Girijashankar Sundaresan, Author at

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2017 – WWDC’17

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wwdc

WWDC is a yearly affair for Apple and this year, it kicked off in San Jose. Apple unveiled its new versions of iOS, macOS, watchOS platforms; a connected home speaker device called the HomePod that will be shipping in December and a new iPad Pro Tablet.

Here is what Apple announced.

tvOS

The Apple TV is getting a big new content source, as Amazon Prime Video is coming soon to Apple TV and Apple’s newish TV app. Apple CEO Tim Cook promised more updates around tvOS later this year.

watchOS 4

Apple also announced a new version of watchOS, the software that powers the Apple Watch. It’s not nearly as big of a change as last year’s watchOS 3, but there are a few interesting new features.

  • A new Siri-powered watch face uses machine learning to customize its content in real time throughout the day, including reminders, traffic information, upcoming meetings, news, smart home controls, etc., when they’re supposed to be most relevant.
  • New fitness features include smarter workout controls, more prompts to set goals and two-way workout data exchange with certain gym equipment, via partnerships with major manufacturers. You’ll also be able to use the watch face as a flashlight or blinking light during runs — a neat safety touch.
  • The Apple Watch will also be able to better connect with other hardware gadgets, such as continuous glucose monitors, via Bluetooth.

macOS High Sierra

Apple isn’t doing a major macOS update this year — instead, the company has spent the year “perfecting it,” Apple SVP Craig Federighi said. This includes updates to Safari, including autoplay video blocking and “intelligent tracking prevention” to cut back at ad trackers; better Photos editing and organization; a faster new behind-the-scenes file system; a stronger updated graphics engine that supports VR development; and support for the Unity and Unreal gaming engines (which drew a round of applause from the developer audience).

New Macs, including the iMac Pro

Apple’s iMac is getting a nicer display, faster processors and graphics performance — suitable for VR content creation — more memory capacity and some new ports. The MacBook and MacBook Pro are getting faster chips and drives. The MacBook Air is getting a faster chip. And the 13-inch MacBook Pro is getting a lower entry-level price.

Apple also showed off a sneak peek at a new, high-performance version of the iMac — a 27-inch, darker grey iMac Pro, with up to 18 processor cores — that’s shipping in December. Starting at $4,999, this is designed for Pro users, including those waiting while Apple resuscitates its Mac Pro desktop.

iOS 11 including AR Kit and iPad-specific features

  • iMessages will now synchronize better between devices, and will free up storage space by offloading things like old photo messages to the cloud.
  • Apple Pay will now support person-to-person payments via iMessage, using a new “Apple Pay Cash” card.
  • Siri will translate queries into other languages, including French, Spanish and Chinese; will support more third-party apps via the SiriKit developers kit that Apple released last year; and will have more context for proactive suggestions. It will also start “reading” the text on your screen so you can do things like spell complicated words you’ve just looked at — like Reykjavik — more easily.
  • The camera will use more efficient algorithms and file formats for photos and videos, which means they’ll take up less space than before. (Apple seems to be moving beyond JPEG as the default for photos, which could raise some compatibility questions — more research to be done here.) Slick new tricks are on the way for Live Photos.
  • The lock screen and Notifications window — the two places you interact with notifications — are merging into one. The Apple Maps app will have more detailed airport maps for a selection of airports.
  • There’s a smart new “do not disturb while driving” safety mode, which will silence notifications, show a blank screen on your phone and auto-reply with an “I’m driving!” message while you’re driving.
  • Apple’s HomeKit service will now support multi-room home speakers from several major manufacturers, and a new AirPlay 2 feature will make it easier to play music and audio to other devices.
  • Apple Music is getting more social — Apple must really miss Ping! — and Apple is making it easier for developers to embed Apple Music into other apps and services.
  • Apple is redesigning the App Store for the first time, and it looks a lot like Apple Music — big promo art, a tab for games and more visibility into in-app purchases. App developers will also get some new features, including “phased releases” that will make it easier to launch major new updates.
  • IPad-specific features in iOS 11 — include a new dock for apps, a new multi-app view for multitasking, drag-and-drop support and a new Files app. It’s also easier to mark up screenshots and documents with the Apple Pencil stylus. And iOS will try to understand your handwriting in the Notes app so you can search the text.

