everyone.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Melvin Brown, Deputy CIO at the Office of Personnel Management, explains the organisation’s ‘sprint to the cloud’ and its determination to modernise at every level.

Our cover story highlights the Office of Personnel Management’s ‘sprint to the cloud’ with technology.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface hears from leaders who champion a people-first approach driving successful technology transformations.

Read the latest issue here!

Culture Modernisation at the Office of Personnel Management

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is a government entity which manages America’s civil service. This month’s cover story explores how an organisation that prioritises people is taking a human approach to IT. Deputy CIO Melvin Brown oversees a portfolio of $500m in programs and a growing workforce of around 300 federal employees and contractors. OPM is undergoing a major cloud transformation… “We want to be cloud-first and cloud-smart as we move forward,” he explains. “So, we created a two-year sprint to the cloud plan where we take all our major applications and move them to the cloud in order to take advantage of all the benefits that brings, from both a security and a utility perspective.”

International Trade Administration: A strategic vision for technology

The International Trade Administration (ITA) strengthens the competitiveness of U.S. industry, promotes trade and investment, and ensures fair trade through the enforcement of trade laws and agreements. We hear from its CIO Gerald Caron who is passionate about involving all stakeholders in ITA’s transformation… “We’re introducing different ways of thinking to drive innovation at the International Trade Administration (ITA). What is the art of the possible? We’re looking to explore possibilities with technology across our business units and build simple foundations for the development of more complex approaches.”

Irwin Mitchell: Technology with a human touch

Also espousing the importance of a people-centric approach, Graham Thomson, Chief Information Security Officer at Irwin Mitchell, discusses his firm’s transformative legal solutions. “We’re far more than just a law firm,” he says. “I think what sets us apart is that we’re very people focused and an organisation that genuinely cares about not only our customers but our people too. People are your biggest asset, and you have to look after them.”

State of Vermont: Using AI for good

We spoke with Shawn Nailor, Secretary and CIO at State of Vermont, about IT modernisation, tackling cybersecurity state-wide, and how AI is being used for the good of Vermonters. “We’ve got to be practitioners in order to give good guidance on how to use advanced technology and where… We want to establish a practice by which we can lead by example and show good applications or AI tools to advance services and the delivery of products.”

Also in this issue, we round up the must attend tech events; get game-changing AI, Metaverse and ‘moonshot’ insights from Lenovo, and learn why people are at the heart of the decision-making process at energy company newcleo.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

How Minted is leveraging digital technology to make investment in precious metals, accessible, affordable and simple

Shahid Munir, co-founder of Minted, discusses how his firm is competing with larger banks for a spot at the top table of investment in fintech.

Few industries have boomed like the fintech space over the past few years. With a plethora of new technology at consumer fingertips like never before, banks are being properly challenged by upcoming startups offering an alternative solution. Among these is Minted, aiming to make the buying, selling, transferring and delivery of physical precious metals simple through flexible monthly plans and one-time purchases. The company was founded in 2018 by three close friends – Shahid Munir, Hamzah Almasyabi and Haroon Siddiq – with a shared passion for entrepreneurship, technology and the opportunities the financial industry presented. Their combined drive led to the creation of Minted.

Shahir Munir, Co-Founder, Minted

The rise of Minted

Munir, co-founder of Minted, admits the journey has been a “rollercoaster” since the trio decided to launch their venture. “It’s certainly been exciting,” he explains. “It’s been a great learning curve and was a case of taking an industry where so many people were so used to doing it one way and offering something new. This has been challenging because we have a great product, but no one understood it. We’ve had to go out and educate people first in what has been a journey of growth, but it’s a constant journey.”

A decade ago, financial technology was considered by many as ring-fenced by bigger banks. But Munir stresses he has tried to change that narrative and offer competition which provides tremendous value. “Previously, a bank was the only way you could provide financial products,” he says. “Technology has allowed more innovative and creative solutions to launch and test the bigger banks and what they became bad at which was the customer experience. Now you see bigger banks adopt a lot of the technology and some of the practices used by challenger banks which can only be a good thing. Being in London has also helped because it is one of the leading hubs for fintechs and really supports the financial technology industry.”

Armed with different skillsets, the three co-founders complement each other with a diverse range of experience. With Almasyabi bringing an operations background and Siddiq bringing business strategy, Munir completes the line-up with finance and technology know-how. “I think it’s what sets us apart and makes us different,” he says. “Our backgrounds mean we’re not tunnel visioned and can see clearly when things aren’t working. We have a great thinktank within the business which helps us come up with ideas.”

Making precious metals accessible, affordable and simple

“I recall seeing a meme about how the price of a Freddo chocolate had changed over the years, no longer being its trademark 10p, it was now 200% more expensive and also smaller in size. This led me down rabbit-hole of trying to understand why most items go up in price as years pass and rarely come back down again. I became fascinated with how the government increases the money supply and the concept of inflation – my money buys me less in the future than it does today.

“I met with the other two founders that same night and the thoughts extended from my mind into an intense conversation about quantitative easing, Brexit, cost of living – snacks were being consumed faster than the rate of government borrowing. Where could we park our money, what was better than money? That was when the penny-dropped (pardon the pun). Hamzah proclaimed: ‘What about gold, guys?’”

Digital disruption

Through Minted, customers will have full legal ownership over their gold and can also request to have their gold delivered to a verified address. The gold and silver are stored in a grade 10 vault in the UK with the highest level of security possible. The products are fully insured by Lloyds of London at the current value while in vaulted storage as well as when being transported.

As a digital disrupter, one of the biggest challenges Minted continues to face is a lack of understanding. Customer assurance is an important priority, and the organisation has established several initiatives to gain trust. Minted is registered and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which means the firm operates to the highest financial standards and guidelines as determined by the FCA. “I feel like we need to go that extra mile,” stresses Munir. “What I think we underestimated at first was the extent to which people needed to ask questions until we launched a live chat facility on the website. This function helps build our knowledge base and allows us to hold the customer’s hand throughout the process. We’ve also found success when we’ve attended face to face exhibition events and had one-on-one interactions. It’s been brilliant to see first-hand the customer perception and look at what we can do better to meet their needs.”

Munir says he has noticed a trend of people starting with a “flutter” to test the water and check out the process. “I think it’s important that people build their confidence and recognise the value in what we offer,” he explains. “Once this is done, we often see those same customers make larger transactions. We know our difference can be a challenge for some people to accept which is why education is such an important topic to us. We have to keep doing explainer videos, use social media and hold community sessions to be there for customers.”

Scaling up

Minted recently launched its own app which offers customers an even easier way to manage their gold and silver, as well as introducing a tool to partner with businesses called Minted Connect. Munir believes the move has helped showcase an advanced, modern way for people to own physical items. “I love the app as it just makes things so much easier for customers via the platform,” he explains. “It’s been fantastic, a one-stop solution that helps stores the precious metals for free and allows them to be delivered at any time. In a world where everything is so digitally enabled it is nice to offer something physical – people don’t even buy cars anymore. Hopefully via customer feedback we can make improvements to the app that will help us develop new features.”

