Business Chief USA October 2020





Digitally disrupting the

fashion supply chain







Patrick Sells, CIO, on why

innovation shouldn’t stop

at technology and the

importance of culture

You see a shipping terminal.

We see the missing container

that will shut down production. transforms


© 2020, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

is a mark of, Inc.


T:297 mm


elcome to the October edition of

Business Chief North America.

This month’s cover features Patrick

Sells, CIO at Quontic Bank, on such

topics as the importance of culture in

modern finance. “Quontic Bank believes

in empowering its customers to take

control of their finances, recognising

that no person’s circumstances are the

same as others and proving that better

solutions are available to those who

seek out innovation.”

Other leaders that feature in the

magazine include Arun Shenoy, SVP

Global Sales & Marketing at Serverfarm,

who discusses the history of the

company as well as the current trends

and evolution of the data centre sector.

Also featuring is Romain Liot, Chief

Operating Officer at Adore Me,

discussing his firm’s digital

transformation journey in the fashion

industry. “We are quick and agile, and

embrace technology that enables us

to deploy projects at scale. I feel this

differentiates us from our competitors

and will help us grow over the next few

years,” comments Liot.

Elsewhere in the magazine, we look

at the benefits and best practices for

strategy consultants detailed by leading

consultants McKinsey and TCS. Thomas

Dieringer, President of JAGGAER EMEA,

meanwhile details the benefits, best

strategies and the impact of COVID-19

for cloud computing technology.

In addition, we share insights into how

organisations can establish an effective

talent strategy, and this month’s Top 10

looks at 10 of the top innovation labs

in North America.

Do you have a story to share? If you

would like to be featured in an upcoming

issue of Business Chief North America,

please get in touch at

Enjoy the issue!

Georgia Wilson



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Georgia Wilson


Scott Birch


Oscar Hathaway

Erin Hancox

Sophie-Ann Pinnell

Hector Penrose

Sophia Forte


Georgia Allen

Daniela Kianicková


Owen Martin


Kieran Waite

Sam Kemp


Leigh Manning


Shirin Sadr


Kayleigh Shooter


Lewis Vaughan


Michael Banyard

Jake Megeary

Justin Brand

Ryan Hall

Ben Maltby

Mike Sadr

Kris Palmer

James Berry

Stuart Irving

Craig Killingback

Thomas Livermore


James White


Jason Westgate


Stacy Norman


Glen White
















Developing an

Effective Social

Media Strategy

Jaggaer: Cloud

Computing – The

Benefits and

Best Strategies












Server Farm




Visions Federal

Credit Union


Kettering Health



DC Blox


Mental Health

Center of Denver


Afore Banorte



CIG Capital:

Making Investment

About More Than

Just Money







Charles D. Carey, Managing Partner of

CIG Capital, describes the company’s

‘100% funding’ approach and why

investment needs to modernize



earning to move with the changes in the

global market has always been a cornerstone

of successful investor strategies.

However, few companies were prepared for the

dynamic, highly-creative and innovative thinking

that is now a necessity in the post-COVID-19

world. As the ‘tried and tested’ methods give way

to digitally-enhanced, flexible and data-driven

operations, Charles D. Carey, Managing Partner of

CIG Capital, is emblematic of the new guard that

is seeking to overturn prior conceptions of best

practice in investment. A serial entrepreneur since

his early twenties, Carey has held a considerable

number of executive positions at companies within

the technology, finance and healthcare sectors, in

addition to founding two of his own: Venture 101 (in

2010) and Carey Holdings (2011).

Founded in 2016, CIG Capital is a group that aims

to deliver alternative project investment, lending

opportunities and a broad range of expert advice,

courtesy of its component partners. Reflecting on

the genesis of the company’s conception, Carey

says, “When it comes to helping businesses, I’ve





“When it comes to

helping businesses,

I’ve always started from

the beginning and then

gone on to see how we

can scale businesses”

Charles D. Carey,

Managing Partner, CIG Capital

always started from the beginning and

then gone on to see how we can scale.

That’s how I got into the finance world;

I focused on how to help businesses,

not just on the funding side, but with

support too.” Believing that leadership

means more than simply ‘status’,

Carey takes a proactive approach

and an indiscriminate attitude when it

comes to helping clients achieve their

best, regardless of the project’s scale

or subject. “That’s really what gives

me an advantage: I believe in a set of

principles and I don’t change them,

no matter what the product or sector

is.” Treating everyone from renowned

business leaders to up-and-coming

startup CEOs with the same level of

respect, CIG Capital strives to foster

each project’s individual journey.

This aspect, which has been termed

‘100% funding’, is ultimately what

helps differentiate CIG Capital from

its competitors. Rather than simply

fund one stage of a project’s development,

the company opts to provide the

capital stack with one loan capable

of sufficiently covering any seed

money, equity or short-term debt. This

subsequently allows CIG Capital to


How is CIG Unique?



coherently understand any associated

risks and implement mitigations from

the onset of the funding cycle. “We

want to bring the whole capital stack

under one roof, but we also want to

solve problems when it comes to the

organization as a whole. Funding is

only one element,” Carey explains.

“CIG Capital also offers support services

for executive leadership, which

can create new revenue streams, as

well as business consulting, go-tomarket

strategies, and more. We don’t

just make sure a project is successful,

we also lower the risk to our money.”

It’s a strategy that appears to have

paid dividends: as of August 2020, CIG

Capital currently has a portfolio valued

in excess of US$10bn and Carey

himself was recently accepted into the

exclusive Forbes Finance Council.

When he considers the economic

upheaval that the pandemic has

brought about, Carey stresses the

importance of establishing a vision for

the modernization of investment. If the

sector is to thrive in this new paradigm,

he argues, a technologically savvy

approach enabled by a cultural readjustment

to ‘big picture’ thinking will be




• Charles D. Carey accepted into

the Forbes Finance Council

• Announced on 10 August 2020,

Carey describes his admission to

the invitation-only Forbes Finance

Council executive community as

“really exciting” and an honor.

• Scott Gerber, Founder of Forbes

Councils, stated that the

organization’s mission is “to bring

together proven leaders from every

industry, creating a curated, social

capital-driven network that helps

every member grow professionally

and make an even greater impact

on the business world.”

• Selected and vetted by a review

committee to ensure he met strict

knowledge and expertise parameters

in his field, Carey added, “I look

forward to sharing my insights into

the financial industry and how

my team and I set out to change

the financial lending industry.”


crucial. Automated data streams and

analytical capabilities are gaining traction

in several data-rich industries, yet

the widespread application of these

technologies remains diffuse. In this

aspect, he reasons, larger companies

should take note of fintechs in the

space, which generally have a more

sophisticated understanding of modern

tech, or else face technological

irrelevancy. For its part, CIG Capital

boasts one of the fastest underwriting

models in the modern industry, with

seven project elements measured to

obtain a unique score which subsequently

informs the terms of each

individual venture. However, despite

this, Carey insists that half the battle

to improve modern investment actually

lies in adopting new cultural frameworks.

“In terms of modernization,

investors need to change the way they

address funding. I’m an entrepreneur:

I love to teach and provide a message

that will solve problems. Finance is just

a tool, and although it’s an important

tool, you don’t need to be an expert.

All you need to know is, ‘What’s the 17


Charles D. Carey

Title: Managing Partner

Location: Michigan, United States

Industry: Financial Services

As the ‘tried and tested’ methods give way to digitally-enhanced,

flexible and data-driven operations, Charles D. Carey, Managing

Partner of CIG Capital, is emblematic of the new guard that is

seeking to overturn prior conceptions of best-practice in

investment. A serial entrepreneur since his early twenties,

Carey has held a considerable number of executive

positions at companies within the technology, finance

and healthcare sectors, in addition to founding two of

his own: Venture 101 (2010) and CIG Capital (2011).



money going to do’ and ‘How’s it going

to come back to us in a return’. That’s

the most important part.” Therefore,

CIG Capital’s approach emphasizes

finding the individual value in each

prospective venture and working tirelessly

to develop it. For the company,

recouping invested funds occurs

simply as a natural consequence of

this success.

CIG Capital has codified this

culture into three parts: hunger,

humility and zeal. By adhering to

these words as guiding principles,

the company ensures that its high

standards, collaborative problemsolving

capabilities and focus are

maintained. According to Carey, the

company’s unique culture also enables

it to fund demanding projects

that generally could not be serviced

by traditional lenders, such as banks.

“CIG Capital can solve problems

creatively because we’re not in a

restrictive ‘box’,” he states, in reference

to the regulatory frameworks

of other funding institutions. “We’re

not gambling with other people’s


“That’s really what gives me an advantage: I believe

in a set of principles and I don’t change them,

no matter what the product or sector is”

Charles D. Carey,

Managing Partner, CIG Capital

money; we’re providing 100% funding,

wherein the investee simply puts

up collateral towards a project.” This

means that CIG Capital could, in

theory, fund a $5bn project by itself -

a significant and rare advantage.

Stating that he doesn’t like to feel

that he is “the smartest person in the

room”, Carey emphasizes that having

exceptional employees, colleagues

and partners is a strong component

of CIG Capital’s success, as well as

having the determination to find the

recipe for success in failure. “When

you work as a serial entrepreneur or a

venture capitalist, you’re going to have


Workplace Culture



CIG’s Vision for 2021




“Finance is just a tool [...] All

you need to know is, ‘What’s

the money going to do’ and

‘How’s it going to come back

to us in a return”

Charles D. Carey,

Managing Partner, CIG Capital




a percentage of failure. However,

I believe that achieving what we

have today has been through those

experiences,” he says. CIG Capital’s

culture and pioneering approach

are helping it establish a foothold in

an industry beset by challenges, not

least from more established competitors.

However, when asked about the

one near-universal challenge being

experienced by the market (COVID-

19 disruption), Carey, on the contrary,

states that the pandemic has actually

brought several opportunities.

“Where others have shut their doors,

we’ve actually opened ours because

we look at the future, not just today.

CIG Capital is realistic and we know

that business will make a comeback.”

“The financial world

needs to realize that

investment is about

more than money”

Charles D. Carey,

Managing Partner, CIG Capital

In that spirit, Carey considers 2021

to be a year of opportunity, one which

could lay the foundations for a larger

and better economy. With plans to

develop several projects in the US

and grow its broker network into the

thousands already underway, CIG

Capital is launching itself wholeheartedly

into finding new ways of putting

‘money to work’. “The financial world



needs to realize that investment is

about more than money,” Carey concludes.

“We all need to understand

that money is a tool and how we use

it for our clients and the projects

that we’re investing in makes all the

difference.” As CIG Capital continues

to create the business opportunities

of tomorrow in a rapidly shifting economic

landscape, Carey’s leadership

and drive to forge a revolutionary,

new, culture-based approach to

investment will be crucial.




Strategy Consultant

Benefits &

Best Practices





Business Chief North America

gains insight from McKinsey

and TCS on strategic consulting

best practices and benefits, as

well as the impact of COVID-19


Tasked with partnering with organisations

around the world to transform how they

operate, integrate technology and build long

term capabilities, Kweilin Ellingrud, Senior Partner

at McKinsey explains that “strategy consultants

help answer strategy questions such as: ‘What

should our 3 to 5 year strategy be?’ or ‘How should

we launch in this new market?’ The benefits of

having a strategy consultant are that consultants

can push your thinking, bring innovative ideas and

a landscape survey of industries. Businesses typically

use strategy consultants (or management

consultants) when they are thinking about their

long-term strategy, a new market entry, or when

they are tackling a new area, such as how to use

digital and analytics to grow their business.”

Agreeing with Ellingrud, Dave Jordan, Global

Head of Consulting and Services Integration at

TCS, comments that “one of the major benefits of

employing the services of a strategy consultant

is their ability to remain objective and impartial



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in front of a business’s adversity

and potentially difficult personnel

decisions for the future. A strategy

consultant is able to analyse the

overall structure of the company and

identify cost-saving areas and ways

to make processes more efficient;

whether that is through innovative technology

or new procedures and ways of

working.” For instance, Jordan highlights

that organisations have known for many

years that software development

has been essential for businesses to

deliver exceptional customer service.

“However, delivering an agile IT function

alone is no longer enough. This is where

the services of a strategy consultant



A strategy consultant is an independent

expert whose role it is

to advise, guide and support an

organisation through a period

of change. Due to their impartiality,

a strategy consultant can see the

bigger picture, advise on opportunities,

potential roadblocks and

changes in an objective manner

and bring in best practice guidance

from the wider industry.

Dave Jordan, Global Head,

Consulting & Services Integration,



“One of the major benefits of employing the services

of a strategy consultant is their ability

to remain objective and impartial

in front of a business’s adversity

and potentially difficult personnel

decisions for the future”

Dave Jordan,

Global Head, Consulting and

Services Integration, TCS



are beneficial for a business, supporting

them to implement agile principles

and approaches throughout the

organisation. As with all transformations,

this can be a tall order. It involves

altering the DNA of the organisation,

and how it senses and responds to the

marketplace. Asking every function in

a large organisation to adopt new principles

all at once is a huge undertaking

likely to produce both false starts,

occasional resistance, and cynicism.

Having this third party consultant can

reassure the senior management of

an organisation that this is the right

course of action.”


When it comes to developing a business

strategy, Ellingrud explains

that “an effective business strategy

needs to be grounded in the mission

of the company and the organisation’s

objectives. The strategy needs

to take into account the strengths

of the company in order to decide

where to play and how to achieve

success. Importantly, the strategy

also needs to articulate what the

company will not do and not focus

on. We see that more dynamic and

frequent resource allocation, both

in terms of talent and capital, can

“An effective business strategy

needs to be grounded in the

mission of the company

and the organisation’s


Kweilin Ellingrud,

Senior Partner, McKinsey


Accelerating digital capabilities

to recover from the COVID-19 crisis



lead to better results, so once the

strategy is set, truly investing in your

best talent and critical capital, versus

taking a peanut-butter-spread

approach with scattered and broad

investments, is key to success.” With

this in mind it is important to “balance

aspirational and meaningful goals.

For example a company looking to

double the number of customers it

serves, needs to be balanced with a

very practical and achievable implementation

plan, as well as objective

milestones to measure success

along the way.”



With industries around the world facing

widespread disruption due to the

impact of COVID-19 both Ellingrud

and Jordan agree that “the COVID-19

pandemic has affected every single

one of us and in every walk of business.

Strategic consultants have had to be

agile in their responsiveness, identifying

short term trends that can deliver

immediate business continuity and aid

recovery, while retaining focus on the

long term horizon, where highly adaptive

companies and individuals will be


the big winners in the race to become

part of the new generation of essential

businesses,” comments Jordan. While

strategic consultants have faced the

same level of disruption as all other

industries, Ellingrud does highlight

that “at the same time, it has been

striking how well and how fast many

businesses and individuals, including

consultants, adapted to this significant

and rapid shift.”




• While clients are asking for help

to create change and drive transformation,

strategy consultancy

requires deeper industry and

functional expertise such as, deep

experience in areas such as digital

growth strategy in retail, or oil

and gas marketing

• Stronger integration with key

capabilities like digital and analytics

• A number of companies are

pushing for much broader and

bolder transformations

Kweilin Ellingrud, Senior Partner

at McKinsey



“The benefits of having a strategy

consultant are that consultants

can push your thinking, bring

innovative ideas and a landscape

survey of industries”

Kweilin Ellingrud,

Senior Partner, McKinsey



“It is clear that

organisations and

individuals need

to gear up for a

period of fluidity

in the new normal”

Dave Jordan,

Global Head, Consulting and

Services Integration, TCS

In order to combat this disruption

Jordan adds that “just like the banks

revolutionised in the 1990s and 2000s,

competitive success will demand more

than simply picking the most obvious

decision in the now. Speed is key to

success, but only if the result is a strategically

aligned and collaborative model,

enabled by highly integrated, streamlined

systems and infrastructure.” Since

the outbreak consulting companies

have helped articulate the potential

recovery scenarios from COVID-19,

the implications for each industry and


explore what the ‘reimagine phase’

might look like for each industry, as well

as what things may need to change

in the future. “In just a few short months

COVID-19 has changed the world. The

pandemic has had a worldwide impact,

creating a “new normal” unlike anything

most of us have experienced in our

lifetimes. This new reality has presented

organisations with endless challenges

and causes for concern. However, there

are new opportunities emerging from

this pandemic, that a strategy consultant

is able to identify. A strategy consultant

has the ability to look at the situation

from a purely objective point of view and

advise on the best next steps.”

Looking to the future, Jordan explains

that “given the unpredictable nature

of the virus, it is difficult to pronounce

definite economic and industry outcomes.

But directionally, it is clear that

organisations and individuals need to

gear up for a period of fluidity in the new

normal. Although current, short term

needs have shifted, organisations need

to continue building upon their strong

digital technology foundations to pursue

certain economic behaviours. These

include a focus on purpose-centricity

with near term adaptability and resilience

delivered through a strong digital foundation.”

Building on Jordan’s beliefs for

the future Ellingrud details that “Virtual

meetings and client interactions are

likely to continue in the future, with regular

communication and brainstorming

via videoconference continuing to be

an important focus.” However, “more

broadly, there will be a lot of focus on

accelerating recovery with a dual focus

on health and economics – protecting

both lives and livelihoods.”












Business Chief North America

shares insights into how

organisations can establish

an effective talent strategy



ccording to the Chartered Institute of

Personnel and Development (CIPD),

creating an effective talent management

strategy begins with workforce planning. This

process entails analysis of the organisation’s current

workforce, to determine its capabilities and

its future needs. With this in mind CIPD highlights

that following this analysis there are typically two

approaches that an organisation will take – exclusive

and inclusive.

