It can be argued that startups are the future of business.
These smaller companies have perfected the idea of identifying a unique concern and working hard to solve it. Unlike the more prominent companies, most startups excel in not wanting to do it all at once. They would instead take one concept and work around it, making life easier for people on that front.
With the growth of the technology industry, we have also seen the emergence of many startups. More of these businesses are also coming up in other sectors.
If the cybersecurity concerns that they face are not adequately addressed, we might see them going out of business faster than they came in.
Why Startups Should Stay Alert
When hackers strike, they are going for the biggest payday that they can manage. This is why it is not uncommon to see them go after the more significant companies most of the time.
However, this is where it is easy to get things wrong.
When Yahoo lost the details of over 3 billion accounts to hackers, it made the news. The same was true for Uber, caught in the middle of a messy business where about 57 million details of riders and drivers were exposed.
It can be argued that we only heard about those because of the sheer size of those companies.
However, every day, there is a small company experiencing a breach that we do not hear about. The data supports this, too, showing that 43% of all cyber-attacks are targeting small businesses.
That number is not as gloomy as knowing that 83% of small business and startup owners do not even have the funds to deal with the after-effects of a cyberattack. It is, thus, little surprise that 60% of small businesses will go out of business within six months of suffering a cyber-attack.
If nothing is done, we might lose more of these small businesses than we can get back.
All small business and startup owners should know that staying safe is not just the role of the IT staff. Everyone on the payroll should understand what they have to do to ensure they are not the weak link to make the breach happen.
Poor password habits are usually to blame in most cases. Passwords should not be shared indiscriminately, and they should be as reliable and secure as possible. Do not forget to enable additional measures like two-factor authentication.
Businesses should also consider downloading a VPN, antivirus, antimalware, and other security-oriented software for increased protection.
The former provides quality encryption against network snooping and data hijacking. The later will step up security against malicious files that would have been downloaded over the internet. Antimalware will also keep internal networks safe from infected external drives.
Finally, everyone should know about phishing attacks. Since they account for 90% of all data breaches, they are not to be taken with levity.
It was a pleasure to be a part of the panel discussion on “The Age of Analytics: Competing in the Data-Driven World” held at NITIE Mumbai on 2nd August 2019. It was also an insightful discussion with eminent panelists.
Following topics were covered as a part of this panel discussion Read More…
Don’t fear Intelligent Machines: Work with Them…
With the popular works like ‘The Matrix’ or ‘The Terminator’, where the humans get replaced, enslaved or hunted to almost an extinction by their own creations, our deepest fears of technology taking over humans have time and again resurfaced. If you look back, from mythology to science fiction, human and machine have been often pitted against each other. This essay portrays that although technology can be intimidating and many of today’s skill sets, careers and business models will be challenged by the rise of the machines, there is no escaping them. As Gary Kasparov points out – “We must face our fears if we want to get the most out of our technology, and we must conquer those fears if we want to get the best out of our humanity.”
For eras, mankind has looked for ingenious ways to get rid of grueling manual labor and duties. We tamed animals, invented the wheel, crafted new tools and made novel machines. The successful inventions and adaptations have generated wealth, upgraded our lifestyle and constructed new opportunities. Machines can’t be separated from our daily lives. As a blogger and a self-claimed gadget freak, I have even forgotten the count of times I use Google or the Google translator for work. And what is it? “SMT” (Statistical Machine Translation)! Those of you who use online translation to catch the gist of a news article from a foreign newspaper will know that it is far from perfect. But we use our judgment and make sense out of it.
A century ago, when elevators became automated, many people were scared to go inside without an operator on-board? Do you recall the first time you took an elevator? Or take an instance of a public railway. In 1825, people thought that human bodies were simply not capable to withstand the traveling at a speed of thirty miles per hour! It took humans to take some time to get used to the technology but here we are! At the point of using driver less cars and isn’t it saying something?
