CEO Tech Tips – What are the key areas driving AI innovation

More and more businesses are leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) to drive transformative customer experiences and real-time business decisions, but to get the competitive advantage the organizations need AI that is accurate, fast and secure.

AI 1.0 focused on pattern recognition, task-specific models, and centralized training of models and their execution. AI 2.0 on the other hand is defined by the establishment of models to generate language, images and other data, as well as the universal applicability of AI, centrally or locally – at the Edge.

Following are the key elements of AI 2.0 identified by the recent Forrester report that are driving the innovation to addresses the accuracy, speed, and security issues.

  1. Transformer networks – To train large model with less data
  2. Synthetic data – Use large synthetic data to improve accuracy
  3. Reinforcement learning – To respond to changes in data
  4. Federated learning – Train models in distributed manner
  5. Casual inference – To avoid non-optimal business decisions

The firms that will increase their efficiencies and create new business models using progressive technologies like AI will continue to survive and thrive in any economy.

CEO Tech Tips – How to go from no data analytics to a data-driven organization.

A data driven organization is an organization that has the capability to collect and refine data and find ways to use the minded information to drive growth and profitability. Companies like Netflix, Google, Coco-Cola, and Uber are using business intelligence to assist in making logical decisions with high probability of success. If you are not one of the CEOs of these giants with stockpile of cash and resources, how do you to build these capabilities. Good news you can with the right approach. Following are the key steps to start a successful data analytics program in an organization irrelevant of the maturity level of the organization.  

  1. Scope
    1. Prioritize the key business areas to analyze and improve
    2. Determine the initial business questions to investigate
    3. Educate stakeholders about the benefits of business analytics
    4. Plan the effort: define success, cerate timelines and outcomes
    5. Build internal rapport and congruence
  2. Collect
    1. Inventory data sources and decide how much to include
    2. Establish a Master Data Management policy
    3. Create a dictionary the defines your common business terms
    4. Combine and integrate key data sources in central data mart
  3. Clean
    1. Define acceptable standards for data cleanliness
    2. Correct duplicate, missing and inconsistent data
    3. Standardize procedures to reduce future data discrepancies
  4. Analyze
    1. Teach “The Analytical Mindset” to shift the culture
    2. Visualize your data with interactive dashboards
    3. Forecast outcomes with Predictive analytics
    4. Discover patterns and correlations through data mining
    5. Ask new questions with data discovery
    6. Iterate through the process to refine
  5. Communicate
    1. Demonstrate results to communicate value
    2. Ensure the level of detail is appropriate for the audience
    3. Describe the visualizations with stories
    4. Encourage questions and new hypotheses
    5. Tech “A Conversation with Data” to speed adoption
  6. Prescriptive Analytics
    1. Understand the difference between AI and ML
    2. Prioritize the main driver(s) of value
    3. Select the areas to build cognitive capabilities  
    4. Evaluate your internal capabilities
    5. Consider consulting a domain specialist to build models for your business
    6. Iterate to improve the models and ways to measure improvements

No matter where the organization is on their data analytics journey. The above approach will add value at any stage of this journey. We have seen improvements in all areas of business by taking a systematic approach to decision making using clean data with the right tools. Some of the most valued areas of improvements includes employee productivity, marketing activities, product innovations, and personalized customer experiences.     

CEO Tech Tips – How blockchain technology can add innovative value-driven benefits to the business.

When people hear about Blockchain technology they associate it with Cryptocurrency. The key thing to understand here is that Cryptocurrency merely uses blockchain to transparently record a ledger of payments, but blockchain can be used to immutably record any number of data points. Blockchain in fact also serves many uses ranging from executing contracts, processing payments, sharing highly sensitive data, protecting copyrights, monitoring supply chains to using it for record keeping.

May companies are taking on the distributed ledger technology to conduct digital transactions, drive efficient processes and stimulate innovation in business. Here’s how it works.

This disruptive technology can add tremendous value to business in terms of cost saving and security. – Here is how:

  1. Eliminates fraudulent transactions – Blockchain technology allows for secure and decentralized transactions.
  2. Reduces transaction costs – Blockchain technology removes the need to pay third parties, such as banks, mediators, payment networks and money transfer services to manage and record transactions.
  3. Reduces operation costs – By not having to replace legacy systems and administration infrastructure in organizations.
  4. Smart contracts – Blockchain Smart Contracts enable companies to exchange digital assets securely and transparently, without the need for an intermediary. All the Smart Contract transactions are securely recorded in the blockchain and cannot be altered afterwards. That transparency goes a long way in establishing trust and certainty – which are essential in business.
  5. Better security – The most distinguishing feature of blockchain technology is that data is not stored in a centralized location or server. The decentralized nature of blockchain technology means that there is no central authority, making the users totally responsible for the system – making it more secure. Once a transaction is made and recorded, it’s impossible for the data to be manipulated as the technology can validate transactions in an incorruptible manner.

