EUROPEAN BUSINESS europeanbusinessmagazine.com
SPRING EDITION | 2021
MAGAZINE Luc D’Urso
CEO OF ATEMPO talks about his mission to protect global business and their push to become a leading player in the European cybersecurity market.
Cybersecurity / Cinode / Skills Management / Intent Data / Circularity / Digital Currencie
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Table of Contents 9 CEO Shuffle 10 News 16 What We Can Learn From Organisations Who Flourished During COVID-19 18 Don’t be baffled by bureaucracy: NMi makes UKCA standards easy Guiding European manufacturers from CE to UKCA step by step 20 Negative interest rates may not boost UK economy –so what should Bank of England try instead 22 State of the Relation: Doing Business with A Post-Brexit UK 26 FinTech CEO Tom Cregan of EML Relishes Marching To The Beat Of A Different Drum in 2021 28 Christian Majgaard The three most important things for organisations to consider about their branding? 30 Ground-breaking study finds which countries are the winners and losers of pandemic recovery 32 Business has changed. Is it time to embrace low-code? 34 China Creates Its Own Digital Currency 37 European Business Magazine talks to Luc D’Urso 40 Creating a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment 42 Know Every Cybersecurity Hack: Here’s How You Can Protect Yourself From Cybercriminals 44 Insurers increase appetite for innovation as industry joins Fintech Pledge and UK insurtech investment grows 45 Groundbreaking rules published to enable rapid resolution of blockchain and crypto legal disputes, as worldwide smart contract market expected to reach $345.4 million by 2026 46 A victim of its own success: The UK’s e-commerce trailblazing is leading to misinformation 48 Resilience Needed to Jump Start Final Stages of Energy Transition, Study Finds 50 Google Cloud specialist Cogniflare hits £5m revenues in 18 months 51 Building Remote Partnerships 58 Partnerships With Location -Based Services Providers To Give Whole New Dimension To Businesses 60 Why Danone’s CEO has been ousted for being progressive 62 Startup Lessons from CyberHeaven: How to Not Only Survive, but Thrive, during a Pandemic 64 Defence in Depth - Time to start thinking outside the box 66 Businesses Are Using Skills Management Software To Build For The Future 68 Why is Skills Management important? And how can you succeed in your strategy? 70 CEO Interview: Anders Hagberg 72 A Perfect Match 74 Why the transformation of Global Value Chains is an opportunity for Morocco and Europe 76 European Business Mag: Can the Covid-driven eCommerce boom last? 78 Circularity – a crucial part of product development 80 Not all Intent Data is created equal 82 UK workers are driving a digital-first revolution 84 Merger and Acquisition 87 EML & Frollo Unveil The Future Of Money Giving Lenders & FinTechs Early Access To Australia’s First-ever Open Banking Payments Platform 88 European Business Magazine talks to Sunil Kumar
MAGAZINE Publisher Nick Staunton Editor Patricia Cullen Deputy Editor Anthony Gill Associate Publisher Brad Adams Features Editor Katie Winearls Head of Production Paul Rogers Head of Design Vladimir Mladenovski Subscriptions Manager Rebecca Hill Head of Business Development Paul Matthews Advertising Sales Brad Adams Tara Duckworth Advertising Sales Tara Duckworth, Mike Ray, Andy Ellis, Mark Holburn Contributing writers Patricia Cullen, Richard Fitzpatrick, Bala Murali Krishna, Shilpa Meen, Argee Laraya, Aimee Ni Mhaolcraibhe, Gordana Ristic, Jonathan Hooker, Jose Ignacio Latorre Head of Digital Stephen Scott Photographer Ben Fisher NST Publishing Ltd, 19 Leamington Spa (studio 1) Leamington Spa,Cv324tf, UK The information contained has been contained from sources the proprietor believes to be wholly correct however no legal liability can be accepted for any errors. No part of this publication can be reproduced without consent of the publisher.
European Business Magazine gives the low down on some of the recent reshuffles amongst the highbrow in the business world New CEO at Australia Post
Changes in Airbus Top Management Airbus announced some big changes in its top ranks, declaring that the heads of its defense and technology units are set to leave the company. The changes come as the European planemaker seeks to chart a course toward lower emissions with an ambitious plan to develop a hydrogen jet. As of July 1st, 2021, Dirk Hoke, after more than five years in his role as CEO of Airbus Defence and Space and as a member of the Airbus Executive Committee, will pursue other opportunities. He will be replaced by Michael Schollhorn, who joined Airbus back in 2019 as a Chief Operating Officer. Chief Technology Officer Grazia Vittadini will leave on the same date, after spending more than 19 years with the company. She will be succeeded by Sabine Klauke.
Australia Post has appointed a new chief executive to replace Christine Holgate, who was controversially ousted late last year after awarding four senior executives Cartier watches with a combined value of almost $20,000. The new CEO, Paul Graham, will join Australia Post in the upcoming September, after more than four decades of logistics experience, including recent senior executive roles at global parcel transport giant DHL. He will receive a minimum of $1,46 million as his annual salary. However, in line with the parameters set by the Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal, he could earn an additional $1,46 million in bonuses. Australia Post chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo said that Graham “has a demonstrated track record of delivering results in large, complex organizations and is a proven leader managing large teams.“
Honda Motor Appoints New CEO to Boost Electric Vehicle Strategy As of April 1st, 2021, Honda Motor Co Ltd has a new CEO. Toshihiro Mibe, who previously held the company’s Senior Managing Director role, has replaced Takahiro Hachigo, who has held the CEO role for six years. Japan’s second-biggest automaker chose Mibe, who joined Honda back in 1987, hoping to accelerate the company’s move into EVs and further enhance its partnership with General Motors. Honda previously noted that it wants electrified cars to make up two-thirds of the vehicles it sells by 2030. According to one source close to Honda, if anyone can achieve that goal, Mibe can.
China’s Tencent Music Announces New CEO and Chairman The biggest music operator in China, Tencent Music Entertainment Group, announced a new chief executive and chairman. In a statement, Zhu “Ross“ Liang has been named CEO, and Cussion Kar Shun Pang has been appointed chairman of the board. Tencent became the dominant force in digital music in China after it merged its own QQ Music and WeSing services with the China Music Corporation back in 2016. It then spun Tencent Music Entertainment off to become a standalone business that listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2018. The company also announced a plan to buy back $1 billion in shares, shortly after its fourth-quarter earnings slightly missed expectations.
Danone Searches for a New Ceo Emanuel Faber, who has served as chief executive officer and chairman of Danone since 2015, is separating its paths with the company. The decision follows pressure from investors for Danone’s board of directors to reconsider the company’s strategy and governance. In November, the company announced sweeping reorganization plans to reduce internal complexity and remove layers of management to make the company more efficient. The plan will reduce costs by $1.19 billion by 2023 and lead to the elimination of 1,500 to 2,000 jobs. Danone did not elaborate on its search for a new CEO but said it would pay “careful attention to ensuring a proper transition”. It also noted that it was looking for an external candidate after appointing a duo to manage operations in the interim period. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 9
London foremost Ride Hailing company promises Carbon Neutral on all trips London foremost Ride Hailing company promises Carbon Neutral on all trips. Taasai is a revolutionary transportation technology ecosystem that has been designed to combat environmental problems through the process of carbon offsetting and still providing a world class ride booking service. Since our inception, Taasai have made concessions towards carbon offsetting to make every ride green in the UK and in 2020/21 we have been able to offset 13.481 tonnes of CO2. Did you know that the transportation sector accounts for 28% of CO2 emissions in the air? Greenhouse gases, fossil fuels, and carbon emissions are responsible for contributing to the ongoing issues of climate change and global warming. Storms, heatwaves, melting icecaps are some of the detrimental effects of climate change. These monumental shifts in weather 10 europeanbusinessmagazine.com
patterns have resulted in natural habitats being destroyed, holes in the ozone layer, and have also affected the trajectory of people’s livelihoods and communities. At Taasai we use a special process called carbon offsetting can be defined as “the action or process of compensating for carbon dioxide emissions arising from industrial or other human activity, by participating in schemes designed to make equivalent reductions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”. Our company aims to be the green alternative for urban transportation by reducing carbon footprints as well as providing our customers with world-class ride-booking service. Our mission at TAASAI is to help cities to take small concentric steps to improve people’s wellbeing and health. Furthermore, it is important to take into consideration that green
modes of transport are not harmful to human health. So, what are you waiting for? Help us in our mission into becoming better global stewards of the earth. Remember that big changes start with small steps, begin your ecofriendly trips today with Taasai. At Taasai we also focus on the security of our users and have a unique pin authorization code for every trip which protects the rider and the driver from unauthorized trips, and this also puts trust in our ecosystem. The rider is only encouraged to share the pin code with the driver only when they feel comfortable that the driver and the car details match what was already shared in the app. As the Lockdown restrictions ease in London and across the UK, we continue to provide a safe and secure ride-booking service and we hope that we see the virus reduce and continue to be managed to allow for a new normal life to take hold. Our apps are available both in the Apple Store and Android Play Store
Groundbreaking rules published to enable rapid resolution of blockchain and crypto legal disputes, as worldwide smart contract market expected to reach $345.4 million by 2026
The UK Jurisdiction Taskforce of LawtechUK, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Vos, Master of the Rolls, has today published its Digital Dispute Resolution Rules designed to enable faster and more cost effective resolutions to legal disputes relating to novel digital technology such as crypto assets, smart contracts, and blockchain applications, and foster confidence amongst businesses in the adoption of these technologies. The use of these technologies in business has rapidly gained in popularity in recent years. JP Morgan, for example, is just one of many largescale corporations already regularly taking advantage of the use of smart contracts (self-executing contracts run on blockchain technologies that automatically process transactions without the need for a third-party). The business benefits of smart contracts are wide-ranging, including enhanced security, improved efficiencies, and cost reduction in the implementation (and automating performance of) contracts between parties. However, until now, there has been little consistency in how legal disputes relating to these types of technologies
should be resolved, leading to lengthier and more costly processes. Drafted in extensive public and private consultation with lawyers, technical experts and financial services and commercial parties, the Digital Dispute Resolution Rules published today are designed to facilitate the rapid and cost effective resolution of disputes arising in the context of these technologies, and to foster industry confidence in their use. One important feature of the Rules is that they allow parties to resolve their disputes by an arbitrator, rather than by a judge in court (which can be a more time-consuming and costly process). They have also been drafted to provide maximum flexibility to adapt to as yet undeveloped technologies, and to reach a resolution to disputes quickly and efficiently by arbitrators with appropriate technical expertise and enabling on-chain implementation of decisions. The UK has been at the global forefront of developing the legal infrastructure to support the deployment of these nascent and evolving technologies. In November 2019 the UKJT published its well-received legal statement on the status of cryptoassets
and smart contracts under English and Welsh law. The legal statement was a significant step by the UK towards legal certainty for blockchain technology and crypto assets. Furthermore, English law provides an established and familiar framework by reference to which rights in respect of digital technologies can be effectively established and enforced, and has an impressive track record of dealing with and adapting to technological developments. Master of the Rolls, Sir Geoffrey Vos, chair of the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce and LawtechUK Panel member, commented: “I am delighted to welcome the publication by the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce of the ground-breaking Digital Dispute Resolution Rules. International business is rapidly adopting the use of digital documentation and on-chain smart contracts. The Rules aim to provide a process for speedy and cost-effective resolution of disputes originating digitally. They will hopefully give global businesses greater confidence to adopt and utilise new digital technologies.” Jenifer Swallow LawtechUK Director at Tech Nation, comments: “Analogue ways of doing business will be widely restructured and digitised in the coming years, increasing efficiency and transparency. The smart contracts market alone is set to reach $345.4 million by 2026. Methods of dispute resolution must keep pace. The Digital Dispute Resolution Rules are a step change in that evolution and in enabling wider confidence and adoption of these technologies underpinning those readily-available today and capable of adapting to those yet to be developed. This is an exciting next step in the UK’s leadership at the forefront of business, law and technology, and also demonstrates how simple legal processes can be.” The UKJT will keep a close watch on how the Digital Dispute Resolution Rules are used, and will aim to consider whether further development or revision would be valuable within the coming year, based on user feedback. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 11
Leading European Countries where Job seekers go to look for a fresh start Netherlands
COVID-19 has forced many people to delay their travel plans for the foreseeable future. But with lockdown coming to an end and major UK companies moving their operations to Europe, now is the perfect time to revisit your plans for a new life in Europe. You have probably spent a lot of time researching your life changing move during lockdown, but in case you missed anything here is a list of the top 10 places in Europe that have excellent job opportunities, sourced by the team at CoursesOnline. Whether you are looking for a new job opportunity in the IT industry, fashion or services sector there is likely to be something on this list that suits you.
France The first location on the list is France. Home of the famous Notre Dame of Paris and the magnificent Pyrenees mountains, France has a lot to offer the wanderlust traveller looking for a fresh start. Lunch is the most important meal of the day in France so everyone stops working for lunch no matter what. So you can guarantee that you kiss goodbye to having a quick sandwich at your desk.
Germany Germany is one of the powerhouses of Europe, known for its automotive industry and most recently the country to make the first COVID-19 vaccine, Pzifer. Germany is the perfect location for engineers or technicians looking for their next role. Germany is very generous with their national holidays and has a strict limit on the hours employees are allowed to work. So if work life balance is important to you then Germany is worth considering. 12 europeanbusinessmagazine.com
One of Europe’s smaller countries but not one to be overlooked when it comes to your next career move. Surrounded by beautiful landscapes and history it is also the home to big household names such as Netflix, Tesla and Unilever. Amsterdam is known for its agricultural offering and data science which makes it the perfect location for anyone in these sectors. The Netherlands rank number 1 in the world for the work life balance incentives. This is worth bearing in mind if spending less time at work is important to you.
Switzerland Switzerland has a lot to offer for anyone looking for their next career move in the pharmaceuticals or engineering industries. If you are looking for a role in tourism then Switzerland might be the place for you as there are a lot of opportunities in this sector for English speakers. Taxes in Switzerland are one of the lowest in Europe though what rate you pay will depend on the area you live in.
sectors so if you are looking for an exciting new role in these areas then look no further than Ukraine.
Belgium Belgium is famous for its chocolates and beer and is a short train ride away from other European countries such as the UK, France and Germany. Belgium is also known for its service industries which accounts for 74% of its GDP so if you are in the service industry and looking for the next step then look at Belgium.
Spain If you are thinking of moving for the sunshine then Spain is the place for you. A lot of the economy is balanced on the tourist trade and holidaymakers. Spain is famous for its food and wine so if you are looking for a culinary role in the sun then Spain is the place for you. If you are looking for the next move in a fashion career then Spain should be high on your list as it is also the home of some of the most famous fashion designers including Cristóbal Balenciaga and Pacco Rabanne.
Italy Poland Poland is the home of the world’s largest castle and an impressive 16 world heritage sites. A beautiful country with an impressive history. It also has many jobs in the IT industry. Most of Poland’s GDP comes from the services and the energy sector. So if these sectors appeal to you then make sure Poland is on your list of possible places to move to.
Ukraine Ukraine is the 46th largest country in the world and is best known for its fuel production. It also has a lot of opportunities in the IT and technology
Famous for its history, its beautiful landscapes and of course its beloved foods. One of the main economy drivers is tourism. Italian companies are putting a lot of effort into the research and development of machine to machine communication so if you want your next role to be a part of this exciting futuristic sector then start job hunting in Italy. Europe has so many options for job seekers looking for a fresh start. Before making your decision make sure you research your country of choice and visit it as many times as possible before committing to the big move, just so you are sure you have made the right decision.
Revolut, Europe’s $5,5 Billion Digital Bank, is Expanding into India Revolut, an online banking start-up based in the UK is planning an expansion into India. It will invest approximately $25 million in the Indian market over the next five years and aims to release the app for this market by 2022. Revolut will also hire 300 employees at its Indian subsidiary. Nik Storonsky, CEO and co-founder of Revolut noted that “We look forward to transforming the way Indians access and manage their money by providing our products and services to more people around the world. India is the core market for our expansion strategy.“ Founded in 2015, Revolut has since attracted more than 15 million retail customers with products including currency exchange, debit cards, and stock trading. The company, worth $5,5 billion in its most recent funding round, has raised more than $900 million from investors to date. The company said in March 2021 it had completed the first step to apply for a US banking license and is launching its services for businesses across 50 states.
Coinbase Soars in Market Debut, Valued Near $86 Billion Cryptocurrency platform Coinbase made an impressive debut on Wall Street, with shares of the digital currency exchange rising as high as $429, valuing the company at $112 billion, before dropping back below the debut price and reaching a low of around $310. Skipping the traditional IPO process, Coinbase listed its stock directly, allowing employees and existing shareholders to sell shares immediately at a market-based price. In pursuing a direct listing, Coinbase
followed tech companies like Spotify, Slack, Palantir, and Roblox, which helped standardize the process. Founded in 2012 as a way to simplify the purchase of bitcoin, Coinbase has emerged as the most popular crypto exchange in the US and soared in value alongside digital currencies bitcoin and ethereum. The service now has 56 million users, up from 43 million at the end of 2020, and 32 million the year before that. In its last private financing round in 2018, investors valued Coinbase at $8 billion.
Amazon is Opening a Hair Salon in London The e-commerce giant makes a surprise move into the beauty sector and is planning to open its firstever hair salon in East London. The Amazon Salon will be spread over two floors of a building in Spitalfields, a trendy district near the City of London, known for its shopping and restaurants. Amazon, which is yet to release a price list, said it will use the Amazon Salon to try many new technologies. For example, augmented reality technology will allow customers to see what they look like with different colored hair, also, new “point-and-learn“ technology will allow customers to point at a product in the salon and view information on a display screen. If they will end up wanting to order the item, they will be able to scan a QR code that will take them to a product page on amazon.co.uk. Amazon said it will also give customers one of its Fire tablets to use during their appointment. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 13
Subaru Recalls Nearly 900,000 Vehicles for Engine and Suspension Problems Nearly 900,000 cars and SUVs are being recalled by Subaru because the engines can stall or a rear suspension part can fall off. The stalling recall covers more than 466,000 Crosstrek SUVs from 2018 and 2019 and Impreza cars from 2017 through 2019. The suspension recall affects more than 408,000 2018 and 2019 Crosstreks and 2019 Foresters. The company says in government documents that a computer can power the ignition coil after the car is shut off, causing a short circuit. Dealers will update the software, replace ignition coils and if necessary install a new front exhaust pipe. Additionally, some rear stabilizer bar bolts can loosen and detach, increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will tighten bolts and replace any missing ones starting May 14. Owners are advised to bring the car to a dealership where a technician will inspect the problem area.
Subaru said it is not aware of any accidents involving the issues described in the Forester and Crosstrek recall.
SpaceX to Launch Astronauts with a Reused Rocket and Space Capsule SpaceX is set to make history, as Elon Musk’s space company prepares to launch the Crew-2 mission for NASA on Friday morning. It will use the same Falcon 9 rocket that sent four astronauts to the ISS last November and the same Crew Dragon spacecraft that sent and returned two astronauts during the first crewed SpaceX flight last May. The crew is composed of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency (ESA)
Rolls-Royce Has the Best Quarter in 116 Years Rolls-Royce Motor Cars had its best quarter in its 116-year history, setting a new sales record in the first quarter, as the world’s wealthy snapped up its $330,000 SUV and other models. The luxury car company, which is owned by BMW, delivered 1,380 cars in the first quarter, up 62 percent from the same quarter in 2020 as the pandemic started impacting sales and manufacturing. The quarter set a new record for the company, surpassing its previous high in 2019. The corporation stated that the biggest need is seen for the Cullinan — it’s nearly three-ton SUV that starts at $335,000 but typically sells for over $400,000 with options and customizations. Sales are also strong for its new Ghost model, which starts around $332,000 and has an optional LED-lit interior roof to simulate a starry sky. Rolls-Royce’s record-breaking quarter offers the latest sign that the world’s wealthy, who have added trillions of dollars to their wealth since the start of the pandemic thanks to rising markets, are ready to spend. Other high-end car companies, like Bentley and Lamborghini, have also seen strong recent sales. 14 europeanbusinessmagazine.com
astronaut Thomas Pesquet. They are set to stay on the space station for a six-month science mission. “I met with the crew last night, they are ready to go,“ NASA’s Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk said at a prelaunch news conference from the Kennedy Space Center. “I asked them what they look forward to most in the mission, and they said launching and getting up on the station and getting to work.“ The launch was originally scheduled for an early morning on April 22 but was moved to the next day due to downrange inclement weather.
Microsoft Buys Nuance Communications in a $16 Billion Deal Microsoft announced that it will buy speech recognition company Nuance Communications for $16 billion (and about $19 billion including debt) — this sum will be the tech giant’s largest acquisition since it bought LinkedIn for more than $26 billion back in 2016. Nuance has a strong reputation for its voice recognition technology, and has been considered an acquisition target for companies like Apple and many others for several years. Nuance’s best-known product is Dragon, a software that uses deep learning to transcribe speech. It is also famous for its health care tools, which have been highlighted as the key driver behind the acquisition by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella. This deal is the latest sign that Microsoft is hunting for more growth through acquisitions. The company is also reportedly in talks to buy the chat app Discord for about $10 billion, and in March 2021 it acquired gaming company Zenimax for $7,6 billion.
The UK to Explore Issuing Its Own Digital Currency Britain is the last country to join a global race toward central bank digital currencies, as British authorities are exploring the possibility of creating a new digital currency that UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak indicated could be known as “Britcoin“. The Bank of England and the Treasury said that they will work together to assess the benefits of a central bank digital currency, at a time when cash payments are generally on the decline, partly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The bank also noted that the new currency — if it comes to pass — would be a new form of currency for use by households and businesses and would exist alongside cash and bank deposits rather than replacing them. The UK is only the latest country to join a global push to develop a viable central bank digital currency. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said earlier this year that the US is “looking
carefully, very carefully, at the question of whether we should issue a digital dollar.” China is also investing heavily in
this area, and could be ready to test the currency at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, CNBC reported. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 15
What We Can Learn From Organisations Who Flourished During COVID-19
hen the knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent UK lockdowns are discussed, much of the focus is on the negative impact on the economy, our physical health, and our mental health. But, while the damaging effects are unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed, it’s not all doom and gloom. While many businesses have suffered as a result of the pandemic, others have flourished. Exercise equipment, homeware, DIY, and gardening retailers, amongst others, were some of the businesses that thrived during the first national lockdown. When it comes to business-to-business, technology providers, ecommerce sites, video conferencing software solutions, and healthcare providers led the way. So did the companies who tapped into their services. While many of the B2C successes were driven by changing consumer habits as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, there’s a common theme amongst the majority of organisations that succeeded: the successful adoption of technology.
to shift to home working with little to no disruption. As a result of this situation, businesses implemented digital solutions to keep an element of normality through remote working and collaboration. It also meant many businesses accelerated their digitisation. A global McKinsey survey of business executives in July 2020 backs this up, finding that businesses fast-tracked their long-term digitisation plans and accelerated the process by three or four years. Further, businesses sped up the digitisation of their products and services by seven years. This is a result of the increased funding for digital initiatives, which was the leading business area that received internal investment during this time. While “nearly all” of the survey respondents said they’d implemented temporary measures and solutions to allow their businesses to adopt this new way of working, the majority expect their investments to be long-term. Importantly, senior executives are recognising technology as an essential element of their business instead of solely a cost-cutting tool.
The pandemic accelerates technology adoption
The businesses reaping the rewards of digital investment
When the Prime Minister issued the work from home directive in March 2020, many businesses were unprepared for this huge shift. Issues including a lack of cloud software or portable work devices meant many organisations couldn’t adapt swiftly. Businesses that had already prioritised this digitalisation, however, were ahead of the game and were able
While businesses that had already invested in digitisation got a headstart in the pandemic and the subsequent shift to home working, that’s not to say businesses who adopted digital in the past 12 months weren’t also winners. The McKinsey survey shows 92 per cent of business leaders knew prior to the pandemic that their business model needed to be
digital-first to keep up with the competition, and that the pandemic “just put that whole scenario on steroids.”