An exclusive approach segments talent to

reflect an organisation’s needs, and is specific to

key individuals. However, in recent years, the use

of an inclusive approach has become more common.

This approach focuses on the workforce

as a whole, driving engagement and talent development.

While some organisations use one or the

other, often a combination of the two approaches

is preferred.

“Regardless of which approach organisations

adopt, fairness and consistency must be applied in

all talent management processes, alongside diversity

and inclusion considerations. Not ‘joining-up’



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approaches to talent management

programmes with diversity policies and

activities, can mean an organisation

fails to reap the benefits of accessing

and developing talent from the widest

possible pool,” says CIPD.

It also notes: “As talent management

operations continue to face

challenges with the rise in skill gaps,

operating in tight labour markets,

and the rise of remote working due

to COVID-19, the new talent reality

means organisations must pay more

attention to developing talent rather

than buying it in.

In a recent study conducted by

McKinsey, the company identified

a significant relationship between

effective talent management and

organisational performance. Among

those that had a very effective strategy,

99% believed that they outperform

their competitors, compared with 56%

of others that did not have an effective

strategy. In addition, companies that

had a very effective strategy were six

times more likely than those with an

ineffective strategy to report a higher

total return to shareholders (TRS)

than their competitors.


Talent Management | LinkedIn Learning

- What is a talent management strategy?




• Meaningful work and growth


• A high-performance workplace

• Driving a continuous learning culture

• Adding further value to the employee

value proposition

• Driving diversity and inclusion

• Increased productivity

• Access to human capital data to

drive better business decisions

In order to develop an effective

strategy, CIPD breaks the strategy

down into six key elements: attracting,

identifying, developing, engaging,

retaining and deploying.

When it comes to attracting talent, it

is important that organisations develop

an attractive brand and employee value

proposition, in order to gain the interest

of potential applicants. How an organisation

is viewed by the industry and the

public can dictate its ability to attract

talent. In order to identify the right talent,

it is important for organisations to

identify the business critical roles with

succession plans, to ensure that a




1. Employee experience

2. People analytics

3. Internal recruiting

4. Multi-generational workforce

Source: LinkedIn

critical role isn’t left unfilled for any

length of time, leading to potential

vulnerabilities. Organisation should

then focus on talented individuals in

the organisations to develop future

potential and talent pools. To develop

talent, CIPD identifies that talent

development should be both formal

and informal: “participants on talent

management programmes tend to

value coaching and mentoring, and networking

particularly highly, especially

the opportunity to meet and engage

with senior people in the organisation,”

notes CIPD. When it comes to driving

productivity, organisations that engage

with their employees, providing good

quality jobs, experience and management,

experience higher performance

and motivation.

While these first four elements

help to get talent through the front

door, to see continuous benefits

it’s important to invest in development

activities to retain talent and

reduce employee turnover. Other

retention tools can include rewards

and recognition. CIPD explains that

one of the most effective elements

of a strategy is deploying talent.

Gillian Campbell




“Organisations must understand

where their skills gaps lie to plan the

training required and deploy identified

talent with job rotations, skill enhancement

opportunities, training, additional

qualifications, leading on special

projects, and secondments to aid progression

and growth,” it concludes.

Supporting CIPD’s strategy breakdown,

McKinsey’s report identifies

three parts of an effective talent management

strategy: rapid allocation

of talent, executive team involvement

and strategic HR teams.


In the study conducted by McKinsey,

just 39% of respondents believed that

their organisation was fast or very fast

at reallocating talent. Deployment

of talent is a key element of talent

strategy, and leads to a 1.4 times

greater likelihood of outperformance.

McKinsey emphasises that the link

between rapid allocation and effective

talent management is strong.

“Nearly two thirds of the fast allocators

say their talent management efforts

have improved overall performance,



compared with just 29% of their

slower-moving peers.”

allocation at least once per quarter,”

highlights McKinsey.


Another key driver is the involvement

of the executive team. Among the

respondents, those that had involvement

from their leaders were 3.4 times

more likely to report that their organisations

are rapidly allocating talent.

In addition to the number of leaders

involved having an impact, “at organisations

that quickly reallocate talent,

executive teams usually review talent


The third key driver identified by

McKinsey entails a strategic HR team

that understands the organisation’s

strategy and priorities. “When respondents

say their organisations have a

strategy-minded HR team, they are 1.4

times more likely to report outperforming

competitors and 2.5 times more

likely to report the effective management

of talent,” concluded McKinsey.












Business Chief speaks to

Elias Ghanem, Head of Market

Intelligence, Capgemini

Financial Services, on the

capabilities of RegTech and

the impact of COVID-19



RegTech is defined as the management of regulatory

processes in the finance industry with the use

of technology. Its main functions include regulatory

monitoring, reporting, and compliance via the use

of cloud computing technology and software-asa-service

(SaaS) to help businesses comply with

regulations. Other technologies used within the

industry include: Big Data, real time analytics, artificial

intelligence, automation and Blockchain.

Within the industry, Deloitte believes that

“RegTech promises to disrupt the regulatory

landscape by providing technologically advanced

solutions to the ever increasing demands of compliance

within the financial industry.”

“RegTech promises to disrupt

the regulatory landscape”





Move towards

zero touch, cut

down on time


The 5G switch made easy.

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service assurance, Ericsson Dynamic Orchestration

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This means greater savings and shorter time to


With such promise emanating from

the industry, the consultant company

defines the five key focus areas:

1. Regulatory reporting: allowing the

industry to automate data distribution

and regulatory reporting

process via big data analytics, real

time reporting and cloud.

2. Risk management: provides the

industry with the ability to detect

compliance and regulatory risks,

assess risk exposure and anticipate

future threats.

3. Identity management and control:

to facilitate counterparty due

diligence and know your customer

(KYC) procedures. The capability

also helps with anti money laundering

(AML) and anti-fraud screening

and detection.

4.Compliance: provides the capability

to monitor and track the current

state of compliance and upcoming

regulations in real time.

5.Transaction monitoring: provides

real time transaction monitoring

and auditing solutions that leverage

Blockchain and cryptocurrency


“Between 2009 and 2012,

50,000 new financial

sector regulations were

implemented between

this period, which

doubled further by 2015”

Elias Ghanem,

Head of Market Intelligence,

Capgemini Financial Services





Investments to increase:

During Q1-Q3 2019, RegTech

reported 103% YoY growth. 2020

will most likely witness the same

momentum as corporate data

breaches, consumer privacy

concerns, and a wave of new

GDPR-like regulations will create

demand for technology tools that

help enterprises meet compliance


Scaleups to lead:

2020 is expected to witness the

RegTech companies move out of

the innovation phase and focus

on industrialisation of concepts.

With banks struggling with lower

profitability and high cost pressures,

scaleups in the RegTech

industry are expected to witness

higher traction.

AI at the forefront:

Use of specialised, emerging and

advanced technologies, such as

AI, robotics process automation,

and data analytics is poised to

gain more traction.

Elias Ghanem,

Head of Market Intelligence,

Capgemini Financial Services


When it comes to the best strategy

for adopting these RegTech solutions,

Elias Ghanem, Head of Market

Intelligence, Capgemini Financial

Services explains that “there is no

one size fits all strategy for banks and

other financial institutes to choose

the way to adopt RegTech. They have

three methods to choose from – Build

(internally in-house), Buy (acquire

a RegTech firm), or Collaborate.”

Depending on their internal capability,

time and resource availability, and

the autonomy and differentiation

needs for the outcome, the adoption

strategy will vary from bank to bank.

“In most cases it has to be a mix of the

three methods.”

However, with the recent outbreak

of COVID-19, Ghanem details that

“the tendency at corporate level during

uncertain scenarios is to reduce

big ticket investments. Thus, financial

service firms will be keen to collaborate

rather than building solutions

themselves, in order to speed up the

process and cut losses emerging out

of managing risk and compliance.”


Explore the frontiers

of the RegTech Universe





When it comes to the benefits of

RegTech, Ghanem details that, “banks

are struggling to keep up. Between

2009 and 2012, 50,000 new financial

sector regulations were implemented

between this period, which doubled

further by 2015. In such a scenario,

RegTechs offer multiple benefits.”

Such benefits include process

improvements, “RegTechs standardise

and automate processes, making

them clearer and better defined. As a

result they reduce internal operational

risks by minimising the possibility of

incurring violations related to human

error,” notes Ghanem. Other benefits

include cost synergies. With one third

of banks looking to expand their compliance

teams and two thirds looking

to increase their budget, Ghanem highlights

the expectation that “RegTechs

will help banks to drive cost optimisation.

For instance, utilising RegTech

to automate KYC checks could result

in US$1bn cost savings for banks by

2024.” In addition to process improvements

and cost synergies, “RegTech

solutions can also decrease the processing

time, thus helping the banks to



and automate

processes, making

them clearer and

better defined”

Elias Ghanem,

Head of Market Intelligence,

Capgemini Financial Services



Regulatory reporting


April Software


Risk management


Albany Group


Identity management

and control



Agreement Express





Abside RegTech

Transaction monitoring

Analyze N Control

Allagma Technologies


Source: Deloitte


offer seamless and improved experiences

to their customers,” he explains.

However, Ghanem details that while

there are many benefits, RegTechs do

come with their own set of challenges

which shouldn’t be overlooked. “A

key challenge in adopting RegTech is

data security, followed by integration

issues.” According to Capgemini’s

World Retail Banking Report 2020,

over 70% of banking executives highlighted

data-related security concerns

as a challenge to collaboration.


“Due to the pandemic,

there has been an

uptick in financial

fraud and call spoofing.

In the United States

alone, high-risk calls

were up by 30% after

three weeks starting

March 16”

Elias Ghanem,

Head of Market Intelligence,

Capgemini Financial Services



“While COVID-19 has brought about

uncertainty in all businesses,” and

has certainly “impacted the funding

of startups in different sectors including

RegTech firms.” Ghanem believes

that overall, “RegTechs seem poised

to gain from this disruption. Due to the

pandemic, there has been an uptick

in financial fraud and call spoofing.

In the United States alone, high-risk



calls were up by 30% after three

weeks starting March 16. Thus, banks

and other financial service institutions

will be keen to rely on RegTech for

robust regulatory systems to monitor

market activity and swiftly act on noncompliant

or fraudulent transactions.”

In addition “with changing regulatory

scenarios such as the GDPR and

evolving compliance requirements,

incumbents have been exploring

ways to adapt in real time. This has

led to a proliferation of RegTechs and

the increasing interest in firms specialising

in regulatory and compliance

solutions. This trend is now accelerated

due to COVID-19, with executives

of financial service firms feeling that

risk and compliance are the most

important focus areas post COVID-19

for sustainable business growth (67%),

indicating the importance of identifying

threats and being prepared to

ensure business continuity.”


Developing an

Effective Social

Media Strategy






Business Chief takes a look

at how organisations can

develop an effective social

media strategy, and the

benefits of having one


According to Deloitte, every minute over

4mn people in the world ‘like’ a post on

Facebook, more than 1.5mn on Instagram

and 350,000 on Twitter. Combine these figures

with the continuously advancing capabilities of

smart technology and connectivity, along with

the development of 5G, social media channels

are increasingly becoming a point of contact for

customers and brands. “To meet these expectations,

companies must adapt to the requirements

of clients and adjust their social communication to

current trends. If they fail to do so, consumers will

simply enter into a dialogue with another brand,”

says Deloitte.


There are many reasons why organisations

should develop a social media strategy. The channels

are not just for posting; they are also a useful

platform to drive advertising, marketing, communication

and sales.



“Companies must adapt

to the requirements of

clients and adjust their

social communication

to current trends, if

they fail to do so,

consumers will simply

enter into a dialogue

with another brand”


In its report, Deloitte details that a

dedicated social strategy will allow

organisations to:

• Plan content

• Develop and maintain a brand identity,

as well as distinguish that identity

from potential competitors

• React to potential crises

• Increase competitor visibility

• Build customer loyalty


When it comes to building an effective

social media strategy, Deloitte and

Hootsuite highlight four key elements

for building a social media strategy.




Aligning the strategy with the

overall business goal

Whether an organisation’s goal

is to improve customer support,

or drive sales via marketing,

Hootsuite explains that “the first

step to creating a winning strategy

is to establish your objectives and

goals. Without goals, you have no

way to measure success and return

on investment (ROI).”

The best way to achieve this is by

establishing S.M.A.R.T goals that are

Specific, Measurable, Attainable,

Relevant and Time sensitive.

Understanding the audience and

the competition

When implementing a social media

strategy it is important to use the

data available, as “knowing who your

audience is and what they want to

see on social media is key,” notes

Hootsuite. While many would believe

Facebook is ideal for reaching Baby

Boomers, Hootsuite reports that

there are more millennials than Baby

Boomers on the platform. Therefore,

understanding who is using what platform

and what they want to see is vital

for an effective strategy.

How to Create a Successful

Social Media Strategy





1. Create content that describes

account services such as account

security, financial planning and

changes to existing products

2. Partner with bloggers, journalists or

influencers to promote your brand

3. Develop and promote materials

that educate consumers on initiatives,

thought leadership and

educational resources

4. Ensure your content is

optimised for each channel

5. Use consistent voice, tone

and messaging across all communications

and marketing

6. Drive positive conversations

about your financial institution

through proactive consumer



“The first step to creating a winning strategy

is to establish your objectives and goals”


While each platform has its own

rules, Deloitte highlights that it is also

important to have coherence on every

platform, avoiding discrepancies.

“Regardless of whether the client is

calling the hotline, contacting via the

form on the website, writing a letter

or making a phone call to Messenger,

the message must be coherent.”

Part of developing a social media

strategy should also involve competitor

analysis. Hootsuite explains that

this is an easy way to identify what

works and what doesn’t on social

media for a given sector.

Maintaining regular communication

for each platform

Having a social media presence brings

a certain level of responsibility as an

organisation. In Deloitte’s report, the



company stresses the importance of

not neglecting an account. “Lack of

regularity will give the impression

of a lack of professionalism and can

be taken as a disregard for its own

clients.” Both Deloitte and Hootsuite

explain that a content calendar can

help maintain regular publishing.

Evaluating and adjusting the strategy

Once a strategy is developed and

implementation begins, it is vital that

organisations track and analyse the

results of the strategy. Hootsuite

highlights that “you can’t assume

you’ll get it exactly right on the first

try. As you start to implement your



plan and track your results, you

may find that some strategies don’t

work as well as you’d anticipated,

while others are working even better

than expected.” As a result it is

important to analyse, re-evaluate,

test and refine the strategy based

on the outcome.



Brand awareness, brand loyalty

and brand authority

Blue Fountain Media, a digital marketing

agency in New York, explains

that social media is one of the most


“Lack of regularity will give

the impression of a lack of

professionalism and can

be taken as a disregard

for its own clients”



cost-efficient digital marketing methods

to increase a brand’s visibility.

“Implementing a social media strategy

will greatly increase your brand recognition

since you will be engaging with

a broad audience of consumers.”

The agency reports that by investing

only a few hours per week, 91% of

marketers said that their social marketing

efforts significantly increased

their exposure.

Brand loyalty, brand authority and

customer satisfaction are typically

intertwined. As such, the importance

of regular engagement with customers

and developing a bond is crucial.

“Social media is not just limited to

introducing your brand’s products

and promotional campaigns.

Customers see these platforms as

a service channel where they can

communicate directly with the business”,

says Blue Fountain Media. The

company also adds that “regularly

interacting with customers demonstrates

that your business cares about

customer satisfaction, and is available

to answer any questions that they might

have. Satisfied customers are eager to

spread the word about a great product

or service and they usually turn to

social media to express their opinion.”


your marketing mix is a gateway to

your website, and every piece of content

you post is another opportunity

to acquire a new customer,” says Blue

Fountain Media.

While social media doesn’t directly

improve SEO ranking, Social Media

Examiner reports that more than

58% of marketers using social media

for one or more years see improved

search engine rankings. “Being able

to rank in the top positions for your

keywords will revolutionise your traffic

and continue to generate positive

results for your business,” adds Blue

Fountain Media.


Increased traffic and improved

SEO ranking

By harnessing social media platforms,

organisations can expand their reach,

instead of limiting their inbound traffic

to direct or search engine traffic.

“Without utilising social media as part

of your marketing strategy, you’ll have

much more difficulty reaching anyone

outside of your loyal customer circle.

Every social media profile you add to

Higher conversion rates and better

customer satisfaction

With the increased visibility gained

from creating a social media presence,

every blog post, image, video, or

comment could lead to a view on an

organisation’s website and increase

the traffic. “Over 51% of marketers

claimed that taking the time to develop

relationships with consumers showed

positive results in sales. The better

impression you make on a visitor, the

more likely they are to think of your


“Regularly interacting with customers

demonstrates that your business

cares about customer satisfaction”

Blue Fountain Media



usiness when the need for your

product or services arises. Studies

have also shown that social media

has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate

than outbound marketing,” notes Blue

Fountain Media.

Finally, establishing a social media

presence creates a voice for organisations

and humanises the brand.

“Customers appreciate knowing that

when they post comments on your

pages, they will receive a personalised

response rather than an automated

message. Being able to acknowledge

each comment shows that you are

attentive of your visitors’ needs and

aim to provide the best experience.”




Jaggaer: Cloud

Computing – The

Benefits and

Best Strategies





Business Chief speaks to Thomas

Dieringer, President of JAGGAER

EMEA on the benefits, best strategies

and the impact of COVID-19 for cloud



When cloud computing first entered the

mainstream in the late 90s, Thomas

Dieringer, President of JAGGAER

EMEA saw several definitiations for the technology

and its application. “Oxford Dictionaries

defines cloud computing as using a network of

remote servers hosted on the Internet to store,

manage, and process data, rather than a local server

or a personal computer,” he states.