Last few years’ especially pandemic years have accelerated the need for every organization to go through some sort of business transformation. We are seeing every industry is undergoing an incredible digital transformation, businesses that are not adapting will eventually lose their competitive edge. The adoption of any new technology raises some risks, but the benefits outweigh the risks in fostering innovation, eliminating fraud, and improving processes for business in all industries.

We are seeing how our clients both startups and enterprises are benefiting by carefully integrating this technology in their workflow. If you need some guidance in discovering how you can drive digital transformation and process improvements in your organization? We will be happy to assist.

CEO Tech Tips – Key Analytics to assist in managing portfolio companies

Digital innovation is reshaping the way most industries and businesses are functioning today. ML, virtual reality, sensor technology, internet of things, and other disruptive technologies are transforming every industry.

Data is the new fuel that is accelerating the adaption of these technologies in every industry. It is estimated that by 2030, data collection and analysis will become the basis of all future service offerings and business models in every sector.

Investment industry including Private Equity (PE) and Venture Capital (VC) firms are no different when it comes to data. There is a huge influx of data including historical, operational and market data that is now available. With the correct data strategy this data can be converted into insights to assist both in getting the most ROI from current portfolio of companies and future acquisitions. To achieve data-driven decision-making capabilities investment firms should adapt a phased approach in the following key areas.

  1. Due diligence process should incorporate insights derived from consolidated internal and market data for more informed investment decisions.
  2. A repeatable methodology should be deployed for collection of data from profile companies to drive insights for operational efficiency.
  3. Performance of portfolio companies should be measured throughout their lifecycle by drawing insights on the consolidated financial and operational data.
  4. To increase market evolution of portfolio of companies, processes should be implemented to collect and analyze market segment data.
  5. To maximize the potential of sale, evaluation process data needs to be collected in way that can drive meaningful insights.    
  6. ML/AL models should be built on the top of the available data to provide more accurate predictions on areas relevant to the investment firm.  

Every investment firm that has inspirations to become a data-driven organization needs to integrate and understand the diverse data generated by their portfolio companies. A data strategy needs to be developed for collection, consolidation, and analysis of data to enable deep, automated insights into portfolio of companies to apply the right approach to grow these companies, increase market valuation and operational efficiency, and make more informed investment decisions.  

Tips for CEOs – Industry sectors with disruptive innovation that will impact the business in the near future.

  • Alternative protein: superfluous to vital.
  • Blockchain: promising to mainstream.
  • Brain-computer interface: measurement to insight.
  • Climate tech: incidental to critical.
  • Data privacy: identifiable to anonymous.
  • Energy storage: Li-Ion to alternative chemistries.
  • Enterprise workflows: human to human + Al.
  • Healthcare screening: reactive to proactive.
  • MLOps: in-house to managed services.
  • Nature co-design: materials to biomaterials.
  • Quantum computing: supremacy to advantage.
  • Robotics: automation to cognition.
  • Space tech — in-space: deployment to in-space management.
  • Space tech — launch: customization to democratization.
  • Synthetic content creation: casual to commercial.

Source: Pi Ventures

Tips for CEOs on Digital Transformation in 2022 and beyond

Digitalization is the adaption of processes and tools to support digital operations. Digital Transformation (DX) is an absolute necessity in the current era of fast change. There are four key areas where Digital Transformation (DX) can provide immense advantage to any organization including:

  1. Employee’s empowerment
  2. Customer engagement
  3. Operations optimization
  4. Product transformation

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic has put a huge stress on organizations to apply digitalization in every aspect of the business to improve customer engagement, bring faster employee innovation, increase productivity, and extract more insights from business data.

According to a recent Gartner report, the top three DX goals for companies around the world are:

  1. Automation of business processes
  2. Migration of applications to cloud
  3. Transforming legacy systems to new-age technologies

The digital ecosystems have become increasingly complex and requires tailored approach for each organization to successfully implement DX for better business resilience, faster development, and deployment cycles, reduce risk, faster and better decision making. Following is a list of some key areas where organizations have asked our technical know-how and experience in bringing new and innovative ideas for Digital Transformation:  

  1. Where to best apply automation to optimize business processes?
  2. How to secure systems from cyber threats arising from the demographic changes in work environments?
  3. How to secure data on the edges for better and faster decisions?
  4. How to shorten “Time to Market” cycles?
  5. How to extract faster and more intelligent insights from historical and real-time data?
  6. How to optimize operations to keep the cost in check?
  7. Which applications are better suited for cloud migration, and which one are better fit for redesign and technology upgrade?

Digital Transformation can be done in a phased approach for better cost management and business alignment for maximum ROI.

Top Cyber Priorities for a CEO to achieve company’s cyber resilience.

CEOs are responsible for overseeing all aspects of an organization – including technology. Non-technical CEOs hire technology leader(s) or/and technology firms to ensure that their organization’s technology, a key business enabler, is secure and available.

