gi-Geldinstitute Expert Talk: How banks keep track of IT vulnerabilities

An article by Stefanie Walter, Editor | 01.03.2022 – translated with DeepL.com – Original in German available HERE

Expert Panel: Christian Meusel, Berliner Volksbank – Gerrit von der Hardt, Targobank – Thorsten Demski, Volksbank Bielefeld-Gütersloh – Andreas Meyer, Union IT Services DZ Bank Group – Jochen Werne, Prosegur – Marion Gratenberg, Targobank

The rapidly advancing technological transformation in the banking sector also brings problems. Instead of leading to increased security, labour savings and customer friendliness, different applications can also bring performance problems and even failures.

This must be recognised and averted in good time. Application performance management, performance engineering, software intelligence, overservability or process mining are the new buzzwords here. A holistic overview of all applications is helpful in resolving weaknesses and freeing up capacities for innovations in the business. In the gi-Geldinstitute roundtable discussion, this topic will be examined by experts.

Meusel: As a bank, we must first and foremost provide services for our clients. They are our main drivers. We in the operational organisation are therefore currently investing intensively in usability and direct availability in particular.

Demski: We want to avoid media discontinuities and streamline and improve process transitions in individual departments. The work on process improvement has accelerated a bit due to the pandemic. But it is a fundamental issue that we are dealing with in the context of digitalisation. Our last project focused on the speed of the credit processes. Our goal is not only to bring about decisions quickly, but also to ensure that they are as error-free as possible.

Gratenberg: We are concerned with making processes faster, but also more efficient from the customer’s point of view. In the last two years, we have invested a lot of time and analysis in the automation and optimisation of existing customer processes. An agile squad was also founded for this purpose. In the squad, we analyse where there is further potential to optimise and automate processes.

Werne: The goal of our process automation is to be as customer-friendly as possible. In Germany, we provide about 50 per cent of the total cash logistics. We thus guarantee the cash supply of the population and secure the liquidity cycle of companies, credit institutions and municipalities. In our cooperation with the banks, we want to drive the transformation. In our group, we are driving the optimisation of the IT outsourcing processes of the entire cash management and projects such as crypto custody. With Prosegur Crypto, we have launched a solution for the custody and management of digital assets that works automatically without an internet connection to achieve maximum protection against cyber attacks.

Meyer: Union Investment has two good reasons to optimise processes today – increasing process cost efficiency and regulatory law. As part of regulatory audits, we are required as one of the leading German asset managers to produce a business process map as part of the written order. I like the result: by using modern process intelligence tools, we recognise process weaknesses that need to be optimised. At the same time, we produce process models required by banking supervisory law. The auditing company PricewaterhouseCoopers confirmed an availability of 99 percent (2021) for the 170 applications used in the investment process. As part of the Genossenschaftliche FinanzGruppe (Cooperative Financial Network), we are the expert for the asset management of 4.8 million private and institutional investors with more than 400 billion euros in assets under management. We thus provide the IT required for this to more than 1,100 internal Union users with high availability.

Diener: In my role at Atruvia, the digitalisation partner of the Genossenschaftliche FinanzGruppe, I am responsible for measuring and analysing performance data for around 820 affiliated Volks- und Raiffeisenbanken. Basically, you have to distinguish between two topics in process optimisation: the business management part and the technical part.

When I think back to the early days of my working life in the early 80s, you would enter a short code into the old IBM terminals to support your work and be happy to receive an answer milliseconds later. Over the decades, many things have changed massively here. Business and technical performance moved closer together. IT has become a central core of everyday work and an essential part of overall process optimisation. In addition to dealing with speed, response times or simply checking whether systems are available, more emphasis is now placed on user experience and user behaviour. How is the customer, what are they doing, where are they having problems getting on in the application?

Von der Hardt: Challenges arise above all with very long process routes via different interfaces with channel breaks. Then you have to assemble information from the most diverse systems, databases or process areas. Because it is difficult to optimise something with a sixty percent view without knowing what the one hundred percent end-to-end customer view looks like. The goal is not to think in small puzzle pieces, but to have the entire customer journey in mind.

Werne: In the pandemic, our process management faces the additional challenge that, for example, retailers or bank branches that we supply with cash close here today and reopen somewhere else tomorrow. Against the backdrop of our current modernisation programme, we are also moving everything to the cloud. Since we operate globally, coordination between the different countries and standardisation play an additional role.

Von der Hardt: Challenges arise especially with very long process paths via different interfaces with channel breaks. Then you have to bring together information from the most diverse systems, databases or process areas. Because it is difficult to optimise something with a sixty percent view without knowing what the one hundred percent end-to-end customer view looks like. The goal is not to think in small puzzle pieces, but to have the entire customer journey in mind.

Werne: In the pandemic, our process management faces the additional challenge that, for example, retailers or bank branches that we supply with cash close here today and reopen somewhere else tomorrow. Against the backdrop of our current modernisation programme, we are also moving everything to the cloud. Since we operate globally, coordination between the different countries and standardisation play an additional role.

Meusel: The back office is an extreme driver of efficiency potential. With consistent optimisations and consolidations, we have been able to significantly reduce the resources tied up in recent years, not only through Atruvia’s solutions, but also through the broad use of technical innovations from other partners in the area of automation. Nevertheless, we still see topics with great potential, for example in the passive market succession, keyword probate, garnishment processing and other payment transaction services. As is well known, the active back office is currently experiencing high growth in the lending business. At the same time, the margins are melting away. We must therefore continue to look very intensively at how the balancing act of resource optimisation and business growth can be made possible, for example by means of process management. Here, of course, we use the analysis possibilities of Atruvia at our process times and try to achieve the necessary benchmarks through continuous process development.

Demski: We have also started in the back office. In the new year, we will take another look at customer service in the process analysis. This is where we can make the most profit. The procedure is first of all a precise recording of the processes and their interfaces. Based on this, we then evaluate which optimisation and/or automation steps make sense. Examples of automation for us are the processing of estates and processes related to online banking.