One of the significant benefits of cloud computing

detailed by Dieringer is the capacity for individuals

to log on to a system any place in the world and

work on documents, pitches, business opportunities

or approve multi-million-dollar contracts.

Other key benefits of the technology are centered

around cost, performance, security, speed, productivity,

and reliability.

“From a cost perspective, the initial expense

of setting up hardware and software can be

eliminated, as can the need for large onsite data

centres. The cost associated with running these

can be pervasive when you consider 24-hour

electricity and cooling, a team of experts, and the




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“Companies that invest

in big data, cloud,

mobility, and security

enjoy up to 53% faster

revenue growth than

their competitors”

Thomas Dieringer,


various servers. Performance-wise,

cloud computing runs on a network

of secure data centres, using the latest,

and fastest, computing hardware.

This also promotes higher speed,

with companies able to access vast

amounts of resources. At the same

time, from a productivity perspective,

IT teams are less restricted due to not

having to deal with large amounts of

hardware,” comments Dieringer, adding

that, “using the cloud is also more

reliable. Backup and recovery allows

for greater continuity and can also

help reduce costs.” However, with

these benefits Dieringer notes that

while “the benefits of cloud computing

far outweigh the challenges, certain

areas should be considered for successful

implementation and usage.

Some considerations include expertise

and compliance - which have grown

in prominence in recent years - governance,

and migration.”

With “companies that invest in big

data, cloud, mobility, and security

enjoy up to 53% faster revenue growth

than their competitors,” a large number

of companies are investing and

implementing the technology within

their operations benefiting from cost

savings, increased collaboration, quality

control, and loss prevention, Dieringer

also notes that, “during COVID-19 it

has also proved imperative from a disaster

recovery perspective, ensured

automatic software updates, and

perhaps most importantly, created

a competitive edge.”





When it comes to adopting cloud computing

technology, Dieringer explains

– using procurement as an example

– that first and foremost “instead of




“The very essence of cloud computing is the ability

to adapt to current market conditions by being

agile and have the ability to up or downscale as the

business requires”

Thomas Dieringer,




IN 2020

1. Multi and hybrid cloud

environments will continue

to grow

2. Retaining compliance

in an increasingly complex


3. Organisations will make

it a priority to control

cloud costs

4. Solution-focused partners

5. A Continued shift

to tech on demand

Source: VNT

sinking time, money and resources

into developing a solution to cover all

existing processes, procurement can

get more out of new software solutions

by first delivering a Minimum

Viable Product (MVP) that covers

roughly 70% of the essential business

requirements and processes first.

Once the team has started working

with the new SaaS solution, you can

strategically evaluate which of the

remaining 30% of your processes you

would like to cover.”

The next key aspect that Dieringer

believes is worth remembering is that

“implementation projects may take

several months to complete. By focusing

on achieving quick wins first, you

and your team will be able to see the

cost savings, a return on your investment,

sooner.” In addition, in order

“to avoid a low user acceptance rate

project managers need to manage

employee expectations with internal

project marketing. Deliver an MVP and


The JAGGAER ONE Platform



make it clear that this is not the final

product; elicit input from stakeholders

and users and build their suggestions

into the next iteration of the project.”

Ultimately Dieringer highlights

that “digital transformation is about

more than digitising existing manual

processes. Every function and department

that will be working with the final

solution should be included in both the

initial discussion and the subsequent

sprint reviews. Finally to ensure that

implementation projects stay on time

and within budget, it is important

to choose the right implementation

method that can help contain costs

and reduce risks based on the ‘win

fast or fail fast’ principle.”

Circling back to an early part

in Dieringer’s best strategy for cloud

computing adoption, he further

reiterates the importance of having

the right mindset and culture.

“Approaching a large IT implementation

project can be a daunting

prospect. In addition to managing

the expenses, timelines, logistics

and vendors, you have to consider

change management and user

expectations. To overcome many of



the issues, first look to gain valuable

input from actual end users during the

design phase of a new IT project.

By getting a more accurate understanding

of what end users need from

a solution not only can you set expectations

accordingly, you can also

reach all of your goals more quickly.”

Dieringer goes on to explain that while

“making sure you have the right team

available to handle a project might

seem like an obvious requirement, it

can often go overlooked. Having the

right size team is only half the battle.

The second step is ensuring that

you have the right people filling those

seats. Keeping the team small and

powerful can keep projects moving

quickly without overworking individuals

or overcomplicating staff meetings.

Finally, focus on the outcomes, not

internal history, politics, or processes

to ensure successful implementation.

Use best practice examples, advice

from experts, and partners with experience

within the industry to support your

implementations. To avoid restricting

the development and the financial investment

associated with it, refrain from

looking inward to the organisation.”



“To avoid a low user acceptance rate

project managers need to manage

employee expectations with internal

project marketing”

Thomas Dieringer,







1. Cost optimisation will

drive cloud adoption

2. Multicloud will reduce

vendor lock-in

3. Insufficient cloud IaaS

skills will delay migrations


4. Distributed cloud will

support expanded service


Source: Gartner



When it comes to the impact of

COVID-19 for the cloud computing

industry, Dieringer highlights that “there

has undoubtedly been an enormous

spike in the use of cloud computing as

a result of COVID-19. You only have

to look at the uptick in the number

of people and companies using tools

such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom,

to appreciate just how much of an

impact this will have had on cloud

infrastructure. Throughout the world,

one of the largest areas impacted as a

result of COVID-19, regardless of the

industry, was the supply chain. Those

directly responsible for the supply

chain are those within the procurement

and supply chain department.

An extra barrier for those organisations

operating on-premise ERP, was

the implementation of remote working

conditions, resulting in many people

unable to access their organisation’s

network. The very essence of cloud


“There has

undoubtedly been

an enormous spike

in the use of cloud

computing as a

result of COVID-19”

Thomas Dieringer,


computing is the ability to adapt to

current market conditions by being

agile and have the ability to up or

downscale as the business requires.

Organisations considering implementing

a cloud-based system or upgrading

will almost certainly be looking to do

this as a priority now.”

As with any major disaster, Dieringer

details that while short term digital

strategies and transformation projects

may be put on hold in order to focus on

the prevention of COVID-19, looking

to the future Dieringer believes that

“companies will take time to take stock

and develop new plans and strategies

to begin the first tentative steps to

recovery,” and “cloud computing will

play an essential role in that recovery.

For companies already adept at using

cloud, they will look at additional ways

of utilising it further. Those yet to

embrace will undoubtedly implement

the many cost savings, and ease of

working it affords.”


TOP 10




Innovation Labs

in North America

Business Chief North America takes

a look at 10 of the top innovation labs

in North America


TOP 10



Walmart Labs

Established by Walmart in 2005, Walmart Labs strives to help organisations

grow ideas from the incubation stage through to international

scale. Walmart labs strives to develop industry-changing innovations

that make in-store and online shopping a more seamless experience.

Walmart labs provides an open-source approach that offers flexibility

and freedom to its users to own their own code, as well as the

ability to move quickly towards cost-saving solutions.



Coca Cola – KOlab

Coca Cola’s KOlab is a high-tech facility for the development of collaborative

business plans and innovation for retail and restaurant customers.

The innovation lab is designed to help Coca Cola’s customers navigate

the shopping and dining landscape. In the space, teams can explore

trends, insights and opportunities via its virtual reality (VR) digital immersion

room. “KOlab helps us build relationships with our valued customers

and work with them to uncover ideas that will grow both their business

and ours,” commented Robin Perry, general manager of KOlab.


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Volkswagon Automotive

Innovation Labs

Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Labs provide state-of-the-art vehicle

research facilities and community space to advance vehicle technology,

with a focus on mobility solutions. In the building, the company conducts

high-profile Stanford projects that focus on drive by wire and driver

assistance systems, as well as research vehicles that use deep learning

and computer vision to automate the driving process. The lab also conduct

research into how drivers interact with vehicles, and into the design,

building and racing of the latest competition vehicles.

TOP 10


Verizon 5G Labs

Established by telecommunications company Verizon, the Verizon

5G labs work with startups, education centres and enterprises to

drive a 5G-powered world. “We work on 5G trials, hackathons, industry

partnerships, prototyping challenges and more,” says Verizon.

Verizon 5G labs form unique partnerships on different levels, bring

together existing technology and new solutions. In total, Verizon has

5G labs in six key innovation hubs in the United States and Europe.




Amazon Lab126


Established in 2004, Amazon aspired to innovate the physical book,

making it easier than ever for customers to discover and enjoy books.

With this in mind, Gregg Zehr, then the vice-president of hardware engineering

at Palm Computing, formed a small team which became Amazon

Lab126. The origin of the name Lab126 comes from the arrow in the

Amazon logo, which draws a line from A to Z. In Lab126, the 1 stands for

A and the 26 stands for Z. This subsidiary of Amazon is an innovative lab

for research and development. In 2007 Amazon Lab126 launched the

first Kindle. Since then the team has expanded rapidly, developing a wide

variety of new and innovative products.

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Payment solutions

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solutions, the American Express Corporate Program

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fully prepared for business wherever you are.

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Program, visit

TOP 10

05 Google X

Established by Google, Google X is an innovation lab that strives to create

radical technologies to solve some of the hardest problems in the

world. Google X ‘s diverse group of investors and entrepreneurs strive

to not only make a 10% improvement; the innovation lab aspires to have

a 10-times impact on world problems. “We approach projects that have

the aspiration and riskiness of research with the speed and ambition

of a startup,” says Google X.


TOP 10



IBM Garage

Defined by IBM in two words, IBM Garage is a transformation accelerator.

IBM Garage helps enterprises to accelerate and work more like

startups. “The IBM Garage experience seamlessly blends business

strategy, design and technology into a single end-to-end journey,”

says IBM Garage. IBM Garage strives to help other organisations realise

measurable business value through innovation projects, cultural

changes, co-creation and the momentum of innovation to drive digital

transformation. IBM provides expertise in design, architecture, agile

development, data science, AI technologies, automation, blockchain,

security and hybrid cloud.



Capital One Labs

Founded in 2012, Capital One Labs explores “the intersection of emerging

technology and finance.” Its labs build innovative products, consumer

experiences and engineering solutions to drive Capital One as a leader

within the industry, and to improve the lives of its customers. Capital One

Labs was designed to allow for prototype making and design thinking.

Capital One Labs has offices in Washington D.C. and New York City. “We

bring together diverse perspectives to solve big problems. We elevate

each other, stand for each other’s success, and build a culture of trust

and mutual respect.”




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*Based on independent tests.

©Copyright 2017 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development LP.

6 Ways to Reduce Complexity

and Unleash Speed

Combining on-premises IT resources with cloud brings unparallelled flexibility and scalablity to your

business – but the resulting hybrid IT environment introduces complexity and obstacles that can create

operational friction and slow you down

Bring speed and agility to your business:

Here are 6 ways HPE software-defined and hybrid cloud solutions remove IT friction across your hybrid

environment so you can streamline operations and accellerate business innovation.

Software-defined intelligence

Automate tasks, speed app deployment,

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Composable infrastructure

Compose and recompose IT services

quickly for any workload

Hyperconverged infrastructure

Compose and recompose IT services

quickly for any workload

Hybrid Cloud management

Simplify multi-cloud management and

gain insights across your clouds

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TOP 10




Innovation Lab

Inspired by its vision to develop a world without cash, Mastercard Innovation

Lab harnesses its technology and expertise to make payments safe, simple and

smart. By operating one of the world’s fastest payment processing networks,

Mastercard’s Innovation Lab connects consumers, financial institutions, retailers,

governments and businesses and is built on four values:

Trust: acting with integrity, respect and openness

Partnership: working as one team

Agility: delivering value via rapid innovation and execution

Initiative: taking bold and thoughtful action to deliver results



Mastercard Labs

for Financial Inclusion


TOP 10


Citi: Meet Some of the Team from

Citi’s Innovation Labs




CitiGroup – Global

Innovation Lab

Established by CitiGroup, Global

Innovation Lab drives organic innovation

in the financial and investment sector.

CitiGroup’s Global Innovation Lab strives

to establish a digital future by building

on its strong legacy of innovation and

a unique global network.


As part of its effort to drive innovation,

CitiGroup’s Global Innovation Lab

partners with strategic fintechs to cocreate

and provide its clients with the

best solutions, by combining new and

emerging skills with its banking expertise.




Rapid7 NICER –

starting a conversation

on internet security






Tod Beardsley, Director of

Research at Rapid7, outlines

the company’s recently

released NICER report and

why everyone can do better

on online security



here has never been a more opportune

moment than now to discuss internet

security: the COVID-19 pandemic has

forced many companies and individuals to reconsider

their basic operations, reimagine manual

processes and also vindicated the effectiveness

of remote working. A consequence of the modern

world’s reliance on digital technology is the nearconstant

vigilance required to ensure its integrity;

far from being a static issue which can be addressed

satisfactorily with yesterday’s tech, a spirit of innovation

and honest critical evaluation is required to

understand and remedy the underlying problems

which threaten to disrupt us. To spur on a debate

and engage developers, regulatory authorities and

the wider community, security specialist Rapid7

has released NICER 2020 (National / Industry /

Cloud Exposure Report), the most comprehensive

census of the modern internet risk landscape

ever completed.

Speaking to us on Zoom with a background

representing a visualised ‘map’ of the internet,




Confessions of a Former CISO:

Shaming People for Bad Security



Tod Beardsley, Director of Research

at Rapid7, emphasises that NICER is an

attempt to spur the world into affirmative

action, “We’re hoping that this report

helps people make informed decisions

about what they should be putting on

the internet, what they shouldn’t and

what their local ‘neighbourhoods’ might

look like. NICER is being released for

free; Rapid7 wants everybody to pick

this up and peruse it.” A comprehensive

document split into 16 sections and three

appendices, NICER is the result of four

years’ worth of research, although it

starts with a relatively modern focus:

the effect of the global pandemic on

internet security, which, Beardsley

states, was surprising. “We were planning

things out in January and February

and then the world came crashing

down. I thought, ‘Hang on, let’s redo

all our scans; surely has fundamentally

changed’. However, we found no effect

at all.” In fact, the results showed a

reduction in dangerous services, most

notably Windows SMB (service message

block) network protocols.

However, this unexpected good

news shouldn’t lull people into a false

sense of security – the “myth of


the silver city”, to quote the report –

Beardsley is adamant that vigilance

and proactivity are the keys to success.

“The problem [with the perception that

progress is being made] is that we’re

not going in that direction fast enough,”

which is re-emphasised in NICER: “...

the security of the internet still trails

the desire to just get things working,

and working quickly.” This sentiment

roughly encapsulates the challenge

faced by those endeavouring to bolster

internet security: to construct an efficient

operating model which doesn’t

sacrifice integrity, with necessary

updates and patches implemented in

a timely and consistent manner. The

report can help facilitate the achievement

of this goal by providing hard

data that developers can reference

as they seek out solutions.

In terms of cyberattacks themselves,

Beardsley states that they continue to

include conventional ‘phishing’ scams

as well as more advanced methods,

such as “exploiting known vulnerabilities

and old software that’s on

the edge.” The report includes a summary

of the ‘most exposed’ countries

by total attack surface, exposure to

selected services, vulnerability rate

and other metrics. While countries

such as the US and China might bring

no surprises for their high-risk factor,

NICER also includes some surprises

such as Canada (9) ranking higher than




Iran (10), despite the former having

a population density almost 50% lower

than the latter. This is a perfect example

of the report’s ability to correct

potentially damaging preconceptions.

“Iran is very technically savvy but it is

more reliant on client-oriented internet

(mobile phone networks, etc), whereas

Canada has a lot more in the way of

wired infrastructure and servers.”

NICER’s information about entire

countries enables each to identify its

own ‘neighbourhood’ and measure

its progress relative to others, but

what about specific industries? The

report also includes a graph measuring

each sector’s vulnerable assets,

revealing that highly essential services

– telecoms, financial services, retail

and pharma – are amongst the most

exposed, including some of the largest

organisations on the FTSE 100,

Fortune 500 and Nikkei Index. “These

companies have the resources to be


great at security, but, ultimately, it’snot

their job,” says Beardsley. “And a

lot of these companies are over 10

years old and haven’t gotten around

to upgrading, particularly if everything

still appears to be working fine.” The

blight of legacy network protocols

is also problematic, with some like

FTP (file transfer protocol) dating

back to the 1970s and possessing no

inherent cryptographic assurances.

Maintaining patch and version management,

therefore, is essential. With

cloud also continuing to be adopted

more widely, Beardsley states that the

information on this topic explored in

NICER will be developed further into

a forthcoming report at the end

of 2020.

Policymakers, too, have a crucial

role to play – as stated in NICER:

“The pen Is mightier than the firewall.”

Rapid7’s report aims to supply regulators

and legislators of all kinds with

the necessary information needed

to focus their attentions. “Legislators

and even cyber insurers want to look

at this stuff to understand what’s

acceptable and what’s not. I think

policymakers have a pretty critical

role, both in terms of understanding

risk management and understanding



Tod Beardsley

Title: Director of Research

Industry: IT & Network Security

Location: Austin, Texas

I’m an individual contributor on software engineering

projects, a technical security researcher, a no good dirty

hacker, an open source maintainer and advocate,

a conference organizer, a podcaster, blogger, and

all-around new media gadfly, and an often-quoted

primary spokesperson — often several to all of these

roles at the same time!



like how the internet itself works.”