Apple also has new tools for developers, including AR Kit for augmented-reality apps, which Apple is calling the “largest AR platform in the world.” (Facebook and Google have also recently touted AR platforms.) It will also offer new machine learning and natural language capabilities, including things like face tracking and photo recognition.

Highlight: While Apple is launching AR Kit this year, it’s not announcing AR features built directly into its own camera app yet.

IOS 11 will ship this fall, with a public beta starting this month.

iPad Pro 10.5-inch

Apple unveiled a new 10.5-inch version of the iPad Pro, its tablet for professional users. It has thinner borders around its edges, but still has a home button, and will support a full-width keyboard cover.

It features a better display with richer color and a new feature called ProMotion, which updates its content up to 120 times per second — making it feel smoother and more responsive. (This is particularly helpful when using the Pencil.) It’s also faster and will come with twice the standard amount of memory — 64 gigabytes.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro will start at $649 and will start shipping next week.

HomePod: Apple’s new Siri speaker

Apple is taking aim at Sonos and the Amazon Echo with HomePod, a new “breakthrough home speaker” that it will start selling in December in white and space grey for $349.

Small but supposedly powerful, the speaker will sense the shape of your room and customize audio for its surroundings (and can be paired with a second HomePod for greater effect).

A “Musicologist” feature will respond to “Hey, Siri,” play from your Apple Music account and answer questions about the music it’s playing. It will also handle other Siri queries, such as weather, news, messages, podcasts, stocks, controlling smart home devices via HomeKit, etc.

Source – WWDC 2017: Everything important Apple announced at its big event, recode

New machine learning API to make mobile AI faster

Apple has also introduced a new Machine Learning framework API for developers named Core ML.

“The key benefit of Core ML will be speeding up how quickly AI tasks execute on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. This could cover everything from text analysis to face recognition, and should have an effect on a broad category of apps. It means, says Apple, that image recognition on the iPhone will be six times faster than on Google’s Pixel.”

The Core ML will support a number of a variety of Machine Learning tools including neural networks (deep, recurrent, and convolutional), as well as linear models and tree ensembles. Core ML is for on-device processing, meaning the data that developers use to improve user experience won’t leave customers’ phones and tablets – thus embracing privacy and security.

World without apps – Apocalypse

This year Apple also released a video on Apple’s idea of Apocalypse when our world is without apps. Here is the video.

About Market Simplified: Market Simplified is a thought leader in revolutionizing and digitizing products for financial institutions by continuously innovating and simplifying finance. We empower our customers with cutting edge digital experience that is highly personalized and enhanced for the end users with our ‘Experience Engineering’ platform driven by Analytics, AI, Machine Learning and Blockchain technologies. Our clientele includes industry leaders like OptionsXpress (Charles Schwab), Currenex (State Street), ThinkMarkets, MB Trading, Maybank Kim Eng, Kotak Mahindra Bank, National Stock Exchange of India and many others across the globe.

About the author: Girijashankar is a Classical Carnatic Vocalist and teacher who loves to perform. He is also a voracious reader and prefers to read books on crime and mystery. He is currently working as a Business Development Executive in Market Simplified.

Webinar on Digital Transformation in Brokerages

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msf webinar

In the quest to achieve market leadership, brokerages continue to focus on holistic digital remodelling of customer-facing enterprises. However, how many of them succeed in this quest? Is this really accomplishable? There are numerous studies that show that financial services are becoming more and more digitized. This also includes Brokerages. Customers would love to have information at their fingertips. Busy executives do not have the time to do traditional methods of trading which requires keeping a constant watch on the performance of their securities. With the advent of smartphones and digitization, customers have all the information they need to make informed decisions on their trades based on market insights, charts, alerts and notifications.

At, Market Simplified, we are hosting this webinar on 25th July 2017, 3 PM, Singapore Time – for brokerages in the SEA region to provide valuable advice and insights from industry experts to tackle digital disruption.