Today, when we are living in a world on the cusp of the next industrial revolution and are witness to breakthrough advances like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) or nanotechnology, wondering if robots or machines are coming to steal our jobs can’t be far from our imagination. But is our fear real or baseless? Are machines really so bad? The answer is NO. Let’s explore some facts that would throw light into our assumptions. Since old times, humans have feared technology expansion, afraid that it would put them out of work. But it hasn’t.
It all depends on perspective. While one can see these changes as a humanoid robot replacing our existence, one might choose to see it as a hand that can guide us move forward than where we are. With the advent of antibiotics, many had complained about putting grave diggers out of work, but the invention of antibiotics was a great boon for mankind. Hence it doesn’t serve to romanticize the loss of jobs due to the modernization.
History has shown time after the time that technology paves a path and creates far more than it destroys for new industries, jobs and prosperity. We are forgetting that if robots can take over our existing jobs, many new are getting created. As Kasparov proposed, some of these new jobs, like a drone pilot or robotic surgeon, still need the operator to work together closely with the machine. The productive and profitable collaboration of human and machine is here to stay.
Google engineer Ray Kurzweil says that intelligent machines will enhance humans, not replace us.
As a Chess grand-master who has played the game against the machine, Garry Kasparov has mentioned his observation that machines are really good at taking on board huge amounts of information and making sense of it in a way that humans simply can’t do. But they have no perception or mindfulness. Machines were created to reduce our workload. They are mechanical and don’t have the capabilities to understand the situations and behave accordingly. They have a man-made intelligence. While humans can do anything original, machines can’t. They can’t think independently. They are programmed by humans and do as instructed. They can’t question their duties and just follow the orders.
Nowadays Machines with artificial intelligence prepare coffee, play games, even diagnose patients, carry out medical surgery and drive cars. But humans are superior when it comes to reasoning, originality, creativity, evaluating risks and using resources beyond limits to name a few.
As Andrew Ng, chief scientist at Chinese e-commerce site Baidu, puts it: “There’s a big difference between intelligence and sentience. Our software is becoming more intelligent, but that does not imply it is about to become sentient.”
Science and technology advancements always come with pros & cons. Like two sides of a coin, the fire that cook food can also burn down the house. With more and more machines replacing the physical job and getting over unskilled jobs, we will get more time to focus on exploring and elevating activities that bring us joy and satisfaction.
As IBM’s head of research, Guru Banavar, mentions, “AI will work with humans to solve pressing problems such as disease and poverty.”
Being a human is more than playing a game of chess or developing a skill like putting a hammer to the metal. We humans will still have plenty to do: for an instance painting a masterpiece or composing soulful music.
While discussing the technology and its implications on human life as species, we have always feared automation and then eventually accepted it. Although technology advancement may seem turbulent, we are living at the best time in human history where wonderful things are happening. We as species possess the strong human spirit and collective ability to adapt and grow.
I completely agree with this view of Kasparov as he urges us to not to hinder progress or fear machines: “We must speed them up. We must give them, and ourselves, plenty of room to grow. We must go forward, outward and upward.”
“So, I want all the people reading this article here to think that whether you want to live the rest of your years fearing the machines or be a part of a new day that is on the horizon! We are at the door of this unique opportunity to grow and evolve and it will be because of a lot of magnificent people like you, and some pretty incredible men who take us to the time where humans have never been taken before. Are you ready?”
Understanding the Fight Against Facial Recognition
The growth of Clearview AI as a startup focusing on facial recognition is momentous. That could be largely linked to their alliance with law enforcement agents that are using the platform widely. While there exists little to no regulation around how this kind of tech is used, that has not stopped business from booming for all the parties involved.
There are outcries against the privacy invasion that comes in the way of facial recognition too. Recently, a hack of the company brought fresh debates to the fore about how safe facial data can be when with keepers like that – and how such data will also be used.
Facial Recognition Isn’t Your Friend
Surveillance has always been a touchy subject. So that the state does not go beyond reasonable means in surveilling an individual, certain laws and regulations were made. This requires that even law enforcement agents obtain permission from the judiciary arm of government before they can put anyone under surveillance.