Munir believes gold is increasingly being seen as an alternative for savings and affirms global pressures like the threat of inflation amid economic uncertainty has helped people to realise the full potential of Minted’s offering. “In the past if you wanted to save money, you simply open a saver account and start adding money but with gold it was often a little trickier,” he says. “But with Minted we’ve simplified the process and tried to make it as automated as possible. Gold is a great alternative which has stood the test of time.”

Looking ahead, Minted is showing no signs of slowing down and is expanding into different territories. Munir remains positive for the next few years and what comes next for his organisation. “We’re working towards expanding the team because I feel like we’re at the stage now where each of our departments needs its own team of people to run each department,” he explains. “We’re scaling up and branching into new markets such as Turkey, and focusing in on developing the business to business side too.”

Todd Salmon, Executive Advisor for Strategic Services at GuidePoint Security, on the cybersecurity challenge of keeping up with the pace of the ever-changing digital world

This month’s cover story explores how GuidePoint Security, an elite team of highly trained and certified experts, cut through cybersecurity chaos and confusion to put control back in customers’ hands.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface welcomes in 2023 with a need-to-know list of what we can expect from technology this year and how it can allow enterprises to gain a competitive edge in a disruptive and increasingly digital world. Faced with everything from process mining and AI to quantum-readiness and the metaverse we cut through the hype to bring you the facts.

Read the latest issue here!

GuidePoint Security: digital transformation in cybersecurity

“Cybersecurity is in such a reactive mode because of the sheer volume of risks and vulnerabilities an organisation faces,” says Todd Salmon, Executive Advisor for Strategic Services at GuidePoint Security. “We see a lot of copycats and repeat attacks happen, but at the end of the day it’s all about creating solutions to help combat those problems.”

GuidePoint’s elite team of highly trained and certified experts, cut through cybersecurity chaos and confusion to put control back in customers’ hands. Helping them make the smartest, most informed cyber risk decisions, and choose and integrate the best-fit solutions to build the most effective cybersecurity program, Salmon discusses the challenge of keeping up with the pace of the ever-changing digital world.

bp: a strategic reinvention

“We are investing in digital to drive process efficiency and improve insights; but also to develop our people with the skills we need for now, and the future at bp. This means we are playing to win while caring for our people through investing in their personal development,” says Head of Strategic Transformation Nick Hales.

“After setting the right foundations through various remediation and compliance initiatives, we embarked on our digital transformation journey,” adds Strategy & Transformation Manager Emmanouela Vlachantoni. “There was a clear opportunity to standardise and streamline our controls environment to reduce complexity and increase insight.”

Fairfax County: winning the IT war with cybersecurity

Meanwhile, across the pond, we learn how Fairfax County in the State of Virginia is reaping the rewards of a cybersecurity program enabling government services and keeping citizens safe. “My role is to educate our leadership to ensure they understand the business value of cybersecurity as it relates to government services. Being accountable for the security of their systems and data is a key factor in developing a successful cyber program,” explains CISO Michael Dent.

Also in this issue, we round up the key tech events and conferences across the globe and, with the help of the experts at Fasthosts, take a deep dive into the metaverse… Can virtual reality become our reality? Read on to find out.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

John MClure, CISO at Sinclair Group – a diversified media company and America’s leading provider of local sports and news – talks about the evolution of cybersecurity and the cultural shift placing it at the forefront of business change

This month’s cover story explores how Sinclair Broadcast Group is embracing the evolution of cybersecurity and placing the role of the CISO at the forefront of business transformation.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Communication, secure and at speed, is a vital component of the transformation journey for both the modern enterprise and its relationship with stakeholders, be they customers or partners. Putting the right building blocks in place to deliver successful change management is at the heart of the inspiring stories in the latest issue of Interface.

Read the latest issue here!

Sinclair Broadcast Group: a cyber transformation

Our cover star John McClure progressed from a career in the military and work as a consultant in the intelligence industry to fight a new kind of foe… As CISO for Sinclair Broadcast Group, a diversified media company and America’s leading provider of local sports and news, he talks about the evolution of cybersecurity, the battle to meet the rising velocity and sophistication of cyber-attacks and the cultural shift of the role of CISO placing it at the forefront of business change.

“Sinclair is unique in terms of its different business units and how it operates. It’s my job as CISO leading our cyber team not to be an obstacle for the business; we’re here to help it move faster to keep up with market forces, and to move safely. We’re here to engineer solutions that work for the enterprise but also help us maintain a positive security posture.”

State of Florida: digital government services

We also hear from CIO Jamie Grant who is leading the State of Florida’s Digital Service (FL[DS]) on its charge to transform and modernise the way government is accessed and consumed. He is building a team of talented, goal-oriented and customer-obsessed individuals to drive a digital transformation with innovation at its heart. “Leadership is really about developing the team and investing in the people. And it turns out that when you get their backs, they appreciate it and then you can achieve anything.”

ResultsCX: putting people first

Jamie Vernon, SVP for IT & Infrastructure at AI-powered customer experience solution specialist ResultsCX, discusses what drives customer care in the 21st century, and the part technology has to play.

“We are the custodians of our customers’ customers,” says Vernon. “In this increasingly tenuous relationship with their customers, they trust us. My leadership takes that responsibility very seriously, and charges each of us with doing everything we can to provide a perfect call, or email, or chat, every time, thousands of times a minute, around the clock and around the calendar.”

Jamie Vernon, SVP for IT & Infrastructure at AI-powered customer experience solution specialist ResultsCX, discusses what drives customer care in the 21st century, and the part technology has to play.

“We are the custodians of our customers’ customers,” says Vernon. “In this increasingly tenuous relationship with their customers, they trust us. My leadership takes that responsibility very seriously, and charges each of us with doing everything we can to provide a perfect call, or email, or chat, every time, thousands of times a minute, around the clock and around the calendar.”

Also this month, Sarita Singh, Regional Head & Managing Director for Stripe in Southeast Asia, talks about how the fast-growing payments platform is driving financial inclusion across Asia and supporting SMEs with end-to-end services putting users first, and we get expert advice for the modern CEO from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our cover story examines how Microsoft is accelerating innovation for sustainable growth by providing specialised solutions supporting financial health for enterprises and their customers in the Azure cloud

Our cover story this month reveals how Microsoft is supporting future-first financial services in the cloud.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Digital transformation can take many forms, powering the strategies to achieve goals across a diverse range of sectors from education and manufacturing to business development and health. In this issue we explore some of these compelling success stories.

Read the latest issue here!

Microsoft

Gracing this cover of Interface is Bill Livezey, Director of Financial Services for Intelligent Cloud at Microsoft. Bringing a quarter century of experience at the tech giant to his latest role, he explains how it is accelerating innovation for sustainable growth by providing specialised solutions supporting financial health for enterprises and their customers. A broad set of data models and tools in Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud work together and allows for its partners to join in quickly building differentiated experiences in an industry-compliant and secure public cloud.