Von der Hardt: Targobank belongs to the cooperative Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale Group from France. We are a retail and commercial bank with a focus on financing. Our process optimisation relates to these core processes. With Targo Dienstleistung we have a high-performance customer centre in Duisburg, which emerged from an industrialisation initiative at the end of the 1990s. Targobank has more than 20 years of expertise in digitalisation and process automation. It benefits from a large IT service provider and sees itself well equipped for the future in the highly competitive financial services market.

Gratenberg: In existing customer management, for example, we have automated large parts of the account closure process. This has been working very well for us for over a year now.

Werne: With regard to cash, the banking world has been in a transformation process for quite some time. Various credit institutions are already completely outsourcing their cash management for process optimisation and cost reasons. With smart machines, which Prosegur installs at its customers’ premises, cash can be disposed of directly and credited on the same day. The smart infrastructure, including dynamic monitoring and forecasting, optimises cash logistics and reduces costs.

Meyer: We already very successfully implemented a group-wide digitalisation initiative in the period from 2007 to 2010. Together with the central institutions of the DZ

Bank Group, more than 18 custodian banks and almost 90 securities trading houses, we were able to achieve a dark processing rate of 95 percent for transaction management and accounting across all countries and locations – both areas where the factors of mass and standard processing matched. Challenging in this context was the unification of message standards in the networks for financial transactions such as SWIFT and FIX and the first use of machine learning-based applications for the processing of still paper-based bookings. Today, the focus is on examining the use of AI in the context of feasibility and profitability considerations and thus realising further efficiency potential.

Diener: Processes are organised very differently at banks. We see our task in providing tools with which our customers can map, optimise and monitor the processes. It is no longer enough to look at individual use cases, from the click to the information expected by the customer on the screen. Business processes are viewed as a whole. The question is, what can be automated? Of course, this always takes into account the regulatory framework. A lot has happened in recent years in terms of technical performance. New technologies such as virtualisation, containerisation, self-healing systems – systems that manage themselves – have taken hold. The processing of a request in the data centre has become more complex and dynamic. It is important to make these new possibilities tangible for the customer and to support him in process optimisation.

Von der Hardt: There are cross-departmental and cross-bank teams/squads both in operational process management and in process optimisation initiatives. Especially in the case of RPA automation, departments and IT work together across the board.

Demski: We now have a fixed, very broad-based team. Among them are colleagues from organisational development who have always been involved in process management. We recruited the RPA team from this group and supplemented it with colleagues from IT and technology. They are then joined by experts from the specialist departments of the processes concerned. Together, they take a close look at the process side, analyse what can be automated and then enter into the development. The procedure is rather iterative in the sense of agility. A first version of an automated process does not necessarily have to cover 100 per cent of all cases. The best way for the developers to determine the greatest benefit is to work together with the departments.

Meusel: It’s always about giving a voice to as many people as possible who are ultimately users of process flows and results. It is important for us to find the right degree of participation so that we don’t get lost in too broad a grassroots democratic process in the further development. It is clearly about quality, about the return of investment, how much time I have to invest to improve the processes and what the actual effect is. For example, we have defined clear guard rails with the automation team for RPA and OCR solutions. In addition, there is always a comparison with the strategic goals. Often we have to fulfil various parameters with scarce human resources. In addition to involving the right people, we want to make the whole process as transparent as possible in order to make decisions understandable. We work very collaboratively, instead of putting every evaluation on the table and saying this is how we do it now.

Meyer: We have always carried out major changes as part of a project portfolio in cooperation between IT and the business department. We always look at the expenditure plus follow-up costs/benefits over five years. Based on this, we have a ranking and allocate resources to the projects accordingly. We don’t tackle every sub-process that could be automated because it simply doesn’t pay off.

Meusel: We always have evaluation options for our essential applications. What is challenging, however, is the networking and visualisation of the individual systems and analyses. The right degree of considered systems and subsystems plays an important role here. There are certainly promising offers on the market here. Since process mining is an important field for us, we are already in contact with service providers. But our discussions so far have also shown that good advice is expensive.

Werne: Despite several analysis tools that we use, it is sometimes not so easy to manage performance engineering in connection with different systems so that they are scalable and comparable. We haven’t yet found the egg-laughing lizard, where you just click and then know exactly what brings what performance. I doubt that it will ever exist in the level of detail that the theory implies. Do we have an overall view? The answer is, of course, yes. It’s not just banks that need to have it, but all companies with critical infrastructures. And not just because the regulator expects it. With new processes being introduced almost daily, the biggest challenge is to integrate them perfectly in order to continue to perform as usual.

Meyer: The use of such tools with regard to the IT infrastructure is carried out by our IT providers. At Union Investment itself, we successfully use such tools to analyse business processes. We can now load the data required for the analysis from the underlying applications into a process intelligence tool and systematically identify throughput times and routes, quantity structures, manual processing steps and their process effort. Because today almost every processing step leaves a digital footprint in the databases – and the tool generates the entire process model almost independently.

Diener: We have initiated many things in recent years: On the one hand, from a pure tool perspective, but also organisationally. System and application monitoring were to be merged, the entire monitoring process was to be put on a new footing. In particular, we invested in a comprehensive solution from Dynatrace. Their software intelligence platform uses a proprietary form of artificial intelligence to clearly visualise and monitor applications, microservices, container orchestration platforms and IT infrastructures, and offers automated problem detection. Analyses under a highly dynamic platform, such as Openshift, can only be performed in an automated way.

We want one hundred per cent visibility across all 50,000 systems we currently have in use in order to detect faults in advance. With the dynamics of communication between the technologies, it is no longer possible to say exactly which components are used for an individual communication. That’s why it’s so important to have this monitored via AI and to have it signal us when there are deviations from the norm that we need to take action or use automatisms from the outset to heal it accordingly.