Our Speakers

  • Sekar Jaganathan, CIO, Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd: Sekar has over 25 years of experience in managing business operations, personnel and information technology. During his time, Sekar was also a consultant for the Jakarta Stock Exchange and introduced the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Back Office System (BOS) for the Indonesian Capital Market. He also implemented BOS for various broking firms in Malaysia and Indonesia.
  • Vivek Shukla, Asst Director and Head – Product Development, Angel Broking: Vivek has great experience in sales and Project Management. He is also highly passionate in Product-go-to-market strategy & business modelling. His core skills include analytics, retail broking, mobile application development, payment gateway integrations, Mutual Funds, margin funding, NBFC and channel management. His extensive knowledge in the BFSI segment is an added feather to his cap.
  • Hiran Ramankutty, Head Engineering, Market Simplified: Hiran has over 14 years of experience in the technology field. His technical skills combined with domain knowledge on BFSI segment makes his contributions very valuable. He has been instrumental in building high performance solutions for banks, brokerages and exchanges. He has great expertise in Solution Architecture, Technology Implementation/Operations and Infrastructure Management. His service focus has been on Consumer Banking, Capital Markets, Cloud Computing, Analytics and Security.

Our Moderator

  • Vasanth Jayaraman, AVP – Sales, Market Simplified: Vasanth is a sales leader with 14 years of accomplished career track record with a unique combination of sales/marketing management & account management skills from different industry verticals. His extensive knowledge in BFSI domain combined with his sales and marketing skills makes him an indispensable asset to Market Simplified.

These are the topics that will be discussed in detail

  • Simplify onboarding – Fully engage customers online
  • Self-Guided simplified tools for Trading
  • Enable multi-asset class trading
  • Improve trade settlement process
  • Empowering expertise using trade simulation games
  • Wealth Management using robo-advisory

This will be a great opportunity for all leading brokerages to understand the importance of embracing digital disruption which, as a result, will enhance customer acquisition, experience, engagement, retention, and growth!

What are you waiting for? Register Now to lock in your place for this wonderful opportunity.

About Market Simplified: Market Simplified is a thought leader in revolutionizing and digitizing products for financial institutions by continuously innovating and simplifying finance. We empower our customers with cutting edge digital experience that is highly personalized and enhanced for the end users with our ‘Experience Engineering’ platform driven by Analytics, AI, Machine Learning and Blockchain technologies. Our clientele includes industry leaders like OptionsXpress (Charles Schwab), Currenex (State Street), ThinkMarkets, MB Trading, Maybank Kim Eng, Kotak Mahindra Bank, National Stock Exchange of India and many others across the globe.

About the author: Girijashankar is a Classical Carnatic Vocalist and teacher who loves to perform. He is also a voracious reader and prefers to read books on crime and mystery. He is currently working as a Business Development Executive in Market Simplified.

 

Hurray! ThinkTrader App in Benzinga Fintech Awards 2017

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market simplifiedWe are celebrating at Market Simplified, as our ThinkTrader application has been nominated as one of the finalists of Benzinga Global Fintech Awards 2017.

Benzinga Awards’ is a contest for technology companies to showcase their most impressive and advanced technological innovations, that are paving way for the future in Financial Services and Capital Markets. They have played a significant role in supporting the growth and development of the finance and technology industry, giving the firms an opportunity to showcase their products and creations to the industry, most importantly to the investor community.

We are justifiably proud as our team has built the ThinkTrader application, keeping in mind – the dramatically changing technology, access to data, new analytical tools and increasingly empowered customers. The app has a 4.3 star rating in Google Play Store and a 4+ rating in App Store with great reviews.

About ThinkMarkets: ThinkMarkets is known for delivering cutting-edge technology in their services for their customers with an ambition to improve the forex trading in the international trading community. They have invested heavily in infrastructure to provide award winning services, with an ever-growing range of markets. ThinkTraders app was launched in 2016.