Michael Kors High-end retailers have experienced difficulties as a result of COVID-19. We witnessed the sad loss of Debenhams’ flagship stores, while Burberry’s retail sales fell 48.4 per cent in the first three months of the pandemic. As a luxury fashion brand, Michael Kors relied on in-person shopping because its in-store experience was as important as the quality and style of its products. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and its physical stores closed, the brand had to adapt quickly. Pivoting to digital, the company launched a brand-new service online which allowed consumers to create their own customised bags or receive tailored product recommendations. The MK My Way service was offered on Tmall, an e-commerce site from Alibaba, and began with a personality quiz which would then make a personalised recommendation to the user, with the option of having a customised, hand-painted bag created. On the first day of the digital pop-up event exclusive to China, MK My Way’s Tmall store received 1.3 million visitors and generated £1.41 million. Thanks to
This pivot paid off, with the business increasing its paid subscribers by 34 million between March and December 2020 to 155 million. The business has also won plaudits for arguing against raising its subscription prices, currently £9.99 a month, because its services could become “unaffordable for consumers.”
What can we learn from these businesses?
this success, the company has since rolled out the service globally.
BJS Haulage The haulage and logistics sector is one that has experienced an increased demand from businesses and consumers alike thanks to the acceleration of online shopping. While this is largely positive, it left businesses in the sector which hadn’t digitised struggling to keep up with demand. This certainly wasn’t the case for home delivery specialist BJS Haulage, which experienced growth and adopted digital to ensure it could manage its growth effectively and adapt to increasing demands. The business had expanded its fleet of articulated lorries and updated its back-office systems to support diversification into the general haulage market. The company implemented a transport management system, a sector-specific digital solution that gives hauliers real-time visibility of their operations and in-progress deliveries and supports processes from order to invoicing. The ability to manage load planning and offer customers visibility of their deliveries has dramatically reduced the volume of calls the business received from clients requesting updates. The business also eliminated
manual paperwork and duplicated data entry thanks to switching to a transport management and appbased proof of delivery process.
Spotify The most successful music streaming service was seemingly well-placed when the pandemic hit. Not only is it a fully digital business, but many people found themselves with more time to engage in music and audio media. But there was one problem: its customer base was primarily non-paying users who, in return for free streaming, would be served audio adverts. Meanwhile, competitors with strong USPs, including Apple Music and Tidal, did not offer a free service. Many of Spotify’s advertisers also reduced their budgets in the face of the pandemic. Spotify took a page from Netflix’s book and turned to the production of original content. The platform focused on offering exclusive podcasts to subscribers, seeing over 150,000 podcasts uploaded by artists and users in April 2020 alone. The brand, therefore, began to position itself as a broad audio platform instead of only music streaming. Spotify also poached The Joe Rogan Experience, one of the most popular online podcasts, from competitors Apple.
In these difficult times, it’s natural for businesses to look at cost-cutting measures to keep their heads above water. These businesses, however, prove that strategic investments in digital are the key to success in difficult times. But there’s also no one right way to do it – your digital initiatives must match your business’ goals, specific challenges, and market. Michael Kors, which offers a luxury in-store experience and therefore relies on physical footfall, had to adapt to an entirely new way of selling its products. Exploring a digitised version of in-store selling, as well as broadening its product offering, allowed the business to mitigate the impact of store closures. BJS Haulage, meanwhile, proved that digital doesn’t have to be flashy. Implementing a tailored back-office solution might not seem like the most exciting use of digital. However, it’s the best way to implement digitally transformative solutions because it meets a critical business need. Digital business Spotify, meanwhile, highlights the importance of not standing still. The company was in a strong position when the pandemic hit but expanding its service offering gave it an extra edge in an increasingly competitive market. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on businesses, it’s that digital is now essential to survival. Much of the media attention has focused on the negative impact of the pandemic, with many businesses unable to operate and some unfortunately not surviving. But there are also a lot of positive stories amongst the negatives, and your business can learn from their successes. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 17
DON’T BE BAFFLED BY BUREAUCRACY: NMI MAKES UKCA STANDARDS EASY
Guiding European manufacturers from CE to UKCA step by step
Many European businesses, particularly those selling products to Great Britain, are faced with uncertainties around the Brexit transition period. NMi, the international measurement technology institute, outlines how you can comply with United Kingdom Conformity Assessed Mark (UKCA), the most recent change in regulation, affecting all European manufacturer’s access to the UK market.
s part of the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation agreement, the UK government replaced the European CE mark with UKCA early in 2021. Now, it is urging all companies selling their products into the UK to adopt the new changes by 1 January 2022 in order to retain access to the British market. While that deadline may seem a long way off, their advice is to meet the requirements sooner rather than later. NMi is a leading specialist in legal metrology testing and testing, inspection and certification of measuring technology and delivers UKCA for European equipment manufacturers to
become trusted in the UK. With many years of experience in providing metrological tests, they provided a step-bystep guide to helping businesses comply, cut through the red tape, and continue to trade with the UK.
From EU CE to UKCA To obtain the new UKCA mark, all products must meet British safety, technical and performance standards. As with the existing EU CE mark, it guarantees the product will meets safety, health, technical and environmental requirements. These markings
will apply to a wide range of products, from supermarket scales to car brakes and industrial pressure valves. The new British legislation is relevant to manufacturers selling products in the UK that previously required the CE mark. Adding to the uncertainty is the approach to Northern Ireland. Here, the approach is to allow use of both CE and/or a new UKNI marking. UKCA markings are not permitted for products to be placed on the Northern Irish market. What does all this mean in practice for European companies and how can you achieve a seamless transition?
Achieving clarity, step by step The scope and type of CE and UKCE assessment is wide and dependent on product and regulatory requirements. For example, regulations applying to certain product areas require prescriptive approaches to compliance. These include, the safety of toys, simple pressure vessels, electromagnetic compatibility, and gas appliances. There are separate guidelines for medical equipment, railway interoperability, construction products and explosives for civil use. These products require a third-party conformity assessment carried out by a recognised inspection body. To comply with the new product markings, manufacturers who previously sold CE marked products must now comply with the requirements of UKCA. The same standards will apply at least initially, but for UKCA certifications, manufacturers will need to rely on a UKCA-approved body, established in Great Britain and designated by the UK government. To date, there
have not been any material changes regarding the required safety, technical and compliance standards themselves, although this may change in the future. When a product is certified, the inspection data is stored in a file. These files are kept for 10 years and regulators can check the product’s compliance at any point if they need to. For other products, regulatory requirements are less reliant on third party conformity assessment and covered in manufacturer Declarations of Conformity (DoC). Here, compliance with mandatory technical requirements is demonstrated within technical documentation that accompanies the DoC. This will contain information such as a brief description of the product, testing outputs and evidence of design performance. If a company requires a mandatory third-party conformity assessment for CE marked goods, it will have to do the same for UKCA-marked goods. These assessments must be carried out by an accredited UKCA approved
body, and the procedure is the same as for the CE marking. If self-declaration of conformity was allowed for the CE marking, this applies to the UKCA marking too.
Guiding European businesses to a win-win An important point to consider is the fact that the UKCA mark will not be recognised in the EU – and after January 1, 2022, for new products, the CE marking will also not be recognised in the UK. This means products currently requiring CE marking for sale in the EU will continue to require CE marking. Some assessment bodies, however, may be able to grant double EU an UKCA certifications, if like NMi, they are a formal presence in both Europe and the UK. Fully understanding the new UKCA marking, enabled by specialists like NMi, allows European businesses to start from a position of knowledge and clarity, rather than being baffled by bureaucracy. It is a win-win situation. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 19
Negative interest rates may not boost UK economy –so what should Bank of England try instead
Panicos O Demetriades, Professor of Financial Economics, University of Leicester
avers may be starting to get anxious. Negative interest rates sound like a tax on bank deposits, since they imply that instead of paying interest on deposits, banks may start charging interest instead – thereby eroding people’s savings. As we shall see, it is not quite as bad as that. So how do these rates work, and should we be expecting them?
What the BoE meant When the BoE announced the possibility of negative rates on February 4, from the current rate of 0.1%, it stressed that “it did not wish to send any signal that it intended to set a negative bank rate at some point in the future”. Instead, it was asking the UK banks to make the necessary preparations in case these rates are required. Having consulted with the banks, six months is considered to be the necessary timeframe. Negative rates are supposed to incentivise banks to lend their excess reserves to households and firms to boost economic activity, instead of parking them at the central bank. However, the BoE’s current expectation for the UK economy, taking on board COVID vaccination progress 20 europeanbusinessmagazine.com
and the trade agreement with the EU, is that economic activity will recover rapidly towards pre-COVID levels during 2021. It only expects to make use of negative interest rates if the outlook worsens: for example, if vaccine-resistant variants of the virus trigger a rise in infections and force another lockdown. But in case negative rates become necessary, why are the banks and building societies not prepared already? To understand this, it’s necessary to jump back to the global financial crisis of 2007-09. This pushed many western economies into a deep recession with a risk of deflation taking hold. This threatened another great depression, so central banks had to act decisively. They first slashed interest rates to near zero but this was not enough to stimulate the economy. Having decided negative rates were too risky at that stage, central banks introduced quantitative easing, in which they carried out large-scale purchases of financial assets, often focusing on long-term government bonds. This injected liquidity into the markets, allowing financial institutions to rebalance their portfolios. It signalled that central banks were committed to maintaining low interest rates, since the increased demand for long-term bonds drives down long-term rates downwards. And it also injects “new
money” into the reserves of retail banks to encourage them to lend more to businesses and consumers. But quantitative easing has its limits. There is a finite number of lowrisk assets that a prudent central bank can purchase. Negative interest rates have now become more likely, and have already been introduced elsewhere. Sweden actually introduced them in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and then again between 2015 and 2019. Denmark, Switzerland and Japan are all now using negative rates, but perhaps the most important example is the European Central Bank (ECB), which sets interest rates for the 19 states in the euro area.
Pros and cons Negative interest rates could mean that savers abandon bank deposits and keep their savings under the mattress instead – or in safe deposit boxes. That would cause havoc in
the banking system, as banks largely rely on deposits to fund their loans to firms and households. Banks that have relied more on money markets for funding – such as Northern Rock – haven’t always fared very well. To avoid these risks, negative rates have largely been limited to the reserves that commercial banks hold with the central bank. Negative rates have also been low: Japan’s rate is -0.1%, Denmark’s is -0.6% and Switzerland’s is -0.75%, while the ECB’s is -0.5%, and for bank reserves at the central bank only. Sweden’s rates were in the range of -0.1% to -0.5%. That is not to say that banks might not cut their already low savings rates as they seek to shore up their profitability, but it shows that the policy has been applied cautiously. However, if this implies little cost to consumers, it remains to be seen whether negative rates actually boost economic activity. For example, the evidence from Sweden points to negligible positive effects at the
cost of generating significant imbalances, including increased household indebtedness and excessive rises in property prices.
Forward guidance As I have argued before, central banks can achieve more through giving clear forward guidance about the future path of interest rates rather than taking them negative. The Bank of England occasionally uses forward guidance, but only vaguely compared to other central banks. The ECB has given much clearer signals, stating, for example, that it expects rates to remain low “for an extended period of time”. This can reduce uncertainty around future borrowing costs, removing a major deterrent for new investment and job creation, and amplifying the positive benefits of low interest rates. Forward guidance does require considerable preparation and background work on the part of the central bank.
It is also more challenging in terms of communication, as it involves explaining future decisions as well as current ones. This can make changing course, should the need arise, difficult, risking damage to a central bank’s credibility in the process. The interest rate-setting committee also has to agree over the future course of policy, which can be especially difficult when there is a lot of economic uncertainty. The BoE has the additional complication that the votes and views of individual members of the Monetary Policy Committee often strongly diverge and are published after each monthly meeting. If this meant that UK forward guidance had to be very limited or qualified, the benefits might be diluted. Having said that, extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. If the banking industry can prepare in six months for a policy that has never been used in 327 years, the Bank of England can surely consider ways of further developing its forward guidance. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 21
STATE OF THE RELATION:
Doing Business with A Post-Brexit UK By Steve Lavelle, Managing Partner, London, UK NGS Global
ust like every other country around the world, the UK had a traumatic 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the severe economic disruption caused by multiple lockdowns and other measures adopted to address the crisis. Two other economic factors also had massive impacts on the UK economy last year: Brexit (which finally happened in January) and the associated European Union trade deal (which came into effect in December). As we move into 2021, with the likelihood of COVID- related social and economic restrictions easing by midyear, this may be a good time to assess the state of the UK, from the perspective of international companies outside of the country who have UK operations there, or are planning at some future point to do business in the sixth largest global economy. This piece does not aim to promote UK plc, but to provide a balanced illustration of the “state of the nation”, informed by the views of people who are currently conducting business or enabling trade with the UK.
Brexit is the New Reality So after 47 years as part of the European Union, the UK is no longer officially a member. However, that does not mean that the UK is not still integrated at multiple levels with the remaining 27 member states. While there are areas where a clean cut has been made, for example membership of some significant scientific/research bodies and the supremacy of the 22 europeanbusinessmagazine.com
European Court of Justice over the UK judicial system, there are many more areas where nothing significant has changed (yet). A major example is most EU legislation, which has simply been “copied and pasted” into UK legislation, with some important changes in areas such as immigration. There is also the huge cultural, social and economic legacy of European unification, built up over decades since the end of the Second World War of which the formation of the EU was a major, but by far not the only manifestation. Hence it is not accurate to now think of the UK as an isolated nation state with no far-reaching interactions with mainland Europe across multiple dimensions; economic, commercial, legal, social, environmental, political and cultural.
Ramifications for Companies So what does this mean for companies around the world, from SMEs to multinational enterprises, in how they do business with the UK going forward? What has changed? What are the risks and opportunities? Is the UK still a good hub for European/EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) headquarters, or should companies expanding into EMEA base themselves on mainland Europe? Do the new rules on immigration mean international companies can’t base their people in the UK or hire there from around the world? And how is the UK economy performing, and what are the mid to long-term expectations? While the UK was an EU member, companies could freely buy and sell goods and services across borders with minimum friction and no taxes
or volume limits. While the regulations around services remain mostly unchanged (though not in some sectors, such as financial services), there are now many rules, standards and some different taxes in place for the physical movement of goods. Another key principle of the EU is the free, unrestricted movement of labor, but UK nationals now need a visa to stay in EU countries more than 90 days in 180. EU nationals planning to work in the UK will also need to apply for a visa, the model for which appears to be based on the Australian points system (that’s a high-level summary – in reality the rules are complex).
UK vs EU Law Mark Webber is US Managing Partner at Fieldfisher, a European law firm headquartered in the UK. “The majority of the European law was effectively just grafted into United Kingdom law when the UK Parliament passed what is known as the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020. Something that was law because it was European law on the 30th December 2020 was UK law on the 1st of January 2021 because
A deal between the UK and the EU was reached on Christmas Eve last year. What does this mean for organizations that do business with the country?
of this Withdrawal Act. They haven’t had time to change it. That will take time and that divergence will become clear, and I’m sure a lot of the time it will become slightly more permissive and slightly more business friendly. If anything, we might be growing into a position where the UK is more attractive for multinational companies expanding into Europe through a UK base.” Jeff Loebbaka is Chief Commercial Officer of AMP Robotics, a Silicon Valley funded venture capital backed company which is expanding rapidly, just having used NGS Global’s services to hire its first executive outside of the US, the General Manager EMEA. From a shortlist of candidates based in several European locations, he hired a UK national, not only because the best candidate was in the UK, but also considering a number of other functions. For a company like AMP Robotics, there are clearly still implications of Brexit that are not yet apparent – hardware, software and service elements of the company’s offering involve complexity about how they will do business in the UK and Europe, as well as the commercial issues of
legal entities, employment contracts, taxable entities and other financial structures. “I discussed Brexit with my legal, finance and HR teams, and there are clearly areas we still need to learn about,” explained Mr Loebbaka. “But the key thing is that while we know Brexit will affect us, the UK remains important – we know we are going to have people and business there, and some kind of entity. In my experience, getting started and doing business there is relatively straightforward. The other thing that is always in the back of my mind that I don’t think Brexit changes is the relative friendliness in terms of UK labor laws. I have experience in that, and I have a little bit of scar tissue from what I’ve done previously in France and Italy versus the UK.”
Are MNC’s Still Investing in the UK? Based in California, Jo Bates, Director in the Corporate Team at Fieldfisher, says that multi-national corporations (MNC’s) are still investing in the UK. “I think prior to Brexit it was the obvious answer as a European headquarters
for many companies, but now they’re a little bit more cautious. They’re asking more questions, but ultimately there are a lot of companies still choosing the UK. And that’s for obvious things like the language, the culture and the common-law legal system, the ease of doing business there.” Ms Bates added that “Brexit is just causing a little bit of uncertainty, and we still don’t understand its full impact. The UK government itself has said that it’s going to take up to ten years to fully understand the impact of Brexit. So companies aren’t going to wait ten years for investment decisions. Life is continuing and companies still like the look of the UK, but they’re asking more questions before they make their decision.“ Mike Sables is Office Managing Partner at RSM, the sixth largest business advisory and accountancy firm globally, which supports many international businesses scaling in the UK. “Obtaining visas and setting up ex-pat packages in the UK can be a costly and time-consuming exercise without the right approach. There are multiple types of visa, depending on whether the individual is the sole or first employee in the UK, length of stay and whether he/she will move before the legal entity is set up. Plus, if the individual will be doing a pan-European role, you need to be mindful of visa requirements in other European countries. There are accounting, tax and social security implications for different types of visa, and you need to pay attention to how long this will all take. Overall, the process is far from frictionless.”
UK Economic Expectations So how is the UK economy performing? Simon Hart is International and Knowledge Management Partner at europeanbusinessmagazine.com 23
is gone. We now know the outcome of Brexit and we are through that prolonged period of uncertainty from an investor perspective. I also think you now have stability in the government – you have confidence that the majority that the current government has is likely to be there for a period. “So you can start making some longerterm investment initiatives. The UK has one of the leading global Life Sciences industries in the corridor between Cambridge, Oxford and London. Incredibly strong. We also think some of the infrastructure ideas given the levelling-up agenda that has been announced as part of the UK also presents some fascinating opportunities. You have the HS2 high speed rail network going through the Midlands. You have the Northern Powerhouse and what that means in attracting a different sort of investment – the UK is not just London.” RSM. “We are expecting something like 4% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the UK in 2021, with strong second half growth moving into 2022, bolstered significantly by pent-up consumer demand. Understandably, the average UK consumer has been deferring purchasing and investment decisions during 2020 and at some point that pent-up demand is going to have to be released, so we think a consumer-led recovery is likely. “The UK government has done a pretty robust job in terms of monetary and fiscal stimulation to support the economy. Particularly with regards to the job protection scheme, the furloughing, the bounce-back loans – something like 20% of our GDP has been directed to fiscal support. And then you’ve got monetary aid from the Bank of England with interest rate cuts and asset purchasing. I think that’s been in the region of something like £450 billion (US$628 billion) a month in asset purchases.” Mr. Hart says that different sectors within the economy are facing different challenges. “We are all well aware of the challenges that the high street retail sector is facing at the moment. Those that have got a supply chain and an IT ecosystem that can align itself with a logistics arm to online transformation, next-day delivery, 24 europeanbusinessmagazine.com
etc., are probably the ones that are reimagining themselves effectively for the future, unlike those heavily committed to ‘bricks and mortar’. The tech industry is less affected.” Mr. Sables added that some of the new Budget measures recently announced were a throwback to the past. “Rewind the clock ten years and we had a Corporation Tax rate in the mid-20s, a 3-year loss carry back regime, and a small companies rate of tax. The Chancellor resurrected all these policy areas in his March 2021 budget. He also added additional relief for corporate investment, and signaled a consultation on R&D which is likely to be focused on keeping the UK at the forefront of global innovation.”
Characteristics of the UK as an Investment Destination Matthew Hurn OBE is a 30-year finance veteran who’s lived in the Middle East for the last 13 years. He’s currently the Chief Financial Officer of the Disruptive Investment Platform of Mubadala Investment Company, the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund with total assets under management of over £165 billion (US$230 billion), and a major global investor. “I think the UK actually presents a very interesting market now – a lot of the uncertainty
Mr. Hurn believes that the UK’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 is a key decision that will encourage considerable additional investment in renewables and green energy. He also predicts the UK to remain strong in such areas as software as a service, artificial intelligence, future mobility and for London to maintain its leadership as the Fintech capital of the world. Added to this is recent research showing London is still the most desirable city in the world to work in, despite Brexit and COVID. The Boston Consulting Group study, which gathered the views of 209,000 participants in 190 countries in early 2021, found that London has retained its title as the place where people would most like to work, a position it has held for the past eight years. And the impact of the EU Trade Deal? This is the post-Brexit trade agreement that allows free trade between the UK and the EU in goods and limited mutual market access in services, as well as a number of cooperation mechanisms in a variety of areas. Its high-level principles are no tariffs or quotas on trade (but customs duties and taxes may still apply) and equality of services providers (but not free market access). For the detail, see the 1,246 page document…
About Steve Lavelle Steve Lavelle is the Managing Partner of NGS Global’s UK team, based in the company’s London office. He is a highly experienced executive search professional, with a track record of more than 25 years recruiting VP, CxO and Director level roles. Mr. Lavelle has led multiple practices, including Software/SaaS, Cleantech, Finance/CFO, Cyber and early stage US-based companies growing in Europe and has led teams successfully executing over a thousand searches across tech-hubs in the UK, mainland Europe, Middle East and Africa.
What about COVID? Within the context of COVID, Mr. Hurn believes every country will need to press a recovery reset button for their economies, and this could provide new opportunities for the UK. “A lot of countries are now assessing what they need to do to kick start growth, and I think there’s going to be competitive demand for capital. “Post-COVID, the UK’s sweet spot of opportunity could be inward investment, despite this likely being a very competitive landscape globally. It could be in the form of expansion capital to
bring intellectual property, patents or technology to parts of the world that desperately need it. Now the UK has created the Office of Investment inside No.10 Downing Street, and that unified front is really going to help boost international trade.” Simon Hart of RSM agrees. “The pandemic is actually giving an opportunity for businesses to bed down any changes they need to make as a result of the trade agreement and what is in or out of the trade deal. So it’s kind of happening behind the scenes. I don’t think the pandemic will end and therefore trade issues take over. I think solutions will happen in parallel.
“The biggest opportunity is to get a trade deal with the US sorted out as quickly as possible. The US is re-engaging with the world, focusing on China and Japan for the TransPacific Partnership, the EU, as well as the UK and others. So the UK is in a queue. I think the fastest the US has ever completed a trade deal from start to finish was with Australia and it took something like 22 months. The sticking points are going to be access for US food and agricultural goods and services, as well as sanitary and phytosanitary elements, such as the animal and food regime, healthcare and pharmaceuticals.” “As many will have experienced, clarity of the impact of Brexit, particularly within the backdrop of a global pandemic, has only become really apparent at the last hour,” explained Tim Paddison, UK Managing Director of Hoffmann Group, which sells German-manufactured machine tools and parts. “Those businesses that developed ‘worst case’ scenario planning probably found themselves in the best position coming into 2021. The big unknown for us was the impact at borders and how logistics providers would fare post-Brexit. While the situation is now improving, the unpreparedness of carriers has been the pain point, along with the impact of the pandemic in mainland Europe. More clarity earlier on would have really helped us.”