Von der Hardt: Our process team has to identify very precisely where the weak points are in the overall process. We don’t yet use any special analysis tools from process mining for this. Personally, I think we first need a general streamlining of some processes. We are so busy changing processes that we no longer have time to optimise them significantly. We are constantly complicating them with new regulatory requirements.

Gratenberg: We can say that we have significantly fewer complaints and improved customer ratings with processes that are very standardised and automated. There are different degrees of automation. Partly, employees are involved in the processes if they are very complex. After reading out customer letters, for example, very different types of processing can become necessary, some of which still require human intervention. In addition to reducing the workload and making it error-free, there are of course still challenges with automation that are just a little different than before. If systems fail, a robot cannot work. An employee can still use a workaround. But there are always solutions. The processing by the robot could be postponed, depending on the urgency. It may also be possible to use a replacement robot, with the help of another licence.

How can performance engineering help to increase safety?

Diener: When customers report faults, we have to identify very quickly whether it is an isolated incident or a large-scale problem. Furthermore, in the past it was often difficult to recognise whether a system was the cause of a malfunction or was only suffering from a malfunction of a different origin. However, the central goal is to detect malfunctions or weaknesses preventively. In 2018, we had over 60 monitoring tools. With the Dynatrace platform, we now have a holistic performance data warehouse as a central component of our monitoring strategy. The number of tools has been reduced through consolidation. When a malfunction is reported, we can thus quickly determine which groups of users and exact functions it affects. We are able to quickly narrow down possible causes in order to fix the problem permanently. Incidents are specifically forwarded to the person who can solve them.

Meyer: Around 500 servers are operated for us in the data centres of our IT provider Atruvia for about 170 applications. These are permanently monitored using more than 20,000 measuring points. If a fan fails somewhere and a server gets too warm, expected data transfers do not take place and the like, the responsible application managers or the Atruvia control centre are informed immediately. Our service-oriented organisation has regulated standard processes for this. In such cases, incident or problem management is immediately active. Depending on the type of fault, either at Atruvia and/or at Union IT Service.

Meusel: The smaller or more individual a bank is, the more challenging it is to have its own process engineering. We are grateful that we work closely with Atruvia on this. When it comes to regulatory requirements, innovations, availability and performance monitoring, we can handle the complexity much better together with our central service providers. Often, our internal control centre can be quickly provided with centralised information and focus on communication with customers and employees. The central lever of Performance Engineering is the reduction of own applications and their monitoring.

Demski: We largely rely on Atruvia for the IT infrastructure and thus naturally benefit directly or indirectly from their monitoring systems. At the same time, we also operate our own monitoring for critical parameters of the decentralised or self-operated systems. In addition to the short-term disruptions already mentioned, the measured values are of course also indications of the utilisation and performance of systems and possible problems, for example, the runtimes for data backups or loading processes in the nightly maintenance windows provide information.

Do you have a concrete example from practice for vulnerability management?

Von der Hardt: Sometimes we first hear from the customer that we have a problem. If there is one, the customer looks for a way. Then you realise how many contact channels you have, some of which were not intended for this purpose. IT problems can usually be found and solved quickly. It becomes more difficult with failures of other companies. External business failures during the Corona period or the insolvency of a travel provider are examples here, where many customers with personal and financial concerns contact you via several channels and payment processes have to be checked at short notice. Then speed and good networking of the information channels within the company as well as to other third-party service providers is crucial. We still have homework to do here. We have to ensure the flow of information around the customer in such a way that we can give him satisfactory feedback at short notice.

Meyer: One example was the critical vulnerability called Log4Shell in the widely used Java logging library Log4j, which became known at the beginning of December. Through this vulnerability, attackers were able to execute arbitrary code. Together with our IT provider, we deployed crisis teams, used vulnerability scanning tools immediately and effectively, and where necessary, applied the appropriate security patches within a very short time.

Hot off the press AIRWA

Hot off the press: AIRWA-Journal published

HOT OFF THE PRESS

It was a inspiring holding in hand the first edition of the JOURNAL OF AI, ROBOTICS & WORKPLACE AUTOMATION published by Henry Stewart Publications

We are pleased to give everyone the opportunity to download the entire article POINT OF NO RETURN by Jochen Werne & Johannes Winter here: https://lnkd.in/dmi9i9aB

The inspiring articles and case studies published in Volume 1 Number 1 are:

Editorial
Tom Davenport, Distinguished Professor, Babson College, Research Fellow, MIT Center for Digital Business and Senior Advisor, Deloitte Institute for Research and Practice in Analytics

Practice papers:

  • The path to AI in procurement by Phil Morgan, Senior Director, Electronic Arts (EA)
  • How to kickstart an AI venture without proprietary data: AI start-ups have a chicken and egg problem — here is how to solve it by Kartik Hosanagar, Professor, The Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania and Monisha Gulabani, Research Assistant, Wharton UK AI Studio
  • Towards a capability assessment model for the comprehension and adoption of AI in organisations by Tom Butler PhD MSc, Professor, Angelina Espinoza-Limón, Research Fellow and Selja Seppälä, Research Fellow, University College Cork, Ireland
  • The path to autonomous driving by Sudha Jamthe, Technology Futurist and Ananya Sen, Product Manager and Software Engineer
  • Point of no return: Turning data into value by Jochen Werne, Chief Visionary Officer, Prosegur Germany and Johannes Winter, Managing Director, Plattform Lernende Systeme – Germany’s AI Platform
  • Robotic process automation and the power of automation in the workplace by Raj Samra, Senior Manager, PwC
  • Difficult decisions in uncertain times: AI and automation in commercial lending by Sean Hunter, Chief Information Officer and Onur Güzey, Head of Artificial Intelligence, OakNorth
  • The intelligent, experiential and competitive workplace: Part 1 by Peter Miscovich, Managing Director, Strategy + Innovation, JLL Technologies
  • Responding to ethics being a data protection building block for AI by Henry Chang, Adjunct Associate Professor, The University of Hong Kong
  • Legal issues arising from the use of artificial intelligence in government tax administration and decision making by Liz Bishop Barrister, Ground Floor Wentworth Chambers

A new Age of Enlightenment

A new Age of Enlightenment

From Antarctica to Artifical Intelligence, a man-made journey between brilliance and madness

by Jochen Werne

When we look carefully at our past, we come across a fascinating and sometimes schizophrenic human history of partial madness and absolute brilliance – not only when it comes to the use of new technologies. Let’s take a look into some of these stories.