Even at that, this surveillance has to be proportionate.
None of such moves has been placed around facial recognition. Not on a large scale, at least.
Before the Clearview AI hack was reported, the company admitted to having more than 3 billion faces on record. That is more than a third of everyone on the planet as of this moment. Seeing as many countries have not even heard of the company, that is shocking that they would have that many faces on file.
Official statements from the company claim that it mines data from social media networks and other open-source platforms for its database. In other words, they can collect picture you posted on the internet to populate a database of facial recognition technology. The important part of this business is remembering that all of this is done without your giving them any express permission to take such advantages of your image rights.
Social media platforms like YouTube, Google, and Facebook have already reached out to this company with a cease and desist. That is a laudable move to protect users, but we are just seeing one side of a bad coin. Facebook itself runs in-house facial recognition software which you have to manually turn off.
Recalling how many scandals Facebook has gotten into in the previous decade alone, we do not know if they would honor any privacy requests from the users. Thus, those pictures you removed facial recognition access from could still be in the system for all that we know.
If these systems were as good as they are claimed to be, we might not have much against them. Instead, there is a huge bias against races and women. This is not a basic fault of the technology itself but how it was trained. After all, it can only adapt to the models that it has been trained with, of which there is a gross under-representation of the negatively affected population density.
Such can lead to cases of false positives or negatives. Depending on how you look at it and the prevalent situation, it is never good news.
Where Do We Go from Here?
San Francisco has banned the widespread use of technology in the city. This is a huge move
from the city that considers itself one of the biggest, if not the biggest, concentrated tech hub in the world. If they cannot make such brazen moves to defend how tech is used, they might as well be a serious part of the problem in the tech space.
Other states and cities are working on similar moves, but they are not working fast enough.
The need for a widespread ban right now is not for the hate of facial tech systems but the lack of a regulatory framework within which it works. If we do not have that, it is just a matter of time before everyone has a facial recognition system of their own and takes stalking to a whole new level.
That is not something we are willing to take. Till things improve, the fight against facial recognition will remain.
Today being 31st Dec and the year 2019 is about to end. The decade is about to end, and we are geared up to welcome the next decade of 2020. Got a message on my WhatsApp couple of days ago indicating how do we write date to avoid confusion in year 2020…responded with three options a) write with apostrophe i.e. ’20 or b) don’t complicate as no one has edited the date when we wrote date in current year…the chance of getting the date was equally high when we wrote 2-Oct-19 or c) use digital signatures!!! 😊
We have come a long way; I still remember the day when we transited from year 1999 to 2000. There was a big noise about the millennium bug (aka Y2K bug). People were indeed scared and concerned about the technology in use and our dependence on technology at that point of time. Nothing major incident happened as enough preventive steps had been taken and we sailed into year 2000 smoothly.
First decade post year 2000, was an era of mobility where in we saw rise of mobile networks. The next decade (2009-2019) was of smartphone and cloud compute and we all got hooked to it! Today mobile penetration has crossed 100% in most of the urban markets. Our mobile is more than supercomputer for an individual compared to old computers in 1970. Today, right from train ticket to air ticket to paying bills to paying to a local kirana wala most of our day to day transaction got executed using a smartphone.
In today’s world we are surrounded by disruptive technologies be it Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning or Blockchain or Virtual Reality or Drone or chat bot or Robotics or 3D Printing…now is the era when the confluence of multiple technologies would take shape and more and more new use cases would evolve to our benefit. Many say that machines would rise and take over our jobs. While technology is eating away our jobs, technology is also creating new jobs. Future of work is an interesting topic and is being studied and discussed at length in universities & conferences. If decade of 2009 was known as decade of mobile networks and decade of 2019 was of mobile applications; the next decade would be known as decade of 5G, edge compute and quantum compute.