Conclusion Three major and inter-twined factors have had a significant impact on the UK economy in the last year: the impact of COVID and the lockdowns, Brexit and the EU trade deal. There are plenty of pain-points, areas where the UK could have done things better and learning points for the future. There are many challenges ahead, including some not expanded on in this article, such as high levels of government debt and the risk to the economy of future interest rate rises. But even the most skeptical observer would have to acknowledge the resilience of the UK as a great place for international business and its continued competitiveness in the global economy. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 25
FinTech CEO Tom Cregan of EML Relishes Marching To The Beat Of A Different Drum in 2021
om Cregan, the Managing Director and Group CEO at EML, is a heavy metal drumming and martial arts enthusiast on a mission to infuse rhythmic harmony into the world of payments. His favourite part of any day as Chief Executive is finding a ''1+1=5 moment'' by thinking and approaching an aspect of the business differently. ''Problem-solving is such a cliche, but that is the best definition of a good day as a CEO. Thinking up a use case for how our payments products can fit into someone else's business effortlessly and seamlessly. Or, asking, how can we transform a business process to make something new and exciting happen?'' said Tom Cregan, who delivered a short answer to the question of what keeps the Chief Executive of a PLC awake at night? ''Honestly, nothing - I sleep soundly at night. When you've got a great team, I know they're doing their best every single day. It doesn't impact my sleep, and I don't spend my time wondering what could go wrong. If something goes wrong, the person whose job it is to deal with that is more technically minded and qualified to handle it. I know they bring their A-game to fix any potential issues, fast. If it's a more significant issue, then they will move to Plan B. I don't spend any night fretting about the business. Instead, I spend time figuring out where our company will be in 3 and 5 years from now versus what could hypothetically blow up in our face today? I focus on thinking about a vertical that could be huge that doesn't yet exist.'' The company has recently made strategic investments in two disrupters in America with global ambition, Interchecks and Hydrogen. Tom explained his thinking behind FinTech's newest incubator. ''EML
FINLAB has such a crucial role. We think of ourselves as disruptors. Whereby, other companies see us as leaders in business. We're disrupting fast because there are people who want to disrupt us. I think - how do we continue to innovate, find new verticals and problem solve?'' Thought Leaders are accustomed to peering inside a crystal ball to predict what will happen in their industry in the future. Tom Cregan is incredibly optimistic about the next 3 years, armed with EML's Project Accelerator. ''It's about having conversations with investors and entrepreneurs who can see the next big thing coming down the line before anyone else. We can now predict where potentially huge new growth areas globally will stem from, and we'll work on being one of the first players to the market in the future in these new segments. You always hope you get it right, and an idea goes big. The robust global alignment of all of our technology infrastructure is a current priority. ''We appreciate just how quickly everything will change in the next 3, 4 and 5 years and how we can prepare. For a decade, EML and PFS were pretty much doing the same thing; working hard to enhance our respective product suites and moving from physical payment cards to digital enablement, Pays and mobile payments. Now, with Open Banking, there's a transformation on the way, especially within traditional fee structures.'' Tom sees the future of payments looking very different from the industry we're familiar with today. ''I predict a whole new series of payment scheme rail tracks on the way in the next 5 years from distributed ledger to Blockchain technology. We need to be ready for this shift, now. Part of our FINLAB investments are aligned with
big changes on the way. If we invest in a company, even if it's a small investment in an Open Banking participant, these entrepreneurs come to work thinking about and living and breathing Open Banking every day. Essentially, our investments get us a ringside seat to help to future proof our own business. The alternative is waiting 5 years and seeing how we missed out on a range of opportunities. With EML's Project Accelerator, layered APIs will roll out in multiple global markets via one, simple integration. It's ingenious.'' EML enables companies of all kinds to integrate with disparate organisations. If you want to start a neobank today, you can begin on the EML platform, choose a processor to do the work and pick other constituent parts - just like a technology buffet integrating efficiently through one means. ''There are people out there way smarter than us. By working with them and investing, we'll now benefit by being at the cutting edge. You could spend a lot of money on consultants, or we can back good, collegial people who are winners and gain through this type of future-proofing to ensure we stay relevant in 3, 4 or 5 years. It's like any industry; once you get the platform and foundational level components right, you can build your reputation. That's precisely what EML did.'' Over 1,150 stories about EML's new investment wing, FINLAB, have already appeared around the world. It's an area Tom loves discussing. ''We often compete with companies where the money is no object. They can hire as many IT Engineers and staff as they like. Accelerator and FINLAB give us an excellent opportunity to make sound investments in technology. I love the view that we can have one
touchpoint with our customers to provide them with a global reach. ''Our competitors can't support their clients internationally in this manner, and that gives us a distinctive edge. A winning global product suite offering from Day 1 within an innovative and exciting tech eco-system is how we will prosper down the track. Then, it's as simple as plugging in additional solutions from our partners to choose from an already impressive portfolio as appealing as an assortment of chocolates. This could double our chances of closing any deal with an array of value-added solutions and shifts our mentality from a processing mindset to a product mindset.'' Ever wonder what makes the CEO of a listed company tick? Tom enthusiastically jumped at answering the question. ''I love connecting people with our clients for strategic partnerships - alignments that perfectly complement each other and make sense. You don't have to climb Everest every day, but you can add some value each day, and it accumulates and hopefully compounds by thinking outside the box. When you go above and beyond and give your clients something they never banked on - that's gold. The same goes for every department and each employee. We listen every time anyone has an idea about making a process simpler and more accessible for ourselves and our clients. Imagine
the power of everyone at EML having a 1+1=5 moment - such thinking becomes self-reinforcing, for everyone, and intrinsically motivational.'' He shared the name of a global business titan he admires and believes that Elon Musk will save the planet. ''Space X is a fantastic business model with reuseable rockets and Tesla electric cars. Elon's an ambitious visionary and a creative force of nature. He's an incredibly persistent big pitcher, and he backs himself. What's not to admire?'' Finally, when asked about his heroes growing up, Tom reminisced about the former Prime Minister of Australia, Paul Keating. ''He could single-handedly disarm opponents with his wit.'' No doubt, the former PM's timing was as precise and hypnotic as Tom's drum beats to his musical idols Metallica, Iron Maiden and Anthrax.
About Us At EML, we develop tailored payment solutions for brands and their customers to make lives simpler. Through next-generation technology, our portfolio of payment solutions offers innovative options for disbursement payouts, gifts, incentives and rewards. We’re proud to power many of the world’s top brands and process over $18 billion in GDV each year across 28 countries in Australia, EMEA and North America. Our payment solutions in 25 currencies are safe and secure, easy and flexible, providing customers with their money in real-time. We know payments are complex, that’s why we’ve made the process simple, smart and straightforward, for everyone. We encourage you to learn more about EML Payments Limited, by visiting: EMLpayments.com
The three most important things for organisations to consider about their branding?
’ll start by saying what I think it isn’t. “Over the years, many people have begun to regard branding as almost the same as communication, and that’s the first mistake because it may not be about communication at all. “The first thing to consider in any branding strategy is, who is the customer? Who is the audience we want to have a relationship with? That must be answered in the most precise way. “Don’t only think about the customer in the view of the product or service you are offering, but think about them as the human beings they are. What life they have, their frustrations, hopes, desires, and the families they have. Not only where they live but how they live. The more we know about how they think and feel, the more we earn the right to relate to them. You cannot just say ‘we know who they are’, and then call that a target group so you can start shooting – that’s what you do for hunting, not in marketing. “The second thing you need to understand is, what is it we are really offering? You will hear a lot of companies saying, ‘we have a nice range and a
nice quality of blah blah’, but you have to think of your offerings in terms of how it adds value to your audience – also called a value proposition. “You have to understand how it adds value because it’s through that you can relate. Very few customers, particularly in consumer marketing, are just interested in the size of a range – they don’t care. While it does help, that’s not where your heart is, and you must understand how the value in the product links to the audience. “The third thing is, if it’s about goods and services, it’s about distribution and so you need to consider, where will the customer meet us? What would be the right way for them to meet us? Is it just online or in shops or at shows or events, or other ways? “Once you have that picture, you can add in competition. If you think of your value proposition, who else is bringing those kinds of value propositions to life? Think of the access and relationship to the customer, who else is trying to sit on that channel? And then you can start building a brand. “In brand building, if you have a product that makes a huge difference with the competition and others in the
category, quite often that is the key to branding. “As a consultant, I’ve been sitting with the management of large hotel chains. They invited a young person who I was told was the brand manager. So I asked this young person, ‘what are you looking after since you are the brand manager?’, and they said, ‘well I look after the communication’. But the branding in a hotel should be the customer experience! How did the reception work? How did they help? What was the room like? Was it clean? What about the restaurant? It’s that total experience people care about. Of course, you have to communicate and of course, you have to be smart and be in the right spaces, but that experience is the branding. “Branding is quite often in the experience and so you should know everything about how the customer thinks.” COVID-19 has moved business digitalisation forward years in a matter of months – what should a brand do to ensure they are using digital as part of their communication strategy? “I think that trend was there anyway, long before covid-19. “Digital transformation has come to all aspects of business life and certainly also to marketing, but it has just enforced the trend that was already there. “I think one thing to be aware of is that people are much more willing to do things online now and to have very profound dialogues on the web. “Access is one of the legs for branding and the way we access now has changed a lot, particularly for those
retail shops that were not online oriented, they have really had to develop and not all of them have done so. “An example is a supermarket chain near me that sells all the gears and gadgets you need if you have a car or boat you want to repair, it’s very technically oriented. They were online before, but the main business was people walking through the shop. “They have quickly adapted to the situation by enabling people to shop anything online, then drive to the store and pick it up outside. As soon as you have ordered from home, they start texting you, ‘we are now packing your order’, so you get this feeling of excitement like, ‘it’s happening now!’. And 10 minutes later, they say ‘your order is now packed’. Then there is a link in the text message saying, ‘press here’ and you type in your car registration number and wait. “You typically wait two minutes and then they knock on the trunk, I open it and they throw the goods in and say ‘hello, have a nice day, goodbye’. Very simple, and the fact the process is simplified means a lot. I’ve heard several other people speak about it, and that is branding! “So, marketing managers should not only think about communication, but think of the customer, and how they feel and relate to the company because that relationship is very important.”
What about Lego makes it so popular and what part did you play in achieving that? “Lego is so popular because every time Lego does something, it’s tested and tried numerous times because they don’t want to disappoint the customer. They care so much about that, which has of course been a very important part of building the brand. “Because I was there for so long, I’ve been involved with so many things. I was very much involved in the move from being a single product company to a multi-category company. “You could argue until the early 90s we were basically a British company that was all about the brick. Till the end of my day, I will always maintain that the brick is something very, very special. Even when other competitors were making the same, the way Lego made and designed their bricks was and still is, fantastic. “I had the opportunity to manage the process whereby Lego put other categories under the brand such as theme parks, educational products, the link to the movie world, kids wear, etc… and that was a fantastic process to be a part of and to manage. I had great people around me, so it’s not about me, I just happened to manage all that, so it wasn’t tough in that way. “It was tough to make changes in a company that had been very successful
because if a company is very successful over many years, they also develop some bureaucracy and can also develop false beliefs about what is right and wrong. But I did enjoy being part of that transformation, which included the development of the first theme park, in Windsor. “Although now we measure clicks, likes, and all those things in the digital environment, in those days we measured press clippings. We were already quite high on press clippings but the day the theme park opened, our press clippings almost 10 folded and it never came back. We became a completely different brand the day we opened the theme park because we had a new way of being close to the end-user. “For many years I worked with a school programme, which is not easy from a business point of view. It’s a smaller, difficult market because it has national regulations and other national peculiarities, for instance, the age by which children start going to school and how families view kindergartens and playgroups. “But I was very much helped by the owner of Lego in that respect, and he always said, ‘we’re not only in the education market to make money, we are also there to understand the learning aspect even deeper because if we are closer to teachers, we are also closer to those who really know about how children learn, and that is part of the brand’.” As a leading branding and marketing speaker, Christian Majgaard is part of The Motivational Speakers Agency. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 29
Ground-breaking study finds which countries are the winners and losers of pandemic recovery
ina Fordham, partner and Head of Global Political Strategy at Avonhurst has updated her ground-breaking ‘Vox Populi’ study to analyse the global markets in the aftermath of Covid-19 which will be published and available from 25 March 2021. Avonhurst is a political strategy, legal advisory and capital services firm based in London. Fordham’s original study, ‘Vox Populi’, was published in 2013 and has since won widespread recognition for its prescience, including predicting the rise of populism and figures such as President Trump. The new study, ‘Vax Populi’, uses OpenSource data to compile and analyse different variables to predict the post-pandemic recovery rate for 30 countries, including the UK. Fordham’s co-author on the report was Dr Tsveta Petrova, Avonhurst’s Data and Innovation Advisor. Fordham comments: “The data has already thrown up significant findings as to ‘winners and losers’ of the pandemic, with lower risk levels in Asia, the UK and Northern Europe, whereas there is more cause for concern in the US, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Russia, and Central and Southern Europe. “We’ve also found that, in contrast to conventional wisdom, regime type – that is, whether a country is a democracy or has an authoritarian regime – does not significantly impact its risk trajectory. Instead, the presence of trust in government and institutions and low prevalence of conspiracy theories matter more.”
‘Covid-19 not a Black Swan’ Fordham continues: “Covid-19 was no ‘Black Swan’ and was probably not even ‘the big one’. This suggests that it’s time for the concept of ‘VUCA’ (the US military acronym for 30 europeanbusinessmagazine.com
‘Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity’) to move over and make way for a more comprehensive, holistic approach to political risk that goes beyond elections and regulation.”
Great Depression, providing a more nuanced and measured analysis. It also offers some surprising findings about variables between countries – including how the British may be positioned for a stronger recovery.
‘Vaccine wars’ and no fast return to normal
Fordham comments: “For some, the post-lockdown period will feel like something out of The Great Gatsby. But for many, it could be more like The Grapes of Wrath, unless steps are taken to address inequalities – which accelerated during the pandemic – and the gaps in the social safety net.
Fordham and Petrova argue that, contrary to market expectations for a swift return to the pre-crisis status quo, investors should be prepared for a multi-year, non-linear adjustment period. The near future sees the continued risk of populism, mass protests and political extremism in what the authors call ‘High VAX Populi’ states (as shown in the accompanying ‘heat map’). Fordham also noted that vaccine disinformation was fast emerging as a new geopolitical weapon, and that vaccine-related economic nationalism could worsen trade and security disputes, as is happening already between the UK and Europe, and the US and China. The report avoids common complacencies that have seen market commentators rush to categorise the next decade as either the new ‘roaring twenties’ or the next
Jonathan Bloom, Chief Executive of Avonhurst, comments: “With widespread political uncertainty in the face of an era-defining pandemic, our client base is seeking guidance in the area of political risk now more than ever. They are not looking for generalisations, they want bespoke in-depth risk analysis and advice. As a political strategy and legal advisory firm focused on serving our sophisticated capital client base, we are excited to publish this ground-breaking study from a recognised industry leader in political risk analysis. This new insight will provide another tool for Avonhurst clients to navigate uncertainty during the next phase of the pandemic.”
Business has changed. Is it time to embrace low-code? Britain’s businesses are coming back to life. As we begin to emerge fully into a post-Covid future, we may notice that some of the drastic changes forced upon us are here to stay.
ne such revolution is the accelerated process of digitalisation. Business leaders have responded aptly to the ‘new normal’, and its influence on consumer behaviours and logistical challenges in a socially distanced world. We will leave behind a year which, for many, represented little but survival, into one abundant with surprising levels of opportunity. Many will have overlooked the boom in company incorporations during the pandemic and its accompanying lockdowns. Remote working and new gaps in the market have given inspiration to an extraordinary number of aspiring business leaders across the country. Indeed, incorporations were up 30%
in the four weeks to mid-December 2020, compared with the year prior. And as the marketplace continues its digital transformation at pace, and innovative entrepreneurs increasingly respond to and reflect on this trend, it is clear that there will be a significant level of demand for IT development to power the launch of new software solutions for years to come. This requirement is not unique to startups and scaleups, either. Established enterprises have, for obvious reasons, come under increasing pressure to increase the speed at which they can deliver valuable digital products to consumers. Increased competition from global players in the more meritocratic online marketplace,
matched with remote working, has simultaneously driven the prioritisation of quality and speed. This will mean large firms, too, must invest heavily in their tech development. Herein lies the issue. Pandemic withstanding, the UK labour market has faced a crunch on digital professionals for years already. Put simply, the demand for highly skilled developers has far outstripped supply, and many businesses will simply lack the expertise needed in-house to drive effective and competitive product development. Those with the deepest pockets to invest will, inevitably, win out over their leaner startup counterparts, delivering higher quality services much more quickly.
Ritam Gandhi, Founder and Director, Studio Graphene Ritam Gandhi, is the Founder and Director of Studio Graphene – a London-based company that specialises in the development of blank canvas tech products including apps, websites, AR, IoT and more. The company has completed over 100 projects since first being started in 2014, working with both new entrepreneurs and product development teams within larger companies.
This is why the rise of low-code and no-code platforms is such a promising development for businesses at any scale. Providing access to pre-built core modules and ‘plug and play’ functionality, these solutions demystify the process of producing digital products. This ‘building block’ approach will be of huge use to firms looking to adapt to evolving market conditions, with significant benefits besides.
Why low-code is the future The latest cohort of low- and no-code tools have seen tremendous uptake during the pandemic, and it is clear to see why. These platforms have simplified the course of designing a product, are versatile across requirements for different sectors, and have streamlined the process of taking a solution from conception to completion. The days of long and expensive software development cycles have vanished, with this new alternative endowing even employees with lower levels of specialised digital skills to take an increased stake in their product development. This ownership over the production is crucial to the success of lowcode: it puts technical problem-solving capabilities into the hands of the people who know the business best. These platforms are not simply cheap and cheerful fixes for costaverse startups and scaleups. Indeed, Gartner predicts that by 2023, over half of medium-to-large enterprises will have adopted low-code platforms.
For large enterprises looking for rapid delivery and iteration of software solutions, these platforms must be considered to keep pace in what will be a competitive post-Covid economy.
Finding the right fit The capacity to integrate multiple levels of business operations into a single cohesive platform is game-changing for SMEs. The days of expensive and disjointed integration of separate commerce, marketing, and communications functions will provide not only a huge boost in cost-savings and efficiency, but also minimise the organisational drift associated with complicated tech troubleshooting. A recent report found that it takes the majority of development teams 3-6 months to deliver an application. With many SMEs now entering the market to a potentially global base of competition, this could be the factor that sinks their business before they even launch. Imagine, for example, a small local bakery is looking to invest in expansion through an online delivery service. Traditionally, they face a difficult decision: is it more prudent to invest in additional trained staff to help meet the expected rise in demand, or hiring an IT developer to build the platform that will facilitate their ambitions? With low-code tools, these entrepreneurs can now have their cake and eat it too. Being able to quickly create, iterate, launch, and patch applications at a
fraction of the time and cost of traditional development has undeniable upsides for small business. The freedom to adjust products to meet changing consumer and client trends, and bring business-critical solutions to market at pace, will give startups great flexibility and the best chance at success in a ‘fail fast’ environment. This does not mean there is no place for specialised IT developers. One popular approach businesses are taking has been to blend the two into a hybrid strategy. In practice, this could mean using traditional hand-coding development for the long-term fundamental modules that underpin the digital offering, as these are less likely to require urgent adjustment. Meanwhile, low-code tools are integrated for the front-end and consumer-facing elements of their platform, where the benefits of rapid response will be most beneficial. With businesses large and small having been forced to adapt their operations to a new digital marketplace, and a nascent entrepreneurial boom following, it is unsurprising so many are now embracing low-code and no-code solutions. The shortage of skilled IT workers will not be remedied in the short term, so these tools will be crucial in bridging the gap; indeed, they are already becoming the most convenient option for the majority of companies in a rapidly changing business environment – so now may be the time to integrate low-code into your business plan. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 33
ven with all the hype and interest in digital currencies like cryptocurrency Bitcoin, China is actually seen to be leading the globe in the creation of a national digital currency that works for its citizens. Written By Matthew Meehan Since 2014, The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has been tirelessly working on a form of digital currency that, rather than being freely available, operates from a central bank in the same way that physical cash transactions do. This form of currency, known as the Yuan, aims to take paper and metal currency and essentially digitalise it to take away the hassle and labour that is currently experienced by the need to print and mint current money. China is a nation currently considered to be more advanced than many others when regarding uses of digital payments and therefore would simply provide a singular controlled method that would be legal tender across the nation without charging any interest on its usage. In terms of a question of need, it is globally considered that cash usage has decreased year on year with contactless payments (among others) being much preferred, a system which has considerably accelerated in a Covid pandemic where social distancing has been so paramount to national health concerns. This growing need is being pushed not only because creating and storing physical money is so expensive, but also because cash usage has always been considered a difficult, yet unavoidable process: counterfeiting is such a common practice due to replicability and the fact that it can be very hard to trace it back to its original source. A digital platform can be monitored, tracked and easier to control whilst also allowing payments to be anonymous in some regards to protect the privacy of high-net-worth individuals, businesses and even citizens who simply wish to remain legally private. This could be a huge issue for the businesses currently in the Chinese
China Creates Its Own
payment sector such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, who currently dominate and run the market, as they will lose many customers to a governmental system that arguably provides more support, and a clear level playing field that cuts the charges that these companies can levy on businesses and citizens alike. However, for other businesses, it is a form of protection should these companies go bankrupt, or just to be saved from paying any of the extra costs they are accustomed to paying, with the added benefits of efficiency and simplicity. With 4 in every 5 payments being cashless in China last year, there is also great opportunity to ensure that smaller businesses are fairly treated, with the activation of money given to commercial banks for specific purposes such as small business loans only happening when transfer is proven. Therefore there are greater assurances of a fair and appropriate playing field that allows for all to prosper in a digital Chinese economy.
Looking long term, this brings great expectations that the infrastructure can be fully established, and this secure digital economy will have a profoundly positive impact on the opportunities that will develop for business over the coming years. There will be some challenges in this process, as with any new technological advancement there is always the risk of the technology not yet being at the level of capability needed. There will also be a length of time taken for this technology to be adopted in all areas of life. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as in the short-term market forecast, first-mover advantage will drive businesses to compete and gain these new opportunities. Yet in a medium to long term outlook, such matters as the rate of adoption, the retained level of interest and the central bank’s ability to maintain a high level of provision, accessibility and performance will all come into the decision-making process and the Yuan’s future development.
In terms of the effects on China’s citizens, the data available to society would help to improve money supply, and the support mechanisms to boost a post-Covid recovery period, with the new currency being also convenient, easily accessible and securely monitored, with poor citizens taken care of due to not needing a bank account and not requiring internet access for those who live more rurally. The more pressing concern is the autonomous control that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will gain over their people’s bank accounts and finances, as with such direct authority they can financially strangle and suspend the electronic money wallets of those who are seen to disapprove of government action such as dissidents and human rights activists. This also plays into the current surveillance of 1.4 billion citizens who currently suffer blacklisting on such schemes as social credit, with its international audience set to grow
as the digital Yuan is set to be in use for when the 2022 Winter Olympic Games descend on China. With a fully developed and presented product, other regimes such as Russia who rule under a more autocratic process, may wish to adopt similar processes in order to gain similar control. Perhaps an underappreciated concern, is the fact that this could cause much international unrest, as a digital currency would be possibly be able to evade foreign sanctions and therefore could be used to support other countries, such as it did in 2018 when digital Yuan was used to purchase Venezuelan cryptocurrency Petro, when they were subject to US sanctions. Foreign business will also suffer from policy and regulatory issues, including having to have a certain number of digital Yuan to start operations in the Chinese market. More than 70 percent of registered foreign businesses operating in the
company have accepted the presence of CCP cells within the company aimed at influencing and establishing party presence, with global names such as Walmart, Volkswagen, Ford and many others supposedly bribed into silence over human rights violations in the nation, in return for access to the vast and wealthy market of opportunities. This dark side of a technological revolution will serve as a warning to the international business community to not allow such innovation to spread worldwide, as other democratic countries now need to accelerate and develop their own digital currency advancements, to ensure they can implement global standards and regulations that establish democratic procedure for their own people, and the rest of the world to ensure the protection of billions of citizens and their own data privacy from the governments that may soon seek to control it.