1961 HAVANNA, CUBA: The world is on the brink of a nuclear holocaust. A reality created by the effects of the Cold War, political doctrines, hard borders and, not least, technological progress. Only diplomacy and pure instinct for the essence of human existence on both sides prevented the worst.

A story that reflects the precarious situation of the world at that time particularly well is found in Fidel Castro’s indirect offer to the Soviet Union to “solve the problem” and carry the communist revolution to victory by launching nuclear missiles from Cuban soil. His comrade-in-arms Che Guevara even went a step further, saying, “We say that we must tread the path of liberation, even if it may cost millions of nuclear war victims. In the struggle to the death between two systems, we can think of nothing but the final victory of socialism or its downfall as a result of the nuclear victory of imperialist aggression.” In 1962, the former First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, replied in a letter to Fidel Castro that he did not agree with the idea because it would inevitably lead to thermonuclear war and that there was still a need for a world into which the revolution could be carried.

1961 NEW YORK, USA: In the same year, 12 nations ratify a treaty for the joint administration of an entire continent. A continent larger than the United States. A continent that is home to 90% of the world’s freshwater reserves and is of extraordinary importance for the climate of our planet: Antarctica. It is the year in which one of humanity’s most encouraging treaties was signed – the Antarctic Treaty.

OPEN-SOURCE CONCEPT: The treaty – contains several chapters on the exclusively peaceful and scientific use of Antarctica. Along with this, the treaty also regulates the joint use of all research results and data. A concept that seemed revolutionary for the time and which is crucial for finding solutions to the great challenges of our time – such as climate change or effectively combating a pandemic.

2022 PLANET EARTH. Throughout history, we have often underestimated both the positive and negative impacts on society that come from revolutionary technologies. But technology itself cannot be judged in terms of good or bad. Rather, it is how society uses it that must be judged. Today, we are again on the brink of such a societal challenge.

We live in a globally connected world. Technological progress has made data one of the most important resources. The co-founder of Twitter, Evan Williams, surprisingly stated the following in a New York Times interview in 2017: “I thought that if everyone could speak freely and share information and ideas, the world would – automatically – become a better place. I was wrong”.

It would be easy to get the impression that this phenomenon is new, but Niall Ferguson, professor of history and senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, is convinced that today’s technological progress and its impact on society are comparable to the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century. The printing press had many positive effects on the progress of mankind and catapulted the Bible to the top of the book bestseller list for 200 years. Unfortunately, the same technology made “Malleus Maleficarum”, also known as the “Hammer of witches”, number 2 on this list for the same period. The book was the basis for the witch hunt and brought death to so many innocent people. Certainly, today the contents of the book would be called “fake news”.

PRESENT & THE WORLD OF TOMORROW

We are all shaping the world of tomorrow today, and our aspirations have already led to much good. Technology and human creativity have, for example, contributed to a massive reduction in poverty rates worldwide. In the last 25 years, more than one billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty.

If we look at the moment, we cannot avoid dedicating a few lines to the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is a global challenge and could be the next story of human brilliance and madness. We will witness tremendous advances in medical research and pandemic response measures thanks to AI-based analytics. But we will also witness a recession, which historically has always been an element for populism and nationalism. All this in an environment of fear and closed borders. In these situations, where many feel helpless, change has always come from progressive thinkers who were convinced of their ideas, from Kant to Ghandi to the thought leaders of today.

In our open society and with machine and deep learning technologies in our hands, we have the opportunity to make the world a better place. We can make a difference in our professions, and we can stand up and make our voices heard against polarising movements and injustice in every way. We can use our creativity and intellect to defend “the progress of thought”, which has always had the goal of “freeing man from his fear”, just as it was one of the goals of the Age of Enlightenment.

Sources:
https://www.plattform-lernende-systeme.de/home-en.html
http://www.niallferguson.com
http://antarcticblanc.com
https://www.ats.aq/index_e.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/20/technology/evan-williams-medium-twitter-internet.html
Photo source: https://pixabay.com

POINT OF NO RETURN – entire publication

It was indeed a great pleasure contributing in co-authorship Dr. Johannes Winter & Jochen Werne to the Henry Stewart Publications and we are pleased to not only the present the article, but also give everyone the opportunity to download and read the full chapter here:

POINT OF NO RETURN:
TURNING DATA INTO VALUE 

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the point of no return as the stage at which it is no longer possible to stop what you are doing, and when its effects cannot now be avoided or prevented. Exponential advances in technology have led to a global race for dominance in politically, militarily and economically strategic technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital platforms.

A reversal of this status quo is hardly conceivable. Based on this assumption, this paper looks to the future, adding the lessons of recent years — the years when the point of no return was passed. In addition, the paper uses practical examples from different industries to show how digital transformation can be successfully undergone and provides six key questions that every company should ask itself in the digital age.