Citing their ability to find effective

solutions to problems which are still

economically viable, Beardsley also

believes that policymakers ability to

bring pressing issues to the forefront

of people’s attention makes them an

invaluable ally. “They can sound the

national security alarm and people

will listen,” he adds.

NICER explores in great detail

two protocols still in widespread

use: Telnet and SMB. Under analysis,

Rapid7 found that both were outdated

and neither was particularly suited

to modern internet usage; in fact,

Telnet was originally specced out

as a temporary solution in the 1960s.

“It is obvious from this RFC (request

for commands) that [Telnet] was

intended to be a temporary solution

and that ‘more sophisticated subsystems

will be developed in time’, but

to borrow from Milton Friedman, ‘there

is nothing quite so permanent as a

temporary solution’,” says the report.

This is not to say that old systems or

protocols cannot have value. However,

the antiquated nature of Telnet comes

from a time when active and passive

attackers did not exist, thus rendering

its practical use limited. Alternatives

such as SSH (Secure Shell) make for

a compelling alternative, albeit with its

own drawbacks related to exposing

console access to the internet. “With

SSH, I can tell with certainty that the



computer I’m talking to is the one I

thought I was talking to because they

have cryptographic fingerprints that

are easily verified,” clarifies Beardsley.

SMB, on the other hand, was found to

be too complex, almost to the point of

obscurant. With “the most destructive

internet worms in history” using SMB

in some way, NICER advocates for

HTTPS as an alternative. “SMB is very

opaque,” Beardsley summarises. “It

makes cryptographic guarantees that

it can’t keep. I’m not advocating for

the end of SMB, but having it directly


exposed to the internet is a pretty bad

idea and it’s almost always accidental.”

The conclusion of NICER provides

a mixed but ultimately encouraging

takeaway, “Things aren’t great, but not

disastrously bad and relatively small

changes in how we design, develop

and deploy services will still have a

great impact on the stability, safety

and security of the internet as a whole.”

This is a sentiment that Beardsley

echoes: “At the moment, I feel like a climate

scientist saying global warming

is happening but everyone is responding,

‘But it’s fine right now’.” Indeed,

the problem with underlying issues



elating to internet security is how everyday

interactions with it (using social

media, watching videos, research, etc)

appear unaffected, yet the potential

for all these things to be disrupted

exists on a fundamental level. “Internet

security is not a goal in and of itself:

security enables culture, commerce,

art and even society,” he continues. “I

don’t see a world where we’re licensing

people to programme on the

internet, but I would like us to reach a

point where it’s normal for software

developers or electrical engineers to

learn new aspects of security in their

professional development.” Rapid7’s

NICER could play a crucial role in

expanding global consciousness on

the importance of internet security.

In fact, Beardsley hopes that it is the

start of an ongoing and fruitful debate.

“If someone else out there has different

stats or conclusions, we’re more

than happy to have that conversation.

NICER is not a ‘one and done’ report;

this is an entry point into what will

hopefully be several conversations on

what we want the future of the internet

to be.”


Read Rapid7’s full NICER report here

and watch Tod share the key takeaways

in this webcast











MONTH 2020



Patrick Sells, CIO, explains why

innovation shouldn’t stop

at technology and why getting

the right culture is essential in

modern finance



has been a difficult but transformative

year for finance: COVID-19

has led to a shift away from old paradigms, remote

working has been validated as a valuable tool and

digital transformation is redrawing the industry’s

roadmap for the future. Emblematic of this brave

new world, Quontic Bank is a disruptive banking

platform which transcends the bank-FinTech

divide and harnesses the best of both worlds to

deliver best-in-class customer outcomes. Founded

in 2009 and headquartered in New York, the bank

is a self-proclaimed champion of “underdogs,

entrepreneurs, gig-economy workers, immigrants,”

and all others currently not best served by the

‘legacy banking’ establishment. Quontic Bank

believes in empowering its customers to take control

of their finances, recognising that no person’s

circumstances are the same as others and proving

that better solutions are available to those who

seek out innovation.

Leading this aspect of Quontic Bank’s business

is Patrick Sells, Chief Innovation Officer. A true disruptive

digital banking executive, Sells initially got



Successful companies.

Cohesive teams.

Engaged employees.

We can help you get there.

The Table Group is changing the world of work

so more organizations can be more effective

and less dysfunctional, and employees can

be more fulfilled and less miserable.

Our approach is based on Pat Lencioni’s

best-seller, The Advantage, which introduces

four practical disciplines: build a cohesive

leadership teams, create clarity, overcommunicate

clarity, and reinforce clarity.

We help leaders master these disciplines

resulting in healthy organizations that are

marked by reduced politics, confusion and

unwanted turnover.

Create cultural

competitive advantages

The Table Group: creating

cultural competitive advantages

Rick Van Arnam,

Principle Consultant

at The Table Group,

describes how he has

helped Quontic Bank

to unify its culture and

focus its corporate vision

“People today want to make a difference.

They want to know that the company they’re

working for has a unique purpose to which

they can contribute,” states Rick Van Arnam,

Principle Consultant with The Table Group.

In 1997, this is exactly what the company set

out to do: help executives and teams cohere,

define their corporate vision, establish a unified

identity, and encourage innovation through

outstanding culture. With a diverse set of

skills under his belt, Van Arnam found that

The Table Group presented him with an

interesting new challenge: “In addition to the

consulting arm, the company is actually more

of an idea factory around all things related

to organisational health. It’s improving the

world of work.”

Helping leaders across several industries,

The Table Group’s consultants engage with

them to master four core disciplines:

build a cohesive leadership team, create

organisational clarity, over-communicate

that clarity and reinforce clarity through

simpler and less bureaucratic systems

and processes. Markedly a culture-focused

approach instead of technological, Van Arnam

says that there is a good reason for this: “

During the 2008 recession, we discovered

that companies were investing a lot of time

and effort in the ‘smart side’ of the business.

However, everybody actually has access to

a lot of the same technology. Therefore, if

you’re going to win, you’re going to have

to do more; you need to transform the

organisation itself and operate differently.”

One company which has truly taken this

advice to heart is Quontic Bank. Having known

Patrick Sells, CIO, for a decade, Van Arnam

states that the company is uniquely positioned

as an organisation attempting a method of

operating which breaks away from industry

preconceptions. “We helped Quontic Bank

answer six simple but critically important

questions: ‘Why do we exist?’ ‘How are we

going to behave?’ ‘What do we do?’ ‘How are

we going to succeed?’ ‘What’s most important

right now?’ and finally ‘What are our roles

and responsibilities?’”

Van Arnam believes that Quontic Bank’s

wholehearted receptiveness to The Table

Group’s ideas has distinguished it as one of

its closest collaborations. “Quontic’s emphasis

on culture is going to be really important,”

he concludes. “I think it’s going to help them

attract talent on the heels of what has been

a war on talent. Continually revisiting the six

critical questions, maintaining core values and

onboarding people the correct way will help

position it to meet the upcoming challenges.”



“I sold most of my

company (Sells Group

Holdings) and went

all-in on this idea of

re-imagining what a

bank could be - a digital

bank of the future”

Patrick Sells,

CIO, Quontic Bank

his start working on digital marketing

for small companies whilst attending

Taylor University. “This was right after

the recession and it was an interesting

time to get into business,” he recalls. “I

thought banking was ripe to be done

differently, especially community

banks.” Sells’ connection to Quontic

Bank started when he met CEO Steven

Schnall, with whom he shares a mutual

interest in the evolving cryptocurrency

market. The two quickly established

a friendship and developed some projects

together and it was in late 2018

that Sells finally joined the team. “We

had a lot of mutual interest: I had been

wanting to get into the banking industry

to try something new and Quontic

needed to become a digital bank. I

sold most of my company (Sells Group

Holdings) and went all-in on this idea of

re-imagining what a bank could be - the

digital bank of the future.”

Recognised as 2020’s ‘Digital

Banker of the Year’ by American

Banker and also one of ICBA

Independent Banker’s ‘40 Under 40’,

Sells has managed to carve out a

formidable reputation in the industry.

Possessing a talent for and enduring



Patrick Sells

Title: CIO

Industry: Online Banking

Company: Quontic Bank

Location: New York

Patrick Sells is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for helping transform

community banking through culture and technology. As the Chief Innovation

Officer at Quontic, Patrick is focused on drawing a new generation of talent to

the banking industry and elevating Quontic as a destination employer. Sells

blends together the desire to use technology to make the world a better place

and change the perception of banking. He is an award-winning leader who has

been recognised for digital innovation in banking earning American Banker’s

Digital Banker of the Year Award and also named in Independent Bankers 40

under 40 list for emerging community banking leaders in 2020. The bank is

headquartered in New York City and has earned the U.S. Department of

Treasury certification as a CDFI. Currently, Patrick is an advisor of the

Mizen Group and is on the faculty at the first ever graduate

program for Digital Banking at the University of Wisconsin.

Prior to joining Quontic, Sells served as the CEO/Owner of the

Sells Group, a marketing and technology agency based in

Indianapolis that helps clients with digital customer

acquisition. In addition, Sells is active in the not-forprofit

space helping lead and advise several different

organisations. He helped start and build the Super

Service Challenge into a national program that raised

and gave away over $30,000,000 alongside their

national spokesperson, Drew Brees.

He currently resides in New York City and

graduated from Taylor University with a degree in

Political Science.






“So many companies

have ‘core values’ that

are simply, what I call,

‘permission to play

values’. They’re not

unique to them and

so they don’t become

a shared language”

Patrick Sells,

CIO, Quontic Bank

interest in innovation which befits his

role at Quontic Bank, he states that

early experiences taught him the value

of trying to imagine operations from

different perspectives. “When you’re

in the middle of doing something it’s

really hard to reimagine things. But,

when you are able to truly step back

and reframe the world around you,

you can easily find innovation. A lot of

what I’ve done at Quontic Bank has

been saying, ‘Okay, what if we thought

about it very differently?’” Indeed,

the Bank is no stranger to accolades

itself; it was recently ranked as one of

Bankrate’s 2020 ‘Top Online Banks’.

When asked what he attributes this

success to, Sells claims that Quontic

Bank’s culture and mission to redefine

what a ‘digital bank’ is has been pivotal

to its acclaim with customers and the

wider industry.

Corporate culture could be Quontic

Bank’s most important quality. Based

on a four-pillar philosophy, Sells

makes a clear distinction between his

organisation’s approach to culture

and others: “So many companies have


Navigating the Home Loan Process

with Quontic Bank



‘core values’ that are simply, what I call,

‘permission to play values’. They’re

not unique to them and so they don’t

become a shared language.” Instead,

Quontic Bank allows the following

principles to guide its daily operations:

1) Progress not perfect: a steady state

of constant improvement is favoured

over rapid quests for unattainable

perfection; 2) Try it on: emphasising

a fast-paced decision-making

process, Quontic Bank is willing to

try new ideas, retain the ones that

work and discard those that don’t; 3)

Know the goal: before embarking on a

new direction or endeavour, the Bank

coordinates with its teams to establish

a singular vision; and 4) Say cheese:

Sells explains, “When someone puts

a camera up in front of you and says,

‘Say cheese!’, what happens? You

smile and the person taking the picture

smiles too. Imagine a bank that you

actually smiled when you talked to.”

Sells adds that the need for remote

working as a result of the pandemic

has indirectly added to the Bank’s

culture too: “Before COVID-19, we’d





usually only hire people from the New

York area. However, during this time,

we’ve hired 30 or 40 people from outside

and it’s enabled us to work with

and find great talent further afield.”

When it comes to Quontic Bank’s

‘true digital bank’ concept, Sells

states that a fallacious dichotomy

between traditional banks and modern

FinTechs has obscured the true vision

for what the idea could achieve. “In

many ways, when banks hear the term

‘digital bank’, they assume it means

empowering FinTechs and not playing

an active role in their customers’ lives

anymore. I don’t think that’s a good

thing for the industry.” On the contrary,

Sells argues, it is only by combining

the best aspects of both that banking

can meet the challenges of the post-

COVID-19 ‘new normal’. “A true digital

bank would actually use technology

to provide a better experience and

add meaningful value to the customer

beyond just being a list of debits and

credits behind the scenes,” he continues.

“We should also be building

technology that solves our problems,

selling it to other banks and helping

them become truly digital too. imagine


“When banks hear the

term ‘digital bank’,

they assume it means

empowering FinTechs

and not playing an active

role in their customers’

lives anymore. I don’t

think that’s a good thing

for the industry”

Patrick Sells,

CIO, Quontic Bank


building technology that actually

helped our customers accomplish the

things in life that they want; that’s at

least partially what being a true digital

bank means.” In fact, Quontic Bank

receives daily enquiries from other

banks seeking advice on how to adapt.

Sells adds that the organisation is

currently adapting this aspect of the

business into a more scalable solution

to help others across a wider scale.

Quontic Bank’s approach to certain

aspects of digital transformation, such

as data utilisation, correlates with

contemporary industry trends: “Data




Quontic Bank Partnerships


Quontic Bank’s partners play a

crucial role in its development of

new tech, products, competitive

advantages and more. Sells chose to

highlight four for their particularly

important contributions:

Mantl: “When COVID-19 first

happened, we wanted to roll out

a new product called ‘Drawbridge

Savings’ - an account to help

people do social good wherein

Quontic Bank will match the

monthly interest credited for

each account and donate it to the

#BeTheDrawbridge relief fund.

Mantl helped us build that product

and launch it in three days, which

would be unheard of with other

providers. Mantl represents

the type of true Fintech-bank

partnerships that are needed.

Banks need to move beyond

treating partners as ‘vendors’

and have real relationships with

them. It’s a great relationship

and partner of ours.”

Table Group: “Table Group is

focused on helping companies

build a competitive advantage. It

was critical in helping us refine our

mission statement, who we are,

what our core values are and how

we make decisions. Table Group

and our consultant there, Rick Van

Arnam, have taught us and many

other companies that the only true

competitive advantage today is

that of being healthy. That means

the whole organisation needs to

be aligned, clear on ‘who’ it is and

working together seamlessly.”

Alloy Labs Alliance: “Alloy Labs is

a new consortium of banks. There are

probably between 40 and 50 banks

in there, all with different stories than

ours but similar objectives. The

organisation provides a platform for

us to work together and collaborate.”


Hunton: “It’s a great law firm but

it’s more than just a law firm

advisor: they are friends that

have helped us as we’ve started

to do new and innovative things.

Hunton helps us understand how

we can do it in the safest and best

way. Peter Weinstock has been

our sherpa, if you will, guiding us

every step of the way.”

“Banks need to move

beyond treating

partners as ‘vendors’

and have real

relationships with


Patrick Sells,

CIO, Quontic Bank

can be used to help customers gain

a better financial life and empower

them financially. Every bank is trying

to figure out how we can begin to

harness and leverage data better.”

However, Quontic Bank’s exceptional

customer-centricity shines through

in its philosophy towards tech innovation.

“I think the most important

thing to consider is the customer’s

experience,” Sells explains. First and

foremost, the bank tries to gain perspective

on how its customers interact

with it and learn what improvements

can be made through first-hand experience.

This could involve something

relatively simple like app/website

performance or the ease of opening

an account, or it could be more

complex like the transactions process.

Although considerations surrounding

regulations, security and data

integrity should always be paramount,

Quontic Bank prides itself on delivering

a quintessentially tech-optimised

service designed with its users in

mind. “If you look at our roadmap, we

are going to be rolling out some new

products that have never been seen

before in the industry to provide a




Year founded


Revenue in

US dollars



Number of


new type of experience,” Sells states.

“The reason why people need online

banking is because mobile apps

aren’t good enough yet. Quontic

Bank wants to build a mobile app that

allows you to do everything easily

from the click of a button.”

When he considers the progress

that Quontic Bank has managed to

accomplish throughout 2020 despite

the difficulties of the pandemic, Sells

is proud to say that 2021 will not be a

case of addressing ‘unfinished business’.

“We’ve kept up with what we

wanted to achieve in the sense of

overall progress towards our mission

and vision. We never would have

guessed that, in partnership with

Intuit and other Fintech platforms,

Quontic Bank would have facilitated

over one billion PPP (Paycheck

Protection Program) loans to small

businesses.” It could be argued that

the bank has actually managed to gain

momentum during this time rather

than lose it. 2020 might have been a

year no-one expected, but Quontic

Bank has still managed to go from



strength to strength. Indeed, with

Sells’ visionary leadership and the

bank’s celebrated conception of the

‘true digital bank’, why should it not

have? Innovation courses through

the organisation, yet it doesn’t stop

where most companies would choose

to leave it: technology. “The word

‘innovation’ has become synonymous

with technology,” he says. “In doing

that, the wider banking sector has

failed to truly understand the other

opportunities for innovation, from

culture to training, recruiting and how

people work.” Quontic Bank is refusing

to fall in line with this trend, safe in

the knowledge that cultural change,

though difficult, is ultimately the only

genuine way to usher in a new era for

banking. “Innovation isn’t a problem

that can be solved by buying something;

you have to change who you are

and what you do.”


The Evolution

of Data Centre









Arun Shenoy, SVP Global Sales

& Marketing at Serverfarm,

discusses the history of Serverfarm,

how the sector has evolved and

current industry trends



n a digitally-driven world led by automation

and optimisation, the critical

infrastructure powering such innovation is

undergoing its own transformation. A perfect storm

is pushing the business community to embrace new

ways of streamlining IT and data centre operations –

in order to keep pace with unprecedented capacity

demands while minimising costs.

As a company that’s been at the forefront of the

sector for the past 20+ years, Serverfarm is at

the heart of that effort, helping service providers

and enterprises digitally transform their IT and

data centre environments. In an often challenging

business climate, Serverfarm sees automation,

efficiency and sustainability as the path forward.