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You founded Wooxo in 2010. After 7 years, you acquired Atempo. Today, the Atempo Wooxo Group is a major player in the European cybersecurity market. What made you decide to buy Atempo? What were the main advantages of acquiring this company? Was it market share or were there other benefits? This external growth was completely aligned with our vision, which sees data as the source of all value creation. Most of the decisions we take today whether personal or professional are supported by applications: which road to take, which supplier to choose, which shares to buy, which prospect to contact, … Additionally, Europe’s sovereignty is inconceivable without a strong digital industrial sector. Our decisions must be based on sovereign algorithms. To strengthen our autonomy, we must capture, enrich, develop and host this infinite resource in Europe, and prevent our economic competitors from taking hold. Europe needs to provide ways to offer public and private organizations strict compliance with European regulations, and the confidence and security they are entitled to expect. The emergence of European cybersecurity champions is a cornerstone for the success of the entire digital sector. Over the past decade, data protection has become a complex issue with
the exponential growth in volumes, the dispersion of data, nomadism, teleworking, virtualization, and the adoption of the cloud. Our complete dependence on data has also facilitated the emergence of cybercrime which is increasing in intensity and impact every year. We wanted to boost our growth to reach a critical mass more quickly, build up an R&D task force dedicated to meeting these new challenges and ensure an international presence. Could you explain how Atempo helps its client companies integrate its cybersecurity strategy? How do you help them manage cybersecurity threats? Here again, we lean on our vision and our baseline which is Preserving Data Ecosystems. We have adopted the term “ecosystem” over “environment” widely used in IT but within which data is cruelly absent. This is the vision we intend to share with our customers through a threepart action plan:
1. Inform: Atempo is strongly involved with various groups and observatories committed to building a Digital Europe, such as the European Champions Alliance, and fighting against cybercrime such as Hexatrust, the GIP ACYMA,
cybermalaveillance.gouv.fr, CyberSecurity Observatory, etc. Such organizations provide decision support tools for contractors with relevant information: mapping of players, educational content, white papers, purchasing guides, etc. We also work in close collaboration with influencer networks and trusted contacts of companies in banking, insurance, accounting, etc. We recently launched through our partner CyberSec&You, in partnership with Metsys another Hexatrust Member, a national awareness program in France with a major bank, Crédit du Nord, which is mobilizing more than 2,000 business advisors to raise awareness of cyber risks among its customers.
2. Advise: We have a pool of Digital Advisors within our Group to answer companies’ questions, provide cybersecurity check-ups to validate their level of protection against cyber threats, and recommend solutions. We are also actively involved in the training of our partners’ sales teams to grow their cybersecurity skills, as they act as local advisors for small and medium-sized businesses. For example, we manage and run the cybersecurity module of our long-standing partner Ricoh within the Ricoh Academy. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 37
3. Equip and maintain operational conditions: We have a large network of technology partners, integrators, MSPs, resellers, brokers… who are committed to building this digital Europe and are keen to transform this vision into reality. Their contribution is instrumental. What are the biggest challenges that you face daily as a Tech CEO? The biggest challenge is undeniably to remain legitimate as the leader of the team. I have the honor to work alongside experienced, involved, dynamic employees ... this is quite a challenge. Adding value as a manager to such a team is not an easy task! Can you give us a typical workday? Due to the COVID crisis, my schedule has been significantly impacted: I travel little outside the Group’s sites and even less internationally. My workday can be summarized as follows: As soon as I wake up, I keep up to date with economic and industrial news, 38 europeanbusinessmagazine.com
then answer a few late emails, and share ideas on social networks. Arrived early at the office and always with a cup of coffee, I start my day with a 30-minute exchange with my partner, Cyprien Roy, then I join a videoconference with our APAC teams. Depending on the day of the week and the emergencies, I continue with a follow-up meeting with one of the teams: R&D, Marketing, Sales, Support, HR or Finance ... And often, the end of my morning is booked with discussions with journalists or analysts. At least four days out of five, I have a quick lunch with the teams to exchange informally. The beginning of the afternoon is dedicated to business development: new technological alliances, distribution partnerships, key accounts ... The end of the afternoon is focused on our US teams, or collaborative work with key players of the sector: European Champions Alliance, Hexatrust... In the evening, again with Cyprien, we discuss business and then I end my working day with tasks that requires isolation and concentration, mainly content writing.
To be honest, I must admit that I can’t wait to travel freely again to meet coworkers, clients and partners in person! The global cybersecurity services market is on the rise; the industry is highly competitive. In your opinion, what makes Atempo different from its competitors? How does the company stand out in the field? As you have just mentioned, we are in an extremely competitive industry, with high-quality competitors. We cannot survive without a certain level of excellence, both in terms of products and on an operational level. Compared to most of our competitors, Atempo is not a marketing company but an engineering company. We avoid following blindly and maintain a critical eye when it comes to trends which sometimes prove to be ephemeral despite the promise and hype. We always seek out real and concrete benefits of actual technological revolution that our customers can benefit from. Our stance is that the best marketing does not face the test of time and that our customers appreciate our clear vision and dissonant voice
which sometimes sets us apart from the mainstream. Atempo.Wooxo is an independent group, both financially and industrially. Agnostic to the customer’s infrastructure, our solutions can be deployed in heterogeneous environments, physical and virtual, multi-cloud or multi-brand for servers, on site, in the cloud, in hybrid, in multi-clouds… whatever the vendor used for primary or secondary servers… More than 25 years of proven technology and experience in data backup, archiving and migration, gives us an invaluable knowledge base in the area of data protection and data management. In terms of data protection and confidentiality, the European Union has the most stringent regulatory framework in the world, and it continues to strengthen. To face this challenge, all our developers are fully aware of the credo “Security and confidentiality by design”. In addition, Atempo is an active member of HEXATRUST, the association that federates the French cybersecurity sector of which I assume the Vice Presidency. This position puts Atempo at the forefront of the fight against cyberthreats and criminality. Looking ahead, what are your main goals for the company; what would you like to achieve? Are there any specific new projects coming up that you’re particularly excited about? Our ambition is to strengthen our European leadership role in data protection and data management, as well as our position as a key player internationally. Several innovative features are on track to be released later this year. The first one concerns a high-volume data archiving joint solution developed in partnership with IBM and OVHcloud. We are combining IBM’s expertise in high-capacity tape libraries, OVHcloud’s experience in providing secure hosting, thanks to a new erasure coding technology and a new generation of data centers guaranteeing the highest level of performance and security, and finally Atempo’s know-how in archiving and protecting large volumes of data.
This global offer should appeal to all customers looking for regulatory compliance, confidentiality, and security for their digital assets at an ultra-competitive cost. We’re also working on a new range of appliances for small and medium-sized businesses that should be a big hit. Finally, I am very excited to announce our imminent new value proposition for MSPs (Managed Service Providers). Recently you won the CEO of the Year Award from the readers. It’s not the first award for you — but how do you feel after this win? Given the huge competition, what do you think are the main qualities that a person needs to be chosen as CEO of the year? This recognition, awarded at the end of a year impacted by the pandemic, has a very particular meaning. It demonstrates our group’s ability to overcome an event of unprecedented magnitude, to completely reorganize our business and our methods of providing support to our partners and clients, while continuing to innovate, create value and maintain growth in our revenues. This achievement cannot be the result of a single individual’s work, so I take
this award as an encouragement for our entire team and respect for the work they have accomplished. Moving on to the future. What do you think the cybersecurity market will look like 5 years from now? And Atempo — what it will look like in 5, 10 years? Cybercrime is here to stay, it represents the dark side of the digital world. Within the next five to ten years, many schools, colleges, and universities, will have integrated cybersecurity in the core of their education program. They will train school children and students alike in digital hygiene. The adoption rate of cybersecurity solutions in businesses will be close to 100% as organizations will have become totally dependent on their data. The cybersecurity budget will be between 5 and 10% of annual IT expenses. In the meantime, Atempo.Wooxo Group will have consolidated its data protection leadership in Europe, completed its portfolio of cybersecurity solutions with external growth and will become a major worldwide player in data protection and data management. Hard work always pays off, so we are confident for our future. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 39
Creating a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment operating systems (OS) should be a high priority. Windows 7, which reached its end of life in January 2020, has been targeted with a password-stealing scam due to its vulnerabilities. This highlights how critical it is to patch software and hardware regularly.
Address the most likely incidents
ost businesses will complete regular risk assessments as standard practice. They’re crucial to reducing the threat of financial or reputational loss and give you an overview of the high-risk areas you must address. One type of risk analysis that is critical but sometimes overlooked is a cybersecurity risk assessment. In today’s digital-first world, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of analysing and addressing threats to your IT security. Making it a regular occurrence is also advised because cybercriminals are finding new holes in your defences every day. To address these threats, full and frequent cybersecurity audits are necessary to review: • weaknesses in your business systems. • outdated hardware or software. • the security awareness of your employees. Here are the basic steps you need to take to perform a cybersecurity risk assessment.
Audit your hardware and business systems You can’t understand the risks associated with your technology if you don’t keep track of it in the first place. Maintaining a comprehensive record of all the technology in your business can sometimes be tricky. If departments in your business are making shadow IT purchases – implementing technology without sign-off from your IT team – it can quickly become unmanageable. Identifying and auditing your most important and widely-used IT assets will help you understand which solutions make up the biggest percentage of your attack surface. For example, most of your employees will likely use your customer relationship management (CRM) software. If you haven’t tied down access rights, hackers could get in through a backdoor. Similarly, you can stop people from sharing customer information externally by limiting the number of people who can download large amounts of data. Keeping a rolling kit of your hardware will also allow you to schedule your patching. Updating well-known security risks like unsupported devices or
When we think of strengthening our cybersecurity, it’s natural to focus on protecting your business from external threats like hackers. That’s important, but you also need to look at other common incidents and their risk. With GDPR in force, data security is a high priority for most businesses. It’s important to note that business data can be compromised accidentally as well as deliberately. If your people use removable storage devices like USB sticks, there’s a risk they could be lost or stolen – like in the case of Heathrow Airport. Equally, if cybercriminals are targeting your business with phishing emails, consider the risk level of your people clicking on the malicious links and filling in their login details. You can reduce the likelihood of these threats reaching your employees in the first place by using powerful email filtering tools. As hackers’ tools, like the highly evolved Ryuk ransomware, are continually becoming more sophisticated, you need to consider what will happen next. Educating your workforce about the cyberthreat landscape and how they can play a role in keeping your business secure is vital. You can do this by: • providing digital and in-person training materials. • using a phishing simulation tool to test existing staff knowledge. • outsourcing security training to a managed IT support organisation.
Bio: Barry O’Donnell is the Chief Operating Officer at TSG, offering managed IT support in London, with expertise across a range of areas including Office 365, Dynamics 365, document management and business intelligence.
Identify the level of risk and prioritise actions A risk assessment isn’t finished once you’ve identified the most pertinent risks. Next, you need to understand how to address the risks you’ve identified. Let’s say you know a lot of your employees take confidential information to on-site customer meetings using USB sticks. They travel via public transport and their storage devices aren’t encrypted. This means your vulnerability is high: there’s a high risk of those items being lost or stolen and accessed by a malicious third-party. This should therefore be one of the first items you address. You can split down actions into quick wins and long-term strategies. So, a quick win would be implementing a policy that
states removable storage devices must be encrypted and/or password-protected. A long-term strategy could be implementing a cloud storage solution to allow your people to access their documents anytime, anywhere, and eliminate the need for USB sticks.
Don’t forget about your remote workforce If your business has back-office staff, chances are a proportion of them will be working from home at the moment. In fact, according to a survey by IESE Business School, SD Worx and CASS Business School 65% of all British employees switched to remote working during lockdown. That presents additional risks to the security of your business. A study by IBM found that 53% of remote workers are working using their personal devices, while 61% say their employer hasn’t issued any guidance on securing those devices. This presents a number of risks to your security, including: • Lower-grade security solutions on your employees’
personal devices, leaving gaps for hackers • Hidden malware or bloatware which has been unknowingly installed • Sensitive information accessible by non-employees. You can easily mitigate these risks by providing employees with laptops or, if that’s not possible, enterprise-grade cloud storage solutions which add layers of protection to work files. Similarly, unsecured home WiFi networks present a risk to security. By installing a business virtual private network (VPN), you can encrypt employees’ connection to your network. In today’s information age, cybersecurity risk assessments are an integral part of your business’ processes. Hackers are taking advantage of businesses and their homeworkers right now, meaning an increase in your attack surface. By carrying out a thorough risk assessment, you can identify the systems which need protecting most urgently. You can then create a comprehensive action plan which addresses the high-risk areas of your business first, before looking at securing every potential entry point for cybercriminals.
Know Every Cybersecurity Hack:
Here’s How You Can Protect Yourself FROM CYBERCRIMINALS Written by Swamini Kulkarni
hanks to the Internet we have a colossal amount of information at our fingertips but it is also a space filled with malicious links, viruses, and trojans.
The last two years saw the highest number of data breaches and it has become more prominent and frequent. Hackers are exploiting the vulnerability of uses and to save oneself from such cybercriminals, companies are investing a huge pile of money in
cybersecurity. According to a research firm, Allied Market Research, the global cybersecurity market is expected to garner $304.91 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 9.4% from 2018 to 2025. The increase in demand for Internet of Things (IoT) and bring your
password on IoT devices, which gives an opportunity for cybercriminals to get inside your system. In addition, brute force attacks include cybercriminals guessing the password, eavesdrop on communications between two systems and use the gained information to their advantage. Thus, every organization must take decisive steps to prevent cyberattacks.
What can you do to prevent cyberattacks? You can never be absolutely secure. However, you can develop strategies in the war against cybercriminals. Most of the organizations develop strategies and invest big bucks in cybersecurity. However, it is equally important to remain vigilant.
own device (BYOD) and surge in adoption of mobile device applications and platforms would intensify the need for cybersecurity.
How do cybercriminals acquire access to your system? It takes more than one small leak in the security system to get into your network. For instance, poorly secured camera, expired firmware, or unencrypted communications between client applications and the server can easily be exploited. Apart from this, most of the time, people are the weakest asset to a firm. Employees fail to change the default
1. Avoid reckless clicking Reckless clicking on websites and popups land you in the traps of cybercriminals. Malicious links can damage you in several ways. Thus, you must inspect links and ensure that they are from trusted senders. Moreover, avoid visiting unknown and shady websites and downloading software from untrusted sources. Instead of software, you can download malware that can silently compromise the performance of your system. More than once, people get emails from unknown people containing links and attachments. If you do not the sender, does not click on it. 2. Stick to one device The physical security of your devices is as important as its technical security. Try not to share your device with anyone and never share your credentials with others. Moreover, never give remote access to your computer. If you need to leave your desk,
lock your laptop, phone, or tablet so no one else can misuse it. Additionally, if you store private information on external devices or a flash drive, ensure that they are locked as well. 3. Know your digital footprint The number of applications, social networking websites that demand private information has now skyrocketed. You should monitor your social media accounts and know what information is stored on them. Several websites ask for the credit card number and we often click on ‘save for later’. Thus, it is important to keep track of your digital footprint and frequently change the password of such sites. 4. Secure your device One of the easiest ways to deal with the security flaw is to update software. Although it is quite annoying to find software update notifications, updating software patches save yourself from the risk of malware and other types of computer infections. Cybersecurity tips are simple to follow but many fail to follow them. When you don’t have an Internet connection, you get tempted to connect your device to an unknown, unsecured connection. But this is exactly what puts you in trouble. Simple cybersecurity tips like this can save you from a catastrophe. Merely installing a firewall and hiring third-party contractors to secure the company’s assets is not enough. Everyone has a role to play in protecting the security system; the success of the company may depend on it. For more information on Cyber Security visit at: https://www.alliedmarketresearch. com/request-sample/1770 europeanbusinessmagazine.com 43
Insurers increase appetite for innovation AS INDUSTRY JOINS FINTECH PLEDGE AND UK INSURTECH INVESTMENT GROWS
n celebration of UK Fintech Week, Tech Nation, the growth platform for tech companies and leaders, has today announced new signatories of the Fintech Pledge. The Fintech Pledge, supported by HM Treasury and developed by the Fintech Delivery Panel, sets world-leading standards to accelerate the growth of the UK’s fintech sector by promoting valuable partnerships between financial institutions and tech scaleups. In a move broadening the Pledge, six new signatories from the insurance sector – Admiral, Aviva, Brit, esure, Lloyd’s, Munich Re Digital Partners – plus Investec who joins as an additional signatory from the banking sector, demonstrate their commitment to keeping the UK at the forefront of financial innovation by strengthening their partnerships with tech scaleups. This commitment follows the successful launch last year of the world’s first Fintech Pledge across the UK banking sector. The first five signatories of the Pledge; Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest, Santander; have now implemented the core components to increase transparency and communication when engaging with prospective fintech partners, and continue to review best practice and share their experiences with the second cohort of signatories; Atom Bank, Co-operative Bank, Nationwide Building Society,
TSB, and Virgin Money; as they finalise preparations to put the principles into action within the committed six month timeframe. Increasingly, tech startups and financial institutions are looking to partner with each other to drive better consumer and client outcomes. For example: • Barclays has recently partnered with fintech scaleup Flux to provide customers with in-app digital receipts • TSB has signed a partnership deal with billing fintech ApTap, to help customers manage their bills and subscriptions more effectively • Digital Partners, a Munich Re company, partnered with scaleup Bought By Many (a member of Tech Nation’s newest Future Fifty cohort) to support the development and launch of innovative, customer-focused pet insurance
The UK’s insurtech sector growth The new signatories sign at a pivotal time for the UK’s insurance and insurtech sectors, as insurtech sees rapid growth in the UK, increasing its weight as a strategic sub-sector for the UK economy. In March 2021, London-based Zego, which provides
insurance to gig economy workers, raised $150mn and became the UK’s first insurtech unicorn. Looking at broader VC investment trends, in Q1 of 2021 alone, UK insurtech companies raised $187mn, representing 3% of all UK VC investment, and representing more than half of total UK insurtech investment in 2020. The growing success of UK insurtechs has been largely attributed to the creative ways they address customers’ insurance needs in an increasingly digital economy, opening up new opportunities across the whole of the insurance value chain. In a sign of increased appetite for insurance innovation, Aviva earlier this month introduced a new cyber insurance offering for SMEs to help them combat the growing threat of cyberattacks, and in March 2021, Lloyd’s launched the first version of its Core Data Record (CDR) for market consultation in an effort to standardise data flow through the market. In response to the boom in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, new forms of decentralised insurance are also emerging, such as Nexus Mutual and Etherisc. In response to the growing desire amongst both insurtechs and insurance firms to foster stronger partnerships with one another, Tech Nation’s Insurtech Board has today published a report on ‘Breaking down barriers to productive partnerships’ to explore how insurance firms and insurtechs can best work together to foster real relationships and drive higher levels of innovation across the industry. As an immediate next step, the Insurtech Board invites insurance firms to sign the UK’s Fintech Pledge and implement its key standards to continue strengthening and building the UK’s insurance sector.
Groundbreaking rules published to enable rapid resolution of blockchain and crypto legal disputes, as worldwide smart contract market expected to reach $345.4 million by 2026
he UK Jurisdiction Taskforce of LawtechUK, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Vos, Master of the Rolls, has today published its Digital Dispute Resolution Rules designed to enable faster and more cost effective resolutions to legal disputes relating to novel digital technology such as crypto assets, smart contracts, and blockchain applications, and foster confidence amongst businesses in the adoption of these technologies. The use of these technologies in business has rapidly gained in popularity in recent years. JP Morgan, for example, is just one of many large-scale corporations already regularly taking advantage of the use of smart contracts (self-executing contracts run on blockchain technologies that automatically process transactions without the need for a third-party). The business benefits of smart contracts are wide-ranging, including enhanced security, improved efficiencies, and cost reduction in the implementation (and automating performance of) contracts between parties. However, until now, there has been little consistency in how legal disputes relating to these types of technologies should be resolved, leading to lengthier and more costly processes. Drafted in extensive public and private consultation with lawyers, technical experts and financial services and commercial parties, the Digital Dispute Resolution Rules published today are designed to facilitate the rapid and cost effective resolution of disputes arising in the context of these technologies, and to foster industry confidence in their use. One important feature of the Rules is that they allow parties to resolve their disputes by an arbitrator, rather than by a judge in court (which can be a more time-consuming and costly process). They have also been drafted to provide maximum flexibility to adapt
to as yet undeveloped technologies, and to reach a resolution to disputes quickly and efficiently by arbitrators with appropriate technical expertise and enabling on-chain implementation of decisions. The UK has been at the global forefront of developing the legal infrastructure to support the deployment of these nascent and evolving technologies. In November 2019 the UKJT published its well-received legal statement on the status of cryptoassets and smart contracts under English and Welsh law. The legal statement was a significant step by the UK towards legal certainty for blockchain technology and crypto assets. Furthermore, English law provides an established and familiar framework by reference to which rights in respect of digital technologies can be effectively established and enforced, and has an impressive track record of dealing with and adapting to technological developments. Master of the Rolls, Sir Geoffrey Vos, chair of the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce and LawtechUK Panel member, commented: “I am delighted to welcome the publication by the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce of the ground-breaking Digital Dispute Resolution Rules. International
business is rapidly adopting the use of digital documentation and on-chain smart contracts. The Rules aim to provide a process for speedy and cost-effective resolution of disputes originating digitally. They will hopefully give global businesses greater confidence to adopt and utilise new digital technologies.” Jenifer Swallow LawtechUK Director at Tech Nation, comments: “Analogue ways of doing business will be widely restructured and digitised in the coming years, increasing efficiency and transparency. The smart contracts market alone is set to reach $345.4 million by 2026. Methods of dispute resolution must keep pace. The Digital Dispute Resolution Rules are a step change in that evolution and in enabling wider confidence and adoption of these technologies – underpinning those readily-available today and capable of adapting to those yet to be developed. This is an exciting next step in the UK’s leadership at the forefront of business, law and technology, and also demonstrates how simple legal processes can be.” The UKJT will keep a close watch on how the Digital Dispute Resolution Rules are used, and will aim to consider whether further development or revision would be valuable within the coming year, based on user feedback. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 45
A VICTIM OF ITS OWN SUCCESS:
The UK’s e-commerce trailblazing is leading to misinformation
Written by David Stokes, VAT Director, Sovos
ithout dwelling on the political arguments for and against Brexit, the UK’s move is certainly unpopular with large swathes of domestic and European media, as well as political leaders. And at the beginning of the year there were numerous stories on fishing, imports and exports, lorry parks and a host of realisations that many had come to regarding the nature of the new relationship.
The grinding of gears But one story in particular caught the eye of those in the business and finance worlds; stories concerning VAT rates and processes for goods coming into and out of the UK and the impact this was having on customers. This concerned a Dutch bike supplier who stated that they would stop shipping parts into the UK because of a ‘unique taxation regime’ implemented due to Brexit – with others quickly following suit. The story gathered attention with the company asking
customers to get in touch with UK officials to decry the new charges and was picked up by several major outlets. But in reality, the move by the UK was not spurred on by Brexit, was not unique and actually has its roots in the EU e-commerce package which is scheduled to be implemented by EU Member States on 1st July 2021.
Separating fact and fiction It is true that on January 1st 2021 a change to UK VAT law took place – but
the fallacy is that it was to do with Brexit. This change came as a result of an EU-wide e-commerce shift to try and protect businesses from overseas sellers that could undercut them on price, via lawful means by applying the Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR), or unscrupulously by under-declaring the value of goods to be under the LVCR threshold to avoid VAT. Brexit merely meant that the UK could implement these new rules according to its own requirements and timetable. The change sees LVCR stopped as a system and instead the use of the e-commerce package following consultation throughout the EU. After years of complaints about unfair competition and a VAT gap in the billions, the shift will see VAT paid by the vendor when goods are imported into the EU when the goods are less than 150 Euros in value. With the impact of COVID-19 this year, several countries such as Germany and the Netherlands pushed to postpone the implementation of the scheme and a 6-month delay was agreed upon. But in the UK, despite leaving the European Union, there was a consensus that the scheme made sense and would impact VAT gaps, and so it continued to develop. The long and the short of the story is that the UK simply implemented this before
the EU, which, combined with the Brexit deal dates, made it appear to be an individual decision by the country. When looking further afield, as well as the 27 Member States of the EU putting the e-commerce package in place by July 2021, currently the likes of Norway, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand already have these rules in place too.
