Daily Tech Digest - March 02, 2024

Rust on the Rise: New Advocacy Expected to Advance Adoption

Recent advocacy and research efforts from agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and ONCD “can serve as valuable evidence of the considerable risk memory-safety vulnerabilities pose to our digital ecosystem,” the Rust Foundation‘s Executive Director & CEO, Rebecca Rumbul, told The New Stack. Moreover, Rumbul said The Rust Foundation believes that the Rust programming language is the most powerful tool available to address critical infrastructure security gaps. “As an organization, we are steadfast in our commitment to further strengthening the security of Rust through programs like our Security Initiative,” she said. Meanwhile, looking specifically at software development for space systems, the ONCD report says: both memory-safe and memory-unsafe programming languages meet the organization’s requirements for developing space systems. “At this time, the most widely used languages that meet all three properties are C and C++, which are not memory-safe programming languages, the report said.

The Power of Hyperautomation in Banking

Hyperautomation improves the operational efficiency within banks significantly as it helps in automating routine processes, that include document processing, transaction reconciliations, data entry, decreasing the requirement for manual intervention. Therefore, this not only augments processes but it also reduces errors, leading to a more reliable as well as cost-effective operation. Banks can use hyperautomation to offer personalized, 24/7 services to their customers. Chatbots & virtual assistants powered by Artificial Intelligence can respond to inquiries as well as perform transactions around the clock. Faster response times coupled with the ability for tailoring services to separate customer requirements leading to enhanced customer satisfaction as well as loyalty. “Hyperautomation facilitates organizations to improve customer experience by reducing the friction in user self-service applications and streamlining broken onboarding processes. It enables faster support and sales query resolution through relevant integrations, AI/ML, and assistive technologies,” says Arvind Jha, Former General Manager – Product Management and Marketing, Newgen Software.

What Is Data Completeness and Why Is It Important?

Data completeness is an important aspect of Data Quality. Data Quality is a reference to how accurate and reliable the data is overall. Data completeness specifically focuses on missing data or how complete the data is, rather than concerns of inaccurate or duplicated data. A lack of data completeness is normally the result of information that was never collected. For example, if a customer’s name and email address are supposed to be collected, but the email address is missing, it is difficult to communicate with the customer. ... Missing chunks of information restrict or bias the decision-making process. Attempting to perform analytics with incomplete data can produce blind spots and biases, and result in missed opportunities. Currently, business leaders use data analytics to make decisions that range from marketing to investment strategies to medical diagnostics. In some situations, data missing key pieces of information is still used, which can lead to dangerous mistakes and false conclusions. Assessing and improving data completeness should be done before performing analytics.

A socio-technical approach to data management is crucial in our decentralised world

To improve the odds of successfully building an effective data management strategy, working with a trusted and experienced data partner to help shift the organisation’s data culture is a crucial - and often missing - step. The Data and Analytics Leadership Annual Executive Survey 2023 found that cultural factors are the biggest obstacle to delivering value from data investments. Data fabrics, meshes and modern data stacks will continue to consolidate an increasingly decentralised world by making the management of data easier. However, to ensure control over security and governance, and to extract value from data that is trustworthy requires a tactical shift to what we call a socio-technical approach. In other words, any strategy must be made up of an investment in people, process and technology to be successful. This is because data management involves more than the technical aspects of data storage, processing and analysis. It also includes the social aspects of data governance, change management, data quality management, user upskilling and collaboration between different teams. Organisations that know how to use technology the best will have an edge over their competitors.

Blockchain is one step away from mainstream adoption

Blockchain’s growth is already reshaping traditional business processes and models. In the financial sector, blockchain facilitates faster and more secure transactions. Supply chain management benefits from increased transparency and traceability, ensuring the authenticity and integrity of products. Smart contracts automate and streamline complex agreements, minimizing the risk of fraud and error. And in addition to sparking rising trading volumes, the SEC’s approval of spot bitcoin ETFs sent a global signal of validation to governments reviewing the viability of blockchain applications in both the private and public sectors. Importantly, the evolution of blockchain has given credence to — and bestowed practicality upon — the concept of decentralized finance (DeFi). We’re already in a reality where traditional financial services are replicated, and even improved, using blockchain technology. This is transformative because it will eliminate the need for intermediaries, opening the door to financial participation for virtually anyone with internet access. This democratization of finance has the potential to provide financial services to underserved populations and redefine the global financial landscape.

