Data is changing the world. It’s been called the “new oil”, with its flows driving growth and profound change. It is not only transforming how we work and play, it is shaping the information we use to perceive and understand ourselves and others.
Our clients recognise the growing value of data as an essential resource for business success. However, they are also becoming increasingly aware that collecting data for its own sake represents an activity offering diminishing returns unless it’s accompanied by an increasing ability to understand what it all means.
McGregor Boyall has responded to this by forming a dedicate Data & Analytics team to service the increasing resourcing requirements of our clients both within and outside the financial services sector. So if you can demonstrate experience-hardened data/analytics skills gained on a permanent or interim basis, we feel certain that they will want to talk to you.
We want to talk to you. Drop us a line and tell us about yourself!
Times of crisis have often sparked innovation. The Second World War, for example, brought us the forerunner of modern-day computer, advances in radar, the basis of microwaves and mass production of penicillin. COVID-19 is having a similar effect on digital development. Ideas that might have seemed far-fetched (such as the rapid scale-up of online grocery shopping and other e-commerce) are promoted by a crisis-inspired culture of experimentation. Here are five examples of how technology is developing in response to extraordinary demands.
1. Data Analysis Tools
Finding data is easy, understanding it is hard. To this end, the pandemic has inspired several AI tools to help us make sense of the large amount of available information. Data analytics company, Arria NLG, are involved in two projects helping to transform data into an easy-to-understand narrative – the COVID-19 Live Report and the COVID-19 U.S. Tracking Report. AI analysis is also being used by a group of Northwestern University researchers to identify which research will return reliable, usable results that will help aid the search for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
The power of blockchain was recently demonstrated in a $12 million cross-continent commodity trade transaction of wheat. Usually, a transaction of this kind can take up to a month. However, using dltledgers’s blockchain platform, this was reduced to just five days. More and more businesses are expanding their reliance on blockchain – such as Nestle, who recently extended their use of the IMB Food Trust blockchain platform to their Swedish coffee range. The implications for keeping supply chains running seamlessly – something the coronavirus has highlighted as a serious challenge – are remarkable.
3. Natural Language Processing
With varied applications, such as helping customers navigate online platforms or as efficient medical tools (such as those used by Providence St. Joseph to offer coronavirus-related information), chatbots are proving useful during the pandemic. Chatbots are most commonly used to increase efficiency by answering simple queries, while forwarding more complex requests to a human operator. However, natural language processing, which refers to the deep learning that allows the chatbot to extract meaning from human conversation, improves with increased data. With some custom-made chatbots already proving useful in advanced interactions (such as Replika’s virtual friends, helping some people cope with the effects of social isolation), the uptake in chatbot use may enable the AI underpinning them to become vastly more sophisticated in the years to come.
At their recent virtual event, IBM announced a new range of AI-powered services, designed to support businesses in automating their digital infrastructure. According to Verdict, the new offering will “use automation to detect, diagnose and respond to IT anomalies and will integrate with other products such as those from Slack and Box.” Developments such as these will allow businesses to successfully adapt to a more digital future.
Many companies have reported that they are looking to increase use of robotics for food service, warehouses and cleaning operations. Blue Ocean Robotics have responded to this increased demand by creating a cleaning robot, able to destroy viruses, bacteria and other harmful microorganisms with concentrated UV-C ultraviolet light. It can sanitise environments such as hospitals, offices, shops and schools without the need for chemicals, meaning that people can be present during the cleaning. Production was quickly accelerated due to coronavirus-related demand, and it now takes less than one day to create a robot. The general public have often been uncomfortable with the idea of robots (and the issue of replacing human jobs with robot labour remains). However, with social distancing likely to be in place throughout 2021, robot labour may become more acceptable, stimulating demand for and development of robotic technology.
This article has showcased a small handful of the exciting innovation occurring during the pandemic. Given that there is expected to be a permanent shift towards use of digital services and practices such as remote working, these developments could have far-reaching implications for the technology industry for years to come.
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Our Technology Market Insights Report & Salary Guide 2019 provides the latest insights on the market collated by our Technology Recruitment Teams, and from data collected from surveying our clients and candidates.
It may be an imposing project for insurers, but with the correct recruitment strategy and positive attitude, IFRS 17 could be turned into a big opportunity.
Twenty years in the making, IFRS 17 comes into effect on 1 January 2021. But unlike most New Year’s resolutions, it’s something insurance companies have to take seriously and ensure they’re completely compliant by the time the deadline comes to pass.
Why’s it happened?
IFRS 17 is designed to standardise accounting models, with the goal of providing investors with more useful information that they’ll be able to compare across the industry internationally.
Of course, this will come at a significant cost to businesses which have to implement the changes. Looking on the bright side, it will also provide them with opportunities to modernise.
The impact on insurance
The new standard will have wide-ranging implications for insurance companies. Unsurprisingly, the biggest impact will be on financial reporting. Companies will be forced to develop new policies and procedures, redesign year-end reporting, and store and process more data. It will all have to be rigorously tested, too, to ensure it runs smoothly.
For many companies, keeping up with the new and increased demands will inevitably mean they need to hire more staff with a wide range of skills. But, perhaps most importantly of all, if a company doesn’t have a designated expert with both detailed knowledge of the exact requirements of IRFS 17 and its wider implications, now is definitely the time to find one.
A significant challenge
Finding potential candidates with the right expertise and levels of experience is already proving to be a challenge for businesses. Deloitte is already calling out for qualified people across the globe to bolster its consulting capabilities, and the very fact it is advertising for candidates suggests it is not finding it all plain sailing.
IFRS 17 leads will require an unusual mix of detailed knowledge of financial reporting, stakeholder management and insurance accountancy, topped off with a broad actuarial understanding and strong project management skills. Ideally, they should also have experience of leading companies through transformational change. It’s not difficult to see why these leaders are hard to find, and in high demand once they are.
Which other skills will you need?
The impact of IFRS 17 on recruitment is huge. For candidates with the right knowledge, there’s an excellent opportunity as companies look to snap up those with the required talents.
Technical skills are obviously very important for businesses. IT teams will see a big change as the new data, processes and systems the ruling requires, need to be implemented by someone. Given the opportunity it presents to modernise, skills like process auditing, workflow analysis and workflow automation will be key.
During this process, the value of relevant soft skills shouldn’t be underestimated, either. The control has brought about an unavoidable period of business transformation that needs to be managed in parallel with BAU activities – this requires professionals who are adept at leadership, communication and change management in particular.
While it is a large imposition for many insurers, your approach to IFRS 17 will define the outcome. Recruit the right people to implement the right processes and systems and you could gain a significant advantage on competitors that do the bare minimum.
Business Intelligence and Data Analytics have been one of the most popular investment strategies adopted by our clients across Banking, Insurance and Wealth / Asset Management during the last two years.
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