Virtusa

Today’s businesses require change at a scale and speed that defies traditional ways of working. By delivering deep digital engineering and industry expertise through client-specific and integrated agile approaches, we learn how Virtusa, in conjunction with key partners like Pega, is driving digital transformation with the pace and passion of a startup delivered with expert execution on a global scale.

Bossard

Also in this issue, we hear from Bossard, a leading global provider of product solutions and services in industrial fastening and assembly technology. Chief Information Officer Georg Meyer reveals how IT is supporting its efforts to achieve ‘proven productivity’ while working towards its 200th anniversary strategy goals.

Digital Transformation supporting Sustainability

Elsewhere, we discover how the School District of Oconee County has transformed the lives of its teachers and students through the pursuit of digital transformation; and reveal the way SodaStream is leading the fight against plastic pollution, aligning its operational and digital goals with sustainable solutions and products that truly help to preserve our planet. 

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our exclusive cover story this month explores how IAG Firemark Ventures is disrupting insurance to reimagine the customer journey today…

Our exclusive cover story this month explores how IAG Firemark Ventures is disrupting insurance to reimagine the customer journey today

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Technology with the capacity to enhance customer journeys and evolve in line with our changing needs is the holy grail that the companies featured in this packed issue of Interface are on a quest to deliver…

Read the latest issue here!

Our cover star Scott Gunther, General Partner at IAG Firemark Ventures, embodies that pioneer spirit. Leading the investment arm of Australia and New Zealand’s largest insurer to think like a startup and drive innovation in the FinTech & InsurTech space, Gunther’s vision is being realised… “We not only provide staple financial services but the solutions that can make the world a safer place by reacting to everything from natural disasters to life-changing events.”

Trusted by 95% of Fortune 500 companies, Microsoft Azure is delivering transformative cloud journeys for organisations at all levels. Laurent Pierre Jr, General Manager for Azure Customer Experience Engineering Support (CXP), reveals how by creating a high trust environment, the speed at which you and your team can execute and perform becomes a force multiplier.

Keeping with the theme of transformative tech, BSI talk us through the innovation behind the extraordinary world of immersive auditing, outlining its advantages and the potential for a continuous wave of disruption set to provide deeper client value and change the dynamics of assurance forever.

Also in this issue, we hear from Lockton Re on how its global reinsurance business is benefiting from the deployment of smart solutions that leverage new technologies; speak with the CIO at the Office of Inspector General (a part of the US Department of Health & Human Services); discover advances in the digital approach to identity validation with Okta and get the lowdown from Vodafone on how blockchain has the potential to disrupt telcos.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

CoinCorner’s CEO, Danny Scott, explains why he believes there is more positive growth set for Bitcoin in 2021

“As we come to the end of what has been an iconic year for Bitcoin, I can only see more positive growth in 2021 and here’s why…

By CoinCorner’s CEO, Danny Scott

Eggs with currency signs in wooden packing on a blue background. Golden egg with a bitcoin sign. Investment concept

“Living and breathing this extremely fast-paced industry and soaking up global bullish news daily means that I’ve forgotten more good news from this week alone than Bitcoin had in years back in its early days.

“Here are a few of the reasons why I’m incredibly bullish on Bitcoin for 2021.”

1. Supply and demand

“Starting simply, Bitcoin is finite and there will only ever be 21 million. Back in May, we celebrated Bitcoin’s third halving —an event that happens roughly every 4 years, halving the supply of Bitcoin coming into circulation —and this year saw it go from 12.5 Bitcoin to 6.25 Bitcoin per block (every 10 or so minutes). There are expectations for what might come after, with history telling us that the Bitcoin price will typically begin to rise significantly (20x+) within the 18 months following a halving — often simply put down to supply and demand.

“While we know the supply is fixed, what about the dynamic demand? This is the part that I feel has been underestimated at each halving, including by ourselves at CoinCorner following the 2016 halving which led to the bull run of 2017. During the bull run, we were signing up a record number of registrations but our system and processes weren’t ready for this, and we weren’t alone. Some of the larger exchanges had to freeze registrations as they couldn’t handle the throughput, while others experienced technical issues with their trading engines locking up and websites going down due to overload.

“This time around though the industry as a whole is better prepared for the predicted 2021 bull run… it’s not perfect, but it’s better.”

Where’s the current demand coming from?

“Compared to 2017 when demand came from the retail market (this will eventually happen again, of course), the current demand is coming from an institutional level completely flying under the radar for many people and it looks set to continue through 2021.

“Roughly 27,000 Bitcoin are mined (brought into circulation) each month and although this may sound like a lot, it’s really not. For context, Grayscale added 32,000 Bitcoin to their portfolio in October, CashApp received $1.6 billion worth of revenue from their customers buying Bitcoin in Q3 2020 and PayPal has entered the cryptocurrency market, allowing customers to buy Bitcoin with full global roll out planned for next year.”

“In October, Microstrategy became the first publicly traded company to add roughly 38,250 Bitcoin to their balance sheet, with Square closely following in their footsteps with a purchase of 4,709. I fully expect to see this trend continue through 2021 as more companies look for the best place to exit their fiat positions and choosing Bitcoin as their inflation hedge asset.

“At CoinCorner, our balance sheet (like many other Bitcoin companies) already holds Bitcoin and this is likely to be a growing trend as inflation begins to kick in due to the current financial climate.”

What about traditional investment?

“Companies aside, traditional investors are also beginning to make their moves. The well-respected Rauol Pal has this year become more and more bullish on Bitcoin and his position, even more recently mentioning that he was going to sell his gold to buy more Bitcoin.

“Another example is Stan Druckenmiller and Paul Tudor Jones — two high-profile billionaires who recently opened up about their Bitcoin investments and how bullish they are for the coming years.

Stan is yet another person to compare Bitcoin to gold as an investment, stating he owns both but believes Bitcoin should outperform gold. He was quoted saying:

“…so I own many, many more times gold than I own Bitcoin, but, frankly, if the gold bet works, the Bitcoin bet will probably work better because it’s thinner and more illiquid and has a lot more beta to it.” — Daily Hodl

“Again, this is a trend we can expect to see continuing as wealthy individuals look to inflation hedge assets.”

2. Previous Bitcoin Halvings

“There are lots of price models and predictions coming out, with Stock-to-Flow (S2F) from PlanB being one of the more popular ones, all ranging in price from $50,000 to $288,000 per Bitcoin in 2021.

“The chart below shows the previous halvings, with the red line indicating our current progress since the halving earlier this year. If it continues to follow the previous trends, we can expect to see the S2F model being somewhat accurate — meaning that $288,000 may not be an unrealistic target price.”