About Market Simplified: Market Simplified is a thought leader in revolutionizing and digitizing products for financial institutions by continuously innovating and simplifying finance. We empower our customers with cutting edge digital experience that is highly personalized and enhanced for the end users with our ‘Experience Engineering’ platform driven by Analytics, AI, Machine Learning and Blockchain technologies. Our clientele includes industry leaders like OptionsXpress (Charles Schwab), Currenex (State Street), ThinkMarkets, MB Trading, Maybank Kim Eng, Kotak Mahindra Bank, National Stock Exchange of India and many others across the globe.

About the author: Girijashankar is a Classical Carnatic Vocalist and teacher who loves to perform. He is also a voracious reader and prefers to read books on crime and mystery. He is currently working as a Business Development Executive in Market Simplified.

Stories of an Ex-Google Engineer, an Entrepreneur and an Aviation Enthusiast

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Financial Technology companies (Fintechs) face many challenges in meeting the expectations of Financial Institutions (FIs). The former gives the latter an edge in winning over their respective customers by developing products and solutions that help in simplifying finance and its effective management. Therefore, it is no cake walk for Fintechs to thrive in this cut throat world where their survival largely depends on clients (FIs) being happy with the deliverables. Not just that; Fintechs also need to have complete awareness and agility to face the evolving technological changes. They should be super-fast in learning, mastering and implementing the updates in technology for developing new-gen solutions that are in line with the industry standards. Let us take a look into what an ex-Google Engineer, an Entrepreneur and an Aviation Enthusiast have done to achieve great success in the technology front.

The Ex-Google Engineer

Though Fintechs offer new customer products in a highly regulated space, they also have an advantage of working for the institutions that have already passed these regulatory requirements. That’s what probably drew Suresh Ramamurthi, an Ex-Google engineer to enter this arena. But, Ramamurthi did not take the ‘no-bank’ route. This Google veteran spent years looking for a bank before he and his wife purchased the struggling Citizen’s Bank of Weir (CBW) in Kansas City. CBW was in shambles in 2008, just a year before the duo purchased it. The bank was under orders from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to cease operations due to inadequate capital reserves, high levels of unrecoverable loans and internal fraud. The couple not only transformed CBW but also made it a place of real innovation. In this course, Ramamurthi started his own Fintech Company – Yantra Technologies that specializes in software that can be used with the retail banking payment infrastructure. After several years of relentless efforts, Yantra built the next-gen platform that transformed and changed CBW’s old and rusty operations.

The Entrepreneur

N26 is a mobile banking start-up that was backed by PayPal founder, Peter Thiel. Having its headquarters in Berlin, Germany, this was a major step forward to replace brick and mortar banks in the European belt. Just one and half years into its operations, by June 2016, N26 had a user base of more than 200,000 customers in 8 European countries.

The Aviation Enthusiast

Venkat Rangan is the founder and CEO of Market Simplified Inc. Though Venkat is a technology enthusiast, he has great interest and passion for Aviation. He often flies a Cessna Sky Hawk 172. In 2005, Venkat started Market Simplified Inc. at a very humble set up in Mylapore, Chennai, India. Though it was a small setup, Venkat had already started on this journey towards his big dream to revolutionize banking and financial services for end customers through his venture. Later, we had a corporate office at the Times Square Building, NY right opposite NASDAQ.

Venkat Rangan

Venkat Rangan, Founder and CEO, Market Simplified Inc.

Our 5 Mile Journey

Market Simplified

Around 2005, there was a brokerage based in the US – TDAmeritrade, for whom we were trying to help connect to their customers digitally through the mobile platform. Yes, TDAmeritrade was our first customer when digital banking and digital stock trading was merely a dream for everyone. We made this dream a reality! From there, we have come a long way to become the world’s largest digital platform in banking and capital markets space.

We were also the first Fintech Company to adopt cloud based technology and our’s was the first commercial Fintech platform to be hosted on the cloud. Our cloud based mobile trading platform is actively used by 40+ financial institutions and 25+ million retail consumers across 12 countries with a throughput of more than $5 billion trades per day. After all these successful ventures, Amazon has quoted us a case study to sell their Amazon Cloud Services. When we asked Venkat – how he discovered cloud as a very time critical platform, he simply shrugs his shoulders and says, “necessity is the mother of all inventions” and walks off with a smile.