The situation for businesses As with anything to do with increased or more stringent tax and associated import/export rigmarole, there is an inevitable pushback against these systems coming into play at the moment in the UK. Because the package protects UK businesses but is yet to be implemented with the EU, countries such as the Netherlands will currently be feeling as if they are playing with a loaded die. But once the package makes its way through the European Union, there will be a clear sense that the playing field is level once more with global sellers unable to undercut price as they once could. But all of this – from individual businesses blocking exports to the UK through to the misleading reporting on the topic – shows that there is a need for better communication and understanding of these rules.
Technology is coming to the fore with increasingly digitised tax regimes, the use of systems such as the EU ‘onestop-shop’ to minimise the documentation needed when selling across Europe and new schemes that will place the onus for tax collection on online marketplaces. Specialists operate in these areas, simplifying and automating tax and VAT processes, and crucially ensuring that businesses know what they need to pay, what details to give and the time frames for doing so. But this story is just one in a long line of issues that shows there is still much to be done to combat misinformation and indeed imply not knowing what is happening in import and export. For governments and organisations such as the EU to ensure that businesses are aware, compliant and supportive of new measures, there needs to be clear communication and education around what is happening and why. And that responsibility extends to those working in finance and its corresponding media too. Businesses may have already made ill-advised decisions based on the conflation of e-commerce rulings and Brexit; something which we can’t afford to see continue as the business world continues to bounce back from a year of the unknown.
Resilience Needed to Jump Start Final Stages of Energy Transition, Study Finds As countries continue their progress in transitioning to clean energy, it is critical to root the transition in economic, political and social practices to ensure progress is irreversible, according to the latest edition of World Economic Forum‘s Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 report published today.
n its 10th edition, the report, pub lished in collaboration with Accenture, draws on insights from the Energy Transition Index (ETI) 2021. The index benchmarks 115 countries on the current performance of their energy systems across the three dimensions of the energy triangle: economic development and growth, environmental sustainability, and energy security and access indicators – and their readiness to transition to secure, sustainable, affordable, and inclusive energy systems. This year’s report uses a revised ETI methodology, which takes into account recent changes in the global energy landscape and the increasing urgency of climate change action. “As we enter into the decade of action and delivery on climate change, the focus must also encompass speed and
resilience of the transition. With the energy transition moving beyond the low hanging fruit, sustained incremental progress will be more challenging due to the evolving landscape of risks to the energy transition,” said Roberto Bocca, Head of Energy and Materials at the World Economic Forum. The results for 2021 show that 92 out of 115 countries tracked on the ETI increased their aggregate score over the past 10 years, which affirms the positive direction and steady momentum of the global energy transition. Strong improvements were made on the Environmental Sustainability and Energy Access and Security dimensions. Eight out of the 10 largest economies have pledged net-zero goals by mid-century. The annual global investment in the energy transition surpassed $500 billion for the first
time in 2020, despite the pandemic. The number of people without access to electricity has declined to less than 800 million, compared to 1.2 billion people 10 years ago (2010). Increasing renewable energy capacity has in particular helped energy importing countries achieve simultaneous gains on environmental sustainability and energy security. However, the results also show that only 10% of the countries were able to make steady and consistent gains in their aggregate ETI score over the past decade. This highlights the inherent complexity of the energy transition challenge, as evidenced by the lack of measurable progress in the economic development and growth dimension – primarily through fiscal implications, labour market dislocations, and affordability challenges
resulting from the energy transition. Moreover, the carbon intensity of the energy mix has been rising in many emerging economies in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. “A resilient and just energy transition that delivers sustainable, timely results will require systemwide transformation, including reimagining how we live and work, power our economies and produce and consume materials,” said Muqsit Ashraf, a senior managing director who leads Accenture’s energy practice. “This in turn will require strong collaboration between policy makers, business leaders, energy consumers, and innovators. The journey to achieving such a balanced transition has been slow and daunting, but it is picking up momentum and offering countries and companies many opportunities for long-term growth and prosperity.” The social, economic, and geopolitical interlinkages of the energy transition have exposed vulnerability to systemic risks and disruptions, which may threaten progress on the energy transition. This report makes 3 recommendations to enhance the resilience of the energy transition process: (1) pursue a just transition by prioritizing measures to support the economy, workforces and society; (2) amplify electrification while exploring other options for decarbonizing industries; (3) attract diversified, resilient sources of capital from the public and private sectors to fund multi-year and multi-decade investments.
Stephanie Jamison, a senior managing director who leads Accenture’s utilities practice, said resilience is a very important concept for the journey to clean energy. “The role of electricity in the energy system will increase significantly by 2050, which is a big transformation,” she said. “While it is great to see renewable energy sources stronger coming out of COVID, there is still a lot more work to do to further progress the shift to net-zero -carbon energy and ensure buy-in from a broad set of stakeholders.”
Country highlights from ETI 2021 This year’s report tracks progress over the last decade. The list of top performers in the ETI has stayed broadly consistent over this period, sharing common attributes such as low levels of fossil fuel subsidies, enhanced energy security and a strong regulatory environment to drive the energy transition. The top 10 countries on the ETI 2021 are Western and Northern European countries. Sweden (1) leads the ETI for the fourth consecutive year, followed by Norway (2) and Denmark (3). All top 10 economies have made strong improvements in environmental sustainability, specifically in decreasing the carbon intensity of their energy mix, supported by strong political commitment and investments in the energy transition.
The United Kingdom (7), France (9) and Germany (18) are the only G20 countries in the top 20. Their progress is supported by strong performance on the environmental sustainability dimension, though their scores on economic growth and development have regressed over the past decade due to affordability challenges. The United States (24) and Italy (27) have improved on all three dimensions of the energy triangle, while also strengthening their enabling environment. Japan (37) registered moderate improvements in its overall aggregate ETI score, primarily due to strong declines in per capita energy consumption as a result of energy-efficiency improvements, though it continues to face energy security challenges due to rising energy imports. China (68) and India (87), which collectively account for a third of global energy demand, have both made strong improvements over the past decade, despite coal continuing to play a significant role in their energy mix. China’s improvements primarily result from reducing the energy intensity of the economy, gains in decarbonizing the energy mix through the expansion of renewables and strengthening the enabling environment through investments and infrastructure. India has targeted improvements through subsidy reforms and rapidly scaling energy access, with a strong political commitment and regulatory environment for the energy transition. Among commodity exporting countries, Canada (22), Australia (35), Russia (73) and Saudi Arabia (81) lead globally on energy access and security dimensions, due to abundant domestic reserves. However, they have displayed divergent trajectories over the past decade. Australia has improved its scores through sustained increases in investment and renewable energy capacity, and the gradual phasing out of coal. Russia improved its scores due to the strengthening of the enabling environment for the energy transition, though the uptake of renewable energy remains low and fossil fuel exports remain high. Scores for Canada and Saudi Arabia declined marginally. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 49
GOOGLE CLOUD SPECIALIST COGNIFLARE
HITS £5M REVENUES IN 18 MONTHS
loud-focused consultancy Cogniflare, which provides datadriven solutions to large-scale data and digital transformation programmes, has reached £5m revenues after just 18 months of trading. Cogniflare, which was formed in June 2019, specialises in providing professional services in the key areas of Hybrid Cloud Data Modernisation Services enabling both batch & real-time use cases, Enterprise Cloud Acceleration and Empowering enterprises with ML & AI. Cogniflare brings in years of expertise in delivering digital transformation programmes with faster time to market and proven track record. Since its launch, Cogniflare has already secured engagements with several blue-chip companies including Vodafone, Google, Europol and GSK. Additionally, the company has incre ased its headcount to 40 fulltime consultants, with plans for further hires this year. Key to the company’s success has been its flexible delivery operations model, which includes
on-shore operations in the UK, nearshore from its Poland office and full off-shore office based in India with a competitive pricing structure. As part of the company’s rapid growth, Cogniflare has formed an alliance with MongoDB, the leading, modern general purpose database platform, as a Strategic Systems Integrator. Cogniflare’s key target areas include telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, government security services and financial services. The MongoDB partnership is the latest in a long line of Cogniflare’s strategic alliances, which also include its status as a Google Premier Cloud Partner and Microsoft Partner. Speaking to European Business, Alan Chhabra, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Partners, MongoDB said, “Cogniflare has seen strong growth over the last 18 months and we’re excited to partner with the team across EMEA,” “Today, every organisation across every industry is using software and data to drive competitive advantage.
Together with Cogniflare, we’re excited to help more and more of these businesses accelerate their transformation and to use MongoDB to innovate, scale and modernise in the cloud.” Siva Mounidevy, CEO and Co-Founder, Cogniflare added, “With businesses seeking a rapid recovery following the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic, harnessing the power of cloud to fuel growth, expand operations and generate new revenues is a top priority. Since we founded Cogniflare, we’ve seen huge demand for our services, particularly with companies looking to accelerate their journey into Google Cloud and maximise the potential of enterprise data across their Google Cloud Platform. This has led to us signing major partnerships with key industry players such as Google, Microsoft and MongoDB. It’s been an incredible journey so far and we look forward to announcing a series of new hires, initiatives and the formal launch of our flagship product in the coming weeks.”
othing stays as it was – global business changes, fast innovations are emerging, and new developments in digital solutions help us to work differently. Today’s search for business partners is different – no traveling, no physical meetings, no personal checks. Different approaches to build up relations can make it possible to reach our goals in this changed world.
Check your business strategy before starting to search for partners In the current global situation companies suffer from uncertainties and some may suffer from lower customer demand. Business leaders have basically two possibilities: downsizing or finding new markets. This is the main reason why many companies look
outside their home country’s markets for growth opportunities. Entering new markets bring a lot of opportunities, but also a lot of challenges. Many obstacles must be overcome to achieve success in a new market environment. Before starting your partner search, always check your general business strategy. Does your products and services fit the new market? What competitive settings do you find there? What value can you add to your new customers? Define your go-to-market strategy and set up a time frame for your new venture. Focus on your company first. Before companies set out to find partners in distant countries, they should take the time to solidify their business fundamentals such as strategy, offerings and resources. This will help build the business case and platform they need to monetize effectively in new markets.
Currently we see that data and analytics affect business practices most in sales and marketing functions. The energy, high-tech and healthcare industries are particularly concerned. Involving data and analytics before entering new markets may also lead to reconfiguration of operating models or even core business functions from product development to marketing (Gottlieb, Riifai, 2017). Even when businesses are facing high demand, like the healthcare industry at the moment, it makes sense to deeply dive into your business strategy and define the priorities for new partners. "For all the markets we are entering or where we already serve customers, we have employees from these regions inside the company, with local knowledge and language. This is essential for our partnerships.” says Edwin Kleiber, Managing Direcor at Amex, a distributor of medical and laboratory equipment, who currently responds europeanbusinessmagazine.com 51
to the needs of international developing agencies and humanitarian aid organizations. When a team is truly native to a region, you gain invaluable insights into local markets and customs. Check your possibilities of human resources and see in which fields local partners can add value. Before entering a market and long before searching for a partner, it is important to analyze the value that you want to bring to your customers in the new markets. In literature, an array of concepts has been developed addressing the question of how value is created for customers and which components and characteristics of value are important. Three main concepts of customer value can be found: while economic and early marketing literature mainly focused on value-in-exchange, more recent developments focused on relationship value and value-in-use (Kleinaltenkamp, 2015). This brings up the real situation in which a customer uses a product. Marketing and sales arguments become more relevant when they refer to specific customer situations. Adding value for customers with products and services through appropriate value creation concepts becomes even more important in remote times. Your efforts can multiply when you meet the needs of your customers with the right arguments, whether it is a physical product, a software as a service, or a pure service. Some recent approaches have turned towards a more customer focused view of value creation processes and try to motivate customers to participate in joint value creation processes. This also needs partners, especially in distant markets, to interact with future customers.
Defining partner roles It is important to have a clear understanding of the business strategy before starting to define partner roles. This makes it possible to derive the right roles for any new partners. Depending on what type of product or service you offer and whether you serve a market directly or indirectly, these factors define the roles 52 europeanbusinessmagazine.com
of a future partner. Figure 1 shows a selection of the most common channel partners. Companies may want to sell products directly to customers. In this case they may work with channels like personal selling, agents, retail offices or marketing partners. Typical indirect commercializing works with dealers, licensing and service partners. E-commerce has a rising importance and can be organized through direct or indirect channel roles. A survey among workshop participants at CIS2020 – Asia’s largest experiential conference in corporate innovation – shows a representative picture of the current situation (figure 2). More than 60% of business leaders and innovators are currently looking for marketing-, e-commerce- and agent-partners. Those are partner roles which do not need big investments, but create big opportunities and facilitate progress even with fewer resources. As remote work is currently on our agenda, marketing partners can help in distant markets before, during and after the sales process. Finding marketing partners is probably easier than finding suitable dealers or service locations. Choosing a marketing partner can also be possible remotely, and you might see the results immediately. When it comes to industrial products, many companies still rely on traditional channels for commercializing. For many of those businesses, personal
customer interaction is a high priority, even with customers in distant countries. Many companies therefore rely on local partners like agents or representatives, who on the one hand inform about news and on the other hand represent the respective company’s interests in that market. "The current pandemic has made local partners in distant countries more important for manufacturers", means Wolfgang Willig, Managing Partner of Al Mazroui Infra from the United Arab Emirates. AM Infra serves wellknown companies from the Western hemisphere with its trade services and local support in the infrastructure and transport sector in the Gulf region. He confirms: “Agent activities have increased over the last year - also due to travel restrictions - because more local expertise is needed”. From a commercial perspective, the Internet has significantly transformed the retailing landscape. Demand for new technologies led to a shift to e-commerce channels in many sectors. The increasing prevalence of e-commerce has also given rise to a novel e-commerce channel - the marketplace - in which manufacturers sell their products directly to consumers. Globally, more than 50% of e-commerce sales were made through online marketplaces in 2019 (Merton, 2020). It is forecasted to grow dramatically over the next 5 years, as more companies adopt marketplaces as the best platform to promote
online sales. With the rise of the world’s marketplace top league like Amazon (global), PayPay Mall (Japan), eBay (global), Mercado Libre (South America), AliExpress (global), Rakuten (global) or Taobao (China), manufacturers, retailers and online traders need to decide whether to introduce the marketplace channel in addition to their existing channels. The high degree of shift to e-commerce led a large number of businesses to interact with their customers via different channels. Multi-channel commercializing aims to create additional customer convenience with multiple touchpoints such as online and brick-and-mortar stores. Companies may sell their products via e-commerce, look for an agent in a specific country and have a marketing partner for a region at the same time. Managing multiple channels is becoming increasingly complex, but customer demand is driving multi-channel strategies. Today, multi-channel commercializing is moving towards an omni-channel model in which the integration of various platforms shapes the service interface and creates a seamless experience for consumers (Thaichon, Phau, Weaven, 2020). The way companies are using the multi-channel trend is one of the hottest business topics these days. The choice of product and service offerings per channel, new strategies in pricing, how to measure sales performance, and even the effect of spillovers from online platforms are questions that go hand in hand with the multi-channel trend. The use of multiple channels can also change a structure of a company, including the role of the sales force, and may also lead to risk of cannibalization and potential conflicts in resource allocation (Yingchen Yan, Ruiqing Zhao, Zhibing Liu, 2018). Coordination and control of multi-channel roles is essential for business success in the future.
Partner search Classical personal selling is still the most used channel today. Millions of companies have their own sales staff who try to convince customers to buy their products or services. Particularly in the B2B market, personal selling is still the most important channel role. Take the example of industrial goods, which often require a high level of explanation. Here, sales can hardly be realized without specialists travelling to customers. Many countries have been keeping tourists out during the pandemic, and travel for business people has become extremely complicated due to permits and enforced quarantine days when entering a country. Entry into China is currently practically impossible for regular business trips (Brown Forrest, 2020). Agents typically can help in this situation as proximity to customers is an important asset. Personal conversation is still the most effective tool to convince people of one’s ideas. Long-standing contact networks of local agents are of course helpful and even more so, when travel restrictions are in place. Trading companies and marketing partners can also help in such situations. Depending on the targeted market, it makes sense to look for a partner that fits into local business practices. For
Europe and its regional differences it might be useful to have a marketing, agent or distribution partner in each country. In the Middle East, where business has strong ties to ruling families, it can be helpful to have someone, who has long-term business connections and even political contacts. In South East Asia, even among ASEAN countries, it is still difficult to ship products to another country for repair and return it repaired. In such a case you probably have to look for a local service partner. In Japan and Singapore traditional trading firms dominate the market. These can help foreign manufacturers to access the market. If we know who we need, we can talk about how we find them. Classic matchmaking organizations are chambers of commerce, commercial department of embassies, national representations, industrial, business and trade associations. Try to find influencers in a new market. Participate at conferences to meet potential partners. If you want to sell an elevator, for example, speak to architects, property managers or construction companies. Even ask future customers for help with searching for local partners and check how other companies and competitors work in that market. Probably you can get recommendations from your personal network, like business partners or social
With the appearance of new channels, companies often need to consider how to introduce a new channel with which partner. Defining the right channel role is crucial before starting to search for a new partner. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 53
media contacts, when you speak about your projects and future markets. Accelerators can help start-ups in matchmaking and business expansion in new regions. For example: RISE with its accelerator program works alongside startups and helps navigate a Southeast Asian expansion. Hong Kong's largest start-up community WHub can serve as a gateway to China, and PlugandPlay connects the best technology start-ups with the world’s largest corporations. Finding the right partner requires experience, contacts and knowledge for cultural differences.
Building partner networks virtually Today’s search for business partners is different – no traveling, no physical meetings, no personal checks - but the tasks stay the same. We recommend to speak to people, who know the market or know someone, who can help you on-site in the market. Personal recommendations offer a solid foundation for establishing new relations. Keep in mind that everybody is in the same situation in this pandemic and that customers find it just as difficult to get to know new suppliers. Nevertheless, a good synergy of advertising initiatives, social media appearances and sales efforts also helps in virtual acquisitions. Michael Kreilmeier, Managing Director of Mission Embedded, a system integrator for safety-critical applications in the transport and medical sector, states that "the more complex a product is, the newer a product is and the further away the customer is, the more trust needs to be built up. A personal touch always helps. If this is missing, the hurdles for new business are very high, but not impossible". In times of completely remote work, local contacts help. Established agents and local representatives report that their network of contacts is especially helpful now and that they benefit from their long-standing relationships. Not only businesses rely on close and long-standing relationships but also universities. Partnerships between universities have had a high priority 54 europeanbusinessmagazine.com
for decades. They shape entire generations, make a valuable contribution to research and promote cultural exchange. Universities have always been at the forefront of technological or social progress, and they switched to virtual formats very early in the pandemic. Virtual formats have also changed working practices in partner networks. "Virtually you often get quite far nowadays, sometimes the last steps require a physical meeting. Real personal time is better used today, because it is no longer taken for granted", says Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the Executive Academy at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. In the past you might have travelled for three days, today you might only have one hour for the same topic in a single video call. Human factors in partnerships cannot be replaced, but a lot of preparatory work in projects is possible with virtual tools. Therefore, we will look more closely at how digital tools can help in partner networks later.
Remuneration framework Once you have found the right partner, the next step is to discuss remuneration for the rendered services. A clear definition of a remuneration framework and the incentive system is essential for the success of a partnership. Finding an appropriate solution for individual situations makes the difference. Figure 3 shows six core elements of a well-functioning remuneration framework. Every company has different types of partners - from small businesses up to big businesses. Each partner may have a different relevance to the company. Partners can be classified by status, and represent certain importance to the company, certain rights and obligations, and organizational hierarchy. Partners may also have different roles or development stages in a business network. Typical status are silver, gold and platinum partnership. Certain rights, incentives, discounts and community advantages can be linked to a status.
For any partnership it is necessary to set the rates of remuneration. If you are looking for an agent, it is essential to set commission rates, if you have a distributor, it is important to consider discounts, and if you are looking for marketing partners, they will probably receive a fixed amount per month, quarter or year, or you can find a formula that depends on business success. Price levels often are essential for company strategies. Depending on the market and regulation, you can introduce recommended guiding prices. Keep compensation formulas simple, because payment procedures might get quite complex when it comes to invoicing, partial payments and credit notes. Incentives of course are very important and give the possibility to actively manage your partners. Incentives can vary from typical discounts for bigger orders, offerings for additional services, additional gifts or a higher status, if certain targets are reached. Nowadays, customer service is a must for every product or service.
Companies may offer special customer services to their partners. They may also seek partners who multiply services to their customers and offer train-the-trainer programs. Local service partners that understand local customs and speak the respective needed language become increasingly popular. During the pandemic, both capital goods manufacturers and manufacturers of complex plants became aware of the importance of local service partners. In the past, technicians could simply get on a plane and solve problems on site within a very short time and get plants running again. Today there are travel restrictions, quarantine regulations of 10 days on arrival and 10 days on return. This drives up service response times, repair times and associated costs. Local partners, who can communicate with specialists from manufacturers remotely or via VR- or AR-applications, are valuable today and new technologies for servicing are becoming reality. And finally, new partners need help in their startup-phase. This can be simple things like free samples or starter kits and may lead to increased support of new partners with favorable payment arrangements, additional training, and greater attention to technical service. “Each partner may not be able to support as much as needed, due to budget or time constraints. Laying out your concerns before working together helps”, means Natchaya Sukkaew from Yara International in Thailand.
Agreement principles Figure 4 shows the typical agreement principles that need to be brought into balance. Any partnership must have a defined starting point. It is also recommended to define a certain duration of an agreement. Open-ends in agreements can lead to difficulties in termination, for example if partners invest for the longer term and then demand compensation. In partner agreements one of the main points to clarify are the duties of both sides. This is the time to precisely specify what you expect from a partner and define who does what. Almost ridiculously seeming questions such
as ‘who is responsible for which marketing activities’ and ‘who pays for them’, or ‘who bears the translation costs’, make sense to be clarified before the signing of a partner agreement. Rates of commission and discounts, a fixed fee or a performance bonus are typical elements of such agreements. They all need a calculation basis. Is it the contract value or is it the value without taxes, and which currency is used for calculation? These are sensitive issues, as the nature of the base can cause high variations in money. When it comes to payment, an important issue is to specify the time of the payment. For example, an agent's commission usually arises, when a customer contract is signed, but the commission cannot be due until the contract is in force and the full commission should only be paid, when a customer has paid their bills. Each market has its own characteristics and this is the time to talk about specialties. We recommend formulating a standard agreement suitable for general purposes and to deal with the specialties at the end, as they can vary from country to country. Businesses can evolve and an agreement should also provide room for future developments. It may be that you wish to change partners or that you will have other sales challenges in the future, so it is a good idea to facilitate such developments. A partner, who is no longer performing, can severely block your business development. Terminating a partnership is not easy, sometimes painful, but sometimes also necessary. Find out, whether a new partner is right for you and simply try it out. We do not recommend signing large agreements at the very beginning of a partnership. Try to start a first project together. You will see how well the relationship works as soon as the first difficulty comes up. Even though we are talking about agreements here, lawyers can help with compliance to regulations and laws. Nevertheless, it is the business people, who should define the principles of the partner relationship. Finding an equilibrium between partners europeanbusinessmagazine.com 55
might be a secret to establish longtime partnerships. The big aim should always be to find the right balance, on the one hand by letting the partner work independently and on the other hand by monitoring their activities.