Source: PlanB

3. Coronavirus financial crisis

“Touching briefly on the unfortunate situation the world has suffered this year, the coronavirus crisis had the knock-on effect of causing a long-awaited financial crash in March. This resulted in Government bailouts: the U.S. FED printing $3 trillion (plus another $2 trillion on the way), the Bank of England likely printing towards £1 trillion and many more around the world following suit. Not to forget the introduction of negative interest rates which look to become the norm. Although this may be necessary in their eyes to stimulate the economy and its future protection, this comes with a huge risk of inflation on a scale unseen in these territories before.

“Putting this into perspective, the FED printed $3.9 trillion between 2008 and 2014 during the 2008 financial crisis, and they’ve already surpassed this in 2020 alone, with more likely to come.

“When it comes to financial uncertainty, people look for a safe haven and Bitcoin is becoming this.”

4. Bitcoiners

“61.71% of all Bitcoin in circulation hasn’t moved within the last 12 months. Bitcoin investors have stomached sharp drops greater than 50% this year and still didn’t sell. Bitcoin’s sitting comfortably around the $15,000 — $16,000 region right now and still those coins aren’t moving. Bitcoin investors are here for the long-term, they have strong hands and are preparing for the next 20x.

“This Bitcoiner crowd is also continuing to accumulate and hodl more every day, leaving less liquidity available for newcomers. In turn, this will drive the price. Once Bitcoin pushes past the $20,000 previous all-time high and starts hitting mainstream media again, retail investors will enter just as they did in 2017, but this time with the backing of public global companies, billionaires and hedge funds.”

Online searches for Bitcoin

“A quick look on Google trends for the search term “Bitcoin” shows that interest today isn’t anywhere close to that of 2017, sitting at only 13%. Yet, the Bitcoin price is hovering around 75% and looks likely to hit that $20,000 before the interest spikes again.

“Interest during the 2013 bull run was only 10% of what 2017 became and so, I fully expect the 2021 bull run to peak “Bitcoin” interest in excess of 5x, maybe towards 15x, of what we saw in 2017.”

Source: Google Trends

5. Interesting Bitcoin stats

“Numbers sometimes speak louder than words…”

Bitcoin vs alternative investments

“Comparing Bitcoin to alternative investments over the last 5 years, the trend is the same for 12 years also (the whole lifespan of Bitcoin so far).”

Source: Case Bitcoin

Yearly percentage returns for Bitcoin

“Bitcoin’s history shows that after a halving (2012 and 2016), the price sees an incredible increase in the following year, with the year after that being the only negative years (2014 and 2018).”

2010: 𝟵,𝟵𝟬𝟬%

2011: 𝟭,𝟰𝟳𝟯%

2012: 𝟭𝟴𝟲%

2013: 𝟱,𝟰𝟴𝟭%

2014: -𝟱𝟳%

2015: 𝟯𝟰%

2016: 𝟭𝟮𝟯%

2017: 𝟭,𝟯𝟲𝟴%

2018: -𝟳𝟯%

2019: 𝟵𝟮%

2020: 𝟭𝟮𝟭% (so far)

Is Bitcoin a success?

“The industry has been challenged by a lot of negativity over the years, but as time has passed, its reputation and sentiment has grown stronger.

“At what point do we call something a success? 10 years? 20 years? What if it fails in 70 years time? Would that make Bitcoin a failure? No, it would mean that it’s had its time and something better has surfaced.

“Personally, I’ve gone past the stage of treating Bitcoin like an experiment, or wondering when it will be considered a success — I already see Bitcoin as a success.

“The Bitcoin community is continuing to build a decentralised monetary future and this is only the beginning.”

James McLeod, EMEA Director, Faethm, the article looks at how AI and automation have come to be perceived as a threat to human employability much more than any other revolution-driving technology

Technology, AI and societal change are the two major hallmarks of industrial revolutions. It would be remiss to discuss the first industrial revolution, for example, without reference to steam power and the migration of the workforce from the country to the city, or the third industrial revolution without reference to the internet and rapid globalisation. 

AI

Today, as AI/automation and the decentralisation of labour push the world toward the fourth industrial revolution, a core characteristic of these changes has become clear: an acceleration in the speed at which specific skills rise and fall in demand. Over the past 100 years or more, the length of these cycles has dropped from decades to just a matter of years, creating one of the biggest employability challenges for businesses and individuals alike moving forward. 

To stay abreast of change, companies must fundamentally change the way in which they look at skills, training and career development. This isn’t just another story about technology and AI creating as many jobs as it invalidates, but rather a need to consider how existing roles will evolve and how people in at-risk jobs can easily transition into roles where they continue to add value on top of technology:

–          What needs to happen? Career development must no longer be seen as horizontal (i.e.  whereby individual workers refine a particular set of specific skills over the course of their careers and/or lives). Instead, careers must also follow a lateral trajectory, expanding not just upward, but outward into new skill areas.

–          How can this be achieved? Each role will have a set of transferable and non-transferable skills. By identifying which skills sit across different roles, employers can corridor existing employees into new roles lessening the need to search for brand new talent. 

–          Why should employers do this? Trying to keep abreast of demand for new skills by constantly hiring new talent is a costly and unsustainable strategy. Moreover, by looking at how individual processes translate to value can help eliminate bloated processes and release capacity, making roles not only more relevant, but more efficient.  

By James McLeod, EMEA Director, Faethm

The new issue features exclusive content from Marsh UK, HPE, and Rim of the World Unified School District…

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface Magazine!

This week’s cover star is Alistair Fraser the CEO of UK Corporate at Marsh who has given us an exclusive insight into the massive transformational change at the insurance brokerage, that seeks to help enterprises survive and thrive during a global pandemic…

Read the latest issue here!

The COVID-19 pandemic’s economic and social impacts are driving significant shifts in global political risk — introducing new dynamics and accelerating existing geopolitical megatrends, such as trade protectionism and the transition to a multipolar world order.

“We segment our service delivery to clients based on their size and needs around risk and insurance,” explains Fraser, from Marsh’s Bristol office. “Our role is to advise our clients on their insurance and risk requirements so that they can manage risk in a more controlled way, helping them to protect their business, roll out new products and services, and continue to thrive.”

Elsewhere, we speak to Erik Vogel, Global Vice President, Customer Experience at HPE to see how the global, edge-to-cloud Platform-as-a-Service company is transforming the customer journey with GreenLake to provide an ‘everything-as-a-service’ offering…

Plus, we have the third and final instalment of digital strategist Paul Bailo’s Digital Transformation masterclass, and an exclusive with Mads Fosselius, CEO and Founder, Dixa who reveals the secrets to succeeding in this ‘new world’. And we speak to Michelle Murphy, Superintendent of Rim of The World Unified School District, who explores how a digitalisation of the classroom begins and ends with the success of the student in mind.

Enjoy the issue!

Andrew Woods

Welcome to a packed issue of Interface Magazine, full of exclusive content!

This month’s cover story is an illuminating interview with Sarah Golley, VP of Digital Transformation of Virgin Media who reveals how digital transformation has meant getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Read it here, NOW!