“Quite early on in our life as a company, we identified

two things,” explained Arun Shenoy, SVP

Global Sales and Marketing. “The first thing that

we spotted towards the end of the nineties is that

the real estate part of Data Centres – the buildings,

the land and the locations that they reside in – are

actually very inefficient. In fact, in terms of real

estate assets, data centres are probably the least





“We spotted towards

the end of the nineties

that the real estate part

of data centres — the

buildings,the land and

the locations that they

reside in — are actually

very inefficient”

Arun Shenoy,

SVP Global Sales & Marketing,



Shenoy explains that the reason

behind this is because most data centres

have much more capacity than is,

or can be, utilised. “We saw this as an

opportunity in that market to really help

customers become more efficient. We

would buy data centres from customers

and lease back just the portion that

they needed. For us as a company, this

marked our first change in our operating

model from being a real estate

acquirer into a real estate operational

company. As a result, we started to run

these environments for companies.”

In the 10 proceeding years,

Serverfarm came to its second conclusion:

that the same inefficiencies in

the real estate space were beginning

to emerge in the infrastructure space.

“The way that people deployed physical

infrastructure, mechanical and

electrical systems, IT, and network

and storage environments was also

inefficient. Again, most companies

were building more capacity than they

needed. The end result for us as a company

meant that we started to become

a much broader operating company

in terms of the sorts of services that


we were providing to our customers.”

As a result of these changes to

its operating model, Serverfarm has

moved further into the IT environment

over the years, helping with

capacity planning, asset management

and change management so that it

can bring together the three main

elements that make up a Data Centre —

the real estate, the facility environment

and the IT environment. “When

you bring those three together, that’s

when you can really make data centres

reliable and efficient. You cannot

make a data centre efficient by simply

focusing on one of these elements.”

Serverfarm developed its award-winning

InCommand Services to achieve

this goal for customers. InCommand

is an integrated service platform

that brings together people and processes

into a portal-based solution

for maximum data centre operational

efficiency – creating a cloud-like experience

for data centres.

When it comes to digital innovation

at Serverfarm, Shenoy believes that

in the last 10 years there has been a

relatively big shift in the market.

“Firstly, the large hyper-scale cloud



Arun Shenoy

Title: SVP Global Sales and Marketing

Industry: Information Technology & Services

Location: London

Arun Shenoy is responsible for developing the success of Serverfarm’s

Data Centre colocation and InCommand Services business globally. He

joined Serverfarm from Schneider Electric where he was Vice President

of the IT and Data Centre business in the UK & Ireland. Arun has

previously worked at major companies including Intel, ABB, IBM and

Romonet in general management, sales and marketing roles with over 20

years in software, services and technology markets.





“Simply buying and deploying

a platform isn’t enough, you

have to change and refine the

processes and ensure that

you have the right people”

Arun Shenoy,

SVP Global Sales & Marketing,





With DAG Insights, you can see

everything you have in your data

center, it’s health, where it’s operating,

how it’s connected and who owns it,

all in one easy-to-read dashboard.

Learn More

Changes in the Industry



providers have come into the market

to solve a very important problem –

increasing efficiency and agility when

it comes to building and deploying

applications that their businesses

needed. Cloud became a very obvious

solution for that.” However, Shenoy

doesn’t expect the data centre industry

to be completely cloud based for

at least seven to ten years. “Most will

adopt a hybrid approach. As a result,

in order for companies to maintain

reliability and efficiency when it comes

to physical infrastructure, I believe

our role in the industry is to help

customers solve these challenges.”

Other trends Shenoy has seen in the

industry include the need for capacity.

“In the last six months, the need for

capacity has been continuing to grow,

and with the industry becoming much

more mature and industrialised, it is

interesting to see the shape and size

of this change. The industry isn’t just

building faster and bigger, but also distributed.

This evolution is driving these

hyper-scale environments.” In parallel,

another trend Shenoy has seen in the

industry is edge computing – “the idea

of creating a much more distributed


Serverfarm Partnerships



When it comes to collaborative

partnerships like i3 and Serverfarm,

Ansett explains that “respecting

each other and what the other

person does, avoiding situations

where people become dogmatic,

and a general sense of just wanting

to do a good job,” are essential.

“Serverfarm finds data centre

assets and develops their potential

in ways that others can’t see. We

are the engineering side to this –

that is we provide consulting and

engineering services purely in

mechanical, electrical and power.

Their approach is different and

the reason it is a successful

partnership is because we

understand what they are trying to

achieve,” adds Ansett.

“Collaborations like this are vital.

Together, we get on with it. In

order to do good work – which is

why i3 exists – you need

collaboration, you need skill and

you need motivation. This

partnership provides all three.”

“Collaborations like

this are vital.

Together, we get

on with it. In order to

do good work you

need collaboration”

Ed Ansett,

Chairman, i3 Solutions


Serverfarm & NYI Webinar: Our

New Disrupted Reality: The

Future of Internet Infrastructure

CLICK TO WATCH | 1:02:15


Phillip Koblence, Chief Operating

Officer (COO) of NYI co-founded

the company in 1996. “At NYI we run

mission critical data centres, offering

customisable hybrid solutions and

high-touch managed services across

the United States (US). We focus on

optimising infrastructure and

providing a seamless client

experience by cutting through

complexity and hype.”

When it comes to NYI’s partnership

with SeverFarm, Koblence explains

that “the unique thing about

Serverfarm is that they fill the

gap in the industry when it comes

to data centres and critical

infrastructure. You have this large

multinational organisation that has

a culture and customer experience

focus that aligns almost perfectly

with what we have been preaching

to our customers for over 20 years.”


When developing a successful

partnership, Okroy explains that,

“highly tuned processes executed

by disciplined staff enabled by

technology produces world class

results. Seldom do you see all three

of these come together and with

Salute Mission Critical and

Serverfarm’s combined strength we

become unique and set apart from

all other providers,” commented

Jason Okroy, Co-Founder and CEO

at Salute Mission Critical.

For its partners Salute Mission

Critical supports IT infrastructures.

“We support the day to day operation

of the business – security, remote

hands, engineering,” adds Okroy.







The Data Center Services Company You Can Trust.

Providing skilled personnel to deploy, maintain,

manage, secure and decommission data centers

while closing the industry’s talent shortage by

connecting veterans with careers.


“The industry isn’t just

building faster and

bigger, but distributed

too. This evolution is

driving hyper-scale


Arun Shenoy,

SVP Global Sales & Marketing,


internet and network of data centres,”

he explains. “As a result, anything that is

IoT related – smart homes, smart cities,

smart government, digital transformation

– has driven the market to really grow in

parallel in these two areas. So very large

hyper-scale facilities, but also a much

greater deployment of distributed edge

environments. Which, in turn, makes

data centre management a much bigger

challenge, and the processes and people

much more important.”

Running in tandem to these trends

is the Data Centre sustainability 149



question: how can the industry do its

part to fight climate change while still

delivering the capacity that the world

needs? The answer, for Serverfarm,

is in repurposing existing facilities

instead of building new ones.

To analyse the carbon savings

potential from the reuse of an existing

facility, Serverfarm asked an independent

consultant, HKS, to calculate

the carbon cost of using an existing

Data Centre compared with a new

build of the same scale. Buildings and

construction directly represent around

39% of all annual global greenhouse

gas emissions, according to HKS. HKS

analysed Serverfarm’s completed

Chicago facility, a six-story building of

just under 150,000 square feet with a

capacity for housing more than 4,000

server cabinets. Reusing this building

eliminates the carbon emissions for a

standard new construction building,

resulting in a modeled 88% embodied

carbon emission reduction.

More and more, enterprises and

service providers look to Data

Centre professionals to make their

IT operations more sustainable – and,

therefore, efficient. When it comes to



“In order to create enormous benefits and value

opportunities for our customers, we require

a selection of strategic partners”

Arun Shenoy,

SVP Global Sales & Marketing,


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helping their customers, Serverfarm

explains that their data centre management

(DMaaS) as a service is more

than just a platform, it’s the people and

processes too. “DMaaS is the ability for

any organisation to truly understand

what they have, where it is, how it is

being used, and how useful, reliable and

efficient it is. In other words, having an

overall view of the entire infrastructure

coming together in one environment. To

do that in the most effective way possible,

organisations need to bring together

the people, processes and platforms.”

With customers striving to discover

the right way to deploy technology,

software and hardware tools, Shenoy

believes that, “most organisations find

this challenging because they are only

solving one part of the problem – the

technology. Simply buying and deploying

a platform isn’t enough, you have to

change and refine the processes and

ensure that you have the right people.”

In order to help its customers, partnerships

with other companies such as i3,

NYI and Salute are incredibly important,

and a big part of its strategy. “Part of that



NYI Partner Video



is down to the complexity of the work

that we do for our customers, which

requires an ecosystem to come together.

In order to create enormous benefits

and value opportunities for our customers,

we require a selection of strategic

partners. This is not something that we

can do on our own. In fact, it’s not something

that any company can do on its

own. Bringing together the right partners

is critical.”

By teaming up with some of the most

experienced, cutting-edge partners

in the industry and listening closely to

evolving customer needs over the past

20+ years, Serverfarm has emerged

as an innovator and disruptor in the

Data Centre Management as a Service

(DMaaS) space. Serverfarm is now

delivering DMaaS at over 100 locations

across 40 countries. DMaaS, to

Serverfarm, goes much deeper than

simply offering DCIM software in the

cloud; it focuses on delivering a fully

managed service for busy C-suites

who want to focus on their core business.

It’s the answer to the latest demand from

enterprises and service providers alike.






the fashion

supply chain








Romain Liot, Chief Operating

Officer, Adore Me, discusses

his firm’s digital transformation

journey in the fashion industry


Adore Me is a disruptive ecommerce

startup that is driven to revolutionise and

transform the lingerie industry through

digital technology. Founded in 2012, Adore Me has

grown into a team of over 300 employees across

the United States and Europe and is considered

one of the fastest-growing companies in New York

and one of the fastest-growing retailers in the

United States.

Romain Liot is the Chief Operating Officer and

co-founder of Adore Me and has been with the

organisation since 2013, having previously worked

at McKinsey. “Adore Me is engineered for disruptions

and we began with the intent to disrupt the

lingerie market,” explains Liot. “We initially targeted

a branding disruption to start with and originally

began online; our tech team now consists of 40%

of the total full-time employees.” Liot affirms

that, as Adore Me was born digital, the company

isn’t undergoing a classic digital transformation

from little to no technology to a fully digitalised




“Adore Me is engineered for

disruptions and we began

with the intent to disrupt the

lingerie market”

Romain Liot,

Chief Operating Officer

and Co-founder, Adore Me






environment, but is instead leveraging

and implementing technology that creates

value. “We’re digital-native, so it’s

a bit different,” he says. “We launched

our warehouse three years ago and

we’ve combined two technologies

together: Autostore and Suresort. This

gives us an edge because we can list

the products that are ready to ship

quickly on the website.”

Considered an integral part of Adore

Me’s second phase into expanding

internationally, the 126,286 sq.ft warehouse

is home to a highly-automated

order management process, which

brings state-of-the-art technology

to life. As a result, Adore Me became

one of the first companies to adopt

Autostore and SureSort technology.

Following the launch of the

warehouse, Adore Me can now fulfill

over 20,000 orders every day, which

represents four times the volume of a

conventional distribution centre. The

cutting-edge warehouse utilises robotics

technology and has been launched

in a bid to allow Adore Me to streamline

operations and accommodate the

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One of the world’s leading mail

and goods shipping providers.

Asendia USA is the US arm of Asendia, one of the world’s

leading parcel and mail shipping providers. Founded

in 2012 as part of a joint venture with La Poste and Swiss

Post, Asendia specializes in international shipping of

packages, business mail, direct marketing materials,

and publications. Asendia offers high quality B2C global

delivery solutions for its customers. The organization is

present in 17 countries across Europe, Asia, Oceania, and

the US and provides a diverse range of ecommerce

and mail solutions to empower businesses to grow

across borders.

Gary Shunk is Asendia USA’s Senior VP of Marketing,

Pricing and Partnerships, with additional responsibilities in

Sales and Key Accounts/Customer Care Management.

“My experience in the logistics sector goes back 39

years,” he says. “I started out in sales and then went into

management with FedEx back in the 1980’s. It was

at FedEx that I benefited from solid sales management

and leadership training. I left FedEx in 1989 to become

an entrepreneur and have since contributed to the growth

and development of the organization we are today.”

With such extensive experience, Shunk has observed

the transformation of e-commerce first-hand. “Global

eCommerce has become a fantastic opportunity for

growth, but can be challenging in the world we live

in today,” he says. “The customs, security changes,

and guidelines for shipping internationally require

the ability to adapt to constant changes. Flexibility with

choices while ensuring security and customs compliance

is how we help companies achieve their goals. Parcel

shipping is 60% of our business. Asendia’s strategy had to

change in order for us to succeed, and that is what

we did. Transporting sold products versus mail or printed

matter is much different in many ways – and, as everyone

now knows, speed and visibility are critical to the customer

experience. Transportation companies have had to

improve and expand their scope and coverage.

Asendia is doing just that through expansion of facilities,

acquisitions, improved automation, increased tracking

capabilities, and above all employee safety. The

e-commerce industry demands reliability and ease of use,

and our strategy is to ensure we continue to provide both

as one of the top players in the industry.”

Having established a key, strategic relationship with Adore

Me, Shunk believes that collaboration has been influential.

“Adore Me began with a strict interest in the US market, but

quickly saw the opportunity to grow their subscription

model business into other English-speaking countries,” he

Gary Shunk

@ Ascendia USA

says. “Because of the trust we have built in each other’s

people, systems, and capabilities, we are successful at

working together and finding creative ways to adjust

services. This flexibility allows us to find cost-effective

solutions that meet the expectations of both organizations.”

Shunk understands the importance of an individual

approach and believes it is vital to create custom solutions

for each customer. “We understand that one size does not

fit all, so we make a point to work with each customer to

create a customized solution that suits their business plan,”

he says. “Some may want the most economical method for

international distribution because their product value is

low, and high international shipping costs on low-value

orders can deter consumers from shopping outside their

home country. Others want speed, and cost is not as

critical. Almost all retailers want to be able to have the

tracking visibility their consumers expect and the data that

supports the performance.”

With COVID-19 disrupting organizations globally, Shunk

affirms that employee safety has become critical. “We’re

very fortunate to have operations managers and operation

workers that we have because they’ve gone above and

beyond,” he says. “The pandemic has brought people

closer together as a team. Communication has been

positive and we’ve worked extremely hard. All six of our

operating facilities have been able to stay open, but it has

changed the way we manage our employees and how we

remotely manage the company.”

With the future in mind, Shunk has a clear idea of what he

expects the next few years at Asendia to look like. “As the

ecommerce industry continues to grow and adapt to the

ever-changing needs of consumers, Asendia looks forward to

continuing along on this journey with our customers to help

them evolve with the changes and enjoy long-term growth

and success with both domestic and international sales.”



fast-paced growth of the organisation.

“Imagine a giant cube with 73 robots

crisscrossing and bringing products

to an operator. We’ve married two

technologies together to essentially

sort orders and ensure the customer

gets the perfect order,” affirms Nikhil

Shetty, Supply Chain Manager. “It’s

powered with strong algorithms where

we have intelligently stored products

and the finished product is a finalised

sequence which allows the customer

to have the right order that they want.”

He adds that what sets Adore Me

apart is its ability to be lean and agile in

the market. “We have the right leadership

that empowers all of us to take

on responsibilities,” explains Shetty.

“We are quick and agile, and embrace

technology that enables us to deploy

projects at scale. I feel this differentiates

us from our competitors and will

help us grow over the next few years.”

“From a supplier management

perspective, having tools that we’ve

developed internally and allow our

suppliers to have access to has enabled

us to speed up certain pieces


within our development process,”

explains Christina Chang, Product-to-

Market Manager. “This has allowed

us to have faster feedback from

our manufacturers and has helped

reduce timings and has allowed us

to make decisions in a very effective

way. Having those tools in place to

allow us to manage our manufacturing

processes and manage the shipment

process is critical.”

Liot believes that the most

important reason to introduce the

warehouse was to be more autonomous

and independent, while saving

money. “We’ve made the decision to

be more autonomous,” he explains.

“We felt it was possible to disrupt the


Romain Liot


Title: Co-founder and COO

Industry: Fashion

Company: Adore Me

Romain Liot is a co-founder and COO of Adore Me. Romain leads Adore Me’s

team of 250 employees across the U.S. and Europe, focusing primarily on

marketing and operations. With revenues growing exponentially

from $1M in 2012 to over $100M in 2019, Romain has led Adore

Me to become one of the fastest-growing companies in New York

(ranked #17 on Crain’s Fast 50 in 2017) and one of the fastestgrowing

retailers in the U.S. (ranked three times on the Inc. 500

list of the fastest-growing private companies in America).

Prior to Adore Me, Romain spent seven years working

as a management consultant for McKinsey &

Company on projects in Europe and South-East Asia.

He holds an MBA from INSEAD and a Masters from

the London School of Economics.


fashion industry and be more efficient

with a better cost. Our cost of

shipment is now 70-80% lower than

the benchmark in the industry. We

empower them and make them operate

at a much higher efficiency.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has

impacted organisations and industries

across the world. As a result, Chang

explains that Adore Me was forced

to adjust its mindset and processes

in terms of its procurement strategy.