Today, Market Simplified is quietly celebrating 12 years of success with its main operations in Ascendas International Tech Park, Chennai, India along with a corporate office in Schaumburg, IL. We have clients across the globe. We have developed state-of-the-art banking and brokerage applications for many top players in the industry with all of them having excellent reviews in Google Play Store and Apple Store.

Market Simplified Clientele

Our Clientele

Earlier this year, we were also awarded the Deloitte technology fast 500 Award for our consistent growth and constant innovation in the Asia Pacific Region.

Our most recent success story is Kotak 811 which was developed to enable a complete digital customer on-boarding experience where customers can open a bank account within 5 minutes just using the app. This is the first time in India where a complete paperless on-boarding solution has been built and deployed for a bank. This has helped Kotak Mahindra Bank increase its customer base to 17 million since the release of Kotak 811 earlier this year.

Our constant pursuit to innovate and simplify finance has driven us to experiment with the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies as well. Our team has built ‘IAN – Intelligent Virtual Assistant’ that helps retail banks engage deeply with consumers through personalized and proactive services over natural voice-based conversations and chat messages. We have also extended this technology to IoT and here is our product demo featuring ‘banking with Alexa’. We are currently working towards building Digi 360 – a complete product suite for Community banks and Credit Unions in USA.

Ramamurthi, Peter and Venkat have all been instrumental in bringing to us – historical moments in the field of technology and innovation. Our learnings and findings from our past experiences are important to us as Fintechs.  There are no better examples than the ones mentioned above. We are still in this pursuit of change and betterment of financial services. As Venkat fondly says, this is our 5 mile journey from Mylapore to Taramani in these 12 years…

“We are witnessing the creative destruction of financial services, rearranging itself around the consumer. Who does this in the most relevant, exciting way using data and digital wins”
market simplified

Ascendas Office

About Market Simplified: Market Simplified is a thought leader in revolutionizing and digitizing products for financial institutions by continuously innovating and simplifying finance. We empower our customers with cutting edge digital experience that is highly personalized and enhanced for the end users with our ‘Experience Engineering’ platform driven by Analytics, AI, Machine Learning and Blockchain technologies. Our clientele includes industry leaders like OptionsXpress (Charles Schwab), Currenex (State Street), MB Trading, Maybank Kim Eng, Kotak Mahindra Bank, National Stock Exchange of India and many others across the globe.

About the author: Girijashankar is a Classical Carnatic Vocalist and teacher who loves to perform. He is also a voracious reader and prefers to read books on crime and mystery. He is currently working as a Business Development Executive in Market Simplified.

How important is it to know your customers?

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big data analyticsIt is so easy for customers to reject marketing contents that are uninteresting or irrelevant to them – Just a click and mailers are added to spam! How many of us have actually seen the ‘promotion’ tab in our own Gmail? If you have seen this tab, you will find hundreds of marketing emails which are sent on a regular basis. The minute we find that someone is trying to sell something; we rush to click the delete button. Don’t we always skip the ad in a YouTube video, when we have the choice to do so? Aren’t ads between interesting movies or TV shows, annoying? These days, customers DO NOT want to see contents that are forced on them.

What are the 2 approaches in marketing?

  • PUSH STRATEGY: This strategy involves taking the product to the customer via multiple means ensuring that the customer is aware of the brand at the point of purchase. Fliers, notices, cold calls and YouTube ads are all part of push strategy. Remember the annoying ads between our favourite TV shows?
  • PULL STRATEGY: A pull strategy involves motivating customers to seek out your brand in an active process. This can be achieved by creating rich content in social media, website and blogs where there is wide reach and prospective customers will get in touch with the company if they think that you have a solution that can solve their problems.

Push strategy in marketing is over! Marketers need to understand that trends have changed. Marketing is no longer about the company, products or its solutions. It is predominantly customer centric. Marketers need to identify the following – Who are our customers? What challenges do they face? How best will we be able to make a difference to them?