 “How customers want to engage with us has changed and is continuing to change at a fast pace, driven by the rapid adoption of technology. Customers of today are less likely to be brand-loyal and will leave if they don’t get what they want and need. We want our customers to find us easy to do business with, and we want them to stay,” explains Golley.

“Customers these days typically want information to be simple to find and instantly available. They want to have the option to have everything online, they want to self-serve if they have issues, they want to shop or deal with issues at a time that suits them. We are now speaking to multiple types of people, from silver surfers and baby boomers all the way down to millennials and Gen Z. We need to provide solutions for everyone.”

Elsewhere, we travel to Denmark to speak to Group CPO of Danish Crown Lars Feldskou regarding procurement transformation and catch up with Rob Galbraith dubbed ‘the most interesting man in insurance’. Plus, we assess the impact of a massive digital transformation at UnionBank and list 5 Influential Women in IT.

Enjoy the issue!

When Malta-based construction and property enterprise Vassallo Group embarked on a company-wide digital transformation, it looked to CIO Carlo Aquilina…

When Malta-based construction and property enterprise Vassallo Group embarked on a company-wide digital transformation, it looked to CIO Carlo Aquilina to build the entire infrastructure, operations and innovations at the group…

Walk through the streets of the beautiful island of Malta and you will not be able to escape the work of the Vassallo Group. Property, hospitality, education and healthcare, the Maltese construction and property company completely reshaped Malta following the devastation caused by the Second World War. Indeed, Vassallo Group embarked on a mission to ‘rebuild the nation’ to its former glory and beyond.

Building on its strengths, the Group carries a legacy that is over 70 years old, and over the years has diversified its operations that have brought about expansion and investment. Today, Vassallo Group, stands at the forefront of several different sectors in the local market that include property and construction, furniture and interiors, elderly and disability care, catering, hospitality, architecture and education. The Vassallo Group is a large, complex enterprise and represents a unique challenge to its IT function, which provides technological solutions and support to all of the companies and their users.

Vassallo Group talks to Interface Magazine

Carlo Aquilina was approached to take on the role of CIO at Vassallo in 2015, having spent a while building up an IT team at a manufacturing enterprise. “When I started in manufacturing, IT needed lots of work. We started from scratch. We built up the whole IT department and the whole team. When Vassallo approached me, they offered me that challenge again as they really lacked IT. It was a real challenge, but I built my team and we started on what needed to be done.”

Vassallo Group previously had a shareholding in an IT company and this sister company was providing IT, but the level of support was not sufficient for their local clients, thus Aquilina was asked to build the IT function that would serve the 1,900-plus employees and its extensive client base. “When I joined, I was tasked with the project: to start from scratch. I gave the board of directors a number of options. Should we go on premise, should we go with another hosting company, should we go hybrid, should we go cloud? The main ambition was very simple and I was given six months to come up with a solution where we gave our clients, our clients, meaning our users basically, a brand new environment with zero downtime. It was all firefighting in that first year.”

Vassallo went 100% cloud with Microsoft Azure, which Aquilina believed to be the best short-term, and long-term solution. “We’re a Maltese company. We’re not an IT focused company. IT is here to provide service to the business. Our business is not IT. We’re not a gaming company. All of our products are Microsoft, and so it was an obvious choice to move to Azure.” Vassallo agreed to go 100% to the cloud, having drawn a blank against the large capital expenditure associated with on-premise. “With cloud, you don’t invest in anything and everything is top of the range. Of course, it also helps to be paying operational costs and not capital costs. That was the way forward and then they (the board) embraced it. There was a number of partners who approached us to do this, to help us with this migration. I chose CyberSift, which was a start-up, actually.” An advantage to working with a start-up is that they’re not encumbered by a large kind backend and can move audaciously and quickly and this was certainly an appeal to Aquilina and his team. “I knew one of the technicians; a brilliant engineer and that helped. Plus, the price we were given was also from a start-up perspective.”

Vassallo Group. A Maltese institution

CyberSift viewed the chance to work with Vassallo with similar relish and the then start-up provided a specific engineer to be onsite with the IT team at Vassallo for the full duration of the migration. “Whatever I was asking, I was getting,” Aquilina explains. “‘Okay, we’ll do it for you, but you’ll have to promote us, after.’ Now I’m promoting them. So, we had engineers working for us and I didn’t need to grow my team. In fact, we’re a very small team.”

The key thing Aquilina and his team built in that crucial first year was ‘trust’. “I had the trust of the board of directors because every time they asked me something, I satisfied their request. So, there was trust. At the end of the day, it’s a family-owned company. Trust is very important.”

Aquilina and his team were given six months to deliver the project and took 2-3 three months to design and implement the infrastructure. The following three months, they contacted suppliers, before moving the software. “If it’s on premise or on cloud, there was remote access. It was teamwork, everyone pulling the same rope. Whenever one of the suppliers told us, ‘Listen, we’re not available this week. Let’s do it next week. We’ll slot in someone else. We’ll set meetings. We’ll explain what we are doing.’ All they needed to know is that we were moving from server A to server B. They did it for us because it was their software, their app, their solution.”

With any large-scale technological transformation there are challenges although Vassallo seemed to evade many of the pitfalls through great organisation. “I don’t think we had actually the biggest challenges because it was all planned out. We used to meet every day with the engineer who used to work for us and my team. It was a case of ‘What happened yesterday, what happened today, what is going to happen tomorrow and why? Are we on track? Yes. If not, why? What can we do?’ We worked late at night so that we could achieve it. It was all based on trust and teamwork. It was a case of open-heart surgery because the business wanted to work. The business kept on working even though we were doing open-heart surgery. We had that support from everyone. Everyone understood that this needed to be done. We had support from everyone, from all the partners, from Microsoft, everyone.”

Even though digital transformation involves technical infrastructure, software, servers and cloud, people are still integral to a successful outcome. “Yes, they are extremely important,” Aquilina explains. “There are the users, the customers and the IT team. We are a very small team and that really helped, because a huge team would require lots more organisation and more hand holding. It was me who was both sponsoring and managing the project. I had the lead engineer who was doing the actual work, remotely. They had an assistant administrator who was assisting. People are so important.”

Vassallo Group holds an annual internal awards and in 2016, the IT department was awarded ‘Best Customer Focused Department’ even though it had been, in Aquilina’s terms, firefighting. We were there constantly, anytime, any day of the week. The team and I were presented with this trophy, which proved my theory that the company had move to something much more stable.”

Now Vassallo Group is reaping the benefits of this transformation. “IT-wise, we are working on a business intelligence project. Now we have the infrastructure ready and a solid base or foundation, I want to give something back to the business. We implemented an ERP solution, which Finance, Logistics and Operations are using. I don’t want the directors to go into board meetings with huge amount of papers. I want them to go in with just a laptop. The data is live. We’ve already done that for one of the companies and it’s working. You can connect to the TV to project live data. That is business intelligence. We’re working on the other companies too. Now that they know what they can get, everybody’s bombarding us with requests. Of course, we’re taking our time and that is ongoing.”