The article includes key learnings and/or best practise examples from e.g.
acatech – Deutsche Akademie der Technikwissenschaften
Plattform Lernende Systeme – Germany’s AI Platform
Prosegur
Tesla
Waymo
Google
Amazon
relayr
Ada Health
Fiege Logistik
Westphalia DataLab
Satya Nadella
Microsoft
TikTok
Facebook

Hot off the press: POINT OF NO RETURN: TURNING DATA INTO VALUE

INAUGURAL EDITION
of the
JOURNAL OF AI, ROBOTICS and WORKPLACE AUTOMATION

It was indeed a great pleasure contributing in co-authorship Dr. Johannes Winter & Jochen Werne to the Henry Stewart Publications and we are pleased to present the article:

POINT OF NO RETURN:
TURNING DATA INTO VALUE

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the point of no return as the stage at which it is no longer possible to stop what you are doing, and when its effects cannot now be avoided or prevented. Exponential advances in technology have led to a global race for dominance in politically, militarily and economically strategic technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital platforms. A reversal of this status quo is hardly conceivable. Based on this assumption, this paper looks to the future, adding the lessons of recent years — the years when the point of no return was passed. In addition, the paper uses practical examples from different industries to show how digital transformation can be successfully undergone and provides six key questions that every company should ask itself in the digital age.

The article includes key learnings and/or best practise examples from e.g.
acatech – Deutsche Akademie der Technikwissenschaften
Plattform Lernende Systeme – Germany’s AI Platform
Prosegur
Tesla
Waymo
Google
Amazon
relayr
Ada Health
Fiege Logistik
Westphalia DataLab
Satya Nadella
Microsoft
TikTok
Facebook

Jochen Werne - acatech Webtalk Clean-up batter comments

Clean-up Batter Comments from the acatech Webtalk „WAYS OUT OF THE CRISIS“

It has been a great pleasure being the clean-up batter for moderator Michael Dowling (University Regensburg) in the Webtalk hosted by Dr. Johannes Winter and the prestigious National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech). The esteemed experts Olga Mordvinova, CEO of incontext.technology; Franz Gruber, founder of Forcam, Kai-Uwe Weiß, Manager at Leser and Wolfgang Faisst, founder of value.works.ai discussed about how digital transformation and artificial intelligence helps SME‘s to find a positive way out of the crisis, about GAIA-X, digital twins and best-practice experiences. It was an honour rounding-up the event together with Prof. Dowling.

Follow the Clean-up Batter comments in this summary

acatech Webtalk – Wege aus der Krise

Details from the webtalk in German HERE . Translation below made with DeepL.com

Munich, March 9, 2021

Digital technologies have proven their worth, especially in the Corona pandemic: Thanks to them, companies were and are more adaptable during the crisis and can respond more quickly to customer requirements. But what role do digital technologies now play in finding a way out of the crisis? And what framework conditions need to be created so that SMEs in particular give up their reluctance to digitize? Experts from business and research discussed this at an acatech Webtalk on March 5.

Many globally operating, medium-sized companies in Germany had a problem during the Corona pandemic: Since business trips were not possible, customers could not take delivery of an ordered product on site at the plant. However, digital technologies provided a remedy: the safety valve manufacturer Leser GmbH, for example, as Leser manager Kai-Uwe Weiß reported in his presentation, offers customers the service of a “remote inspection”, in which customers are guided through the plant via a virtual reality application and can thus carry out the acceptance.

Earlier, Wolfgang Faisst, a member of the Learning Systems Platform and founder of value.works.ai, had already recommended a “Digital Business Framework” to medium-sized companies in his introductory impulse in order to emerge better from the Corona crisis. For this, technological and organizational requirements would have to be optimally harmonized with digital ambitions (e.g. reconfiguration of business processes or digital refinement of products). Wolfgang Faisst referred to the offerings of the Learning Systems Platform, which provides target images, implementation examples and roadmaps for AI introduction and application.

The panel discussion following the presentations, moderated by acatech member Michael Dowling (University of Regensburg), emphasized that the success of Industrie 4.0 must be measured in terms of entrepreneurial results and the customer benefits generated. Olga Mordvinova, member of the Learning Systems Platform and CEO of incontext.technology GmbH, emphasized that Germany has an excellent position both on the technology provider side and in the area of domain knowledge. However, in order for the potential of digitization to be better exploited – especially in SMEs – a secure and sovereign digital infrastructure is needed in Germany and Europe, said Franz Gruber, founder and advisory board member of Forcam GmbH. Only then would companies abandon their reluctance, which is due in part to their dependence on large platform companies. Jochen Werne, member of the Learning Systems Platform and board member of Prosegur Germany, agreed: Fundamental for the near future and the time after Corona is a clear European vision and implementation strategy for digital transformation.

Find the full acatech webtalk here

PODCAST: Poledify host Felix Gehm is discussing Business Transformation with Jochen Werne

HOT OFF THE TAPE: Business Transformation in the Digital Age – Insight into Practice from an Expert’s Perspective

It was a great pleasure being invited as guest to the brand new podcast format POLEDIFY. With Poledify, Felix Gehm offers insights into the routines, mindsets and habits of experts and thought leaders from a wide range of disciplines.

Find the POLEDIFY podcast HERE

POLEDIFY EPISODE #3 – DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

Listen to the Interview HERE

CONTENT & LINKS (posted by Poledify)

Jochen Werne is Chief Development Officer and Chief Visionary Officer of Prosegur Germany. Prosegur Group is one of the leading security service providers worldwide with over 175,000 employees on five continents. Jochen Werne is, among other things, a member of the Learning Systems Platform, which advises the German government on artificial intelligence, and of the Royal Institute of International Affairs Chatham House, one of the most important think tanks in the world. Jochen was listed as one of the AI experts in Germany by Focus magazine. He is also an author, keynote speaker, internationally awarded NGO founder and specialist in business development and transformation, and international diplomacy. In 2020, the Tyto Tech Power List named him one of the 50 most influential people in the tech scene in Germany.

