Technology and Data News and Events

The future of the SaaS industry

by Mike Jones 25/02/2020

In today’s business world Software-as-a-Service (Saa) isn’t simply focused on saving money, but also on providing a convenient solution. SaaS services enable businesses to avoid having to be concerned with software maintenance and the simplicity of accessing a system from anywhere. The sheer convenience of SaaS means that cloud-based services are the primary choice of many companies when determining a new system.

Enhanced Connectivity – Connecting to the internet is increasingly performed on mobile devices. This is somewhat related to the rising popularity of cloud-based products, enabling the user to access a service from anywhere, and on any device. In terms of SaaS, this means an accelerated movement towards mobile-development, focusing on creating products specifically for mobile services.

A maturing market – In the beginning, most platforms were managed by a select few companies. This resulted in relying on certain suppliers, making it more challenging to use alternative services from other providers. As the SaaS market has expanded, this process is changing, with more open platforms available and capable of working alongside other services. The industry is gradually moving towards a singular, secure sign-on enabling access to a number of different systems.

The influence of Artificial Intelligence – AI is a rapidly developing market and is likely to play an important role in the future of SaaS services. For example, Google has confirmed that it plans to create more AI within its applications to improve user efficiency. AI is highly effective and delivering vital information and insights from large data sets. This will allow future systems to incorporate intelligent and intuitive decisions for the user. Predictive analytics will also improve overall efficiency for businesses.

Security Challenges – Security continues to be a key challenge, particularly with the rise of data being shared on the cloud. SaaS businesses are acknowledging that there are many security concerns with data. For the future, developers will need to take more of a proactive approach towards monitoring and controlling potential threats and ensuring they have an adequate procedure in place should a cyber attack occur.

Maintaining Profits in SaaS – SaaS is being implemented by more and more businesses, including a number of smaller ones. As a result, there are a number of new business opportunities for service providers. Payment models are gradually making a transition from a standard monthly subscription to a transaction system, allowing customers to pay for what they actually do.

In the future, SaaS is expected to continue growing and will likely become a standard in software delivery. With rising automated services, any existing barrier that is hindering some uptake of the SaaS model will likely diminish.

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New Oracle Platform

Oracle launches new cloud data science platform

by Mike Jones 19/02/2020

Oracle recently confirmed the launch of the Oracle Cloud Data Science Platform. The system is developed from Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Data Science, allowing businesses to develop, manage and deploy machine learning systems. The new technology incorporates a number of features like project sharing, team security and auditability. The product determines the most efficient training datasets through a refined algorithm and model evaluation process.

The Infrastructure Data Science includes automated data workflows and tuning that automates the procedure of testing against several algorithms and other configurations. The automated predictive features enhance the overall process by selecting key sections from larger datasets. 

The model evaluation tool creates a range of metrics and visualisations to analyse overall model performance against certain datasets and allows for models to be ranked over time, enabling the best performance in production.

The new platform includes a number of new features designed to improve data science results. The Infrastructure Data Catalog enables users to manage and measure data on the vendor’s cloud. The Infrastructure Data Flow system is a completely managed big data service allowing users to operate Spark applications with no infrastructure required.

In a recent statement, Greg Pavlik, the senior VP of Production Development at Oracle Data and AI services explained that efficient machine learning models are critical in delivering successful data science projects. 

Pavlik highlights that the level of success can be hindered by the volume and range of data available to businesses. Pavlik states that Oracle is improving the overall productivity of data scientists by automating workflows and providing stronger collaborative support to ensure data science projects generate real value for companies.

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Big Data Developments in the Financial Industry

by Mike Jones 19/02/2020

We are generating data at an astonishing rate, with approximately 90% of all global data being created in just the last few years. Many studies expect big data to continue growing at lightning speed. As Big Data becomes more dominant, senior executives and leaders in the financial industry need to maintain close attention to this market. 

Big Data in Finance

The core goal of Big Data in finance is to generate insights from certain data sets to ensure your business improves. Automated, real-time analytics, predictive tools, and customer insights are example methods of measuring these sets of data to identify trends and raise business performance. 

In order to take complete advantage of big data and its ability to support business growth, financial businesses need to consider a number of factors:

Cybersecurity

The frequency of cyberattacks has risen, with certain events resulting in exposing extremely confidential information. With the rising threat of possible cyberattacks, cybersecurity has inevitably become a top priority within the Big Data in the financial services industry.