From BI, Aquilina wants to harness the power of AI in board meetings. “I want to give them the facility to project live data, but I also want to give them the facility to change the data accordingly. They will see the results with AI.” Recruitment could be a big beneficiary of these initiatives too. “What if we employ 100 people? AI will work out the costs, work out the benefits of employing that many people. Then you can take an educated decision. ‘Should we employ 100 or 200? Let’s put in 200 more employees. What’s the cost?’ AI will work out the costs as well as the benefits. That’s all in progress. However, these are very sensitive tools that we need to use and if the tool gives you the wrong information, then you will make the wrong decision. I explained this to the board and they gave me the time needed to do it properly. We have to be very meticulous. They understood and told me, ‘Whenever you’re comfortable, we can start using.’ The CIO has to have 100% trust from the board of directors, because if there’s no trust, they keep on asking, ‘But why and how?’ That is the way forward.”

Providing technological infrastructure, new software and cyber security for such a large company means that Aquilina’s hands are certainly full. “We support about 1,900 employees and 500 users. I can afford to have a relatively small team because we have a solid base, and a solid infrastructure. I have a wonderful team. I recruited everyone from outside the business. I didn’t find anyone here, so they all respect me. We’re all friends at the end of the day, although I am their manager. We talk about anything and I help when needed. So, there’s trust from them and the senior management, which I believe is extremely important. It’s a wonderful place to work.”

Read the latest issue here! Our cover story this month features an exclusive interview with Jon Davis, CTO of Village…

Read the latest issue here!

Our cover story this month features an exclusive interview with Jon Davis, CTO of Village Hotel Club, who reveals how a digital transformation future-proofs a technology infrastructure. Village Hotels is currently undergoing a major digital transformation journey in order to better serve the modern guest and offer a digital ready experience like no other. Village Hotel Club operates 30 hotels across the UK and by its own admission, its hotels are “much more than a bed for the night – they are a place to meet, socialise, work and get fit” – a clear sign that the business understands that the guest experience has changed massively.

We also have a revealing interview with Bill Barry, Vice President of Procurement and Sourcing at Access, one of the fastest growing paper and digital document services and storage providers in the world. Barry, upon joining the company in 2018, was tasked with a vision of building out a best-in-class sourcing and procurement function, developing and implementing the policies and procedures in order to achieve that vision.

Elsewhere, we catch up with UBS CIO Mike Dargan and Carlo Aquilina, CIO of Maltese construction giant Vassallo Group. Plus, we list all the top events and conferences from around the world and highlight five top tech innovators to look out for in 2020.

Enjoy the issue!

Read the latest issue here! This month’s exclusive cover story features an interview with Koh Yi Mien, Managing Director Health…

Read the latest issue here!

This month’s exclusive cover story features an interview with Koh Yi Mien, Managing Director Health and Employee Benefits at AXA Hong Kong. Koh Yi Mien reveals how technology is only one part of the healthcare insurance giant’s digital transformation journey.

Yi Mien points to a global drive for greater transparency, accountability, use of data and technology as well as promoting customer choice as key drivers of change in the insurance space. “It’s no longer a case of simply providing reimbursement to people when they need treatment,” she says. “It’s about being the patient’s partner throughout their whole life… so we are there to help and support them in their times of need.” 

Elsewhere, we have an absorbing interview with former Amazon exec John Rossman, Managing Partner at Rossman Partners, who explores the concept of digital transformation in his book Think Like Amazon. We also feature Jay Weintraub, founder and CEO of event InsureTech Connect, who explains why it’s the largest, most focused and relevant gathering of insurance industry executives, entrepreneurs and investors in the world. Plus, we list the greatest events and conferences of the year ahead.

Enjoy the issue!

Borislav Tadic, Vice President BMS & Transformation DRC, explores how a major digital transformation of Deutsche Telekom has enabled greater…

Borislav Tadic, Vice President BMS & Transformation DRC, explores how a major digital transformation of Deutsche Telekom has enabled greater customer experience and significant technological advancements.

This interview featured in August’s issue of Interface Magazine – read now!

Tell us what your role is and how it fits into the wider Deutsche Telekom strategy?

I’m Vice President at Deutsche Telekom, responsible for board member support and transformation of the board area, data privacy, compliance and legal, working here in the Bonn headquarters of Deutsche Telekom Group. We as Deutsche Telekom Group are present in 50 countries and I would say are definitely a leading European telecommunications brand. We hope, after our mergers and acquisitions in the United States that we’ll become an even bigger player on a global level.

How important is it in your position to continue to learn?

That’s a fantastic point. One thing I try to do is constantly improve on an individual level. That includes formal education. I have at least 10 internationally recognised certifications and I’m currently working on my PhD in parallel to my work and I use numerous non-formal opportunities to expand my knowledge, both in the formats offered in the company and outside as well as through reading and keeping up to date with the latest developments every day, every morning.

That attitude is something I try to include in our transformation programs. For example, during the past two years, we’ve up-skilled more than 1000 employees off this board area, both in Germany and internationally, in several ways. First, offering them online learning content on our intranet platform, creating awareness about the different digital courses we have in the context of Deutsche Telekom, which are focused on their profession. We also continue to learn about global technological developments, so they can understand the new trends and developments in the industry so that they can better advise and/or support their customers.

From there we went a step forward and decided not only to offer them in a digital format, which is easy to implement and easy to offer and cost-efficient but also to enable a knowledge transfer. This is through our Digital Future Campuses in Athens and here in Germany. Several hundred people and experts from different functions of our board area were brought together and we educated them in areas such as broadband development, 5G, agile working, international collaboration, diversity and many other topics which directly or indirectly contribute to their performance and to their daily jobs. Satisfaction rate on the company level was one of the best in the recent history of Deutsche Telekom, with 96 to 99% participant satisfaction with the program.

Deutsche Telekom AG

A transformation of any kind breeds challenge, what are some of the challenges you have faced?

It is a challenge indeed. The first aspect of the challenge is that you have to give or convey as much knowledge as possible in a relatively short time and of course to make the knowledge current because if you prepare a course around blockchain and you prepared it two years ago, today you would need a completely different base. The pace of change with regards to the content, which you create to educate someone, is very high. It’s important that you stay up to date in the preparation and delivery of these courses.

Even that aside, you have a limited budget and this limited budget has to be approved and/or aligned with our human resources area. We are working with them closely because of course they have way more transparency about the needs of every individual employee and we have of course our professional view and vision where we want to be as a group. We basically worked with our colleagues from HR and with our expert groups in identifying which areas we need to focus on because you have hundreds of areas, especially in our fast-changing, fast-paced business around digitisation and technology.

After we finalised that, we created a program and then the next challenge was how to get the best possible lecturers and best possible experts to share the knowledge, because of course, their time is limited. There are of course budget limitations and numerous other restrictions including language barriers. We tackle that by trying to find the best in-house experts in some areas and external partners for others. They have more experience in some domains that are relevant to us. Then there is the delivery.