Topics of this episode:

What does digital transformation mean for “traditional” business sectors?
How Prosegur plans to master digital transformation
How not to be deterred by big challenges
The most important characteristics of a leader in the face of such challenges

Links and other things from the episode:
The interview between Bill Gates and Warren Buffet: shorturl.at/mGPYZ
Books:
Utopias for Realists by Rutger Bregman
Mordern Monopolies by Alex Moazed and Nicholas L. Johnson
Here you can find Jochen Werne and everything about Prosegur:
Jochen Werne LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jochenwerne/
Jochen Werne Website: http://jochenwerne.com/
Prosegur LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/prosegur/
Prosegur website: https://www.prosegur.com/en/jobs
Platform Learning Systems: https://www.plattform-lernende-systeme.de/home-en.html

Questions, criticism, suggestions or anything else? Write to me!
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or simply send an email to poledify@gmail.com
Where does the fine music (intro & outro) come from?
The fine music in the intro and outro is produced by pads. Behind the artist name is Patrick, who has finally decided to record all his little songs. You can find it all here:
YouTube: bit.ly/33TOFcN
Instagram: https://bit.ly/2XWFDIm
Soundcloud: https://bit.ly/3oYQA8k

Book recommendation: Robo-Advisory: Investing in the Digital Age

Edited by Prof. Dr. Peter Scholz; published by Palgrave Studies in Financial Services Technologies. Buy a copy here

Congratulations to Peter Scholz for publishing this excellent book on new technological investment methods. It was an honour for me to write the foreword and I wish every reader enriching insights into this new field of investing in the digital age.

Jochen Werne
Prof. Dr. Peter Scholz

This book is the first to provide comprehensive answers to these questions in a fundamental, decisive, detailed and nuanced way. It clarifies the basics, the technology and the tactics behind those clever, financial machines, gives insights into their previous track record to date and much more. Looking ahead, it provides a preview of what is and may be yet to come. As a matter of fact, so far only a relatively small percentage of the global investment community have more or less relied on robo-advisors, depending on their respective culture. It is also a fact that we are only at the beginning of development. We have all borne witness to how exponentially fast things can move forward. One such example is the evolution of smartphones—which by the way have been around for just a little longer than robo-advisors.

Handelsblatt Blogbeitrag: EIN NEUES ZEITALTER DER AUFKLÄRUNG

Von der Antarktis zu Artifical Intelligence, eine von Menschen gemachte Reise zwischen Brillanz und Wahnsinn

Autor Jochen Werne – Ein Blogbeitrag für die Handelsblatt Jahrestagung Restrukturierung

Bei sorgfältiger Betrachtung unserer Vergangenheit stoßen wir auf eine faszinierend und teilweise schizophren anmutende Menschheitsgeschichte von partiellem Wahnsinn und absoluter Brillanz – nicht nur, wenn es um den Einsatz neuer Technologien geht. Werfen wir einen Blick in einige dieser Geschichten.

1961 HAVANNA, KUBA: Die Welt steht am Rande eines nuklearen Holocaust. Eine Realität entstanden durch die Auswirkungen des kalten Kriegs, politischer Doktrinen, harter Grenzen und nicht zuletzt technologischen Fortschritts. Nur Diplomatie und der reine Instinkt für das Wesen der menschlichen Existenz auf beiden Seiten verhinderten das Schlimmste.

Eine Geschichte, die die prekäre Lage der Welt zu jener Zeit besonders gut widerspiegelt findet sich in dem indirekten Angebot Fidel Castro an die Sowjetunion, „das Problem“ zu lösen und die kommunistische Revolution durch den Abschuss von Atomraketen von kubanischem Boden, zum Sieg zu tragen. Sein Kampfgefährte Che Guevara ging sogar noch einen Schritt weiter, indem er sagte: „Wir sagen, dass wir den Weg der Befreiung beschreiten müssen, auch wenn er Millionen von Atomkriegsopfern kosten kann. Im Kampf auf Leben und Tod zwischen zwei Systemen können wir an nichts anderes denken als an den endgültigen Sieg des Sozialismus oder seinen Untergang als Folge des nuklearen Sieges der imperialistischen Aggression.” 1962 antwortete der ehemalige Erste Sekretär der Kommunistischen Partei der Sowjetunion, Nikita Chruschtschow, in einem Brief an Fidel Castro, dass er mit der Idee nicht einverstanden sei, weil sie unweigerlich zu einem thermonuklearen Krieg führen würde und dass es doch noch eine Welt bräuchte, in die die Revolution getragen werden könnte.

1961 NEW YORK, USA: Im selben Jahr ratifizieren 12 Nationen einen Vertrag zur gemeinsamen Verwaltung eines ganzen Kontinents. Ein Kontinent, der größer ist als die Vereinigten Staaten. Ein Kontinent, der 90% der Süßwasserreserven der Welt beheimatet und für das Klima unseres Planeten von außerordentlicher Bedeutung ist: die Antarktis. Es ist das Jahr, in dem einer der ermutigendsten Verträge der Menschheit unterzeichnet wurde – der Antarktis-Vertrag.

OPEN-SOURCE-KONZEPT: Der Vertrag – beinhaltet mehrere Kapitel zur ausschliesslich friedlichen und wissenschaftlichen Nutzung der Antarktis. Damit einhergehend regelt der Vertrag auch die gemeinschaftliche Nutzung aller Forschungsergebnisse und Daten. Ein Konzept, das für die damalige Zeit revolutionär erschien und das für die Findung von Lösungen für die großen Herausforderungen unserer Zeit – wie Klimawandel oder die effektive Bekämpfung einer Pandemie – von entscheidender Bedeutung sind.

2020 PLANET ERDE. In der Geschichte haben wir oft die positiven wie auch die negativen Auswirkungen auf die Gesellschaft unterschätzt, die von revolutionären Technologien ausgehen. Doch kann Technologie selbst nicht mit den Begriffen gut oder schlecht beurteilt werden. Vielmehr muss beurteilt werden, wie die Gesellschaft diese nutzt. Heute stehen wir wieder am Rande einer solchen gesellschaftlichen Herausforderung.

Wir leben in einer global vernetzten Welt. Technologischer Fortschritt hat Daten zu einer der wichtigsten Ressourcen gemacht. Der Mitbegründer von Twitter, Evan Williams, erklärte in einem Interview der New York Times 2017 überraschenderweise das Folgende: „Ich dachte, wenn alle Menschen frei sprechen und Informationen und Ideen austauschen können, wird die Welt – automatisch – zu einem besserer Ort. Ich habe mich geirrt“.