Businesses such as Versive provide software that measures transaction data and cybersecurity data using Machine Learning. Through a series of algorithms, the software monitors data to identify patterns and possible errors, identifying any that could suggest a possible cyber attack. Implementing services like this into financial businesses is critical in ensuring data is protected and business performance is maintained.

Robotic Services

Robotic technology is emerging into the financial industry, particularly within the advisory market. Robotic-advisors are being introduced to provide an affordable, personalised financial service to customers. By using a strict set of algorithms, Big Data analytical systems can be used alongside to manage financial portfolios without requiring human support.

At present robo-advisors provide automated algorithm-managed financial and planning services. These advisors gather customer data concerning their background and goal through surveys and use the data to automate investment into assets and provide further financial support. A simplified version of a robotic advisor is a chatbot, managing customer inquiries and supporting individuals by providing tips and advice. Industry experts, this market to grow rapidly with investors actively looking for low-cost robotic advisor services.

Managing Risk

As Big Data continues to progress, so do other innovative systems such as artificial intelligence that are capable of protecting and managing risk. Advanced data, transaction data and deeper analytics enable financial businesses to monitor patterns and manage risks.

AI software provider Ayasdi uses big data analytics services to support financial companies predicting potential regulatory risks with machine learning. The business believes its software supports banks with regulatory compliance, monitoring customer transaction data to identify anomalies.

Financial businesses and banks and apply the software simply within their own data systems, providing a clear dashboard to identify and predict potential risks to a business.

One System for your entire business

In previous years, large financial businesses spanning multiple functions would develop individual Big Data analytical systems. This resulted in difficult and time-consuming management of data between various business departments.

This year we are experiencing a continued rise of unified data analytics platforms, enabling the use of a simplified and more efficient unified system for larger financial businesses. Like most financial businesses with multiple departments, it can be challenging to communicate different data sets if each area is using a different analytics platform. A unified service enables customisation of data sets, allowing data scientists to create their own, dedicated working system. 

Big data has become an essential tool in many industries but studies suggest the financial services industry is behind in terms of uptake of big data. Based on the Morgan Stanley Digitalisation Index, financial services stands at 18th out of 34 sectors, behind Pharma, Utilities and Oil and Gas.  The financial market has a continued increase in competition in the emergence of Big Data. Focusing on cybersecurity, implementing robotic support where possible and creating a singular system are all vital techniques in maintaining a strong position with Big Data changes in the financial market.

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Data Analytics

Oracle launches data centres in five new countries

by Mike Jones 11/02/2020

This week Oracle confirmed the addition of five new countries to its Generation 2 cloud platform. This news will increase the number of Oracle cloud data centre regions to 21, with a planned total of 36 to be available by the end of 2020. 

If this figure is reached, Oracle will have more global data centres than Amazon Web Services. The new regions will be located in Jeddah, Melbourne, Osaka, Montreal and Amsterdam. Each location is now available in the Oracle Cloud system.

Oracle has been focused on expanding its cloud infrastructure, an area where it has been viewed as lagging behind the three major cloud providers – AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. With the development of the second-generation cloud (often referred to as Oracle Cloud Infrastructure), Oracle is shifting from a predominant cloud-focused business competing directly with AWS, Azure and GCP. Rather than just focusing on conventional infrastructure, Oracle is focusing on providing ‘bare-metal machines’ which have received significant scepticism.

Oracle has also partnered with Azure to combine direct fiber connections between their data centres and Microsoft cloud platforms, allowing bare metal users to utilise the services provided by traditional clouds. 

Expanding the Oracle Cloud – The expansions plans are a significant part of business development at Oracle. Beforehand, Oracle had been competing with a relatively small footprint compared to the big three cloud businesses, which may have made it less appealing to customers. Some customers have stated that to manage critical systems in the cloud, they need to be capable of operating workloads across independent cloud regions for disaster recovery purposes. Customers also require these multiple sites to be within the same country in order to meet data location requirements.

In order to meet these types of customer requirements, Oracle is put plans in place to provide a minimum of two areas in nearly every country where the Oracle cloud platform is operational. Three of the new locations listed, Osaka, Melbourne and Montreal now offer a second region within the same country, with Amsterdam also being linked to another EU region, Frankfurt. The UK, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, India and Brazil will also have secondary regions active by the end of the year.