“Our business model is not necessarily

fast fashion because we often see a

14-month time gap from product conception

until the product is delivered at

the warehouse,” explains Chang. “We

spend time on sourcing the materials

as it’s essential that we have high

quality products. We’ve experienced

delays in shipping from Asia because

of COVID-19 and we’ve had to work



Christina Chang

Title: Product-to-Market Manager

Industry: Fashion

Company: Adore Me

Christina Chang joined Adore Me in 2018. As Product-to-Market Manager,

Christina is responsible for vendor management and sourcing strategy,

as well as production and inventory management. Christina

also collaborates with Adore Me’s IT developers in building

proprietary tools to manage and streamline business

processes. Prior to Adore Me, Christina worked in

the financial services industry, first at AllianceBernstein

and more recently at Morgan Stanley. She has also

worked in strategy & operations at two consumer

product startups. Christina holds an MBA from

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania,

and a BA from Columbia University.


quickly to procure more inventory to

meet demand. Being nimble and being

able to leverage our partnerships

with our manufacturers has been

vital.” Shetty adds that Adore Me put

a considerable amount of effort in its

logistics to better meet the challenge

of COVID-19. “We tested a new set

of robotic arms in order to keep our

operational rhythm up and running as

usual and allow our orders to get to our

“We’ve married

two technologies

together to sort

orders and

ensure the

customer gets the

perfect order”

Nikhil Shetty,

Supply Chain Manager, Adore Me



“I believe being as agile and

as nimble as we were during

that tough time was one of

our key strengths during the



Christina Chang,

Product-to-Market Manager,

Adore Me

customers,” he says. “The logistics

network was hit fairly bad because

of a surge in sales and limited staff

due to safety protocols which meant

a delay in shipments. This seemed

like a very good opportunity or a time

for us to test out this new decentralised

carrier system in the Northeast

and allow next day delivery to our

customers. I believe being as agile

and as nimble as we were during

that tough time was one of our key

strengths during the pandemic.”


Adore Me recognises the value

of establishing key, strategic partnerships

with companies to create

mutually beneficial collaborations.

Chang stresses how essential business

relationships are in order to

be successful in the industry. “We

rely heavily on our manufacturing

partners in Asia and across the world,

because without them, we really

wouldn’t be able to deliver high quality

products to our customers,” she

explains. “I believe the key for us has

been cultivating partnerships with

our manufacturers that are really

meant for the long-term and can last.

We want to grow with our partners

and join forces on innovation, sustainability

and establish that mutual

trust to increase efficiency across

the supply chain.” Chang affirms

that the strength of Adore Me’s partnerships

has really shone through

during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Having that mutual support during

this really difficult and challenging

time has allowed us to go beyond the

normal timelines and procure at a

greater pace and without that backing,

it would have been a lot harder,”





Nikhil Shetty

Title: Supply Chain Manager

Industry: Fashion

Company: Adore Me

Nikhil Shetty has a Masters in Engineering and Industrial

Management at Syracuse University. Nikhil has had the

opportunity to intern at both a Distribution Center and an

early-stage healthcare startup in India. This instilled a love

of startups and logistics, which helped him find the perfect

combination at Adore Me. He oversees logistics networks

and strategic sourcing of packaging.



she explains. “When we’re seeking to

form a partnership, we’re searching

for partners that are aligned to our

strategy and can mutually grow with

us.” Liot points to its partnership with

Asendia as a particularly important

relationship. “We’ve worked with

Asendia for several years and we

challenge them every year,” explains

Liot. “Asendia have shared values

with us and acknowledge when things

aren’t perfect and are always willing

to work with us to make things better.

We have a very open and understanding

partnership and it has generated a

lot of value. Asendia also places considerable

importance on sustainability,

which is incredibly important to us too.”

With sustainability in mind, Shetty

affirms that Adore Me is committed to

its sustainability goals and has undertaken

several initiatives to achieve a

more environmentally friendly packaging

output. “We now have an ecomailer

which is made up of recycled content

and can be recycled. We’re using




smarter materials to leave a smaller

carbon footprint, while also reducing

the logistical footprint too.” Looking

to the future, Liot believes the fashion

industry will have to change and

believes it will transform in three

directions. “The industry will become

more digital across all platforms.

There will be a digitalisation in the

supply chain and in operations which

will be essential and will leave organisations

with no choice,” he says.

“Secondly, sustainability will become

more influential and prominent in everyday

operations. As climate change

continues to have an effect and

impact, it will be imperative to reduce

the carbon footprint. Lastly, there will

be a change in globalisation. I believe

there needs to be a much shorter

cycle and I expect there will be a geographical

shift in the coming years.”


Visions Federal

Credit Union:



Digital Solutions








Thomas P. Novak, AVP/Digital

at Visions Federal Credit Union,

discusses member-centric

digital transformation during




echnology lies at the heart of every

organization today. But, when that

technology has a singular purpose that

transcends the business strategy itself, it can be

truly transformational. For Visions Federal Credit

Union, technology exists to improve its members’

lives. “Whenever we start any new business

endeavor, it always begins with the member as

the central focus,” states Thomas P. Novak, AVP/

Digital at the US-based leading credit union. “The

technology is out there to achieve almost anything,

but unlike some organizations, we consistently

approach it with consideration for the member – the

person – that will be impacted by the innovation.”

Novak is a highly experienced leader who specializes

in digital transformation, specifically in

relation to member-facing technology platforms.

At Visions, he is directly responsible for the organization’s

digital strategy. When we spoke in late

2019, Novak was in the midst of implementing an indepth

and innovative digital transformation strategy

across the organization, one which he described as

a central tenet for its success. Six months on, the




Year founded


Revenue in

US dollars


Number of




“Whenever we start

any new business

endeavour, it always

begins with the

member as the

central focus”

Thomas Novak,

AVP/Digital, Visions Federal Credit Union

adoption and application of new and

inventive technologies continues in line

with the company’s mission of “Making

Visions matter to all its members,

employees, and communities”.

To achieve this, he remains resolute

in the power of technology to transform

members’ lives. “The technology

has to meet a member need and a

business need, not just technology

for the sake of new technology,” he

states. “The typical technology development

or the adoption process may

start with research or implementation

modeling, but the defining factor is

how that process or that piece of

technology changes the member

experience, as well as the experience

of our employees, and how it aligns

with our overarching mission. And

that does not always have to be complex

or over-engineered. If we can

save, for example, a member $200

per month on a monthly payment

for their loan based on our interest

rates against the solutions already on

the market by digitizing the process

end-to-end, or being top of mind in

a moment of need for that member,

that’s what really matters.


Money for What Matters

Visions Federal Credit Union



“We’ve carried out a lot of analysis

to set our strategy, particularly in

terms of how decisions position the

organization, its members, and our

communities,” he continues. “It allowed

us to establish four key pillars for the

first phase of our digital strategy: online

banking, mobile banking, consumer

lending, and consumer new account

opening. That has since grown and

evolved into a broader strategy for

a full-blown digital transformation,

through which we aim to grow our business

by at least 100,000 members over

the next five years. More than that, we

aim to acquire those new members

primarily through digital channels. Now

that the first phase of our digital strategy

is complete, we are focused on the

next level. That means creating a digital

ecosystem throughout the organization

that fosters digital transformation; from

the creation of an internal Digital Center

of Excellence to supporting all member

needs digitally, we are striving to act on

our advocacy mindset.”

Novak has experience as a leader

across several areas of the financial

services industry. And, while working

with Visions enables a greater

Don’t fear the FinTech.

Use their playbook, and run

your own race.

Extractable has helped over 40 of the largest credit unions and

community banks effectively compete in today’s digital landscape.

Find out what we can do for you.


Extractable: delivering data-driven and user-centered

digital strategy

The financial services industry is evolving at pace, driven by new and innovative

technologies and a focus on delivering customer-centric, personalized experiences

that add value. In order to remain competitive in such an environment, businesses—

whether they are incumbents, fintechs, credit unions or insurers—need to develop

and implement a robust and forward-looking digital transformation strategy.

Extractable, a San Francisco-based digital consultancy helps

companies to do just this. The business works closely with

clients in financial services; from banking, investment

management and insurance, to accelerate transformation and

provide tailored digital experiences to customers. It does this

across three core areas: digital strategy, data analysis and

experience design.

“Our work is really around applying our actual research,

knowledge and experience to ensure that those FSIs we work

with get the most out of their digital channels,” explains Craig

McLaughlin, Extractable’s CEO. “For us, customer experience

and user centricity are essential. So, we look to bring together

first person user research in terms of who the FSI’s customers

are, marry that to the overarching business unit goals and

holistically manifest that into an actionable digital strategy.

A lot of the time, what ‘digital’ is trying to do is not necessarily

the same as what the organization is looking to do more

broadly,” he continues. “So, we typically spend a lot of time

with CEOs and others in the FSI to understand what the

traditional strategy looks like and then develop ways in which

we can manifest that into the digital realm. It’s about bringing

all the disparate teams and departments together into a unifed

strategy that is shared and laser-focused on measurable

outcomes. This has never been more important for banks and

credit unions as fintechs are entering their markets.”

The need for such a strategy, says McLaughlin, is being driven

by the broader trend in the sector that sees customers shift

from using brick-and-mortar financial services, such as bank

branches, to their digital counterparts. This has been

accelerated by the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic,

he explains. “People have been shifting away from visiting

branches for some time, but we’re now seeing that they just

can’t do that even if they want to. So, for companies in the

industry, whatever their learning curve was around switching

to a digital-first strategy that’s being pushed and accelerated.

A lot of us, as a result of COVID, will adapt to and adopt the

digital world, and that really changes things for organizations.

“With that in mind, I couldn’t imagine being a CEO of a bank

today and saying ‘our strategy hinges on the building of

branches’ in lieu of the digital experience,” says McLaughlin.

“Really, they should be considering how they stand for

something unique, how they manifest that uniqueness into a

digital experience that can be delivered at scale, and which is

centered around product and UX design.”

Craig McLaughlin, CEO at Extractable, discusses the development of a

member-driven digital strategy with Visions Federal Credit Union

Among Extractable’s customers is Visions Federal Credit

Union, a New York based financial institution that offers a host

of services including savings, checking, loans, mortgages and

investments, and online banking. Visions is currently in the

midst of a member-focused digital transformation, working

with Extractable. “It’s a fantastic credit union with a very clear

vision in terms of growth,” says McLaughlin. “One of the great

things about the company is its culture and leadership, which

is instrumental when you’re driving a strategy of growth.

“Where we come into that process is carrying out the first

person research into the organization’s members and

prospective members, with a view to developing that cohesive

digital strategy,” he adds. “Every credit union we work with

has something different or unique, and Visions has a great

opportunity for growth. We’re impressed with the organization’s

ability to prioritize and focus on good leadership and

using the information we provide to guide the transition. It

also has an environment where every department is focused

on the ‘whole’ or the singular goal, which is really important.”

The transformation at Visions is still in its early stages, with

Extractable focused on the discovery and research that

informs the development of the strategy. This, shares

McLaughlin, includes developing an understanding of each

department’s role and the specific areas of focus for growth.

“It’s really about ensuring we can better serve the needs of

the organization and its members,” he says. “Then, how can

those experiences be supported with the right digital technologies.

Technology never comes first, regardless of what it is or

how innovative - understand the goals of the organization and

what its members or customers want and go from there.”



dedication to members, he recognizes

a general trend towards human-centric

digital solutions. “I’ve certainly seen

a heightened need industry-wide

for visionary leadership over the last

decade when it comes to digital transformation,

and that’s increasingly about

the culture or mindset that underpins

that transformation. I think the impact of

COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation

roadmaps and highlighted the

thoughtfulness needed in the approach.

From our perspective, it’s really shone a

light on delivering digital with a humancentered

focus – it’s about having

empathy, being able to balance what is

best for a business in terms of efficiency

or specific technologies with how that

is impacting the broader landscape and

community that you serve. We strive to

have digital solutions in place that are

ready when our members experience a

moment of need.”

The global COVID-19 pandemic

has impacted every business sector.

For financial services – and Visions


in particular – it has reinforced the

human-centric trend. “We’re in the

age of the consumer right now,” says

Novak. “You have some stellar companies

and industries that, because of

where they are on their digital journeys,

were able to react and thrive very

quickly amidst the disruption. In my

view, it’s very difficult for any business

to truly succeed if they haven’t made

significant headway in putting members

first, and we’re seeing that being

played out as a result of the pandemic.”

A great example of this, says Novak,

is the physical and digital parity that

a retail leader such as Wal-Mart has

done. With e-commerce sales up, it is

now planning to convert the parking lots

of 160 of its stores in August to drive-in

movie theaters, where it can sell products

from the store for the patrons to

snack on while watching the movie.

Thanks to Novak and his colleagues’

work on its digital transformation strategy,

Visions has been able to respond

rapidly to the disruption brought by the

pandemic. “An example is the emergency

loans we offered at the onset



Thomas Novak

Title: AVP/Digital

Industry: Financial services, credit union

Thomas P. Novak is a vastly experienced financial services leader. Today,

he is AVP/Digital at Visions Federal Credit Union, where he is directly

responsible for the digital strategy of the organization and overseeing

all digital banking, digital payments, and the operations of public

and secure digital platforms. Thomas leads on digital transformation in

relation to member-facing technology platforms. At Visions, he actively

works with marketing, business development, IT, lending and branch

administration to assess automation needs and initiatives that include:

UI/UX, SEO, digital analytics, voice of the customer, content

management, vendor management and strategic planning.

Digital is essential.

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of the crisis,” he explains. “With that

human-centric approach in mind, we

developed a 0% APR personal loan

for up to $5,000 over a 12-month term

that was offered to any of our members

in need. At the same time, we ensured

that, even though we had to roll this out

quickly to help those in need, it was an

entirely digital process. Because of our

previous digital transformation efforts,

this meant very little operational work

and leveraging the same infrastructure

as we do for our other consumer loans.

In turn, that created familiarity and

simplicity for members and employees.

At the same time, we created

various digital processes, supporting

over $79mn in residential mortgage

forbearances, over $150mn in commercial

mortgage forbearances,

19,280 consumer loan skip-a-payments,

$15mn in SBA PPP loans, and

almost $2mn in 0% emergency loans.

“The digital transformation efforts

we have in place have served us really

well. Even some of the ad hoc decisions

we made along the way about how we

set up remote working capabilities for


“Four key pillars defined

the first phase of our digital

strategy: online banking,

mobile banking consumer

lending, and consumer new

account opening”

Thomas Novak,

AVP/Digital, Visions Federal Credit Union

our employees and the various enterprise

collaboration tools have really

made the difference. Quite simply, we

had the right infrastructure in place at

the right time,” Novak adds. “From an

employee perspective, we were able

to scale up very quickly regarding the

overall remote working rollout, and on

our member side, we just accelerated

the adoption of technologies that we

had already been using. Having that

bedrock in place has been a real differentiator

for us in comparison to other,

similar organizations that may have

more manual processes in their backend

operations. There is a common

misconception in the financial services

sector that big tech companies like

Google and Amazon can do technology

better, and therefore will take our customers.

Through COVID, we learned

that we can absolutely compete at that

level. By working collectively towards

objectives, we can compete against the

biggest tech companies and financial

institutions in the world.”

With members in mind, Novak

explains that the impacts of COVID will

be far reaching for people’s financial

well-being. For many, he explains, survival

mode has been the immediate

new normal, and their job was to give

them the tools they needed to succeed.

“We’re here to partner with them, and

the benefit and joy they receive from

succeeding is the same that we get

from being a successful cooperative. All

of the technology implementations we

have carried out, such as modifications

to our ATM fleet, a general increase in

digital services like machine learning

powered interactions, and taking a multichannel

and empathetic approach to

communicating with our members digitally,

have allowed us to help shepherd

them through a challenging situation.”

Naturally, Visions would not be able

to guide its members without adopting

the latest technologies. One area



“We developed a 0%

personal loan for up to

$5,000 over a 12-month

term that was offered

to any of our members

in need”

Thomas Novak,

AVP/Digital, Visions Federal Credit Union



of interest, says Novak, is payments

and how a member can access and

move their money whenever they need.

Visions’ focus on digital banking has

been around improving its money movement

capabilities, he explains. “We’ve

made several UI/UX improvements to

the bill pay experience and changed our

limits on debit and credit cards. Similarly,

on our public-facing website, we’ve

rolled out the option for members to

pay their loans with a debit card or ACH

from another financial institution.”

Other initiatives include the

Business Performance Department

and the use of robotic process automation

(RPA), which Novak says have

seen a continuous rate of adoption

within the business. While not always

directly evident to members, he

explains that RPA has streamlined and

improved processes to enable better

member service and an environment

where employees can more readily

focus on the highest value work.

When it comes to messaging,

Novak highlights a concerted effort

to increase the use of digital marketing

to communicate with Visions’

members. “We’ve had tremendous




success with our COVID-related

communications, ensuring that messages

were personalized, focused on

members’ real issues, and targeted

specifically to them. Getting those

messages out has allowed us to

enhance the overall experience for

members at a crucial time and align

with our mission.”

Such success has been enabled

by close collaboration with technology

partners, says Novak. SWBC,

for example, has been instrumental

in powering Visions’ payments and

digital applications. For digital banking,

Visions collaborates with Q2.

“Through COVID, we’ve

learned that we can

absolutely compete

at that level, and

against the biggest

tech companies and

financial institutions

in the world”

Thomas Novak,

AVP/Digital, Visions Federal Credit Union

This partnership, Novak explains, has

proved particularly beneficial during

COVID as Visions has had to implement

swift and ongoing changes to

help members. The massive increase

in digital banking adoption and active

usage was exponential. Q2 played

a key role in Visions being able to

seamlessly support the growth in the

channel and educate members about

convenient functionality, such as

Card Controls and FinSavvy, Visions’

personal financial management tool.


