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12 technologies that will shape financial services in 2014

Richard Branson believes that 2014 will be the year for the great entrepreneur, especially as a positive way to create the jobs of the present and the future. So we can expect a great surge in startups from Silicon Valley, to Shoreditch and Israel — places you can bet you’ll find our scouting teams!

Meanwhile Jim Kim (President of The World Bank) believes 2014 should be the year to invest in people. When companies and countries invest in their people ‘it unleashes innovation, which can create miracles.’

So, we thought we’d throw our views into the hat to and share our thoughts about 12 technologies and trends that will shape financial services in 2014.

Rapidly ascending Gartner’s ‘slope of enlightenment’ is my first pick, the continuation of the ❶ virtualisation and software oriented trend: does ‘everything’ appear as a service (“EaaS”)?

Clearly much does, and the advent of Network Functional Virtualisation will start to convert much of the hardware-based Router functionality (firewall and other) to something softer that more elegantly supports our increasingly ‘app’ based world.

This is one dimension to the ❷ commoditisation and simplification of IT which is my second key trend: leading the charge are those cloud platforms (public and private) that are removing the mystery, magic and a great deal of cost from the IT domain. With reduced cost and complexity, comes the opportunity to experiment and explore that which was previously not viable — cost-enabled innovation.

One of those opportunities is clearly in the ❸ data space: where ‘big data’ — buzzwords from 2013 that we will definitely continue to hear in 2014 and beyond. The ability to capture and store ‘all’ data is paradigm shifting — statistical viability becomes a model of the past. But there are complexities here. Not least regarding the location and residency of data, who and how it can be accessed.

And what can you do with all that data? ❹ Personalisation of services through knowledge is certainly one aspect. For example, think about the possibility of having an individual and precise insurance policy: no questions asked, no forms to fill in. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But this data could also be used for predictive analytics — complete certainty and the eradication of risk.

With predictive analytic driven algorithms apparently resulting in trade decisions being made faster than the speed of light, then the latency and performance paradigm is shifting: with best current latency practice more widely understood, and with gains becoming more incremental the focus has shifted to determinism and certainty — speed is no longer the holy grail. ❺ So, analytics and their exploitation is my fifth pick.

❻ Social media and social media tools are having significant effects across a number of domains and dimensions. We have traders utilising Twitter feeds for early detection and market sentiment (and indeed a twitter initiated flash crash) moreover; social media tools are increasingly providing the model for interaction and with increasing adoption of these comes questions of how you manage and monitor.

Which, of course, leads us to the subject of compliance: ❼ Regulatory compliance plays out across a range of domains and in a number of dimensions — the drive to record, store, analyse, and reconstruct trades has a number of technology implications. But the mandate to meet specifications and certify to standards is also growing. Regulatory and standards compliance, increased transparency are all features of the emerging operational domain.

But there are still a number of more exotic technologies — ❽ artificial intelligence, gaming based modelling, real-time risk with sensitivity and presented to users through high definition, flexible and intuitive visualisation tools. Used extensively for modelling and analysis of the trade flows, these are starting to become real-time or near real-time technologies across multiple domains.

We’re already using these advanced technologies in our security portfolio to enable intuitive analysis of disparate, structured and unstructured data sets.❾ Cyber security has grown into one of the biggest single issues for information and technology users: increasingly sophisticated attacks and exploits, with higher frequency, this is not for the faint-hearted.

And while all this is going on, our exposure to consumer products drives a set of ❿ “… your own models”: from ‘Bring Your Own Device’, through to ‘Choose Your Own Device’ or will CIOs revert to a ‘you will have’ policy? This ‘consumerisation’ of the corporate work experience intersects working practice and generational trends. Change is definitely on the horizon — and could potentially be radical.

We can also see ⓫ an increasing harmonisation of the consumer experience with corporate and business technology. The Generation Z kids find keyboards and buttons on laptops rather strange; they are used to a tactile, interactive and responsive experience. So we are seeing a move towards gesture-based, more intuitive and higher definition interfaces, cleaner simplified tools that replicate the service store, online ordering experience.

Our Voice services have gone high fidelity and include Dolby HD surround sound technology. The appliance is now sensitive to where you are. We also expect to see ⓬ a proliferation of video and video related services.

These high definition and sophisticated capabilities mean we are now able to deliver ‘personalised’ videos, multi-party conference services, collaboration and video support services. We’ve seen prototypes of 3D video conferencing prototypes — clearly personalised; will they emerge as data intense, analytically wise, but regulatory compliant and secure cloud services: “3DVaaS” perhaps?

Of course this list is by no means exhaustive. We could talk about mobility, in-memory compute and more … But perhaps that’s best left for another year.


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