Managing new partners The right managing of new partners could be the final touch to a successful partnership. In any organization, a good onboarding program helps with all other subsequent steps. In times of remote work, digital tools, hands-on practices, fast action, professional organization and good communication is also needed for managing partners. Today’s popular digital tools all work on cloud based systems and they are available anywhere and anytime, which highly facilitates relationship management of partners. By using communication tools like Slack, Google Chat, Microsoft teams, etc., teams are brought together in communication channels related to projects, topics or teams. Everyone in a channel sees the same messages and stays on the same page. Bringing even 56 europeanbusinessmagazine.com
external partners into such communication channels can make work faster, collaboration more efficient and bridge global distances. “As software plays a more and more critical role in the performance of every organization, we share a vision of reduced complexity, increased power and flexibility, and ultimately a greater degree of alignment and organizational agility.“, said Stewart Butterfield, Slack CEO and Co-Founder, when announcing an agreement on 1 December 2020, under which Salesforce will acquire Slack. Online collaboration tools for managing projects and personal tasks help in times of remote work. By also integrating partners, teams can work more efficiently. Popular collaboration tools like Trello, Monday, Basecamp, Gira, Miro, Freehand, Confluence or Jamboard all have their own specialty and strengths. One aspect that they all have in common: they intend to enable teams to organize and prioritize projects in a flexible, effective and creative way, from anywhere in the world, irrespective of whether you commute on a bus or spend your work day at the beach.
Customer relationship management tools are powerful platform tools to help marketing, sales, e-commerce, customer service and IT teams to keep the customer in focus. Managing partners with a CRM software can help a lot to better work together with a view on your customers. We even recommend opening a corporate CRM account for external partners. In this way, partners can report directly into your CRM system and you do not receive single Excel- sheets or E-mails with sales or customer information anymore. The data will be directly fed into your system from your local partner and you can immediately see the results. Set targets with your partners that appear challenging. With the use of CRM software you can easily monitor and control target achievement. When you search for partners, you can ask for a certain number of leads and opportunities per week or month. If you formulate targets and prepare your people well for achieving them, they will do it and be happy with new modes of working. “B2B commerce of the future will shift very strongly to online channels - not least because of Covid-19. Partner models are moving further from isolated channels towards a 360° view of the customer. Modern CRM systems offer a holistic platform for data management and enable the development of automated and personalized solutions.”, says Christina Neumüller, Salesforce Consultant at Salesfive in Munich. With all the sophisticated software solutions and futuristic tools, the people who make the projects work must not be forget. As new partners arrive in organizations, the need for training in operational processes and digital tools also increases. Be aware that not all people are familiar with digitals tools or sophisticated applications. Frequent training sessions also help to include those, who need more time to learn working with these new tools. Powerful partnerships can grow, when you show flexibility in serving new partners. Motivate people to share information to build up trust and enable deliberate learning with channel partners (Keeling, Cos, Ruyter, 2020; Lostakova, Pecinova, 2014).
AUTHOR Dr. Lothar Stadler, 44, is an entrepreneur from Austria and provides services in global sales and business innovation for technology-driven customers. He is a former sales executive from the machinery and transport industry, mentor for start-ups and lecturer. Lothar.email@example.com www.explorvent.com
CONCLUSION This article is supposed to give you an idea on how to find multipliers for your commercializing efforts. The search for the right partner is characterized by choosing the right channel roles and an optimal incentive system. The current pandemic has made it even more important to add value for customers with the right partners. B2B business is still strongly dominated by the role of personal selling. Local agents with a well-established network of contacts can help even more nowadays. The high degree of shifting to e-commerce makes a good coordination of multi-channel commercializing essential in the future. We defined some of the core elements of a remuneration framework and typical agreement principles, which should be brought into balance for a successful partnership. Virtual
formats have also changed working practices in partner networks. By using communication and collaboration tools, work can be done more efficiently. Customer relationship data management will enable automatization and will become a key success factor in the future to keep the customer in focus. Powerful partnerships rely on mutual trust. Remember, most great things in history happened in cooperation - the right partnerships can be a great foundation for future success.
SOURCES Brown Forrest (2020): No tourists allowed: These places are still keeping travelers out during the pandemic, CNN, 14 November 2020. Debbie Isobel Keeling, David Cox, Ko de Ruyter (2020): Deliberate
learning as a strategic mechanism in enabling channel partner sales performance, Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 90, p113123. Gottlieb Josh, Riifai Khaled (2017): Fueling growth through data monetization, McKinsey Global Survey,. Hana Lostakova, Zuzana Pecinova(2014): The Role of Partnership and Flexibility in Strengthening Customer Relationships in the B2B Market, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 150, p563-575. Kleinaltenkamp Michael (2015): Value creation and customer effort – the impact of customer value concepts, in: The Nordic School, Service Marketing and Management for the future, Cers, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, p.283-294. Merton Kate (2020): the world’s top online Marketplaces 2020, webtrader, 18 february 2020. Thaichon Park, Phau Ian, Weaven Scott (2020): Moving from multi-channel to Omni-channel retailing: Special issue introduction, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, available online on ScienceDirect, 16 september 2020. Yingchen Yan, Ruiqing Zhao, Zhibing Liu (2018): Strategic introduction of the marketplace channel under spillovers from online to offline sales, European Journal of Operational Research, Volume 267, Issue 1, 16 May 2018, Pages 65-77. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 57
Partnerships With Location -Based Services Providers To Give Whole New Dimension To Businesses
ocation-based services have undergone a drastic transformation in terms of their applications in different sectors. Their applications are not limited to only maps, in which they have been used to find locations and determine route to go from one place to another. They have become expansive and adding value to customers’ lives in a way that was not imagined before. The services have moved beyond what original creators had envisioned. With progression toward autonomous world, there will be requirement of information regarding locations, including enclosed or in-building spaces. These services would offer additional data to companies, consumers, and military organizations for improving their operational efficiencies and productivity. Though many services are standalone applications currently, they will become cloud-based services in the coming years. Written by Praktik Cirve. Companies from different sectors have realized the need to possess location-based service capabilities to serve their customers in a better way. So, startups as well as large organizations have joined hands with service providers. The combination of expertise of both companies helps their customers in improving productivity and rolling down operational costs. Mobile network operators that have already launched their 5G services or intend to launch in the future would need location technologies to ensure public safety and consumer applications. For them, geospatial intelligence will become one of the critical factors. The demand for location-based services has been gaining momentum, and will continue to make a difference in various sectors in
coming years. According to the report published by Allied Market Research, the global location-based services market is expected to reach $183.81 billion by 2027. Following are some of the activities taking place across the world that highlight the importance of location-based service in different industries. Partnership with location-based service providers to improve their own services and solutions has become one of the crucial strategies adopted by many firms. MiRyde partnered with TPL Trakker to provide convenience to its commuters. MiRyde, the ride hailing service, will be supported by TPL Maps. With this support, the company will be able to provide one of the largest databases with more than 400 cities, two million point of interests, four million geocoded addresses, and over 500,000 kilometers of network across Pakistan. Rizwan Akhtar, the CEO at MiRyde, outlined that the firm looks forward to promote and deploy home-grown technologies by joining hands with local partners. With TPL Trakker, the firm aims to expand its footprint and use geo-optimization capabilities optimally to help its drivers reach destinations and various locations in efficient way and less time. Continuing its support to variousorganizations, TPL Trakker will also support Bykea’s app. Bykea is a bike ride-hailing startup for deliveries, transportation, and cash on-delivery payments. The startup aims to improve its service through integration of TPL Maps in its app. Riding on the trend of partnerships with location-based service providers, large organizations have also joined forces with them by identifying the need to improve customer
experience. CSS Corp., IT services and technology support firm from California, joined hands with HERE Technologies for its advanced location-based services. Under the partnership agreement, CSS can utilize products and platform of HERE for providing solutions to their customers through geospatial data and analytics. HERE’s products and platform such as HLS, traffic, positioning, routing, and tracking fleet telematics will be utilized for developing geospatial solutions for improved scalability and efficiency along with rapid decision-making. With
these solutions in place, customers of CSS can tap on new opportunities for fleet management, logistics, and supply chain management. The real-time asset tracking across supply chain would help in giving better response during emergency situations for fleet owners. Commenting on the partnership, Sunil Mittal, the Executive Vice-President at CSS Corp, outlined that location-based intelligence is critical to offer personalized and improved services to customers. The combination of expertise of CSS in product design & development and 360-degree
geospatial capabilities of HERE will help in offering enhanced value to customers. The combination is targeted to improve overall productivity and reduce total operational costs. Partnership with location technologies providers to support public safety and consumer applications is the strategy adopted by a mobile operator. A tier 1 U.S. mobile network operator partnered with Comtech Telecommunications for availing location-based services for backing its 5G network for safety and consumer applications. They have signed a $1.3 million deal for availing the services
of Comtech. These services include device mapping, location tracking, and messaging. Fred Kornberg, the Chairman and CEO of Comtech, outlined that the mobile network operator would offer excellent location services to improve public safety and performance for its customers. With implementation of end-to-end solutions, customers will be able to carry out their operations in a better way. Comtech highlighted that the next generation of networks would need geospatial intelligence. This partnership aligned with the future needs of networks. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 59
Why Danone’s CEO has been ousted for being progressive
anone’s chief executive and chairman, Emmanuel Faber, is to step down after activist shareholders called for his removal. In particular Artisan Partners and Bluebell Capital Partners, which together own less than 6% of the Paris-based food giant, explicit requested the board find a replacement. They blame Faber for “a combination of poor operational record and questionable capital allocation choices”. Bluebell said that Faber’s Danone “did not manage to strike the right balance between shareholder value creation and sustainability”. It was well known that for the chief executive of Danone, whose brands include Actimel, Alpro and Evian, the goal was to balance purpose with profit. “Stakeholder Capitalism is a Fact” was the title of a Fortune Magazine article published about him in July 2020. This was encapsulated in Danone’s logo, with a child looking up at a star next to the strapline, “One Planet. One Health”. Unfortunately Danone’s share performance has been very weak compared to rivals Nestlé and Unilever. Danone is perceived to have cared more about people, the planet and
Food giants’ share performance
social responsibility than its shareholders, and Faber is paying the price. If we measure a strategy’s success by the extent to which the shareholders accept it, “One Planet. One Health” has been a failure. To many it seems unfair that old-fashioned capitalism, targeting short-term gains, has been defeated here by the idea of a new form of stakeholder capitalism in which companies pursue the interests of employees, society and future generations, at the expense of investors. They are partly right but partly wrong, and even insofar as they are right they are blaming the wrong people. Let me explain.
Shareholders and the long term Doing what shareholders want is not incompatible with other stakeholders – rather, the opposite. Longterm shareholders are more long-termist than any other stakeholders in an organisation. Customers can take their business elsewhere; employees can change jobs when they do not share the company’s values. Yes, there are so-called “short-term” shareholders. But they are not the majority of pension funds and mutual
funds who hold most publicly traded shares and want to preserve the longterm value of a company. Even institutions focused on shortterm gains require stupid investors on the other side. If Artisan wants to hold Danone’s stock for just months, it will have to sell to someone. And if the stock has been inflated via a short-termist strategy, who will buy it? It is worth reflecting on Nestlé here. In July 2018, activist shareholder Daniel Loeb from US investor Third Point Management sent an angry letter to Nestlé’s chief executive, Mark Schneider, following a similarly dismal share performance. Schneider, a newcomer to the largest consumer goods company in the world, had implemented a strategy based on diversifying away from Nestlé’s traditional business of coffee and chocolate into health science. Third Point wanted Nestlé to sell off certain businesses, while arguing that it should take on more debt to take advantage of low interest rates. Schneider complied with this supposedly short-termist plan, and the share price has risen 32% since July 2018. In contrast, Danone is down 2% over the period, while Unilever has only gone up 3%. Today everybody at Nestlé, including customers and employees, is extremely happy with the changes imposed by Third Point. Seen in this light, perhaps we should be congratulating Danone’s activist shareholders. Danone = blue Nestlé = orange Unilever = turquoise. Trading View
Nestle’s CEO changed tack to avoid being wafered. Sustainability If you want to do more for other stakeholders, such as future generations, the underlying problem is the rules of governance. They stipulate that shareholders’ interests must be given top priority by company directors. I remember an executive summit in Copenhagen a couple of years ago where the chief executive of a top European company, replying to concerns about the firm’s environmental policy, candidly said that if he made it greener, “my profit margin would fall 3% per year, my stock price would fall 15%, and I would get fired”. Stakeholder capitalism ultimately needs enforced by politicians, and politicians are chosen by people. If western democracies are mostly run by political parties fostering traditional capitalism, it is our fault – it is because most people do not want to be sustainable. Danone is not the last company whose shareholders are going to rebel when
the company does not create value for them. If we want a new form of capitalism, but expect executives to change the system without politicians changing national and international regulation, we have two choices. The first is that companies cater to different shareholders: if you want to have a higher purpose than profit, appeal to investors who are willing to lose money to preserve society and the environment. Incidentally, don’t kid yourself that you can rely instead on investment giants like Blackrock who run index funds that exclude companies that don’t meet criteria around sustainability, while claiming that stakeholder capitalists will be the winners of the future. These institutions manage other people’s money, and transfer the burden of sustainability to the ultimate holders of the shares. Shareholders in the new capitalism will be those willing to sacrifice personal financial gains for a social benefit. Are you one of them?
ricochet64 The second choice is to rely on innovative executives to come up with new business models that find a way to generate shareholder returns while being sustainable. This is not easy. Most business models that I see either impose the cost of sustainability on shareholders by achieving lower returns, or on suppliers by paying them less, or on customers in the form of higher prices. Only a few create truly sustainable business models. For example Vestergaard, a Swiss-headquartered company, patented a product to provide clean water to rural populations in Africa which was financed by selling carbon credits. In such a model customers, users, suppliers, owners and government authorities won. A chief executive running a business like that should be safe from being removed for caring too much about sustainability.The Conversation Arturo Bris, Professor of Finance, International Institute for Management Development (IMD) europeanbusinessmagazine.com 61
STARTUP LESSONS FROM CYBERHEAVEN:
HOW TO NOT ONLY SURVIVE, BUT THRIVE, DURING A PANDEMIC Polish data privacy startup show that startup growth is possible despite the challenges caused by Covid 19
Written by Katie Fisher
hen Polish data security startup CyberHeaven sp z o.o. started their company in late 2019, they had no idea that a global pandemic was lurking just around the corner – and within a few short months would sweep across the world – creating a profound impact on businesses large and small. Companies very quickly found themselves tackling unprecedented challenges brought on by Covid 19 and the resulting safety measures, forcing teams to work from home, cease travel and in some cases, stop operations altogether. Customers and investors became more cautious about spending due to the economic uncertainty, and many startups were forced to rethink their strategies in an effort to make themselves “pandemic proof”. Fortunately for Cyberheaven, cybersecurity is one of the few industry sectors that has shown accelerated growth during these turbulent times, with the importance of data protection a top priority for individuals and organisations alike. Since GDPR came into force in 2018, awareness about the subject of data privacy has become more widespread; however this was not enough to prevent large scale cyber attacks and data breaches that continue to pose a threat to organisations handling sensitive customer data, as hacking methods continuously evolve at a rapid pace. Since last year, many countries have increased digital surveillance measures and launched tracing apps designed to help curb transmission rates of the virus, which once again put discussions about
protection of our personal data into the spotlight. This is why innovative cybersecurity solutions with a unique approach in an ever more digital world are so important. Having kicked off product development in Q1 2020, Cyberheaven recently passed the one year mark of operations and received their first product orders. Let’s take a look at the progress the company has made until now and how they managed it to achieve it.
Fundraising: A Gamechanger for Startups The majority of startups require external funding to launch and scale their business – especially where hardware development and manufacturing is concerned (as is the case with CyberHeaven). It’s always recommendable for early-stage companies to plan finances conservatively and be prepared for unexpected challenges; with new research finding that 92% of startups fail (20% within the first year, often due to insufficient funds), raising sufficient capital to fund operations and facilitate growth is vital. Securing financing from the right investor is a gamechanger for startups and can mean the difference between the life or death of a company. CyberHeaven closed their first investment with Warsaw-based Venture Capital fund Arkley Brinc in November 2019 when the company was first established, and recently raised a further 1 000 000 zł from a new investor – a Bridge Alfa fund – in January 2021. During this time period, the company more than doubled in value after exceeding even their own
expectations, with year one revenues reported as ten times higher than originally planned. The company is using the newly raised funds to develop an additional product – a secure remote communications solution, with the mission of becoming the next-level video conferencing platform. The use of remote communication tools has skyrocketed since the beginning of the Pandemic, in a market trend that is predicted to continue growing long after we settle into the “new normal” (whenever that may be).
The Launch of CyberVault: A Hardware Device for Double Protection CyberHeaven is building a complete ecosystem of data privacy tools to ensure the maximum level of encryption for individuals, businesses and organisations, enabling them to save, send and store files securely. The tools are developed to be resistant to all known cryptographic methods that may be used by hackers, and have undergone rigorous testing with successful results. The technology is built upon a method HVKM (hybrid-virtual key management), developed by leading experts in cryptography. Last year the team finalised the initial iteration of their first product, CyberVault – a portable USB device that gives customers unrestricted access to their encrypted data, even when in offline mode (such as on a flight, or somewhere without secure or reliable internet access). This small piece of hardware provides a double layer of data security, as the user requires both their workstation (i.e. desktop or laptop) and the USB device
together in order to gain access to their data. If either one component fell into the wrong hands, it would be impossible to access the encrypted information. Following successful pilot tests in Spring 2020, the product launched in the summer with over 500 units ordered. The team achieved this due to fast adoption of digital tools for working remotely, practicing agile development, partnering with local producers to manufacture the first batch of devices, and accessing clients through distribution partners.
Strategic Partnerships & Distributors CyberHeaven secured strategic partnerships with a number of distributors to execute their ‘go to market’ strategy, tapping into existing networks of potential customers. One of the key CyberHeaven partners is Usecrypt, with which the CyberVault product has been integrated to offer in conjunction with Usecrypt’s data encryption tools. CyberHeaven is
also in talks with industry sectors that process the most sensitive customer data, such as digital healthcare providers, enterprise software companies and government organisations. They have expanded to global markets beyond Poland, such as the USA and Eastern Europe, recognizing that the problem of data protection vulnerabilities is a global one.
New Product Development in the Works With the CyberVault device only solving one piece of the encryption puzzle, CyberHeaven have already begun development of their next product: a secure communications platform with video conferencing. Remote communications have exploded during the pandemic, yet existing tools on the market have failed to fully address data privacy and information security concerns. For example, Zoom – one of the most popular video conferencing platforms – has been subjected to multiple security
issues, such as “bombing” from uninvited trolls crashing professional meetings, to ambiguous privacy policies, to a recent attack (on 8th April 2021) where hackers hijacked Windows on PCs and Macs to remotely take over control via the Zoom desktop app. Whilst some measures have been introduced to increase data protection, such as two factor authentication, there is still a long way to go before users can be sure that their confidential online meetings will be completely protected from potential breaches. This remote communications platform will be the core focus of CyberHeaven’s product development in 2021, with the first version due to be ready later this year. Identifying market segments that show steady growth has been key to this startup’s success, enabling the company to thrive throughout this difficult time. CyberHeaven have demonstrated that they are not only ‘pandemic-proof’, but will remain relevant long into the future of our digital age. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 63
Defence in Depth - Time to start thinking outside the box Callum Butler, Security Architect, CANCOM
pam Prevention, Anti-Virus, Intrusion Prevention – these are just a few solutions you may already be using as part of your cyber security strategy. Whilst these are all effective in their own right, have you ever taken the time to look at your entire Cyber-attack chain, your endto-end defences, and wondered what would happen if they were bypassed? Analysing vulnerabilities within your entire Cyber-attack chain (also known as the cyber-kill chain) can help put strategies, or technologies in place to “kill” or contain attacks at various stages to better protect your systems, data and employees. Our SOC and red teaming experts often come across organisations who rely on one or two solutions and assume this makes them safe. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and hasn’t been for a while. To expand this point, I’m going to explain why Defence in Depth is a better strategy.
What is Defence in Depth? Defence in Depth is an approach to cybersecurity in which a series of defensive mechanisms are layered in order to protect valuable data and information. A medieval defence system is a good analogy. For example, castles were designed to be hard to attack with large moats, vast walls, numerous look out points and a series of complex passages. The same concept can be used to plan your own cyber security strategy. In other words, by using a layering tactic, this offers a more comprehensive approach to information and electronic security.
Don’t overlook physical security You may have considered different cyber security technical solutions, but what about buildings, or the place where your data resides? For example, your data could be in a shared facility where anyone could
break in, or even, in some cases, walk in. Yes, really - you would be surprised at what can happen! By focusing on the bigger picture, while also analysing your cyber-attack chain, you can adopt multi-layered security to protect your organisation.
Active research Here at CANCOM, our SOC team are continuously researching new ways to help customers improve their security. For example, from our active research we recently found 29 subdomains that were vulnerable to be taken over. These were in various industries from sports, investment, car manufacturing to name but a few. In the event of an attack by a malicious adversary, this could lead to the theft of data from either customers or employees. To resolve this, we would either suggest returning the unclaimed endpoint to the user, or, if the subdomain is not in use, we recommend removing it and setting up a policy to actively check listed subdomains. We found a number of further misconfigurations in web applications, for example we saw a ticketing system used by a large IT firm had misconfigured their email template which could have allowed for all emails, both new and those already received, to deliver
malware. We identified over 100,000 emails with this vulnerability present and, these, in turn, had been sent to over 1000 users. Like many, we have seen an increase in phishing campaigns that target end users, but we have also seen an increase in attacks on RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) scans. These were mainly attacking environments that didn’t have a good security culture and so provided an easy route in.
Vulnerability Use Case We recently analysed an environment that already had many of the recommended cyber security defences in place. For example, an anti-phishing/ anti-spam filtering solution, Intrusion Prevention Solutions, Endpoint Monitoring and Antivirus. However, by embedding another link within an article, linked to from an email, this lured the recipient into clicking a bad link, and bypassed the normal scanning tools. This illustrates that even with anti-phishing in place, defences can still be breached. So, what could have been done to prevent this? Firstly, you might be asking
why the IPS solution didn’t prevent this in the first place. Normally, it would; however, these days, we are mostly at home, so the average home router does not have this functionality and people are not always connected to a VPN. To analyse what went wrong, and to prevent further attacks, we firstly checked the Cyber-attack Chain, or the Mitre Att&ck framework. This is a globally accessible knowledge base of adversary tactics and techniques based on real-world observations. This helped us to understand how an attacker had bypassed the previous measures. When we dug deeper, we saw there had been a successful Defence Evasion; the email solution was exploited by allowing a phishing email through. This could have easily led to Credential Access or Installation with further persistence. So, the go-to solution I would use is a DNS Filter/ Content Manager, tools such as Cisco Umbrella or DNS Filter. These filters would have analysed the clicked link, and as the domain in question was less than 15 days old, blocked it, and prevented this scenario.
Analysing the different attack frameworks provided in globally accessible knowledge bases, such as Lockheed or Mitre, are vital in identifying missing solutions. Running a red team engagement can also quickly boost the identification of missing solutions. In a red teaming engagement, we can simulate a security attack to quickly identify points of vulnerability and the best solutions to remediate these.
Defence in Depth now critical Because attackers are using many different types of techniques and are always on the offensive, it’s essential to look at all avenues to protect your organisation. I often advise our customers, they may want to approach their security with the same kind of rigour employed by Space X, the American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company founded by Elon Musk. To stop their rocket blowing up upon landing, they are investing in continuous and iterative improvements. It makes sense to take a similar app roach to your cyber security, continuously improving your defence to prevent data and financial loss.
Businesses Are Using Skills Management Software To Build For The Future
kills management software has become an integral tool for any business looking to better utilise their employees and maximise the productivity of all departments whether they are an SME or a much bigger corporation. The process involves designated management staff using free or subscription-based software to understand and monitor the skills of their employees, developing those or other abilities to better fulfil their specific roles and then introduce new practices that will achieve business growth from utilising the workforce better.