Even if you organise a format that consists of online courses as well as the physical presence of a course for several hundred people, that’s not an easy task. It sounds like an easy task; it’s just an event with a couple of hundred people but no, this is multi-partner, multi-party interactive session with numerous choice options because not everyone gets the same program. The people choose the modules and you have to fit all of that together. These are some of the challenges we’ve hopefully successfully tackled.

How do you ensure that your transformation is done so with the customer experience in mind?

That was the essence of our program and it’s a great question. First, we understood that we cannot only assume what the customer wants, we need to know what the customer wants and the only way to do that is to talk to the customer. As a governance function, we went and talked to the customers. We went out and spoke with actual private customers and business customers of Deutsche Telekom and asked them: what can we, from security, from privacy, from legal, from compliance, do differently in order to make your life better and easier?

We got our feedback. It was extremely good feedback, in the sense of many concrete, actionable points we can implement. For example, one of them was to simplify terms and conditions. When you sign a contract anywhere, for any mobile service, TV service or anything else we offer, you need to read through the pages of the contract documentation. This document is written mostly with the small letters, small font, explaining what will happen in case of some emergency escalation or conflict etc. It’s written in a language that no one understands but it was always the intention of Deutsche Telekom to make it fully understandable to our customers. We were doing our own efforts but when you speak directly to the customers, he can explain to you, which paragraphs are not easily understood or interpreted.

We used that feedback to simplify the terms and conditions for our major products. We did that within a couple of months and now we have one of the best, if not the best terms and conditions document, which is now standard. This raised the trust with our customers because they know that Telekom is fully transparent and wants them to understand what they are signing and what they are changing with their contract situation. This is only one example of numerous changes we did to the direct discussions with external customers.

How important is transparency to a company like DT?

When you look at how you can make it more transparent and when you simplify the processes and the policies, the documents, when you’re directly communicating your goals and why you are doing certain things, this raises the trust of the customers. But of course, many digital tools can also help you to raise that transparency. For example, you can do it for ethical reasons. We have been very successful in advancing customer demands through a chatbot. It became so good that some of the customers didn’t even know that they were being served by the chatbot. Because it answered all their questions in the manner that they would expect from a live person, but we still, from an ethical perspective, decided to include the sign notification saying: “You’re speaking with our digital assistant, not with a real person.”

We’ve also introduced specialised tools both internally and externally. As an example, we have a data privacy cockpit that enables you to log in as a customer of Deutsche Telekom and basically see which data you have approved or are sharing with both Deutsche Telekom and you can also click and approve or disapprove with us sharing that data with other parties. We are very strict with that. This is one of the parts of our unique selling proposition; we’re extremely careful with the data of our customers. What we want to achieve is for customers to no longer need to call or send an email to understand which data of theirs is in the system and which can be shared, but they also can log in with their mobile or fixed device and look and choose and change the categories at any time, through a very useful and user friendly interface.

Around 10 years ago, through internal experiences, we realised that this could become something we are known and recognised for, and so we decided to really invest internally into data privacy, security, compliance to strengthen our legal functions, to strengthen our audit functions. We did this in order to create a system that not only gives assurance to our shareholders but also to all of our customers. We don’t do it because we must; we believe that there is clear value in data being handled in an ethical and responsible manner for our customers.

How difficult is this with regards to DT’s presence across 50 countries?

First is that we look at all of our footprints holistically where, if we have a high standard which is not producing a significant change in the product pricing or service pricing, we look to apply it throughout the whole footprint. In the area of compliance, security, privacy and risk management, we are applying the highest standards worldwide.

The challenge here is that you have certain local changes which happen and which of course demand us to stay on the ball in that we are always in contact with our local counterparts which are responsible for these areas where the board area is active and not only upscale them, not only to make them aware of the customer demands both locally and internationally, but also to always make sure that they’re applying the latest, leanest standard and the process to keep the high levels of these services.

How will you continue to grow and transform? Can a transformational journey ever really end?

There is no endpoint. You’re absolutely right; the transformation will never stop and should never stop. It’s a process of continuous improvement of the organisations and individuals and customers’ demands, markets. Everything is changing, so we need to keep changing constantly. I think it’s very important to say in the sense of the role you mentioned is that you also lead by example, not only me but also my colleagues and other senior executives. They need to be aware that if we are promoting a tool to be used or a process to be simplified, we have to start with ourselves.

They’re extremely important, these change processes, because it’s not sufficient only to upscale, to implement the customer demands and to digitise and introduce digital tools. If you want the whole organisation to have a sane and a good mix of agile projects and waterfall projects, I need to show that some of my projects in the digitization context are being run agile.

What do the next 12 months look like for DT?

We’re going to focus on new skills. Let’s say that we are going to further explore what the blockchain is bringing. We are going to further explore what the changes are, not only technologically, but also the social changes related to 5G. In addition to that, we want to further explore AI and also further explore digital ethics. We are going to be active in the corporate digital responsibility domain where we, as Deutsche Telekom, are very much pioneering some of the elements here in Europe, so this is definitely going to happen.

What makes a successful CTO?

I would say surround yourself with extremely diverse people because diversity is not only diversity in the context of having different people with different backgrounds around yourself or different religions, different genders, different ages, etc., but also diversity in the opinion context, and the context of thoughts. And when you’re surrounded by such people, try to be like a sponge.

Try to take as much input as you can to process this and put it into the context and to continue changing because if I would apply what I learned at let’s say in the university or what I’m learning now for my PhD, that might be okay for a certain period of time, but the world, technology and the market is changing with extreme pace. So, you have to be fully aware that this will continue changing so your adaptability is the key. Your curiosity is the key and if you keep that, I’m sure that you’re basically ensuring that you’ll be successful today and tomorrow.

As the world continues to become increasingly digital, it was only a matter of time before it spread to the…

As the world continues to become increasingly digital, it was only a matter of time before it spread to the very currency in our wallets. Just over a decade since the advent of Bitcoin, blockchain (the very foundation of cryptocurrency) has very much cemented itself as an industry in itself.

Here, we take a look at 5 of the biggest players in the cryptocurrency market, and the blockchain system they use as ranked by Forbes. 

This list featured in the August issue of Interface Magazine – you can read the full issue now!

Samsung

Three new Samsung Galaxy S10, S10e and S10 plus mobile phones.

Arguably one of the biggest companies in the world, driven by a vision to “create a better world full of richer digital experiences, through innovative technology and products”.

Naturally, Samsung has turned its attention to blockchain and works with the Nexledger platform. Available for enterprises all over the world, Nexledger enables enterprise companies to track their transactions with greater speed and efficiency at scale.

One use case for Nexledger is a Digital Payment System, utilising blockchain to support various types of payments in an increasingly cashless world.

Visa

Closeup of VISA credit card with smart chip. VISA is one of the three biggest brands.

In early 2019, the payments giant Visa announced the global launch of its Visa B2B Connect network, a platform designed to transform B2B payments for the digital age.