The solution to a problem which used to be a fiction few of years ago is being converted to reality at the supersonic pace. Thanks to technology and the entrepreneurs around. The amount of trust we have on technology today is much higher than it used to be a decade ago. This rise of technology and innovation is result of uniform availability of internet infrastructure, robust hardware & on demand compute.
Now let us have a look at the technology trends for the years to come. Top 10 technology trends which would drive disruption in 2020 are:
- Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
- Internet of Things
- Robotic Process Automation
- Edge Compute
- Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality / Mixed Reality
- Cyber security
- Voice Compute / NLP
- 3D Printing
These trends would lead us to confluence of technology and new / improved use cases such as:
- Nextgen Commute i.e. Autonomous cars, drone taxi, Hyperloop
- Supply of life saving drugs in remote areas using drones
- Block-chain enabled electronic health records
- Smart Speakers in homes and enterprise
- Smart homes
- Next level entertainment and sports enabled by Virtual Reality
- Streaming platforms providing 4K & 8K video
- Auto mitigation of Cyber Attack using Deception technologies
- 3D printing in healthcare
- Digital Transformation in Enterprise
- Edge Compute in Smart Cities
- 5G enabled autonomous factories
Still there a few challenges (including but not limited to) we need to focus and put more efforts upon:
- Clean potable water & air
- Food for all
- Containing wildfires
- Global Warming
- Reduction of fossil fuel
- Efficient recycling waste and e-waste
- Ethics in Technology
- Ocean Clean up
- Fake news
- Prevent Soil erosion
However, we are progressing in the right direction and here are few use cases which renews our confidence that with use of technology we can overcome any challenge:
- An AI enabled device to detect 90% of diseases in flat 10 minutes
- Lab grown meat to overcome food shortage
- 3D printed organs & medicines
- Biodegradable plastic
- Space tourism
- Smart Fertilizers and precision agriculture
- Super microbes eating oil spills in the ocean
- Human Augmentation and Hibernation
- Smart IoT sensors to ensure right quality of clean air in smart cities
- Time travel
- Gene editing i.e. CRISPER
- Inter plenary communication network
- Holographic Telepresence
- 3D Printers in Space to build space colonies
- Block-chain enabled Crypto Currencies
- Human Head transplant using AI, ML & Robotics
Steve jobs rightly said, “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they are basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they will do wonderful things with them.”
The technology seemed distant is coming to our life at a higher pace solving our problems and making our life more comfortable. Indeed we are in an era where fiction is becoming fact. Let us embrace benefits and continue to learn-unlearn and relearn to progress with technologies and the trends around.
Thanks for your time. Hope you liked our collaborative effort. Feel free to Like/Comment/Share !
Wishing you a Happy New Year 2020 !!!
This article is a collaborative effort by Chintan Oza, Biren Parikh, Ajit Joshi & Chander Wanchoo who are members of TMI group. TMI Community is a professional community of Technology, Management and Innovation enthusiasts. Started in 2016, the community has been growing every year and collaborating on an ongoing basis.
One might remember banking experiences three-four decades back. When you go to the bank to update the passbook, you drop it in a basket and go back the next day to collect it. The process took so long since the banker had to reconcile entries from a huge B4 size ledger book and manually update the entries in the passbook. Gone are those days!!! The banking industry has come a long way from the 80s and 90s. Today, digital banking gives us notifications on a real-time basis with a tap on mobile or wearables – be it transactions, bank balance, or statements.
While banks have transformed themselves with innovative digital offerings, several incumbent and Neo banks have made a significant dent in traditional revenue with their innovative digital transformation initiatives. To sustain high growth and customer retention, traditional banks need to traverse the extra mile and develop hyper-personal relationships with customers turning apathy into emotional connection.
These days, a frictionless digital banking experience is inevitable to maintain or increase the market share of the banks. Omni-channel experiences, smart onboarding, microservices-based architecture, cloud-native approach, or automation – these are de facto expectations from the banks. The main reason behind these high expectations is Fintechs, raising the bar for banks in the post-pandemic world. Millennial and Gen-Z customers are now looking for an exceptional banking experience in all areas, not isolated service.