Man könnte leicht den Eindruck gewinnen, dass dieses Phänomen neu ist, aber Niall Ferguson, Geschichtsprofessor und Senior Fellow des Hoover Institutes ist davon überzeugt, dass der heutige technologische Fortschritt und seine Auswirkungen auf die Gesellschaft mit der Erfindung des Buchdrucks durch Johannes Gutenberg im 15. Jhdt. vergleichbar sind. Die Druckerpresse hatte viele positive Auswirkungen auf den Fortschritt der Menschheit und katapultierte die Bibel 200 Jahre lang auf den ersten Platz der Buch-Bestsellerliste. Leider machte die gleiche Technik “Malleus Maleficarum”, auch bekannt als der „Hexenhammer“, für dieselbe Zeit zur Nummer 2 auf dieser Liste.  Das Buch war die Grundlage für die Hexenjagd und brachte so vielen Unschuldigen den Tod. Sicherlich würde man heute die Inhalte des Buches als „Fake News“ bezeichnen.

GEGENWART & DIE WELT VON MORGEN

Wir alle gestalten heute die Welt von morgen, und unser Streben hat bereits zu viel Gutem geführt. Technologie und menschliche Kreativität haben bspw. dazu beigetragen, die Armutsquote weltweit massiv zu senken. In den letzten 25 Jahren wurden hierbei mehr als eine Milliarde Menschen extremer Armut befreit.

Betrachten wir den Moment so kommt man nicht umhin der aktuellen COVID-19-Pandemie einige Zeilen zu widmen. Es ist eine globale Herausforderung und könnte gleichzeitig die nächste Geschichte des menschlicher Brillanz und Wahnsinns sein. Wir werden dank der KI-basierten Analyseelemente enorme Fortschritte in der medizinischen Forschung und bei den Maßnahmen zur Pandemiebekämpfung erleben. Wir werden aber auch Zeugen einer Rezession werden, die historisch gesehen immer ein Element für Populismus und Nationalismus war. All dies in einem Umfeld von Angst und geschlossenen Grenzen. In diesen Situationen, in denen sich viele von hilflos fühlen, ging Wandel immer von fortschrittlichen Denkern aus, die von ihren Ideen überzeugt waren, von Kant über Ghandi bis zu den Vordenkern der heutigen Zeit.

In unserer offenen Gesellschaft und mit Machine- und Deep Learning Technologien in unseren Händen haben wir die Möglichkeit die Welt zu einem besseren Ort zu machen. Wir können in unseren Berufen viel Neues bewegen, und wir können gegen polarisierende Bewegungen und Ungerechtigkeit in jeder Hinsicht aufstehen und uns Gehör verschaffen. Wir können unsere Kreativität und unseren Intellekt einsetzen, um „den Fortschritt des Denkens” zu verteidigen, der schon immer das Ziel hatte, den Menschen von seiner Angst zu befreien“, genau wie es eines der Ziele des Zeitalters der Aufklärung war.

Quellen:
https://www.plattform-lernende-systeme.de/home-en.html
http://www.niallferguson.com
http://antarcticblanc.com
https://www.ats.aq/index_e.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/20/technology/evan-williams-medium-twitter-internet.html
Fotoquelle: https://pixabay.com

Publication: The crisis, our freedom and our money

Unlimited availability of our money and its ability to be used as a medium of exchange create certainty and lead to personal freedom. But which payment method is proving to be the most robust in any crisis? A reflection on the value of cash in a free society.

By Jochen Werne, Management Board member, Chief Development & Chief Visionary Officer (CDO/CVO) of Prosegur Cash Services Germany GmbH

In times when our life is being affected significantly by the effects of the situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, we become more aware of the basic needs in our lives. However, the COVID-19 crisis, which hits us globally so hard that we are even prepared to give up some of our civil rights and liberties guaranteed by the constitution, also reveals what certainty means and gives us and what we rely on in order to overcome a crisis and regain our freedom.
We live in a world of exponential leaps in technology – and the technological progress has traditionally always resulted in a global improvement in living standards. The international community can be rightly proud of its achievement of reducing the percentage of people who have to live in absolute poverty from 35% to 8% in the last 30 years thanks to global trade. However, it is in times of crisis that we see just how sustainable the goals that have been achieved are. Here prudent and decisive action from political and business leaders is called for. Confidence gained in people and instruments is the greatest asset in times of uncertainty.

Cash: always available

The same applies for payments. While the independent good work over decades of many central banks such as the Deutsche Bundesbank, the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve is making itself noticeable in the crisis and the citizens rely on the stability of the euro and US dollar, cash is also showing itself to be an anchor of confidence in uncertain times. With growing concerns due to the coronavirus, in the USA for example the volume of physical cash in circulation has increased. In the week before 25 March this increased by 1.8% to 1.86 trillion dollars in absolute figures. This represents the biggest weekly increase since December 1999, when the fear of the so-called Millennium Bug was the reason for the rise. As we see today, the technological meltdown did not happen. However, 20 years later we are now more aware than ever of the vulnerability of technology and that in times of crisis the value of certainty is always the greatest asset. The increase in demand for cash, including in Germany, at the start of the corona crisis is probably attributable to this legitimate need of citizens for certainty and their great confidence in cash. According to the Bundesbank, the volume on Monday 16 March alone, the first day upon which schools and nurseries were closed, was 0.7 billion euros above the average.