“One other critical partner in our success

is Extractable, a San-Francisco

based digital strategy and UX design

agency,” Novak continues. “We’ve

been working with them on a complete

digital transformation strategy

to build our digital business roadmap

beyond our first-generation strategy.

This will include a fintech collaboration

framework that allows us to more

readily partner and do business with

fintech’s as member needs evolve. It

will also let us install a fully defined

payments strategy which is instrumental

for ongoing money movement use

cases. Because of our partnership with

Extractable, we are focused on growing

a fully digital organization – not just

a financial institution. There is a new

normal because of COVID, and so we

have to be ready for it.”

There is little doubt that Visions will

be ready. In terms of digital banking

and the broader digital organization,

under current leadership the

organization is several years into its

plan. “Accelerating digital usage and

enhancements across the other areas

of the business is in the early stages,

but that’s where that full, comprehensive

digital business plan comes in. We

realize that ‘digital’ is synonymous with

‘business’ – it’s not enough to rely on

one digital arm or business unit, we

must plan, execute, and deliver as an

agile organization to a greater degree

than any fintech or tech company, and

that’s an immensely exciting proposition

because of the trust we have

earned with our members.”





Health Network’s

strategic digital

transformation 191






Andy Lehman, CIO and Senior

VP of Kettering Health Network,

shares his insights into digital

strategy, COVID-19, and the

future of healthcare technology



ettering Health Network is a non-profit,

faith-based healthcare network of eight

acute care hospitals, one behavioral

health hospital, more than 120 outpatient facilities,

as well as freestanding emergency centers,

on-demand care clinics, and urgent care locations

in southwest Ohio.The company’s first hospital

opened in 1964, named after Charles F. Kettering.

An enthusiast of technology and inventions, he

held over 300 patents, including the first reliable

battery ignition system for automobiles. Charles F.

Kettering’s vision was to use the latest technology

to care for patients in a community hospital setting.

Fast forward to the present day, and this vision

is still very much part of the company’s mission.

Its digital transformation has enabled it to make

advances in the care it provides, meeting its

mission while retaining its Christian values. “We

believe that caring for patients and their families

in our hospitals, physician offices, imaging centres

and emergency rooms is sacred work. We take

care of the whole person, not just the physical element,

but the spiritual side as well,” explains Andy





“We believe that

caring for patients

and their families

in our hospitals,

physician offices,

imaging centres and

emergency rooms

is sacred work”

Andrew Lehman,

CIO and Senior VP

Lehman, Chief Information Officer

and Senior Vice President.

He explains that this mission drives

the IT strategy of the organisation. “It

is all about improving the quality of

life for the people in the communities

we serve. Within Kettering Health

Network’s Information Systems

division, we have a vision statement

of ‘Only value’, which speaks to

the need for us to maximize value

delivery. There’s a lot of work many

IT organisations do that may not add

value, for example fixing broken computers

or resolving a network outage.

Obviously, we’ve got to spend time

resolving those problems, but if we

didn’t have those kinds of issues, we

could be deploying our resources on

priorities to advance the strategies

of the organization. Our vision of

‘Only value’ emphasizes value delivery,

which ultimately achieves the

Kettering Health Network mission. “

Over the last four years, Kettering

has implemented several important

new solutions, both internally, such

as how it transforms data from

across the network into actionable

information, and externally with its


Changes that Covid19 has made

to healthcare



“direct to guest” technology. “We’re

very intentional about the word

‘guest,’ because when patients

come into our facilities, they’re

typically with somebody, whether

that’s a spouse, a significant other

or a family member. We believe it

is as important to engage the support

team as much as the patient,”

Lehman explains. “Our direct to

guest technologies are those that

we’ve put in place to try and engage

with guests – whether they are

patients or family members--to create

a great healthcare experience.”

This includes telemedicine in various

forms, a service that became vital

when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“When the COVID-19 crisis hit, we

rolled out our direct to guest telemedicine

solution across 800 employed

providers throughout Kettering

Health Network. We saw the number

of virtual visits go from 1% to over

40% in about two weeks, because

our guests didn’t want to travel and

were concerned about going to the

physician’s office. We put in place a

solution that gave our patients and

their family members the opportunity

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Nyotron is an innovative, world-leading

provider of a progressive endpoint

security solution that enables the

combating of malicious cyber attacks

and the building of a modern and

secure IT infrastructure.

“We’re an absolute pioneer in the cyber

security space - we’ve reimagined endpoint

and server security from scratch,” says Sagit

Manor, CEO at the business. Manor is a

hugely experienced CEO who prides herself

on supercharging enterprise security

through innovation; she has been at

Nyotron for close to three years overseeing

a restructure and reinvigoration of the

company’s core aims that have placed

it at the forefront of the industry.

“The focus on endpoint detection and

response really picked up pace five years

ago or so,” she explains. “But it seems like

hardly any real-time autonomous protection

techniques were added and the market

shifted to the methodology where you rely

on the human factor (security analysts and

SOC teams) to be better protected. We have

the proven, best solution out there and it’s

based around the knowledge that you

cannot stop the attack from happening -

infiltration is inevitable, but damage doesn’t

have to be. Nyotron’s PARANOID solution

will stop the malicious attack and prevent

the damage. Most companies rely on some

type of antivirus or anti-malware solution to

protect their endpoints or servers, which

are anywhere between 50% to 80% efficient.

Our PARANOID solution closes those

remaining gaps that are left by other

security products so that companies

can focus on their digital transformation

journeys without fear of data breaches or

ransomware attacks.”

PARANOID is the industry’s first OS-centric

positive security solution that strengthens

Sagit Manor

@ Nyotron

antivirus (AV) or next-generation antivirus

(NGAV) protection. It does so by mapping

legitimate operating system behavior,

understanding all the normative ways that

may lead to damage and being entirely

agnostic to threats and attack vectors.

When any attack attempt happens,

PARANOID blocks it in real time and provides

deep and precise visibility into the attack.

The solution works with a company’s AV or

NGAV systems to provide industry-leading

defense in depth that enables greater threat

detection and enhanced protection.

This level of protection is invaluable for

customers worldwide, including Kettering

Health Network, a nonprofit health

organization based in the US. “Kettering is

at the forefront of care and technology,”

says Manor, “and we’re very proud to have

them as one of our key customers. They’re

an early adopter of our technology that

truly believes in the defense in depth

strategy that we provide. Actually, we

proved our worth in the early stages of our

relationship - Kettering was looking for an

endpoint detection and response solution

but, during our proof of concept work, we

detected and prevented malicious activity,

and the rest is history.”



to engage with their providers and do

it in a way in which they felt safe.”

As well as these consultations,

Kettering implemented physician-tophysician

telemedicine solutions in

hospitals, where it installed COVID

units with strict protocols to ensure

the environment is safe for the

patient, their family members, and

the caregiver. It also launched a service

to keep patients and their loved

ones connected in cases where

someone was unwell with COVID-19

and unable to see visitors.

These represented a huge step

forward, as Lehman explains: “It’s

not just about, ‘hey, we’ve got a

telemedicine solution.’ It’s about

discovering what the right technology

is, and how we bring it across an

entire employed physician group to

make sure they’re comfortable using

it. There’s a number of parts and

pieces that have to be put into place,

which we did very quickly, and it was

a tremendous success story.”

Kettering Health Network’s

Information Systems division also


successfully moved 3,000 staff

members to working remotely in the

space of 10 days. “It sounds easy,

but it was hard,” Lehman says. “We

had to ensure they had the connectivity,

the equipment and the access

to the applications they needed to

do their job. This wasn’t just for IT, it

was call center staff, marketing and

human resources, the people who

document and bill for services, all

those core network teams needed

to be set up to work from home. We

basically figured out how we could

get as many people to work remotely

as possible, whether that was just


Andrew Lehman

Title: CIO and Senior VP Company: Kettering Health

NetworkIndustry: Healthcare Location: Kettering


Andy Lehman is Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President at

Kettering Health Network in Dayton, Ohio. Kettering Health Network is a

not-for-profit network of nine hospitals, Kettering College, and over 120

outpatient facilities serving southwest Ohio. With more than 12,500

employees and 2,100 physicians, Kettering Health Network is committed to

transforming the health care experience with world-class health

services for every stage of life. Kettering Health Network has

been recognized as one of IBM Watson Health’s 15 Top Health

System network and named one of the Fortune 100 Best

Companies to Work For. In his role, Mr. Lehman oversees the

development of the overall strategic plan and financial goals

for Information Systems, as well as their daily

operations. He has a Bachelor of Science in

Chemistry from the University of Richmond in

Richmond, Virginia, and an MBA from Indiana

Wesleyan University.

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See in action

“We believe it is as

important to engage

the support team as

much as the patient”

Andrew Lehman,

CIO and Senior VP

individuals or whole teams, as well

as move entire support centers to

be able to work from home.”

Additionally it had to build the IT

infrastructure for testing centers, the

COVID units in hospitals, and that of an

entire command center that oversees

how the network responds to the

COVID crisis. They also created supply

inventory solutions to assess the number

of masks, ventilators and Covid

testing reagents they had, and where

these were located. “We had to move

so fast,” Lehman says. “So much of the

COVID response was dependent on

information systems and IT.”

IT overcame the clear challenges,

having been prepared for some

aspects of the crisis because of its

ongoing process of digital transformation.

“We have spent the past few

years positioning ourselves from an

analytics standpoint to be ready for

this, and from a digital guest experience,

to provide direct to guest

technologies. We had put in place

platforms to enhance collaboration

across the enterprise, like Microsoft

Teams. It wasn’t like we woke up one

morning in March and said, ‘oh, we’ve

got to deploy Microsoft Teams.’ We

actually started that within the past

year. All of these things that we were

doing around digital transformation

didn’t start the day the pandemic was

announced, and I’m glad they were in

place to meet the challenges.”

Strong partnerships were key

to implementing solutions like

physician-to-physician consultations

via telemedicine in the COVID

units, which In Touch Healthcare

provided. The platform

enabled the rapid deployment of

telemedicine visits for guests across

our employed provider network.

Asparia delivered a text messaging

service to check whether patients

have developed COVID-19 symptoms

before coming to an appointment; this

is then followed up by the option of a




The rapid change in technology

when fighting against COVID-19



telemedicine consultation if appropriate

via Nyotron provides

Kettering with endpoint security

solutions at a time when health care

networks are besieged by bad actors

and hackers. Microsoft not only enabled

collaboration via Teams when

face to face meetings were eliminated,

but also provided a health bot

which allowed guests to determine

the right level of care based on symptoms.

Lehman identified Cisco as the

company’s networking backbone.

“When you send people home, you

have to be able to connect, and our

backbone performed flawlessly. All of

those vendors played key roles and

helped us navigate the waters to do

what we did with COVID.”

Looking ahead, Lehman believes

the changes the company has made

will remain long term. “Although

the pandemic has had catastrophic

impacts across the world, the challenges

we faced ultimately led us to

meet our mission in innovative ways.

COVID was a catalyst that accelerated

the digital transformation of

Kettering’s operations. Through

telemedicine, collaboration platforms,

analytics, and direct to guest solutions,

Kettering is transforming the

healthcare experience.”

All of this is happening at a time

when the US healthcare sector

overall is undergoing huge change,

moving away from the fee-forservice

system – where the more

tests, studies and other services are

carried out, the more the healthcare

network gets paid, regardless of outcome

– towards fee for value. It’s a

move that’s driving a vast amount of

innovation and investment.



Kettering Health Networks

digital transformation



“We'll make sure people stay healthy

as opposed to just treating them

when they're sick. That's a huge

change for the United States'

healthcare system, and Kettering

has to evolve like everybody else

to be successful”

Andrew Lehman,

CIO and Senior VP



Year founded


Number of



“In the next five years, we’re going

to see this shift accelerate, and it’ll

start driving initiatives like wellness

and keeping people out of the hospital.

We’ll make sure people stay

healthy as opposed to just treating

them when they’re sick. That’s a

huge change for the United States’

healthcare system, and Kettering

has to evolve like everybody else to

be successful.”







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The Mental

Health Center

of Denver:

The human

side of tech


Dr Wes Williams, Chief Information

Officer of the Mental Health Center

of Denver, tells us how technology

could make Denver the healthiest

city in America


Dr Wes Williams wants Denver to be the healthiest

city in America. His role in this, as Chief Information

Officer of the Mental Health Center of Denver, is to

lead on technologies that play an instrumental part

in supporting the city’s most vulnerable. But in the

course of a wide-ranging interview, Williams also

speaks enthusiastically about how innovation has

benefited the people who work at the organisation.



In Colorado, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only

taken a toll on people’s mental health; it has also

created unprecedented challenges for the clinics

that provide them with care. Even for an organisation

that prides itself on its innovative approaches,

the transition from in-person therapies to telemedicine

hasn’t been easy. Dr Williams admits

that when the organisation was forced to bring all

of its services online – which it managed to achieve

in two days – putting the technology in place was


The Mental Health Center of Denver’s Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services

team provides specialized outpatient mental health care for deaf and

hard of hearing children, families and adults.




“You can get sucked into thinking that the

tech itself is the solution. But the reality

is that it’s only the easy part”

Dr Wes Williams,

CIO, Mental Health Center of Denver

only the start of the process. “You

can get sucked into thinking that

the tech itself is the solution. But the

reality is that it’s only the easy part.

It took a lot more work to figure out

how to really do that work – how to

make everything happen”.

Dr Williams feels that in some ways

the upheaval could have been a blessing

in disguise. “The takeaway for me

is that if you practice something, you

can figure it out. We’ve had the chance

to really practice and learn how to do

this well. That’s been the silver lining.

And from a telemedicine standpoint,

I’m optimistic that even when it’s safe

to go back into clinics, some folks are

going to choose to continue to receive

their care via telemedicine, because

it’s more convenient”. To illustrate his

idea, he mentions that since patients

have been attending appointments

remotely, the number of no-shows

has decreased by almost a third.


Benefits of VR Treatments





The Mental Health Center of Denver

harnesses technologies in ways that

truly make a difference to people’s

lives. Before its clinics were closed,

it had introduced virtual reality (VR)

into its therapy sessions and mindfulness

classes. Dr Williams believes

that VR is a perfect fit for what the

sessions are aiming to achieve:

“What’s great about VR compared with

any other cognitive behavioural therapy

is that it’s so immersive. It sort of

tricks your mind into being right there.

And I think that is especially impactful

for things like mindfulness, and exposure


Another of the Center’s ambitious

projects is a supported employment

programme, which helps people

suffering from serious mental illness

to find work. The Center liaises with

both patients and potential employers

in order to set up placements, and

Dr Williams talks passionately about

the benefits that this brings. “I think

that it’s a special part of our organisation.

There’s a lot to be said for going

back to work, and having that sense

“If you practice something, you can figure it

out. We’ve had the chance to really practice

and learn how to do this well”

Dr Wes Williams,

CIO, Mental Health Center of Denver

of meaning in your day”. The Centre

is involved in the IT aspects of the programme,

and developed an app that

helps staff cultivate new placements.

So far, over 160 people have found

work through this scheme.

The Center has also used IT to make

the programme work more efficiently

for the people who coordinate it.

Dr Williams explains: “Previously the

staff working on our supported employment

programme had to spend a lot


Wes Williams


Title: Chief Information Officer

Location: Denver, Colorado

Industry: Mental Health Care

Dr. Wes Williams joined the Mental Health Center of Denver in 2007

and now serves as vice president and chief information officer.

In 2020, Wes was awarded the Colorado CIO of the Year Corporate

ORBIE, honoring chief information officers who have demonstrated

excellence in technology leadership. Wes opened Mental Health

Center of Denver’s Innovation Technology Lab in 2019, using humancentered

design to find digital health innovations to improve access,

engagement, and treatment efficacy. Wes is currently serving a threeyear

appointment by the governor to Colorado’s eHealth

Commission, representing behavioral health interests.

Wes is a licensed psychologist in Colorado.

© 2018 Guerrero, LLC/Photo by Cassandra Davis

Mental Health

Center of


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Customer Story - Mental Health Center Denver

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of time just doing reports. But we have

been able to automate a lot of the

bureaucracy and paperwork – and that

feels good, because it means that they

have time to spend actually working with

people, instead of filling out forms”.



Dr Williams’ success in making a difference

with healthcare technologies

hasn’t gone unnoticed. In July he

received an ORBIE award at the

Colorado CIO of the Year Awards, for

his work at a corporate organisation.

Talking about the lessons that larger

organisations could learn from how

the Mental Health Center of Denver

manages its resources, he stresses

that clear-headedness counts for

more than deep pockets. “In order

to really do something unique and



Year founded


Revenue in

US dollars



Number of


The Mental Health Center of Denver’s 2Succeed

in Education program offers a wide variety

of trainings, including computer classes.


Using Technology to Treat Health



innovative, we can’t wait until we have

finished everything else. It’s about taking

that vision and figuring out: given

my limited resources, how should

I line things up?” But he is most keen

to credit the people who have allowed

the Center to be a pioneer in innovative

solutions: “I really like the staff

here. They have a culture of innovation

– they’re used to doing things

differently clinically; used to figuring

out what works. When we have good

people, we can take that same innovative

approach to technology, and how

might that help with healthcare”.



“We have been able

to automate a lot of

the bureaucracy and

paperwork – and that

feels good, because it

means that [our staff]

have time to spend

actually working with


Dr Wes Williams,

CIO, Mental Health Center of Denver

Lessons for Innovative IT




When it comes to new innovations,

the Centre looks outwards as well

as inwards; but Dr Williams points out

that it doesn’t have to look far. “One

of the things that’s really special about

Colorado is there’s a lot of collaboration

within healthcare. Every other month

there’s a meeting of hospital and healthcare

CIOs. We talk about the different

challenges we have faced, and how we

handled the situations. And this feels

special, because in this landscape our

organisations are all sort of competing,

but people are still willing to share”.