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What lessons can businesses can learn from the success of SaaS

by Mike Jones 11/02/2020

SaaS businesses are focused on customer success, offering the latest products and removing complexities and payment challenges. Since its inception over twenty years ago, the industry has experienced significant growth and innovation.

Recent studies show that the average employee uses over 30 cloud services at work. According to Synergy Research Group, global investment for cloud-based software is predicted to exceed $100 billion this year. Some businesses such as Netflix have gained a significant increase in their subscriber base and while all businesses would like a similar level of success, it is difficult to implement SaaS business models. There are several features of SaaS businesses that have supported the success of this industry:

Ensure Customer Success is a priority

Success for SaaS companies isn’t simply focused on sales. Subscriptions can be relatively easy to sign up customers but it’s equally easier to lose subscriptions. A lack of focus on addressing the churn rate can really damage a subscription business. SaaS businesses tend to invest heavily in customer success, marketing and consulting to measure client satisfaction and monitor any potential issues before they arise. Customer Success Managers should be focused on gaining a clear understanding of customer challenges. Ultimately, the most important part of the process is whether the customer has bought again and how much more they spent on the business. SaaS industry experts believe transparency is key, creating a clear dialogue with customers and asking direct questions such as why would you choose us again and why would you recommend us to others. This is vital information for a business to continue evolving and to maintain a happy customer.

Simplified access to new products For major businesses such as Microsoft, only a few years ago customers were required to renew products every time an updated version was released. Today, Microsoft enables individuals and businesses to use cloud-based applications on a monthly fee. A major factor of success with SaaS businesses is the delivery of cloud-based software, eliminating the need for high initial costs associated with acquiring products and to be left with a redundant product when a new version is introduced. In a SaaS environment, the customer is provided with real-time access to the most recent product versions. Compared to the conventional of ‘buy and own’ product models, the time taken to set up and deliver these services is greatly reduced and customers require minimal effort to access the product updates.

The core thing to consider here when offering products and services is flexibility. Businesses need to invest in the necessary resources to support customers to upgrade products simply and scale product deployment in a manner that suits customers.

Managing the burdens

Quite often, businesses will develop services within their focus area and use a SaaS business for other areas. The SaaS pricing model generally suits most businesses, enabling a company to cover all services without having to build its own in-house system. From a security and compliance perspective, its usually simpler and more efficient to utilise external providers. SaaS allows companies to incorporate the services they need and focus their attention on their core offering. A further benefit of SaaS is enabling smaller businesses to gain access to the latest infrastructure, security and compliance provided by SaaS businesses. The key lesson here is to really consider the potential challenges your clients may be facing and what actions can be taken to working towards solving them. The customer journey could be improved by reducing cost, regulation and compliance from customers, enabling them to focus on their core service.

Remove the payment complexities

Customers are looking for a simplistic payment service that requires minimal effort and doesn’t involve further payments. Creating a seamless, subscription payment process is essential for SaaS companies to improve the lifetime value of their customers. A prime example of efficient payment is DocuSign, providing a payment mechanism the eliminates as much friction as possible. In terms of payments, it is critical to understand how your customers wish to pay and then focus on ensuring the solution is seamless. Whichever payment plan a business decides to focus on, customer preference needs to be the focus and providing a payment system that doesn’t obstruct the sales process.

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Anaplan releases Third Quarter financial results

Creating a competitive edge through data and insights

by Mike Jones 05/02/2020

The demand for data segmentation and analytics is rapidly rising with modern technology creating a significant shift in data’s positions in a company. Nearly 70% of major businesses are utilising data to enhance specific business areas such as customer acquisition, internal processes, product road mapping or pricing strategies. It is clear that data management is critical for any business, but the sheer amount of data available means it can be challenging to define what to focus on.

Through possible mergers or acquisitions or the introduction of new systems/services, many organisations have complexities with varied systems, poor data quality and inefficient reporting platforms. The key solution for these areas is defining a singular network for all data and information.

Consolidating data from segmented systems and merging these sources into a singular source of truth can enable a business to address data quality issues. This type of process creates a one-stop-shop for collecting and managing data, enabling efficient reporting with fewer disparities within the reports. This creates several benefits, a qualitative benefit based on a reliable platform generating trust and quantitative benefits in the form of instant numerical data generated when required.