The four main outcomes of this process are generally seen to be: finding specific staff members to solve urgent problems, allocating resources to the most in need departments, finding areas where new projects can be launched and to develop staff competency to achieve their purpose. In a basic form, this process can be referred to in such ways as digitise, track, and assess, and is a crucial part of businesses planning for their future. One key tool in this process is maintaining an ‘employee skills database’, allowing employers to keep track of
their workers’ skills, goals, and future opportunities with greater precision when making decisions, meaning that companies stay agile and able to react to changes by allocating tasks to the experts who will therefore achieve greater success in their role. Within every category, by rating each skill on an average point scale from 1 to 5, employees and new hires record their confidence and abilities in each area, with 5 representing the highest level of experience and confidence and providing insight into areas that require improvement for future progression.
Constant updating and adaptation of this database results in rich, relevant and ever -accumulating data, giving clear guidance on not only skills staff members have, but the perfect types of candidate who can fulfil the company’s needs. With this knowledge, current team members can find new roles and managers can hire incredibly talented candidates, all within a reduced timeframe. Not only does that transform the businesses capability over time, but also allows depth in planning for both employees and companies, as businesses provide each individual employee with a career roadmap that shows what is expected of them, and how they can be guided to become a much larger player in the future. Staff turnover is likely to be much lower for any workplace who clearly defines their expectations and gives hope and opportunity to staff who
feel valued and supported in their career aims. A specific element of this is the ‘competency matrix’, which works to map specifically the required skills for a team or a project. This allows HR managers to arrange their teams through balanced and focused skills allocation, which then allows them to assess, update and earmark those team members who will excel in the future projects. By creating this skills matrix, they also gain clear guidance as to what they need to look for, with someone in HR needing skills such as staff hiring and firing (onboarding), employee relations and administration, leading to an ability to prioritise the search based on the company function, seniority of the roles and how highly each employee scores in different areas. These mainly come in two forms: excel based, and software/external
programming based, meaning that all businesses, no matter their level of technical ability, will have access to management improvement tools, with easy adoption of these tools and the cost implications almost eradicated. In fact, much of this software is free to use, allowing these businesses to learn and develop these skills with employee reports, skill analysis and competency evaluation, all becoming an easily integrated facet of business performance. The future is all about responding to situations in the quickest way possible, with speed and agility vital to ensuring the maintenance of competitive advantage and by providing access to software that has the capability to be up and running within minutes, businesses protect themselves and build resilience against the challenges that they may face moving forward, regarding staffing and project allocation. Some of the biggest challenges that face companies involve industry changes in critical areas like cyber security and data protection, such as the introduction of GDPR, which means that while data may be at risk in current circumstances, the outsourcing and development of external software helps to also guarantee a level of confidence internally from managers using these tools. This is true also for outside sources, who may be more inclined to work with a company that shows its commitment to both the safety of its information, developing its staff, guaranteeing peak performance and targeted resource allocation by staying up to date with all advances, both through tracking the market, and by using these programmes which will naturally allow the business to constantly stay responsive, which is effortless through such use of tools. Reducing costs, improving performance, becoming more aligned with modern day and future advances in technology and providing staff with the ability to grow and perform for the business, which provides unlimited potential and a strategy that will help the company stand the test of time. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 67
Why is Skills Management important? And how can you succeed in your strategy? well as collective, growth. All in all, this contributes to the organisation’s growth.
How Can Skills Management be Utilized? KNOW YOUR SKILLS
any companies today lack both structure and knowledge of how they handle their most important asset - the combined expertise of the company. Due to the rapid development of technology, the relative demand for skills, and the distribution of hard and soft skills, has been altered. The dynamic market has put a strain on companies, and they have had to act quickly to maintain market demand. During the last quarter, we have seen a rise in both giggers and huge enterprise companies joining the platform. This shows that Skills Management is not solely a problem for big corporations with 2000+ employees, it is also a challenge that smaller firms have to deal with. Since employment forms are becoming more flexible, many companies start building their “network capital” with both internal and external competencies, in order to secure delivery capacity. There needs to be a structure to quickly find internal as well as external competence, which adds another dimension into the efficiency in skills management. What tomorrow’s winners have understood is that skills management is a true growth engine, helping managers identify available skills at a detailed level, in order to make the right managerial decisions with regards to allocation, assignments, reskilling, upskilling etc. Individuals get matched to the right opportunities, driving individual, as
In an ever changing market with rapid digitalisation and new needs amongst customers, new market trends arise and skills become outdated with time. Companies need to stay relevant and aware in order to maintain their market attractiveness towards a wide base of customers. By inventorying and knowing your skill supply, you can get a more clear view of current and future market demands and trends, and which skills need to be developed and upgraded in accordance with market trends. With this data you can make quicker managerial decisions, putting you pole position. Important to note is that workforces are dynamic, changing in shape and size as the business grows. Therefore, make sure to continuously update your skill inventory so that it gives an accurate reflection of your current workforce. SHOW YOUR SKILLS
The core of “Show your skills” lies within the visualization of skills. By demystifying skills, everyone gets the same opportunities to make their knowledge and ambitions visible. Skills Management increases the visibility of every employee as their profile gives management an indication of what they want to learn, need to learn and what their dream assignments are. Match talents with the right challenge, both within and between companies. This empowers employees by giving them the steering wheel to their own growth and success. Employees can connect with projects and business opportunities that match with their skills and ambitions, further leading to heightened motivation at the workplace as everybody gets a say in which assignments they want to take on. GROW YOUR SKILLS
People naturally have different attributes and competencies, be it due to upbringing, education or experiences. Today we see that no attribute is chosen over the other, instead, many industries have started to comprehend that a mix of attributes is the key to success. Companies need to procure a healthy mix of people and skills in order to cover the increasing demands on the market and the ever growing needs of the customers. The first step to finding the right sets of skills which can complement the existing workforce is to identify gaps between supply and demand. When a skill-gap has been
identified, companies know in detail which skills they need to recruit, which applicants are the best fit for the team and if it should be brought in internally or externally. When the right sets of skills have been brought in, managers need to keep track of developmental needs. For a business to grow, managers need to keep track of skills and identify which skills need to be re-skilled or up-skilled to meet the market demand. With a skill inventory, managers together with their employees can easily predict which skills need to be developed over time.
How to succeed with your Skill Inventory In “knowledge-intensive” industries where the core business activity involves selling services based on individuals’ sets of skills, it is surprising to see that few companies work with their Skills Management in a structured manner. Most companies work ad-hoc with their skills, and it often turns into an excel spread-sheet circus that becomes a time consuming issue/task. We clearly see that businesses are moving from building a 100% employee driven business, to a business that now
includes subcontractors/giggers/partnerships as part of their sales/delivery capacity. The lack of control over and knowledge about the skill inventory can result in the supply not being used to its full potential. Managing the external “network capital” of skills in a structured manner opens up both new sales channels and access to expertise - the knowledge and overview of the potentials is a booster for growing the business. The first step to successful Skills Management is creating a skill inventory. A skill inventory should contain;
1) A summary the employee’s past; previous assignments, employers, experiences 2) The status of present skills; their skills, a grading of each skill, which skills are becoming outdated 3) The future; dream assignment, what do the want to learn, what do they want to work with These data points provide you with a snapshot of the current skills and capabilities of your workforce, as well as current and future skill gaps, and which decisions have to be made moving forward.
Three tips on how to succeed with Skills Management 1. Transparency; identify skills and ambitions! Make it easy for everyone in the organization to show their competences and ambitions. With a digital platform, skills become visible and searchable, which enhances transparency. The structured data points provide you with a clear overview of your most important asset - the company’s overall competence - and how it should be handled. 2. Match the right skills with the right projects To really succeed with your projects, you need to have the right person on the right assignment. Skills, ambitions and availability is the key. Choose a digital platform that helps you succeed with matching, and optimize the utilization rate. 3. Use external skills to grow - create your network of freelancers and partners Build your network of freelancers and partners in a structured way to increase your delivery capacity. Even if you don’t have the internal skills at hand, use your network to fill out eventual skill gaps.
Skills Management as an EVP Growing competition and opportunities in the labour market place have enabled prospects to choose whether to join the lucrative freelance world or move to a competitor. The increased amount of options has made it harder for companies to recruit talents and retain their present skill supply. This means that every company needs to develop a strong employee value proposition to be able to compete on the labour market and reach out to top talents. Individualized personal development is a strong EVP which acts as a basis for motivation moving forward. Making sure that your workforce stays motivated and engaged at the workplace is key to minimizing staff turnover, as employees often leave due to lack of growth opportunities. Everybody knows that high staff turnover is costly, and it is in everybody’s interest to keep the costs associated with layoffs and staff turnover as low as possible. Thus, Skills Management should be a priority for all organisations.
About Cinode Cinode has over ten thousand users in 20+ countries. In Sweden, the company has more than half of the Swedish listed consulting companies as customers, and they are now growing in other segments, such as retail and telecom. The company is growing rapidly among both one-man companies and large knowledge-intensive organizations. The goal is to have one million users on the platform by 2025. To reach this goal, and to help more organisations excel in their Skills Management, Cinode is going global. The company is currently at the forefront when it comes to Skills Management in Sweden, and now they are hoping to become global thought leaders within the field. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 69
ANDERS HAGBERG How long have you been involved with Cinode as CEO ? I’ve been part of the Cinode journey since 2014. When I joined the start-up, I was the Head of Growth, and through meeting customers and various businesses I gained a lot of insights within skills management and its potential. In September of 2018 I took on the role as CEO. During that time the company was growing at a fast pace, going from a start-up into a scale up phase, which is a phase that I truly love from a management perspective. I am very passionate about building companies, strong company cultures, and managing the growth together with all amazing Cinoders. Can you explain how Cinode works for businesses looking to use your platform - What are the main advantages of integrating such a platform for major businesses? First of all, digital Skills Management and a transparent skill inventory aids companies streamline their decision making with regards to their daily operations and their workforce - How should we allocate our resources?
Should we reskill, upskill, recruit or bring in external expertise? With the data points about skills ambitions, availability and assignments, you get a clear overview of your workforce, their skill supply and eventual skill gaps. This helps you procure the best teams with a mix of skills, as well as it helps you match the right individual with the right assignment, with speed and accuracy. For employees, the value lies in the transparency and visibility. The platform lets employees show their skills, experiences and ambitions, in order to be matched with the perfect assignment. The feedback we have received from customers is that this enhances the employees engagement in their own growth, as well as their motivation at the workplace. IS the platform aimed at any specific industry or company size ? With regards to industries, until this point we have focused on professional service organisations (IT consultants, Technical engineers, Management Consultants). However, we have started to see a growing demand in other “knowledge intensive”
industries where services rely on skills and networks. We are now starting to expand our offerings to be able to help as many companies as we can, regardless of industry. The platform is suitable for a range of firm sizes. We have big global corporations joining the platform, as well as giggers who join the platform via Cinode Market or via an invitation from other users. The platform’s embedded network drives network effects and business opportunities for both paying and non-paying customers. It is truly cool to see that global corporations as well as one-person companies benefit from the Cinode ecosystem in different ways.
Cinode has grown over 45 % in the last 9 months, and has come to be a leading platform for Skills Management - Why do you think there has been such a huge rise in such a small space of time ? We see that more and more business leaders have started to understand that their skills are their most important assets, and to reach their full potential successfully they need to work with their Skills Management. Cinode has proven to have a really good product market fit with regards to our customers needs and the demand for digitized Skills Management. With the pandemic affecting how and where we work (working from home becoming the “new normal”), we have seen an increased demand for a digitized Skills Management. Organisations still need to engage with and keep track of their workforce, their available skills and their ongoing/upcoming assignments. The new normal of the “digital office”has meant that everything has to be done through a digital platform rather than in person. With this, we have seen a rise in popularity as
our platform supports this new way of working. Furthermore, I believe that the growth is a result of the time we have invested in creating a strong relationship with our current customers and companies within the industries we are targeting. We currently have two main markets. Sweden and Finland. In Sweden, we have a strong footprint in IT technology and management consulting operations. This, I think, is a result of focusing on Skills Management as a subject and sharing our knowledge rather than just pushing for a product. We have taken the knowledge we have and created content around the product, such as our podcast and our newsletter, which have become “go-tos” for professionals in the industry. By showing that we understand the industry, and by sharing our knowledge about Skills Management, we have positioned ourselves as a thought leader in Sweden. A source of knowledge that companies turn to. In Finland, we have managed to build strong relationships with our customers and the industry, but we do not have as large of a market share as in Sweden, but we
are well on our way. The goal now is to secure the position as a market/ thought leader in Finland, and then do the same thing on the global market. What do you see as the next challenges for you to grow the company and what does the next 18 months hold for Cinode Our goal is to reach 1 million users by 2025. To be able to reach this goal, we need to grow our team. Finding the right talents with the right mindset is one of our top priorities at the moment. To reach the 1 million goal we also need to go global. We know that there is a global demand for our product, and we currently have users all over the world (+20 countries). We have focused on Sweden and Finland the past couple of years to make sure that we build a solid foundation, but now we have finally reached a point where international expansion is our priority. As you can see, we have a lot to do in the coming months and years, but we are all very excited to see where this journey will take us. https://cinode.com/en/ europeanbusinessmagazine.com 71
A PERFECT MATCH
he employment marketplace has undergone huge transformations in recent years. Many people in business today survived the financial crisis in 2008 and overcame significant challenges brought on by disruptions in technology in recent years. Likewise, the current health crisis has sent the economy into turmoil, leaving companies fighting for survival, leaders without a go-to blueprint and employees facing unique and complex challenges. The problem of managing skills and allocation has always been present in knowledge intensive industries, but against the daunting backdrop of uncertain economic indicators, it is particularly important for businesses to equip themselves with suitable expertise to help endure the unendurable. The COVID-19 pandemic has radically altered the consultancy landscape, with many companies experiencing up to 60% loss in revenue and millions of Europeans either temporarily or permanently out of work. Every employee offers a unique strength, but staff skill sets are only
of any use if business leaders know how to identify abilities in the first place. Success relies on pairing the right person to the right job. How can the right employee with suitable skills be matched to the right project or how can appropriate external skills be directed into the business? Cinode, the market-leading Saas platform in competence and seamless sourcing, with their leading Skills Management Platform, enables companies and people to connect their skills. This pioneering platform will demystify the full value of employee skills and eliminate the old fashioned email-based management of freelancers and subcontractors. This unified ecosystem of partners allows companies to look to different business strategies to unlock a new era of growth. With the launch of Cinode Market, Cinode is looking to become the global leader in skills management. Currently, the company counts more than half of the Swedish listed consulting companies as customers and is also growing in other segments, including retail and telecom. Already
boasting tens of thousands of users in 20 countries across four continents, this platform is one to watch. The UK needs a reskilling revolution. A CBI & McKinsey report highlighted that nine out of 10 employees in the UK will need some form of reskilling by 2030, requiring £130bn of investment. Professionals operating in the arena of employee development and wellbeing have always had a challenging task, and with the rise in outsourcing and training employees in a remote working environment, it will only get trickier. Cinode helps businesses find the right skills and streamline staffing, combining project management, CV database, CRM system, recruitment module, assignment planning into one smart and scalable programme. This will not be a typical economic recovery. Organisations must plan for multiple scenarios and timelines as they shift from crisis response to recovery. The resilience and success of companies will be measured by the talents they attract and retain, and by creating an infrastructure that supports employee mobility. A common
challenge for many companies is the lack of an effective way of matching employees and their skills to shortterm projects or creating development opportunities beyond their current capacity. Cinode makes it easier to find the right skills and streamline staffing, increasing the possibility of working between units and geographies, shortening the sales cycle for consultants and improving forecasts. Offering professional development opportunities enhances employee engagement and appeals to external talent, and the platform allows staff to present their skills transparently, so consultants can drive sales by recommending suitable colleagues for projects. Prioritising employee development within business culture also ensures that staff remain updated on industry trends and best practices. Leaders face daily hurdles such as character conflicts, disciplining uninterested workers and working with a limited budget. Task managers can reduce these barriers by accessing interested parties at the outset, helping them make the right strategic decisions. Access to the right skills at the right time is more crucial than ever, and businesses cannot afford to miss profitable opportunities because
they failed to identify their collective knowledge. Cinode is the market-leading platform for competence management and seamless sourcing in the consulting industry. With growth of over 40% (ARR) for the past nine months, Cinode continues to grow rapidly as the leading platform in Skills Management, and Cinode Market makes it even easier for consultants and consulting companies to find assignments. It has exciting plans and is expanding into other segments such as retail and telecommunications. Available talents can often be lost or overlooked, but with a platform like Cinode, businesses can identify, visualise and match skills. Understanding staff plays a decisive role in motivating them to deliver their best and can harness the power of their proficiencies. While keeping track of employees, their abilities and ambitions, businesses that provide a platform where they can showcase their competences, the skills they want to develop and their dream assignments, will only grow more robust in the post pandemic period. Motivating employees is a core component in reducing turnover and valuable platform tools help with employee engagement and business growth.
The rise of remote working creates overwhelming challenges for companies. Business models need to shift, and innovation cannot take a back seat. As the landscape changes, particularly for white-collar staff, it is not only the workplace itself that will look different, but potentially the way in which work itself is done, organised and overseen. Platforms like those offered at Cinode help businesses simplify the matching of available internal and external competence and create better conditions for collaboration and growth within network-oriented organisations. Find the right talent whether they are employees, subcontractors, candidates or partners, and expert skills management will help match projects against available skills and personal ambition. Matching talents with the right task, both within and between companies, where everyone gets the same opportunities to make their knowledge and ambitions visible, is the key to success. The world is changing, workplaces will never be the same and the last year has taught us that we need to future proof our businesses. Let the teamwork, collaboration and growth begin!
Why the transformation of Global Value Chains is an opportunity for Morocco and Europe
By Hafsa EL BEKRI & Hicham SEBTI*
he COVID-19 crisis exposed the fragility of the traditional Glob al Value Chains (GVCs) model characterized by fragmented and globally distributed production processes. This disruption can be explained by structural and cyclical causes. The World Bank’s World Development Report 2020 described a downturn in world trade and GVCs long before COVID-19. Many factors were already fostering a reorganization of GVCs, such as the rise of protectionist movements and ecological concerns, the increase in wage costs
in emerging countries and the emergence of Industry 4.0 technologies involving significant relocation and reshoring of industrial activities. Given its strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa, Morocco has a clear comparative advantage to become one of the top performing countries and leading actor in the main regional industries. Morocco could thus benefit from a GVCs restructuring on a regional basis -- particularly in a Euro-Mediterranean-Africa area – in terms of increasing and diversifying demand, attracting capital and developing capacities for innovation.
Lessons from the Coronavirus pandemic and opportunities for Morocco Besides the current upheaval sweeping the world, the transformation of GVCs requires involved countries to make societal, ecological, and technological transitions. The new avenues that could foreshadow future GVCs policies can be outlined around four broad orientations. Morocco is no exception. First, the COVID-19 crisis might lead to long-lasting structural effects on GVCs with the possibility of reframing industrial strategies through a
Hafsa EL BEKRI Is a professor of international economy at Euromed B u s i n e s s S c h o o l - U n i ve r s i t é Euromed of Fez and an Analyst for Think-Tank Institut Marocain intelligence Stratégique (www.imis. ma). Hicham SEBTI holds a management PHD from University Paris-Dauphine and is the Director of Euromed Business School-Université Euromed of Fez.
policy of mass-investment in renewable energies, reconversion of energy-intensive industrial processes, as well as an increased acceptance of corporate social responsibility. Third, the digital transformation generates opportunities for both the economy and society. To meet the promising opportunities of the digital transition, Morocco needs to deepen and accelerate the transformation of activities, processes, skills and organizational models of its economy. In that perspective, technological intensive changes (Automation, robotics and 3D printing, etc.) require duplication of investments in human capital and technological innovation driven by public initiatives as well as innovative start-ups. Finally, preparing Morocco’s human capital for tomorrow’s challenges is a major stake. Morocco’s large youth population could be an engine of economic growth. To achieve its full potential, this vital human resource needs a stimulating environment that allows inclusion of young people into the social and economic life of the country through education, training, promotion of the social inclusion of the most vulnerable populations, improvement in quality of life in both social and cultural aspects, and greater progress towards gender equality.
How will Morocco benefit from the ongoing value chains restructuring?
relocation movement (reshoring and/ or near-shoring). The reorganization of GVCs on more intraregional ties clustered around Europe-Mediterranean-Africa area in particular can be an opportunity for Morocco, in terms of increasing and diversifying demand, integrating industrial sectors and developing capacities for innovation. Second, the discussion on sustainability in GVCs addresses issues of ecological transition processes in the Moroccan industry. With that regard, Morocco has undertaken important steps towards implementing low-carbon strategies, through a proactive
The opportunities and challenges of GVCs reorganization are expressed differently within each of the key industries. In the automotive sector, Morocco aims to achieve a local integration rate of 86% by 2025 and develop technological innovation for a smart, sustainable mobility. For this purpose, Morocco is strengthening its ecosystem by attracting leading manufacturers and suppliers in missing segments. Recognized for the quality of its diversified and competitive aeronautical base, Morocco intends as well to strengthen the resilience of its aeronautical ecosystem in a gloomy global
economic context. To get ready for the sector’s rebound, Morocco is gradually moving towards more value adding activities such as R&D and investing in human resources and capacity building. Furthermore, given the climate and crop biodiversity of Morocco and the favorable commercial framework (free trade agreements), the Agro-food industry has shown an outstanding dynamism in Morocco. The challenge in this sector is to improve Morocco’s competitiveness in foreign markets, to increase value-added products for export, to enhance domestic productive capacity and to improve the income of agricultural workers, especially women and small farmers. Morocco aims as well to become a pharma manufacturing hub for Africa through the creation of a competitive cluster. The emergence of a dynamic ecosystem of the pharmaceutical industry in Morocco relies on the investment in R&D and the development of manufacturing capacities to meet the needs of pharmaceuticals, especially for African countries. Morocco needs to boost the competitiveness of its textile industry by developing a strategy that meets the challenges of new consumer’s expectations such as more ethical consumption (slow fashion, carbon-free products) and more innovative products (technical and intelligent textiles). The current reflection on the new development model, launched by King Mohamed VI, and fuelled by the COVID-19 crisis effects should lead to building a more resilient economy and reinforcing the Moroccan competitiveness. The social, ecological, and technological transitions as well as the COVID19 context define the new framework for reinventing the industrial strategy of Morocco. Investing in high-skilled human capital, innovation and infrastructures would help to create performing ecosystems in several strategic sectors – mainly the automotive, aeronautical, pharmaceutical and textiles – and would ensure the repositioning of Morocco as a leading actor of the new GVCs organization.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS MAG:
Can the Covid-driven eCommerce boom last?
ritain is in the middle of an eCommerce boom. Covid-19 and its accompanying lockdowns have forced businesses to adapt their offering to the online retail marketplace to survive, while compelling consumers to make online purchases due to the closure of shops. The Great British high street has undoubtedly seen the most significant changes thought the pandemic. With all non-essential retail being forced to close for large parts of last year, the relationship with consumers was
broken – and nobody can tell whether it will be repaired. Additionally, when allowed to open for short periods between lockdowns, businesses were held back in their capacity by social distancing regulations limiting customer footfall. It is natural that in the face of these overnight changes, consumers would flock to online shopping. Indeed, the OECD report that in the first two quarters of 2020, eCommerce held a 31.3% share of total retail expenditure in the UK. In the first quarter of 2018, this figure
stood at just 17.3% - an astonishing near-doubling of its share of the British retail market. This underlines the rapid changes in consumer behaviour, and the impressive capacity of the UK’s logistical infrastructure to respond readily to these shifts. It should, of course, be noted, that there are many credible arguments to be made for eCommerce’s growth proving unsustainable over the coming months. Some would argue that as consumers had no choice besides online shopping, they will naturally return to traditional retail as soon as they are able. Others could point to lockdown representing a bottleneck of in-person consumption, which will be released in a cathartic wave as shops, restaurants, cinemas, and theatres are allowed to reopen. These consideration should not be dismissed outright; however it must be noted that the past year has been no mere spike in demand. Online retail has been trending upwards at a steady
Atul Bhakta, CEO of One World Express Atul Bhakta is the CEO of One World Express, a position he has held for over 20 years. He also holds senior titles for other retail companies, underlining his vast experience and expertise in the world of eCommerce, trade and business management. but reliable pace, for years. A mass exposure to the convenience factors, and uptake in what would previously have been considered ‘risk-taking’ by consumers, could point towards the eCommerce boom being sustainable in the long term.