How will we see telemedicine develop

in future? “This is a really interesting

time. What I’m hoping is that everything

we’ve learned about telehealth during

the pandemic takes root in healthcare,

and really explodes”.




















ounded in 2014, DC BLOX develops core

infrastructure that empowers businesses

in smaller growing cities to achieve their

digital transformation goals, and enables local

governments to accelerate economic growth by

attracting technology-dependent companies and

jobs to their regions.

Jeff Uphues has been the CEO at DC BLOX

since 2017. He is responsible for setting and

leading the company’s strategy in building and

operating a fabric of edge connected, cloudenabled

data centres and driving the growth and

profitability of best-in-class infrastructure for digital

services. “My background has primarily been in the

communications sector, both from a cloud, data

centre and communications perspective,” says

Uphues. “I’ve got around 30 years experience of

increasing responsibility across various areas of

the communications sector from fiber to network

services to cloud-based hosting services to data

centres. It feels like I’ve come full circle.”

DC BLOX currently has four data centres:

Atlanta, Georgia, Chattanooga, Tennessee,












Jeff Uphues,


Huntsville and Birmingham, Alabama,

all built with a high level of security,

reliability and connectivity. Uphues

believes the challenge is to find a market

that is underserved while ensuring

there is a demand to gain benefit.

“We’re really focused on our ability

to serve locally and connect globally

on behalf of our customers,” explains

Uphues. “We bring a Tier 3 or higher

rated facility, which is the industry

standard for reliable data centres,

according to The Uptime Institute.

When we look at these markets, we

ask ourselves whether there is a Tier

3 data centre already there. Would

the market benefit from us delivering

a service that serves them locally, is

a part of that community, and connects

them as we live in a global

society? It’s key that there’s a value.”

Uphues affirms that his company’s

data centres all have rich connectivity

built-in and must be resilient in terms

of its network architecture and quality

of equipment. “We use premium

products, driven by premium service

level agreements. We engineer and

operate our own private data network

across the Southeastern US

between our data centres and then


DC Blox’s Views on the networking

challenges that companies are facing

with Covid19



we connect them privately to core

Internet exchanges and to the public

cloud providers. We really look at that

connectivity and the uptime of our

facilities as a key value that we bring

to our markets.” Achieving DC BLOX’s

high standards also requires a high

standard of construction. “Beyond the

connectivity, it’s a question of how we

build these facilities to be Tier 3-rated.

It comes down to being concurrently

maintainable, meaning that if any one

system in the building fails, there is a

backup system that can take over. It’s

part of the design, it’s in the materials

and the type of vendors that we use.

It’s in the architecture for how we connect

them together.”

Bill Thomson, VP, Marketing and

Product Management at DC BLOX,

affirms there is a significant amount

of evaluation performed when deciding

on the location of a data centre.

“We do a considerable amount of quantitative

analysis of these markets. We

first look for markets that have limited

access to secure, reliable data centre

facilities. We don’t just look at the market

size but also their growth potential.

We look at the amount of fiber access



in the markets, IP traffic, and land and

power costs. These are all big indicators

of potential business growth and

value. We also consider state, county

and city tax incentives.” Currently,

Uphues’s focus is on accelerating

growth in edge markets. “It’s all in how

you define the edge,” he explains. “DC

BLOX defines the edge as where the

application meets the network. And

some would look at our markets as

edge data centre markets, while others

might look at it as a hub that then

connects to an edge device where


Year founded


Atlanta, Georgia



Number of




Jeff Uphues

Title: Chief Executive Officer

Location: Atlanta

Industry: Information Technology & Services

Jeff Uphues has been the CEO at DC BLOX since 2017. He is responsible for setting

and leading the company’s strategy in building and operating a fabric of edge

connected, cloud enabled data centres and driving the growth and profitability

of best-in-class infrastructure for digital services. “My background has primarily been

in the communications sector, both from a cloud, data centre and communications

perspective,” says Uphues. “I’ve got around 30 years’ experience of increasing

responsibility across various areas of the communications sector from fiber to network

services to cloud-based hosting services to data centres. It feels like I’ve come full circle.”

Uphues previously served as Executive Vice President for Liquid Web, a global managed

hosting and data centre operator that serves over 30,000 customers in over 150

countries. Having been in the communications industry for almost 30 years, he

is a tireless tech-savvy executive and business strategist, having held several C-suite

leadership positions in sales, marketing and operations for Cbeyond, Bandwidth, ACSI

Network Technologies and MCI. He serves as an active board member at

several technology firms and has also co-chaired the SE New Venture

Competition for Harvard Business School to select the regions’ best

start-up ventures. Uphues graduated from the Harvard Business

School, Rice University’s Jones School of Business Executive

Education program in Finance and Accounting and completed

his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Arlington.


Having initially joined DC BLOX in 2016 as an Advisory Board Member,

Uphues stepped into his current role as CEO in March 2017 and

he affirms that together with employees and investors

“we’ve built a really great company” during his tenure.






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We set the standard.

• Innovative, trustworthy, reliable

• Power solutions from 15kVA to 3750kVA

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Bill Thomson,

VP, Marketing and Product Management,


that network meets the application,

like a cell phone or a cell tower. We

find that many people consider DC

BLOX locations as edge markets outside

of the larger core market areas

where large hyperscale or larger data

centres are located.”

As a result, DC BLOX has become

that local hub where a significant

amount of data traffic can pass through

its facilities. “We like to think we’re

the centralised place in our markets

where content, carrier, cloud, wireless

and network enterprise traffic

passes through our data centres,”

explains Uphues. “We’ve become the

Grand Central Station where connectivity

originates and terminates


Do local business’s need local connectivity,

DC blox explains why





With the challenge of COVID-19

impacting organizations worldwide,

Uphues acknowledges that the

network has shifted. “Pre-COVID-19,

the network used to be delivered at

people’s offices,” he says. “However,

people are now working in lots of

remote environments, it’s changed

the way that people connect to VPNs

and driven a more hybrid type world.

This means that some of the things

you’re connecting and working on

are in your office and in a data centre

that’s close to you, whereas, there’s

also companies embracing cloud

computing at a faster rate. That’s

a hybrid environment to us.” Uphues

understands the network challenges

that have resulted from the pandemic

and stresses the importance of

customer-centricity. “At DC BLOX,

we have access through how we’ve

created our network and pulled

things together to give our customers

immediate access and connect to

over 50 carriers globally from one

of our facilities,” says Uphues. “We

provide it to the fingertips of our

customers. If you’re a customer at

one of our centres, you have access

to change to whatever business

demand you require.”











Bill Thomson,

VP, Marketing and Product Management,


with larger markets. For example,

in the state of Alabama, we have two

of the most connected sites where

computing, internet and cloud services

traffic can be connected, managed

and exchanged.” Thomson adds that

although DC BLOX is building in what

could be considered an edge market,

it doesn’t mean that these are traditional

edge data centres. “Edge data

centres have lots of different meanings.

We’re building a full-service



Bill Thomson

Title: VP, Marketing and Product Management

Industry: Information Technology & Services

Location: Atlanta

Bill Thomson joined DC BLOX in 2018 and heads marketing and product management

for the company. He is a technology industry veteran having developed and marketed

a considerable number of enterprise software, SaaS applications and

cloud services products geared to SMB and enterprise markets.

Thomson has led strategic product planning, marketing and product

growth for many leading technology companies including AT&T, Citrix,

Unisys, NTT, Cbeyond and Vonage. He has served on the Technology

Association of Georgia Product Management Society Board, holds

a Master of Science degree from Stevens Institute of Technology and

a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Rutgers University.


An insight to DCBlox’s approach

to new market selection





Jeff Uphues,


multi-tenant data centre built to Tier

3 standards in these markets. The

business needs aren’t any different

in these edge cities than the major

markets, so they don’t consider themselves

edge markets and are looking

for the same quality of services that

they could get in the major cities.”

With an eye on the future, Thomson

believes it’s important to recognise

that data centres aren’t what they

used to be. “It’s no longer just a facility

decision about where my IT infrastructure

needs to go. It’s a strategic

IT decision about who to partner with

in order to provide agility and flexibility,”

explains Thomson. “You need to

be able to follow your digital transformation

goals, you need to connect



to the cloud, you need to move data

to and from devices, and it’s difficult

to do it on your own in the old-fashioned

way. A new modern, highly connected

data centre is an important tool and

DC BLOX is a great partner for those

types of relationships.” Uphues adds

that the future is bright for DC BLOX

and the company has a plan to continue

to serve underserved markets.

“Today, we have four data centres.

But with the future in mind, we want

more than a dozen over the next three

to five years within many underserved

and growing markets,” he explains.

“We want to be the centralised

exchange point for all cloud, content,

carrier, wireless and enterprise traffic

in our markets as we extend the

network edge. We’re continuously

seeking to expand that a bit further

and really accelerate our footprint.”


Afore XXI-Banorte:

delivering on the

promise of services








Rodrigo Becerra Mizuno, CDO/

CIO, explains why technology

can improve customers’ and

how Afore XXI-Banorte became

one of the best funds in Mexico



here are many paths to reaching the

distinction of being among ‘the best’ in

a given industry: some favour customercentricity,

others opt for a more technological

approach or one that emphasises outstanding

company culture. However, an elite species of

organisations have the vision and temerity to wed

all three together and Afore XXI-Banorte is unmistakably

part of this distinguished class.

It was with pleasure that we welcomed back

Rodrigo Becerra Mizuno, Chief Digital Officer and

Chief Information Officer, who last spoke with us

whilst still at PEMEX. Having joined XXI-Banorte

in 2019, Mizuno says that he was looking for an

opportunity to put his considerable technical experience

in the public and private sectors to new use.

“At the start of my career technology was still seen

as a ’back-office function’,” he explains. However,

as digital transformation continues to redraw the

landscape of so many industries, the world of

finance has naturally undergone some changes of

its own and amongst these Mizuno saw the chance

to make a positive impact. “It’s a highly regulated




¡En Afore XXI Banorte el

cambio lo haces tú!



“By [...] investing

in the right

technology, we

hope to create



programmes for

our employees”

Rodrigo Becerra Mizuno,

CIO, Afore XXI-Banorte

environment, so there are parameters

that we need to follow whilst also factoring

in engagement. In my opinion,

we have to present a customer experience

similar to retail and it’s been a lot

of fun doing that.”

Mizuno’s credentials as a tech expert

are attested by his previous tenure as

an executive at Microsoft, a valuable

experience which he says continues

to influence his vision and leadership

at XXI-Banorte. “I heard a very famous

quote from Bill Gates: ‘We need banking.

We don’t need banks anymore’.

What that means to me is that the idea


of financial services or banking has

changed after a long time of remaining

static.” As regulatory restrictions

become more flexible as old operating

paradigms are reevaluated because

of technological innovation, Mizuno is

confident that the future of finance will

belong to those who are willing to shape

it themselves. “You make the role, the

role doesn’t make you,” he emphasises.


Rodrigo Becerra Mizuno

Title: Chief Information Officer

Industry: Pension Management

Company: Afore XXI-Banorte

Location: Mexico

Mr. Rodrigo Becerra Mizuno served as Chief Information Officer and

Corporate Vice President at PEMEX. He led one of the largest digital and

business transformations in Latin America. This highly visible initiative

allowed him to be awarded with the 2018 HITEC 50 and to be recognised

two consecutive years as one of the Top 100 CIOs in Mexico by CIO

Magazine for his outstanding performance in Pemex. He has held

various senior leadership roles at Microsoft Corporation

including Global Public Sector Manager, Managing Director

Global Government Industry, and Public Sector Director Asia

based in Singapore. Since October 2019 he serves as Chief

Digital Officer for Afore XXI-Banorte, the largest fund in

Mexico and Latin America. In 2001, he served as Advisor to

the Finance Minister of Mexico. He earned a Bachelor’s

Degree in Economics and International Relations from

Boston University and an MBA in General Management

and Strategy from the Tuck School of Business at

Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.






In line with this thinking, Mizuno has

refocused XXI-Banorte’s IT department

from its previously “reactive” state to a

far more strategic and ROI (return on

investment) focused entity. This, in turn,

has made the entire company much

more agile, which became invaluable

when the COVID-19 pandemic reached

Mexico and introduced the now all-toofamiliar

operational challenges of social

distancing. “We were able to digitalise

and enable practically everybody to

work from home in less than 48 hours,”

states Mizuno.

In addition to XXI-Banorte’s cultural

agility, the core tech enabler for this

swift transition was incontestably

the cloud. It is this aspect, Mizuno

argues, that is and will continue to

change the shape of finance to come.

“Cloud is transforming XXI-Banorte; it

is the cornerstone of what allows our

information to be stored, processed

and delivered, while also allowing new

applications to flourish. In terms of

cost efficiency, it was not practically

viable to do the things we can do now

with the cloud, because before that



Year founded


Revenue in

XX dollars


Number of


we used huge national data centres

that were highly expensive.” Its utility

has given cloud an important place in

XXI-Banorte’s ongoing digital strategy,

but that isn’t the end of the story;

since October 2019, Mizuno has been

developing what he calls a ‘3.5-year

digital roadmap for transformation’,

something which he hopes will achieve

a more unified future for the company,

“You could look at it as working

towards one vision and a singular

platform,” he explains. In practice, this

meant consolidating teams based on

their strengths, reconfiguring project

work from “marathons” to “sprints”

(reflecting the more fast-paced structure

of the company) and exploring

the use of technology to benefit both

employee and customer processes.

Moreover, Mizuno hopes to explore

tech innovations which have yet to

be fully realised in banking, such as

unlocking the full potential of data

analytics and developing even greater

cybersecurity capabilities. Regarding

the latter point, he notes that Mexico

has only recently made the presence

of a Chief Security Officer mandatory,

but that XXI-Banorte is already ahead





Success in any field does not

belong to one individual or entity

alone. XXI-Banorte realises this

and only seeks collaborators

which are as productive,

technically savvy and hungry to

learn as itself. Three companies

have earned distinction in XXI-

Banorte’s view as contributing

particularly valuable services:

Accenture, Microsoft and Telmex.

Microsoft: “We run all of their

productivity applications and

they’re our cloud provider too:

Azure. One of the key capabilities

we need is to outreach potential

customers and having those tools is

essential. Microsoft provides these.”

Accenture: ”Accenture is one of the

only companies which has a truly

holistic approach; it doesn’t just

master technology, it also masters

processes and what it takes. For us,

its been a great partner: it helps us

be diligent and plan how to bring

things together through data

management and enabled Banorte

to be a data-driven organisation.”

Telmex: “We’ve had the

opportunity to work with Telmex

on our infrastructure. XXI-Banorte

has been on a learning curve to

make sure that we spot the right

things together whilst also ensuring

operations are not being hampered

by too much security or too little.

Also, on the infrastructure side,

we’ve started migrating our data

with them. Overall, Telmex has

been a fantastic collaborator, both

in terms of security and structure.”


of the curve in bolstering its cyber

defences. “We’ve been spending a lot

on training people and we’re going to

continue to do so: we want to have the

right people with the right certifications.

By also investing in the right

technology, we hope to create comprehensive

protection programmes for

our employees.”

However, when it comes to digital

transformation, an often overlooked

aspect can be the accompanying

cultural shift which it entails. Despite

this, Mizuno makes it clear that a

well-developed workplace culture

remains one of XXI-Banorte’s primary

concerns and singles out CEO Juan

Pablo Newman for special praise in

this regard. “He’s also an extremely

approachable person and very driven

by results. I think it’s especially important

to have that vision in the company.”

Deftly handling the COVID-19-related

disruption with an always peoplecentric

attitude, Mizuno states that

Miguel has successfully conveyed

the message that XXI-Banorte is

truly a company that cares. “He has 245



been very protective of people and

we are still delivering some of the

best results in the industry; it’s that

fantastic combination which gives

people a lot of trust.” Indeed, with

the company maintaining its status

as one of the country’s most beloved

financial institutions, some might

question how XXI-Banorte can maintain

its competitive edge. For Mizuno,

it comes down to a simple formula

of quality, care and staying true to

the organisation’s proudly Mexican

roots: “Providing a great service and

making sure that you differentiate as

a Mexican company that it cares not

“Technology is

a never ending

journey and, in

times of crisis,

that’s when we

need to develop

it the most”

Rodrigo Becerra Mizuno,

CIO, Afore XXI-Banorte

only for the business but also the citizens

of Mexico is important,” he says.

Reflecting on the challenges that

2020 has presented, Mizuno states

that the difficult conditions have

actually enabled XXI-Banorte’s IT

department to thrive as creative, techbased

solutions became a necessity to

maintain business continuity. “We’ve

had to move faster in our digital transformation

to deliver services on the

web or in the mobile applications,” he

explains. “XXI-Banorte has strived to



deliver better apps for our employees

to do their job easier and better, which

consequently means there is less traffic

and customer needs are met faster.”

When he looks ahead to 2021, Mizuno

can proudly say that it won’t be a year

of ‘unfinished business’; COVID-19 has

not dented the bank’s resolve to transform

into a truly 21st century operation.

In fact, the pandemic may have been

the catalyst for change that IT has

been waiting for. “COVID-19 has actually

removed a lot of mental blockers

for some leaders. People can work

effectively from home now and that’s

deeply changed the conversation on

how offices and work days should be

structured.” And this reaches the crux

of what technology in banking is for

Mizuno, a ‘conversation’: “Technology

is a never ending journey and, in times

of crisis, that’s when we need to

develop it the most.”

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