Now a days cybersecurity is the greatest threat faced by all organizations. As data has become the most prized possession of an Organization, it makes sense that every organization is concerned with the exposure or unavailability of this data. Because technology is paramount for so many business operations, the organization needs to ensure that the technical solutions and services put in place remain up-and-running. Any degradation in performance or unexpected failures can have significant impacts across the business. The organization needs to make sure that its systems, and the data and information they process, remain secure from cyber-attacks and incidents.

Following are recommended top priorities for a CEO to consider to achieve company’s cyber resilience:

  1. Creating a cyber secure work environment and culture through training on cyber hygiene including C-Suite and Board.
  2. Security should be prioritized in technology delivery meaning integrating security into the development lifecycle.
  3. Making sure that any technology enablement is properly safeguarded from cyber incidents, as well as planning and advocating for incident response best practices.

Cybersecurity should never be an afterthought but rather a cultural imperative for an organization. Companies’ top leadership including each member of the C-Suite needs to know what data the company has, how data is processed and protected, and have a clear understanding of each leader’s role in safeguarding that data.

Tips for CEOs on Technology Talent Acquisition

In todays digital economy success of any company hinges on how good its technology. To manage technology successfully companies need good teams with talented people. Theses agile teams need to deliver necessary technology the organization needs to run its business and serves its customers.

Talent Acquisition in any organization starts with the CEO hiring the right technology leader who can bring and retain great technology talent in the organization. In an high-technology talent market there are always challenges in building a great team. Applying appropriate strategies at the right time can not only overcome theses challenges but can give any organization competitive advantage. Following are the top challenges and approaches to build an outstanding technology teams.

Top challenges include:

  1. Finding qualified candidates
  2. Standing out from other companies to attract talent
  3. Aligning with hiring managers’ demands/job requirements
  4. Recruiting within tight time frames

Following are the top approaches to address these challenges:

  1. Built a robust process to make sure you hire qualified talent
  2. Consider non-traditionally educated developers
  3. Broaden your search for candidates – Referrals, internal hiring, and LinkedIn
  4. Establish an internal program for hiring and training fresh college graduates
  5. Pursue passive candidates – There are lots of perks that can be thrown into a job offer to make it appealing to an individual
  6. Attract candidates with good marketing – A positive company brand attracts job seekers
  7. Build/improve/maintain a positive company brand – Company culture and employer branding is key to winning the battle for the top candidates
  8. Leverage social media to demonstrate transparency and highlight company culture
  9. Host meetups, workshops, coding contests and hackathons, and invite outside participants.

Tips for a CEO on Data Management and Governance priorities

In today’s data centric economy, consistent and reliable flow of data across people, teams and business functions is crucial to survival for any organization. To achieve reliable flow of data within an organization one must relax data governance rules while keeping data secure and protected. Following graph from Gartner nicely lay out the Ten Data Management and Governance Actions to Reset, Increase Impact and Enable Remote Work. The graph gives a nice roadmap for a CEO to discuss and get details from their tech leadership on data initiatives prioritization and their impact on business goals.  

Tips for CEOs on PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance

In the era of e-commerce which we all live now, every CEO should understand PCI compliance to make sure their organization is protected.

“PCI DSS” is shorthand for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.PCI compliance is for any business that process, store, or transmit credit card data and other sensitive information, regardless of its size. These companies must validate their compliance every year or every quarter by engaging a certified assessor or company qualified to determine that they’re handling transactions appropriately. Different businesses will adhere to different standards depending on the number of credit card transactions they process. “Level one” is for the highest volume, and “level four” for the lowest volume. Companies that outsource their payment processing to a third-party play by a different set of rules than those accepting cards directly.

Any organization that processes over six million transactions per year are designated level one. Those that process between one and six million per year are level two. If a business processes 20,000 to one million transactions in a year, that’s level three. Anything less than that is level four.

 Any organization can become PCI compliance by completing a self-assessment questionnaire. These are available on the PCI Security Standards Council website. Different questionnaires will apply to different businesses, but each one is a series of yes-or-no questions designed to determine how closely your business meets PCI Data Security Standard requirements.

There are penalties for failing to meet these standards. These can include fines, increased fees, sanctions from banks, and eviction from credit card payment processing infrastructure. In cases of major negligence, businesses that aren’t PCI-compliant may even be subject to lawsuits and prosecution

The organization need to build and maintain a secure network that protects cardholder information. This can be done by internal team or a trusted tech contractor. Basic PCI compliance is about using systems that prevent unauthorized access from untrusted actors. Once the network is secure, implement a robust password program with the employees, change any passwords provided by contractor, and continue changing them regularly.

Once the self-assessment questionnaire is completed. A formal attestation of compliance and filing of paperwork with credit card companies needs to happen. An attestation of compliance (AOC) is a form that companies use to confirm successful results of their PCI DSS assessment, as documented in a self-assessment questionnaire or compliance report. Make sure to have a qualified security assessor review the work so that he or she can confirm the findings.

The PCI compliance process may be technically complex, but it helps future-proof the business, guard customer data, and protect the reputation of the organization at the same time. A CEO should work with his/her CTO or tech leadership to make sure the organization is always PCI compliant.

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