Developed in response to the growing complexity of payments between financial institutions and their corporate clients, Visa B2B Connect uses blockchain technology architecture that allows payments to be made in a simple, flexible and safe way. Visa B2B Connect will look to cover more than 90 markets by the end of 2019.

The platform will facilitate transactions from the bank of origin directly to the beneficiary bank, creating a unique digital identity formed of banking details and account numbers that can be used to facilitate transactions on the network.

Visa B2B Connect’s digital identity feature has been said that it will “transform the way information is exchanged in business-to-business cross-border transactions”.

Oracle

The Oracle World Headquarters located in Redwood City.

Known for its database and cloud software, Oracle also has its own blockchain software in the Oracle Blockchain Platform.

Described as a “comprehensive distributed ledger cloud platform”, Oracle allows its customers to reliably share data and conduct trusted transactions with suppliers, banks and other trade partners.

The Oracle Blockchain Platform is the only enterprise-grade managed blockchain service with 99.95% SLA with enhanced security and through built-in identity management, it allows rapid provisioning and simplified management of blockchain networks to reduce costs and setup time from weeks to minutes.

Maersk

Pile of Shipping Containers of Maersk at Ballyhoo road at night, Unalaska, Alaska.

In the global logistics industry, tracking shipment and cargo is its bread and butter and so blockchain solutions naturally lend themselves to this space.

Through a partnership between Maersk and IBM, TradeLens was born. TradeLens is an open and neutral industry platform, powered by blockchain, to track shipments in real time, improve and encrypt data sharing for over 10 million shipping events every week.

The TradeLens ecosystem is a treasure trove of some of the biggest organisations the world over, with more than 100 companies including carriers, ports, terminal operators, 3PLs and freight forwarders. These contribute to one of the most powerful supply chain blockchain ecosystems in the world.

HTC

HTC One smartphone

In a world of cashless transactions and data sharing, the mobile phone is the obvious vessel for blockchain deployment. Dubbed as the phone that could “change the internet as we know it”, the HTC Exodus was announced in early 2019.

With a secluded area kept separate from the Android operating system, the blockchain-powered phone is the first mobile phone that can only be bought with cryptocurrency.

Users will have access to Zion, HTC’s very own cryptocurrency wallet. Running decentralized applications and programs that operate on the blockchain technology; HTC Exodus will represent a “new era” of secure data storage and transactions.

Listen to the full interview with Carolyn Chin-Parry now! Recently crowned the IT Woman of The Year at the 2019…

Listen to the full interview with Carolyn Chin-Parry now!

Recently crowned the IT Woman of The Year at the 2019 Women IT Asia Awards, Carolyn Chin-Parry is a true digital leader, having worked with a number of companies around the world to embrace digital transformation.

In this episode, Carolyn speaks to the challenge of transformation as well as the successes. We explore her passion for humanising digital transformation where no one is left behind as we continue our journey into the new digital era.

“Everyone is at a different journey, and at a different maturity level. Even if you’re a similar-sized industry player within the same industry and market, it doesn’t mean that your journey for transformation to survive looks the same,” Carolyn explains in our exclusive interview.

“If you look inwardly, there are different cultures and there are different appetites for risk as well as exploration around transformation. There are different directors, a different c-suite. It really depends on the company culture as well as the senior leadership to really drive a real transformation journey.”

Carolyn Chin-Parry continues: “Some players who wake up seeing themselves far behind, and some are really advanced. But even if you look at those leaders in a certain sector, they still have plenty of challenges in front of them.”

“I’ve worked in technology, and traditionally most people would have looked at technology or in particular IT as a cost centre. In this new era of Industry 4.0 and beyond, technology is actually now a value creator, and is very much a case of an enabler to survive.”

“Lead with courage instead of fear. If you allow yourself to be training and learning and reading frequently, you’re actually always going to be a step closer to understanding what that disruption could look like and prepare yourself for it.”

You can read the latest issue of Interface Magazine now!

Welcome to a packed August issue of Interface Magazine! This month’s exclusive cover story is with a telecommunications giant. We…

Welcome to a packed August issue of Interface Magazine!

This month’s exclusive cover story is with a telecommunications giant. We caught up with Verizon Consumer Group’s Executive Director of Sales Experience John Walker to discuss the telco’s transformation of its customer journey…

Read the latest issue!

The largest wireless provider in the US, Verizon, with its 4G LTE network, covers approximately 98% of the States. The company has transformed its customer journey, while boosting revenue in the process, in an omni-channel offering that has reshaped its sales strategy.

Verizon Consumer Group’s Executive Director of Sales Experience across those channels is John Walker and it’s his job to examine the shopping path and the process of shopping in a bid to provide a greater experience for both the customer and the sales team. “We’re moving on,” Walker explains, “from having a channel-focused distribution strategy to a customer-journey focused one. It’s a big change…”

We also speak to Neil Williams, Director of IT and Digital Transformation at the University of Derby, who has overseen massive changes at this progressive tech powerhouse. Plus, we have an exclusive interview with Frank Konieczny, CTO at the US Air Force and Borislav Tadic, Vice President BMS & Transformation DRC at Deutsche Telekom.

All the best tech events and conferences are also listed, as are the Top 5 companies deploying blockchain.

Enjoy the issue!

Andrew Woods

Welcome to July’s packed issue of Interface Magazine. Read the latest issue, here! This month’s cover centres around Staffordshire University,…

Welcome to July’s packed issue of Interface Magazine.

Read the latest issue, here!

This month’s cover centres around Staffordshire University, one of the UK’s emerging tech powerhouses. We talk to Andrew Proctor, Director of Digital Services, at the university who talks about the massive digital transformation he has overseen there.

For a sector steeped in tradition, it’s perhaps not surprising that higher education has taken longer than most industries to wake up to the digitisation of operations and offerings that have disrupted virtually every other market. However, with rising customer expectation linked to increased fees, and a battle to establish points of differentiation in a highly competitive marketplace, higher education has had to respond to the changing needs of the client, and nowhere is that more evident than at Staffordshire University.

Andrew Proctor, is the man who has spearheaded a massive digital revolution in an attempt to truly harness digital. “If you compare higher education to a lot of the modern digital era organisations or companies, universities can be obsessed with physical assets such as buildings; a new building being a sign of a healthy university,” he explains. “Now, I’m not saying that buildings aren’t a part of that future, they absolutely are, but we are developing what we call a ‘clicks and mortar’ strategy that delivers the best of the physical and the digital. It’s that harmony between your physical infrastructure and your online presence.”

Elsewhere, there is a highly revealing interview with EnterSolar’s Edgar Lim, Vice President of Technology and Procurement, who explores how a sound procurement philosophy achieves growth in a “solar-coaster” market.

We also hear from Craig Stewart, Vice President of Product Management at SnapLogic, who addresses how tech can provide some of the solutions to the global skills gap. We also look at the advent of automated data centres and reveal the most influential blogs and resources for CIOs.

Plus, lots, lots more, including our guide to the world’s best events and conferences.

I hope you enjoy the issue!

Andrew Woods