Electronic payment methods, which are essential in so many areas such as online trading for example, repeatedly risk a loss of confidence due to technical failures. One of the most recent of these incidents occurred during of all times the Christmas shopping period on 23 December 2019, when EC card payments were no longer accepted at many terminals. It is a little like the situation described by the Roman poet Ovid: “People are slow to claim confidence in undertakings of magnitude.” Most certainly our savings – the fruit of our labour – are of this magnitude for us. It is for this reason that the availability of our money is so important. If this availability were restricted, we would start to feel that we might no longer be able to access our money, and a bank run would most likely be the result.
It is not without reason that the “supply of cash” is expressly defined as a “critical service” in Section 7 of the Regulation on the Identification of Critical Infrastructures (BSI-Kritisverordnung – BSI-KritisV) of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). That is to say a “service to supply the general public […], the loss or impairment of which would result in significant supply shortages or risks to public security.”

Certainty in uncertain times

In the COVID-19 crisis, anxiety about health and the economic consequences of any crisis dominate our daily life. While fear is clearly caused by an external threat, anxiety is indeterminate. As the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote in his Enchiridion of stoic morals: “People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.”
It was therefore also absolutely consistent that the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Central Bank, the Bundesbank and the Robert Koch Institute have been stressing repeatedly in the corona crisis that there is no documented case that would suggest there would be an increased virus risk due to the use of cash as opposed to card payment. They refer here to corresponding scientific studies and underline repeatedly that no information on such a risk has been documented.

Freedom established by the constitution

John Stuart Mill, one of the most successful liberal thinkers of the 19th century, defined freedom as the “first and strongest desire of human nature.” Accordingly, all governmental and social action must be directed towards granting the individual free development, while his freedom, as Mill formulates it in a principle known as the “principle of freedom,” may be limited under one condition: to protect himself or another person. Now, during a serious crisis, all citizens are forgoing some of their fundamental constitutional rights of freedom. This massive intervention is certainly consistent with Mills’ theory in this time of corona. In his novel The House of the Dead, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky describes his own experiences of life in a Siberian prison camp and writes the subsequently oft-quoted sentence: “Money is coined liberty,” whereby he describes the vital relevance of a free exchange of goods in an environment where people are deprived of freedom – with cash in the form of coins.
Although not in the same way as Dostoevsky, we are also living in a time of extreme change: on a social, economic and political level. We are living in a time when, due to exponential technological developments, whole industries and business models are changing radically and countries are competing for supremacy in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is a time in which transformation is the new norm and an agile corporate culture has to be the key to success. It is currently the case in many traditional industries that “anything that can be digitised, will be digitised.”
And inevitably this also raises the question of whether this is also the case for the first “instant payment” solution, one of the earliest and longest-lasting achievements of human civilisation – for our cash?
Our current free choice of payment method is certainly good, as long as we can choose freely as consumers the payment method appropriate for the respective situation. Discussions about the possible restriction of the freedom of choice of citizens regularly prompt intellectuals to issue warnings. For example, the poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger is of the opinion regarding the issue of “restriction”: “Those who abolish cash, abolish freedom.” This opinion is also shared by Carl-Ludwig Thiele, a former member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank: “Abolishing cash would hurt consumer sovereignty — the free choice of citizens about their payment instruments […] Government agencies do not have the right to tell citizens how they should pay.“

Technological vulnerability, fall-back option and data protection

Particularly in extreme scenarios such as disasters, failures of a digital infrastructure due to cyber attacks, natural events or simply due to technical failure, it is made clear that cash, by its nature, is currently the most robust payment method. The fact that the contactless payment limit has been increased without further ado, for example in supermarkets, at first sounds harmless. However, as a result, anyone can pay for higher-priced goods using a card, and it does not have to be their own card, without any further security checks such as entering a PIN. Everyone has to examine and question critically for themselves the possible consequences of such a payment method.
Also not to be disregarded is the issue of data protection. More cashless payments also mean more personal information disclosed by everyone. Data which numerous companies use for commercial purposes. At the latest since the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR), the sensitivity of the population of Europe with regard to data protection and privacy has been rising gradually.
Klaus Müller, Germany’s top consumer protector and Executive Director of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv), describes cash as “data protection in practice”. Anyone who pays with cash does not leave any traces to create a consumer profile, purchasing and payment behaviour cannot be manipulated. Cash also helps to protect financial privacy. This was emphasised by Udo Di Fabio, who was a judge of the Federal Constitutional Court for twelve years, at the Cash Symposium 2018 hosted by Deutsche Bundesbank. He explained that every citizen can dispose freely of their money. In his view this freedom would be restricted if financial management were completely digitised.

Smart cash management alleviates the workload of banks

Crises such as the current corona pandemic always bring to light new approaches and act as accelerators of transformation processes that have already been set in motion. With regard to cash-related industries, the banking world has already been in a transformation process for some time. A company such as Prosegur, which, with over 4,000 employees and 31 branches, is a market leader in Germany in the transportation of cash and valuables, is increasingly becoming a full payment-platform provider. Several banks have already taken the path of fully outsourcing their cash management for synergy and cost-saving reasons. Here, cash processes are becoming not only much leaner, but also more cost-effective. This is the case not only for banks, but also for retail customers. With smart machines installed by Prosegur at its customers, cash can be disposed of directly and credited to the customer account on the same day. The smart infrastructure, including dynamic monitoring and forecasting, optimises the logistics and reduces costs in cash logistics. This is the next step towards an efficient, digital and integrated cash management.

Coined Liberty 2.0 and the justification for and rightfulness of cash

In view of the technological progress and the associated social changes, it can be seen that key values from the human perspective are still valid. Based on an intellectual, serious discussion, the relevance to today of the theories of for example Dostoevsky with his experiences in an unfree society is clear: The discussion about the civil rights and liberties of citizens is always very closely related to their ability to use cash freely, to their freedom of choice of payment method and ultimately to the rightfulness of their actions with regards also to effiency and impact.
Our open and liberal society is characterised by the fact that we are discussing and most certainly will continue to discuss “Coined Liberty 2.0” at this level.


Prosegur Cash Services Germany GmbH, Kokkolastraße 5, 40882 Ratingen
Telephone: +49 2102 / 1248‐0, E‐mail: redaktion@prosegur.com, www.prosegur.de