This allows business leaders to be presented with more clarity and to be capable of executing their strategy more effectively. Developing clear objectives is vital for any business, but measuring success is equally important and can be challenging due to the range of variables that require monitoring. As businesses start to gain more data, the management process naturally becomes more complicated, such as longer delivery times from internal technology teams. A consolidated system can empower employees to gain insights on their own, with the IT tech team being able to focus on improving their systems and data.

At present we are revealing data’s ability to fix existing issues within a business but as of yet have not really tapped into the range associated with data analytics. Modern analytical systems have the power to define new opportunities, make sense of trends and determine potential issues before they occur. Advanced analytics not only helps businesses remain relatively stable, but it also enables them to expand and process complex data sets and ultimately stay one step ahead of their competition. A combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics can transform how a business approaches new markets and targets development strategies.

Analysing data allows businesses to go further than just optimising, enabling the prediction of certain behaviours, sales demands, volume forecasting and even identifying potential systems failures.

Whether a business implementing predictive models or focusing on advanced analytics, the options available for businesses today are endless. Using your resources in the correct manner and selecting technology for your industry can accelerate business performance and create a competitive edge that every business is looking for.

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Skills shortages and the challenges for businesses using data analytics

SaaS FinTech business Rimila secures additional growth funding

by Mike Jones 04/02/2020

The UK based SaaS FinTech business Rimilia has confirmed it has secured $15 million in funding from current investors including Silicon Valley Bank, Kennet Partners and Eight Roads Ventures. The latest funding round at Rimila has enhanced the total funding secured to $40 million. The business has stated that the new revenue will be used to improve product innovation and enable further acceleration in talent expansion.

Kevin Kimber, the CEO of Rimila explained how excited they were to secure additional investment which further strengthens their vision and technology, as well as providing further support with business growth. Kimber highlights that the additional capital will allow Rimila to advance its software capabilities, and at the same time generate further expertise and add specialist data scientists to expand automation and AI.

Rimilia is an automated platform powered by AI and developed to manage the process of order-to-cash in real-time. The business eliminates the manual processes associated with cash and credit management, reducing bad debt management and utilising AI to improve overall decisions. Rimilia recently introduced the Financial Relationship Management solution, providing finance teams with enhanced visibility into customer insights, integrating customer relationship management with ERP to combine pre and post-sale customer data.

A representative at Eight Roads Ventures recently told the media that Rimilia’s SaaS platform has quickly gained a reputation as an important resource for finance professionals, offering real efficiency and supporting businesses in increasing revenue. The business continues to show great growth potential and Eight Roads is excited to continue partnering with the business, offering its global network to support scaled development at Rimilia.

Rimilia recently opened up a series of offices across London, Denver and Toronto.

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Adaptive Insight and Workday Deal

OneStream promotes Agium EPM to top partner position

by Mike Jones 29/01/2020

OneStream, the leading provider of financial performance management solutions has promoted Agium EPM to Diamond partner level. The news positions Agium EPM, a dutch-based business focused on EPM as one of the only two companies to have been awarded this level in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Founded over 20 years ago, Agium EPM has developed a strong record in Benelux and within Europe with services ranging from corporate consolidation, financial planning and reporting and business intelligence solutions. The business has provided a service to over 300 customers and generated in excess of 700 projects. When OneStream began business in the United States in 2010, Agium EPM took notice of its place in the EPM market. Pascal Walk, the managing partner at Agium believes that the award is big news for the business. Walk highlights that Agium EPM was one of the first consultancies in Europe to integrate the software, emphasising that its early adoption had enabled the business to stay ahead of other competitors.

Walk explains that only a few other European companies were using the platform when they started their partnership with OneStream. Today, they have become recognised as a next-gen EPM provider, being used by a number of large businesses in EMEA. Over the years, Agium has developed a strong knowledge and understanding to create targeted OneStream solutions that can benefit all users.

Martijn Van Bommel, Director of Sales and Business Development at Agium EPM explains that the upgraded partner status confirms their strong long term relationship with OneStream. Van Bommel highlights that they continue on their joint mission to provide a service to the modern finance world, delivering a 100% customer success rate. 