Embracing the change A recent survey conducted by Retail Economics and NatWest found that almost half of UK consumers (46%) have reported making online purchases during the pandemic for goods or services they would only previously have made in physical retail outlets.
observe in the coming months whether, for instance, the clothing industry is able to retain its high online sales levels with shops beginning to reopen. On the other hand, businesses who have traditionally traded in physical retail have been forced to pivot to digital, too. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have, for obvious reasons, had to prioritise survival over long-term business growth strategy and revenue maximisation. Accordingly, eCommerce has provided many firms with a crucial means of reaching their customers, which they have embraced adeptly. So, businesses and consumers who were reluctant to become full converts to online retail have, out of necessity, changed their behaviours. While these habits will vary greatly by industry as the dust settles on the pandemic, the mass exposure to the convenience factor of eCommerce is a promising signal for its long-term sustainability in the overall retail market.
A flash in the pan? As discussed above, there will of course be doubts over this acceleration in market share as simply a short spike built on unsolid foundations, or if it marks a new era for businesses and consumers. The signs for eCommerce firms are certainly encouraging. Statista reported recently that the value of UK online retail sales in 2020 reached £99.31bn. This is an increase of more than 30% on the year prior. Increasingly, businesses are recognising online retail as a growth area with a very high ceiling, and rich rewards for successful adoption.
Britain’s logistical infrastructure will play a huge part in this. The convenience factor will always be online retail’s unique selling point over the high street, and with great strides made to further improve the quality of service, this trend can continue indefinitely. Advancements in delivery services have increased the reliability of online purchases, helping cast aside past consumer perceptions and win crucial trust. In practice, this has meant the faster, cheaper, and more customisable shipping options, the ability for both consumers and firms to track goods, and seamless returns processes which can in many cases be more convenient than physical retail. To revisit the prior example of the clothing industry, many outlets have introduced generous returns policies, and have integrated into the shipping and packaging all the necessary tools for easy return of unwanted goods. In many cases, these processes are more straightforward and customer-friendly than a second trip to the shops. As these practices become more widespread, it will be intriguing to note whether consumers rely less and less on the ‘eye test’ benefit of in-person retail. It goes without saying, but should be said, that these advancements hugely benefit customers and will do much to win their confidence in online retail. This detail will be crucial – trust will, of course, lag behind the established relationships consumers have with the high street. However, as trust begins to catch up to convenience, businesses who have embraced eCommerce may see the boom continue for the long haul.
This is a telling figure. The social factors and perceived reliability of physical retail have created a relationship between consumer and physical retail which has been challenging for eCommerce businesses to chip away at. However, with consumers forced indoors, it is natural they would turn to online services. It will be interesting to europeanbusinessmagazine.com 77
Circularity – a crucial part of product development The ability to re-use all material needs to be prioritised from the start
he World Bank predicts that global annual waste generation will have reached 3.4 billion tonnes by 2050. That’s almost a 75 per cent increase on the 2 billion tonnes we generate today. Building a circular economy will play a crucial role in reducing this forecast. Here, Mats W Lundberg, head of sustainability at global engineering group Sandvik, looks at why circularity needs to be considered from the initial design process, otherwise it’s already too late. Product lifecycles traditionally follow a linear economy, where materials are transformed into products that are then used and thrown away in a ‘takemake-waste’ approach. This is unsustainable. The primary principle of a circular economy is keeping assets in use to create a responsible way of using
resources at the same time as reducing waste. Circularity is crucial in closing the loop of product life cycles. A key component of this is keeping products in use for as long as possible, such as by sharing, maintaining, reusing and remanufacturing the product. The preferred end of life strategy is recycling, which is perhaps the most common circular economy approach adopted.
Time to act Manufacturers should take steps to reduce waste in line with goal 12 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which is ‘responsible consumption and production’. In addition, a 2020 survey by IBM found that over seven in ten consumers say
it’s either moderately or very important that brands are sustainable, environmentally responsible and/or support recycling. The circular economy is applicable for all products, no matter how large or small. For example, a mobile phone is a relatively small piece of technology
but can produce a high amount of waste. The average person replaces their phone every two years, which can amount to as many as 35 phones in a lifetime. Producing a single phone can require 240 gallons of water, and scientists have warned that many vital earth elements are becoming increasingly scarce due to the rate at which phones are manufactured and thrown away. This exemplifies how all products can require a large amount of materials, energy and equipment to manufacture, and are therefore part of a bigger chain of use and waste.
Conscious design This wider chain of consumption must be taken into consideration when designing a new product. Addressing ‘leakage points’, where materials and energy escape out of the circular system, will maximise recovery of resources and help close the loop. Redesigning products for sustainability is one of the advised actions in the World Economic Forum’s recent report, Net-Zero Challenge: The supply chain opportunity. The action recommends design choices that reduce waste, improve recyclability and increase the share of input recycled materials. Sandvik incorporates a number of these practices in working towards its goal of achieving 90 per cent circularity by 2030. For example, metalliferous waste and other by-products from its sites are reused or recycled to the greatest extent possible. In addition, around 82 per cent of our stainless steel and special alloys are based on steel scrap or secondary raw material as we call it. Circularity is also practised by Sandvik in its rebuild solutions for the mining industry. Traditionally, an exhausted piece of mining equipment would be discarded, but Sandvik offers a more sustainable alternative through its machine refurbishment service. Sandvik’s rebuild solutions have been estimated to extend the life of machines by as much as seven years, while at a fraction of the materials and cost required for a new machine.
However, Sandvik not only considers circularity in its products and services, but in its packaging too. Its Package Selector Application (PSA), which is planned to go live in the second half of 2021, uses an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that can analyse the product to select optimised packaging. By using the smallest packaging possible, material waste is reduced and energy can be saved during transportation.
Recycling is key As well as designing out waste, manufacturers should consider what will happen to the product at the end of its use. Recycling can be encouraged through buy back schemes, where the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) buys back the product from the consumer and recycles it. For example, Sandvik and its strategic business partner Stamicarbon offer a buy back program for recycling high-alloy steel. When customers in the urea fertiliser industry need to replace old equipment at their plants, Stamicarbon decommissions the heat exchangers with the precious alloys and Sandvik uses the recycled material in the production of new stainless-steels. The equipment is replaced quickly
and easily to avoid disruption to production. Every part of the value chain benefits from this model. Sandvik deploys another buy back scheme at its Wolfram site where used cemented-carbide tools are converted back into basic raw materials. Making new tools from the recycled solid carbide requires 70 per cent less energy than producing with virgin raw materials. The process retrieves a high amount of tungsten, which is a scarce and finite material with reserves of only around 100 years of consumption left. Sandvik is committed to using engineering and innovation to drive sustainable business by keeping products and materials in use. Today, 18 of Sandvik’s production units report 100 per cent waste recovery, and Sandvik is ranked among the top ten per cent of environmental performers in its industry globally by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI). It’s undeniable that the current rate of waste generation in the world is unsustainable, and more needs to be done to prevent materials going to landfill. Manufacturers have the power to create real change by making the circular economy a key consideration in product design, therefore helping to keep valuable materials in use and preserve resources. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 79
Not all Intent Data is created equal by Jon Clarke, Founder & CPO, Cyance
hen it comes to intent data, it’s quality, not quantity, that really matters. Intent data has the potential to transform sales pipelines and create meaningful, lasting connections with customers and prospects, but only - and this is the crucial point - when it is really accurate and relevant. Lately, I’ve seen an influx of agencies and vendors floating the term ‘Intent Data’ around the marketplace. They claim to be offering intent data services, but they are providing very little clarity about what type of data they are delivering and where it’s coming from, nor any real detail on how it can be applied by businesses. The longer this goes on and the more often the term is used without any clear definition, the more confused
sales and marketing professionals will become. And unfortunately that means the real value that intent data can and should be delivering for B2B businesses will be lost on some people. With this in mind, I think there are three key elements that need to be clarified. Firstly, what intent actually is and the different types of intent available. Once those two pieces are understood then marketers need to understand that some intent data is more effective than others, most often dependent on the geography of your business, where you are based and what you are trying to achieve. Before investing in intent data, it’s important for businesses to have clear, specific and measurable needs and objectives. This enables them to have a defined brief against which to evaluate the ever-growing number of available options.
What is intent data? In broad terms, intent data works with predefined keywords and taxonomies that give a level of behavioural signals to indicate buyer intent. Intent data providers generally fall into one of three categories: 1. Third party intent data vendors, such as Cyance - they will pick up on behaviour across a series of general websites that exist and are relevant to your business. They will collate all of this information, attribute that to companies and make it available in either a data feed or online platform. 2. Second party vendors - these tend to be quite limited and ‘walled’ solutions that have their own set of websites and they only track behaviour across those specific sites. Quite often this is based upon known users that are filling
in forms in order to download information or sometimes they are captured in a database and called manually by telemarketing teams. 3. First party vendors - this is simply the process of capturing and analysing the data from visitors to your own website.
Importance of Accuracy Once sales and marketing professionals have understood these different types of intent data and established what will generate the best results for their business, they then need to select the marketplace which will provide the greatest levels of accuracy. The primary driver for using intent data is to help an organisation drive greater efficiency in achieving its sales goals. A more efficient business will achieve faster growth, scalability and greater productivity, all of which lead to more profits. Intent data has a significant role to play in propelling an organisation towards that end goal. Prior to having intent data, B2B marketers had very little in terms of actionable insight on both their existing and potential customers. This inevitably led to an inefficient and sometimes scattergun approach to marketing and lead generation activities. Intent data really turned everything around, enabling organisations to pinpoint, with laser precision, those prospects that look like they’re on a relevant buying journey through their online behaviour and research. However, intent data has now evolved beyond this point, with the overlaying of additional contextual information with behavioural data. For instance, marketers can now know when a particular prospect has been through an investment round and is therefore likely to be in a significant stage of growth. Or it may be that a company has made an acquisition and will need new technologies or consultancies to help with integrating the new business. Being able to overlay a wide range of these types of signals or sales triggers massively increases the accuracy and relevance of intent data and gives sales and marketing teams complete confidence about which prospects
they should be targeting and what type of message will resonate best.
Finding Accurate Intent As you would expect in such a new discipline, intent is evolving as we continue to learn what works and what doesn’t. There are new technologies emerging that can delve deeper into behavioural signals to form a much more informed picture of buyer interests and needs and start to accurately indicate what signals ‘real’ intent versus misleading behaviour. By mapping signals to a more defined and personalised description of intent, we can then start to accurately predict the ‘fit’ or readiness of buyer behaviour to a particular product or service. There’s also more opportunity now, as we collate more signals, to introduce machine learning into the mix and let algorithms and AI do the heavy lifting. This allows for analysis of billions of signals on a daily basis and being able to track the outcomes. It’s still important to evidence both the negative and positive outcomes from this activity so as to ‘train’ an algorithm. Over time it will learn what works, what doesn’t, what points are more significant than others and when to present this information back for the most effective and positive results. We’ve found that companies that embrace both the best of a human and a technological workforce are producing the most conversions. Finally, another important part of driving accuracy is having access to local intent data for each region or country. This is particularly pertinent
for businesses looking to target buyers in Europe, many of which still rely solely on intent data generated on US websites, rather than European sites (and local language sites). This means these businesses are missing out on a huge number of high-value signals which could significantly improve the accuracy and quality of their intent data, leading to higher conversion rates and sales. Furthermore, vendors that are based in Europe and live GDPR are much more likely to understand the nuances of compliance, have DOs in place and the data is hosted in Europe, they understand that GDPR is a framework that is enabled differently between countries.
Accuracy of Intent = Improved Engagement Ultimately, by prioritising accuracy within intent data, businesses can develop greater engagement with potential buyers and existing clients, throughout the buying journey and ongoing customer lifecycle. Used well, accurate intent data can inform a more personalised experience leveraging tailored content and messaging that is designed specifically for the needs and objectives of a particular account This gives sales and marketing teams the ability to define and focus on priority accounts based on their fit and propensity to convert, leaving behind the scattergun approach to digital marketing that still resides in places. The end result is better leaders and higher conversions - but that start point must always be accuracy. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 81
Paige Erickson, Managing Director, EMEA, Workfront, an Adobe company
e’re now one year on from the ‘great home-working shift’ and in that time, much has been made about the accelerated digital transformation businesses have had to embrace, and how this might negatively impact a dispersed workforce. But has anyone stopped to gauge how those impacted individuals feel about this ever-growing proliferation of—and reliance on —technology? Well, they should, because in the UK at least, what you’re likely to find is that this digital revolution isn’t just being forced on companies by external factors, trends or pandemics. It’s a revolution being driven from the ground up, by the workers who are navigating digital solutions everyday to do their best work while away from the office.
Ricoh UK and IBM found at the start of this year that managers were more likely to struggle with the technology demands of a work-from-home set-up, than employees who were largely “undaunted” by the transition. And Workfront’s 2021 State of Work report absolutely supports that conclusion. Back in February 2020 we launched our ‘State of Work’ survey in partnership with the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK) as a way to better understand how Millennials and Generation Xers approach work differently. This data, generated days before we all entered into a mass remote working experiment, is a snapshot of the UK workforce pre-pandemic, before so much changed, almost overnight. We decided to run the same survey again in late 2020 to see just how much had changed in less than a year, but we couldn’t have predicted the
scale of the evolution of digital work that our survey brought to light. Jason Dorsey, President and Co -Founder, CGK noted: “With just eight months between the two studies featured in this report, a change of even three-to-five percentage points is statistically significant and worth noting. The fact that in some of the uncovered answers we see changes of five points, 10 points, or even more, is remarkable.”
UK workers are declaring good enough is no longer enough Primarily, these leaps in attitude paint a different picture to one of fear or resistance to remote working or digital tools; or of business leaders forcing their employees into an unwanted transformation. Instead, we found the number of UK digital workers who say
technology is ‘very important’ to manage their role increased by 24 points, while those who attribute technology to their ability to do their best work has risen by 18 points. And this isn’t just a recognition of technology’s influence. It’s a declaration from workers that they are no longer willing to accommodate a poor digital strategy at work. The number of workers who have quit their job due to outdated technology has risen from 21% to 32% in less than a year, while almost half (49%) of UK workers profess they are likely to leave a job if they become frustrated with their work technology—up from just a third (33%) back in February 2020. The ability to attract top talent too, rests on the quality of the technology in an organisation. The number of workers stating they have applied for a job because they heard a company’s employees use great technology rose by 16 points compared to pre-pandemic data.
A cross-generational concern And it’s not just young workers leading the technology charge. PreCOVID-19, just under a quarter (24%) of Gen X respondents considered leaving their job due to a lack of new technology, but the latest data shows this has grown drastically by 24 points during the pandemic to almost half (48%). In comparison, the same response from Millennials grew by 13 points to exactly half (50%). Clearly both Millennials and Gen Xers aren’t willing to wait or compromise, regardless of the wider hostile marketplace or rising unemployment rates. Of the workforce who confirmed they had actually left a role because workplace technology made their lives harder, the number from Gen X rose by 21 points, putting them almost level with the digitally native Millennial workforce who reported an eight-point increase.
Perception of priorities Priorities have certainly shifted for modern workers. Today’s employees want to communicate and collaborate
effectively. They want to be creative and feel that the work they do has an impact on the bottom line. As the team has been forced to work remotely, job satisfaction, success, and progression hinge almost entirely on technology being an enabler. Respondents to our survey recognise how essential technology is to the workplace. Over one-in-ten (12%) said that they rely on technology more than they did pre-pandemic. More than half (56%) saw technology as very important for fostering collaboration while 68% said they rely on technology to breed creativity and innovation—a rise of 19 percentage points from February 2020.
Why businesses need to manage work to harness the digital-first revolution Remote working and the events of the past year have led to a more switched on, engaged and motivated UK workforce. Yet, as a result of the “Amazon-effect”, workers are used to instant gratification from technology in their personal lives and expect the very same experience from their
technology at work. High expectations have led to very low tolerance for outdated or ineffective technology, and workers are prepared to vote with their feet rather than waiting for their employers to catch up. It is more critical than ever before for businesses to treat work as a tierone asset. All technology should lead towards freeing team members to be more engaged and productive now, and in the future. Building digital resilience for a post-pandemic world is key. So, no matter what changes are thrown our way, everyone has the tools to continue doing their best work. A vast portion of your team is craving the use of digital tools and workforce management to enhance their own performance. Failing to deliver the right technology infrastructure to support this is failing your workforce—leading to poor strategic alignment, reduced productivity, frustrated workers and the risk of losing key talent—which is something that no business can afford in such an unpredictable and turbulent business climate. The digital-first revolution is here to stay. And UK workers are leading the charge. europeanbusinessmagazine.com 83
EML & Frollo Unveil The Future Of Money Giving Lenders & FinTechs Early Access To Australia’s First-ever Open Banking Payments Platform Payments and Open Banking pioneers EML and Frollo have combined forces to help lenders and FinTechs access the latest in banking technology and bridge the consumer trust gap with Australia’s most innovative white-label digital wallet product - Nuapay. EML Payments Limited (ASX: EML) (S&P/ASX 200) and Frollo have made financial history with the announcement of the EML Nuapay product suite, combining the newest innovations in Open Banking, personal finance management and payments in a customisable solution to streamline, enhance and personalise the entire user journey for fast growth neolenders and neobanks. Amongst the many use cases, the disruptive duo removes friction from the lending journey and enables instant decisions and instant access to monies. Open Banking can be interpreted as a protest against conventional banking, putting consumers in control and recreating a more wholesome relationship with financial institutions. EML Nuapay is a payment revolution with Frollo and gives clients the ability to choose between a no-code, low code and fully customisable API solution. Gareth Gumbley, Founder & CEO, at Frollo said: ‘’We believe Open Banking will be a game-changer for consumers worldwide, helping them improve their finances. We’re excited to have found a partner in EML that recognises this opportunity and can help us make this a reality. By integrating market-leading Open Banking, payments, and Personal Finance Management features into a fully customisable solution, Nuapay can offer lenders and FinTechs a simple way to take their customer experience to the next level.’’ Sarah Bowles, Group Chief Product Officer, at EML stated: ‘’The EML team is excited to partner with Open Banking leader, Frollo, in the payment revolution shaking up the financial industry. We’re on a joint mission to remove friction, help consumers feel better about money and help the FinTechs driving this revolution to scale quickly and globally. There’s no better partner than Frollo - its technology, know-how, and talent for delivering a superior experience for consumers are what we’re most excited about.’’
Key Features Instant cash: Using Open Banking data and EML’s virtual prepaid cards, the process to approve and disburse a loan is reduced from days to just minutes, eliminating costly and highly manual human-led checks with traditional providers. Money management: A market-leading banking app, including personal finance management feature Emergency buffer: The ability to quickly go back and turn a transaction into an instalment loan Spend controls: Using AI transaction categorisation to control spend in real-time and place budget caps for specific money buckets.
About Frollo Frollo is a purpose-driven FinTech on a quest to help people feel good about money. We use Open Banking data to deliver better consumer outcomes and improve financial wellbeing by helping people reduce debt, increase savings or quite simply get a better deal on their finances.
Our SaaS platform brings together our AI engine, APIs, partner integrations and Open Banking-powered solutions for lending and Personal Finance Management. As the first to go live with Open Banking in July 2020, and being responsible for over 95% of Open Banking API calls to date, Frollo is also leading the way towards a more transparent financial sector for all Australians.
About EML Payments Limited EML provides an innovative payment solutions platform, helping businesses all over the world create awesome customer experiences. Wherever money is in motion, our agile technology can power the payment process, so money can be moved quickly, conveniently and securely. We offer market-leading programme management and highly skilled payments expertise to create customisable feature-rich solutions for businesses, brands and their customers. Come and explore the many opportunities our platform has to offer by visiting us at: EMLPayments.com europeanbusinessmagazine.com 87
European Business Magazine talks to
Tell us a bit about your background. I am the CEO of the DataFlow Group, a leading global provider of primary source verification, background screening and immigration compliance solutions. Prior to joining the DataFlow Group, I have held a number of leadership positions with multinational companies, such as Deutsche Bank, Genpact and GE, working across multiple countries and gaining rich experience working with multicultural global teams. 88 europeanbusinessmagazine.com
With almost three decades of experience across manufacturing, professional services and consulting, my expertise lies in finance, operations, people management and strategy. I am a certified management accountant, with a Master’s degree in Accounting and am qualified in Six Sigma management methodology. And what is the DataFlow Group? The DataFlow Group is a leading global provider of specialised Primary Source Verification (PSV) solutions,
background screening and immigration compliance services. The ‘primary source’ element is the key here as this means that we go directly to the source that issued the document, such as a university, to verify its authenticity. Essentially, this means that we assist organisations in both the public and private sectors in cross-border risk management by exposing fraudulent education degrees, employment certificates, professional licenses, work permits, and passports.
To ensure that hired professionals have the credentials they claim, we utilise cutting-edge technologies and leverage an expansive network of more than 100,000 issuing authorities throughout more than 200 countries and territories. This global network puts us in an incredibly strong position to quickly and accurately verify the authenticity of documents submitted by candidates, in accordance with global industry best practices and Joint Commission International (JCI) guidelines. The DataFlow Group undertakes hundreds of thousands of immigration compliance screening and verification service transactions for professionals each year on behalf of various government, quasi government, regulatory and large multinational organisations worldwide. So why is verification so important? Currently, over 50% of submitted CVs and job applications contain false information. Couple this with the fact that there are also thousands of unaccredited universities and diploma mills, and 300 counterfeit diploma websites, ensuring that you’re hiring a genuine applicant becomes incredibly difficult. The highest trend for forgery has been found among allied health professionals and nurses – an industry in which it’s literally a question of life or death. Therefore, it is critical for those professionals to have the qualifications and skills they claim to have in their application validated. In order for
organisations to protect themselves, their other employees and their customers and / or patients, verification is essential in the recruitment process. Additionally, with global professional migration on the rise, the verification industry will see a greater need for primary source verification in order to ensure credentials are valid. Global professional migration has been increasing for years and while Covid19 has slowed this trend over the past year, it’s something that we’ll see increasing again as the world reopens following vaccination programmes particularly as the pandemic heightens staff shortages in the healthcare industry around the world. Ultimately, verification is about instilling trust. We have a vast array of information available to us today, but how much can we really trust that information? Both professionally and personally, we come across streams of information, but how much of this has been verified? When hiring someone, we tend to look to their LinkedIn profiles for insights about their background, but they have complete control over that information and can write whatever they like without having to provide any proof of these professional statements. The verification of information, such as a candidate’s credentials builds trust – a key component to any successful professional relationship. Building this trust will only become more important over the coming years as more information is available to us and global professional migration increases.
What does the future hold for verification? There’s huge potential for verification to further streamline the recruitment process across the globe. For example, currently, each time someone moves jobs in their careers, the hiring organisation has to verify their credentials with every move, costing them time and money. If industries become aligned and data sharing becomes more integrated, someone can be verified once in their career and use one verified document forever. In the long run, this will save organisations huge amounts of money and will also speed up their recruitment processes dramatically. This is where I’d like to see the industry go, and powered by the right technologies, this could very well become a reality. For example, we have created TrueProfile.io which reduces the constant churn of verification requests by storing them on blockchain. The very nature of blockchain makes our verifications immutable and means they can be used for the lifetime of that individual’s career. If we didn’t future-proof our business model, this vision would ultimately mean that we would be putting ourselves out of business. But, I think this is an important outlook to have in order to continue innovating and moving forward. You have to be a disruptor of your own business to succeed and leaders must think of how they can put themselves out of business through disruptive measures to continue to evolve.
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