Biometrics Regulation Heats Up, Portending Compliance Headaches

What this all means is that it will be complicated for companies doing business nationally because they will have to audit their data protection procedures and understand how they obtain consumer consent or allow consumers to restrict the use of such data and make sure they match the different subtleties in the regulations. Contributing to the compliance headaches: The executive order sets high goals for various federal agencies in how to regulate biometric information, but there could be confusion in terms of how these regulations are interpreted by businesses. For example, does a hospital's use of biometrics fall under rules from the Food and Drug Administration, Health and Human Services, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or the Justice Department? Probably all four. ... Meanwhile, AI-induced deepfake video impersonations by criminals that abuse biometric data like face scans are on the rise. Earlier this year, a deepfake attack in Hong Kong was used to steal more than $25 million, and there are certainly others who will follow as AI technology gets better and easier to use for producing biometric fakes. The conflicting regulations and criminal abuses could explain why consumer confidence in biometrics has taken a nosedive.

The Role of Data in Crafting Personalized Customer Journeys

Through comprehensive customer profiles, data is sourced from multiple touchpoints in silos such as online visitors, purchases done, forms, customer support units, social media engagement, mobile app usage, and other channels as recognized in the CRM system. This further facilitates real-time data processing and identifies customer behaviors and preferences. As briefly discussed previously, predictive analytics consumes historical customer data and powers forecasting of expected behaviors and preferences. This segments data based on different parameters such as demographics, behaviors, preferences, etc. Ultimately, it acts as the seed for planting responsive marketing campaigns. While we are at it, an important strategy is cross-channel integration. Given the scale of marketing landscape, it is important to consider all channels and systems. So, the data collected from multiple sources is then integrated and analyzed through data management platforms to create a cross-channel, unified 360 view. Such interoperability delivers an omnichannel experience, thereby increasing their lifetime value. To ensure better customer loyalty, implement practices in alignment with the regulations. 

Checkout Lessons: What Banks Need to Borrow from eCommerce

eCommerce has much to teach the financial and healthcare industries, which also experience high seasonality and peak traffic periods. Events like 401(k) sign-ups, healthcare enrollments, and tax days are notorious for bringing down systems. In my experience, performance is synonymous with user experience. ... Many digital-first banks don’t operate physical branches. Their success is due to a singular focus on user experience, performance, speed, flexibility, and a mobile-first approach. This is what has won over the current generation of young people who do not need to visit a teller. It’s crucial for banks to recognize the importance of these advancements and to take action. Otherwise, they risk losing their competitive edge. In the U.S., some banks perform exceptionally well with only an online presence, with USAA as a prime example. Some companies, like Capital One, are innovating by transforming their banks into caf├ęs. They provide WiFi, allowing customers to work and do more than just banking. This shift dramatically enhances the user experience.

Fintech at its Finest: Adding Value with Innovation

The best fintech platforms are constantly listening to their customers. Whether that’s through harnessing the power of AI to create an optimal user experience or continuously innovating based on customer feedback, a good fintech is creating exactly what its customers want and need. ... The best fintech platforms have innovative technologies at their core and are increasingly harnessing AI and machine learning to enhance their services. But crucially, they are also designed to be intuitive for users. After all, businesses have just 10 minutes to set up digital accounts or risk losing consumer trust. Millennials and Gen Z make up a significant part of fintech’s core market, so it’s providers who can cater to tech-savvy generations and prioritise smooth customer experiences that will differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded market. ... In the bustling world of fintech, the top platforms set themselves apart by cleverly blending practices to ensure they keep growing and succeed – even when faced with challenges. These platforms develop excellent solutions, using technologies like blockchain, AI and fancy data analytics to tackle old financial problems and improve user experiences. 

Enabling Developers To Become (More) Creative

What influence does collaboration have on creativity? Now we are starting to firmly tread into management territory! Since software engineering happens in teams, the question becomes how to build a great team that's greater than the sum of its parts. There are more than just a few factors that influence the making of so-called "dream teams". We could use the term "collective creativity" since, without a collective, the creativity of each genius would not reach as far. The creative power of the individual is more negligible than we dare to admit. We should not aim to recruit the lone creative genius, but instead try to build collectives of heterogeneous groups with different opinions that manage to push creativity to its limits. ... Managers can start taking simple actions towards that grand goal. For instance, by helping facilitate decision-making, as once communication goes awry in teams, the creative flow is severely impeded. Researcher Damian Tamburri calls this problem "social debt." Just like technical debt, when there's a lot of social debt, don't expect anything creative to happen. Managers should act as community shepherds to help reduce that debt.

Quote for the day:

"A real entrepreneur is somebody who has no safety net underneath them." -- Henry Kravis

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