To ‘provide value for the money’ or exhibit customer-centricity, banks ought to step up their game plan by increasing their focus on innovative offerings. With over 26,000 Fintechs operating worldwide, banks have to go beyond their usual territory and provide hyper-personal curated banking experience by embracing ML, NLP, and open APIs. Not only do legacy banks need to innovate and implement, but even central authorities like RBI should become liberal and revise their policies to promote healthy competition and innovation culture across the BFSI segment. Several innovative initiatives are becoming mainstream because of Fintechs, which can be adopted by banks in a phased manner. Banks can embrace following leading-edge technology to remain ahead of the cut-throat competition.
- Enable Composable banking whereby the customer is not tied to a specific vendor, product, or technology. For an instance, Mambo provides over 4000 products from different banks, NBFC, and Fintechs on its platform.
- Augment innovation quotient like ENBD, which provides an additional interest rate based on the number of daily steps (5k or more) taken by individuals. They are also planning similar benefits for other exercises like swimming, etc.
- Enable community banking by providing Value-added services to Gig workers, LGBTQ, senior citizens, or disabled customers to cater to their specific needs.
- Implement platform banking by integrating value-added services from Fintechs or others to provide a holistic experience to maintain customer loyalty.
- Increase customer engagement through gamification to attract kids and teens to build brand loyalty early on.
- Develop AR Tool for personal finance management as done by Westpac.
- Provide AR/VR experience to the customer whereby they can visit the virtual mall for a shopping experience through All-in-one SuperApp.
- Provide 24×7 chatbots using AI and ML.
- Combine AR/VR with AI to create seamless, immersive experiences for the customer, say for virtual branch visits, thereby creating loyalty, brand building, and arresting customer attrition.
- Use alternative data for taking decisions, like predicting default risk. This can be innovatively inferred based on behaviour and personality traits captured in social media. This can help the bank speed up recovery or restrict future lending.
- Bring assurance or options to customers that the bank’s profits or part of it will be invested only in “Clean energy” to reverse the climate crisis like Swipe.
- Develop an algorithm to link likes on social media to the interest rate.
- Provide Goal-based savings options to facilitate healthy savings.
- Provide multi-lingual AI and Robo advisors, ranging from personal finance to goal-based investments.
- Boost customers’ credit scores by providing micro-loans to step up their borrowing capacity.
- Propose smart vehicle insurance which can adjust your premium amount depending on your usage, location, driving style, and discipline.
- Use of IoT in ATMs to sense queue length and provide an option to an exception in authentication based on a customer’s past transaction history.
- Use of smart contracts to allow users to take out a short-term loan using Ether as collateral.
- Bring out voice-enabled payments for visually impaired or handicapped people.
- Automate claim payment minus manual filing, in case a flight gets delayed beyond a certain agreed duration as per insurance policy .
- Use novel biometric security like iris recognition, palm vein patterns, or retinal scanning.
- Offer contact-less, gesture-based ATM transactions like the one developed by Motion Gestures.
- Embedded Rounding off to nearest pre-defined unit to create either investment pot with delta money or help achieve goals that emotionally engage them.
- Implement blockchain for immutable records and security and speed up money flows for a variety of transactions like property registrations, funds transfer, supply chain, trade finance, and payments transactions.
Few of these suggestions will certainly bring loyalty among happy and satisfied customers. This type of digital transformation will also increase employee engagement. This results in higher productivity, accurate predictions, and decision-making.
Digital transformation is full of risks and challenges. Organizational challenges, data governance, data privacy, cultural mindset, compliance risks, regulatory risks, or lack of skilled resources can become roadblock but it can be addressed in innovative ways. But this puts brakes on the delivery and execution of the initiatives. However, for the larger benefit of shareholders and investors, banks need to show the same agility as Fintechs to survive and grow.
As Darwin’s law of Survival of the Fittest suggests, only Agile and customer-centric futuristic banks will flourish and fare well in the future; rest will get acquired.