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Benefits of Anaplan and Adaptive Insights

How to enhance the performance of SaaS services

by Mike Jones 29/01/2020

Software-as-a-Service has created a number of opportunities, replacing conventional systems with cloud-based services, enhancing the overall user experience. Across an entire business spectrum, all departments are experiencing the benefits the technology can offer. Teams can work collaborate efficiently and finance teams are capable of utilising large data sets on the cloud and generate insightful information.

There has clearly been a number of benefits from a human perspective but progressions within the enterprise world have meant that IT teams need to capable of managing a different environment than before, a multi-cloud environment.

Multi-Cloud Management

This new infrastructure is utilised to manage a range of workloads and has to be capable of managing with a rise of SaaS systems that support business functions that were previously covered by traditional on-site products. Furthermore, IT departments need to ensure their system has progressed in line with how the new workforce operates.

Workforces have progressed and are more dynamic. Employees expect continuous access to cloud-based systems, from any location. In a recent ESG Enterprise SaaS survey, 42% of enterprises suggested that over half of distributed or international employees have a low-level experience with vital SaaS applications. When these areas deteriorate, the potential for a business to remain competitive can also suffer. It is evident that businesses still need to focus on ensuring they deliver all of the benefits that SaaS has to offer.

There are several areas where SaaS can become a challenge for businesses, all of which can be fixed. However, all require dedicated personnel capable of delivering an approach to how their infrastructure is managed.

Proximity – SaaS applications can operate efficiently in the office space but quite often, users are working in a number of remote locations or traveling for business. With employees working away from the office, more people are experiencing problems will slower performance and poorer productive user experience.

Bandwith

In urban areas, we are often provided with affordable and fast bandwidth for offices. However, bandwidth isn’t as affordable in all locations and in some instances, cloud traffic can slow down dramatically if the bandwidth level does change. In locations where bandwidth is affordable, a movement to SaaS can require significant improvement to avoid any impacts on overall application performance.

Security and Compliance

SaaS tends to be more effective when implemented in every area of business. In some cases, such as with compliance, employees often require businesses to backhaul SaaS traffic via a data system due to their position on security. This creates an additional step of infrastructure, which can result in further delays and reduce overall performance.

Remote Working

Businesses today are increasingly mobile and include a number of mobile workers, accessing systems remotely or while travelling. In most cases, this includes accessing applications out of the hands of IT, which means measuring performance is more of a challenge and will inevitably become even more complicated in the near future. As employees become even more mobile, businesses will need to adapt their infrastructure and continue to manage visibility.

The Solution is Visibility

While there may be a number of challenges businesses may experience, there is a singular area that incorporates all of these issues and can effectively be fixed by applying a single solution.

Visibility on a large scale means IT teams are capable of understanding the user experience from anywhere. If used correctly, a visibility solution will create a simpler technique to enhance the performance of SaaS products and ensure a business remains productive. IT professionals want to ensure a simplistic process they can get from SaaS applications and ensure they have control over how user experience. In today’s generation, a matter of seconds can have a significant impact on levels of success.

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SAP leader raises the importance of retaining technology professionals

by Mike Jones 22/01/2020

Christian Klein, the new co-CEO of SAP has focused his attention on two big areas for this year. Whilst both will be a challenge, it is possible to see progress in both goals. In a discussion with Yahoo Finance at the World Economic Forum, Klein raised the importance of up-skilling technology professionals.

The necessity to retrain technology professionals is believed by many industry experts as an essential move to unlock the full potential of technology over the next few years. Klein believes that training is essential and will have significant future sales and profits at SAP.

Klein refers to the technology at SAP, stating that if workers are unable to utilise SAP’s new productivity tools to their best ability, businesses may reduce their orders. In reality, businesses may receive a lower return on their technology investment.

A new report delivered by Intel states that just over 35% of businesses raised the challenge of ‘technical skill gaps’ and that this was preventing them from completely benefiting from investment in technology. A further 18% of businesses suggest data management and interpretation as top employee challenges.

Klein’s second goal for SAP is to focus on accelerating cloud computing subscriptions, with a target of reaching $35 billion in revenue by 2023. This target follows on from Bill McDermott, the previous CEO of SAP who stated back in 2018 that he planned to triple cloud computing subscriptions. If this is reached, SAP’s market cap could lie in the range of $280 to 340 billion. Klein informed Yahoo Finance that SAP is on target with predictions of over $32 billion in sales this year and a current market cap standing at just over $172 billion.

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