These days, customers are on the lookout for highly personalized and customized services that are designed to tackle their challenges. This is all the more important in banking and financial services. Financial institutions primarily deal with a wide array of products and services catering to different kinds of customers. It is very crucial to market products and services that are relevant to their customers and not just anything they have to offer.

Let us look at an example.

  • Scenario 1 – Richard, who has 5 Billion dollars in his bank account, gets a call from his bank asking if he would like to apply for a vehicular loan with low interest rates. This is absurd, right? Why will Richard want to apply for a vehicular loan considering his sound financial status? This is an example that shows how ignorant the bank is with regard to its customers.
  • Scenario 2 – Richard gets a call from his bank asking him if he would like a dedicated relationship manager to assist him in managing his finances and to give him a variety of investment options as he comes under the HNI category. This would be a better marketing call that is in line with Richard’s interest, isn’t it?

This is just one of the many instances where financial institutions can actually strike a chord with their customers by providing them with rich content through different media, including calls. It is evident from the 2nd scenario that the bank has done its homework before reaching out to Richard with its offering.

Before drafting a marketing content, it is essential to study the customer profiles and get all relevant information so that the solution can be tailored to their interests and priorities. This aspect is called the ‘Buyer Persona’- ‘A buyer persona tells us what prospective customers are thinking and doing as they weigh their options that address the problem.’  This helps influencing the customers’ decisions based on specific attitudes, concerns and criteria that drive the customers to choose a bank or any financial institution’s solution that best fits their goal.

How do we organize, study and take meaningful interpretations from this data? Big data and Analytics are quickly gaining importance. So, what is Big data? Big data is a massive storehouse of information. Analytics will help study historic data and past trends with which experts will be able to predict future trends of the market and industry by giving valuable insights. Combination of these 2 will yield great results for financial institutions. Predictive analytics and big data basically involve studies on customer behaviour, spending patterns, expense management, life style and other variables.

Knowing customer details – their interests, spending patterns, financial goals and personal details will enable financial institutions to devise products and services that will not just solve their problems but will also resonate with them and enable a long term relationship with their financial institutions. This is what will create true value for the customer as well as the financial institution. The process is very simple and will definitely change the way customers react to marketing content that is personal and valuable. This is what every customer wants and needs. It is high time that financial institutions resort to this technique and understand the importance of adding value to its customers.

About Market Simplified: Market Simplified is a thought leader in revolutionizing and digitizing products for financial institutions by continuously innovating and simplifying finance. We empower our customers with cutting edge digital experience that is highly personalized and enhanced for the end users with our ‘Experience Engineering’ platform driven by Analytics, AI, Machine Learning and Blockchain technologies. Our clientele includes industry leaders like OptionsXpress (Charles Schwab), Currenex (State Street), MB Trading, Maybank Kim Eng, Kotak Mahindra Bank, National Stock Exchange of India and many others across the globe.

About the Author: Girijashankar is a Classical Carnatic Vocalist and teacher who loves to perform. He is also a voracious reader and enjoys writing. He is currently working as a Business Development Executive in Market Simplified.

 

ShipIt – 24 Hours to turn Innovative Ideas into Real Solutions!

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At Market Simplified, ShipIt has been a customary event for the last 4 years where the employees form groups to come up with innovative business ideas and turn them into business solutions in just a day. About 15 teams participate in this ‘24 hour hackathon’ every year by presenting their solutions in front of a jury. The teams are ranked based on ship-ability, usefulness, solution’s ability to generate revenue, innovativeness and presentation skills. The event took place in February this year.

IMG_20170209_105033367-min

‘Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Chatbots’ are the most trending topics of discussion in the BFSI segment since the beginning of 2017. Keeping this in mind, most teams conceptualized their ideas based on AI and Chatbots. After the daylong event, the jury chose 4 winners.

Here are the most innovative and interesting ideas of this year’s ShipIt.

  • Friday (name inspired from Iron Man) is an all-powerful engine based on machine learning algorithms which when configured into any user’s mobile has the power to read, analyse, suggest and transform the banking app much more than anybody could ever think of. The key feature is that it has a behaviour tracker which suggests products to its customers based on the transactions made and type of products owned by the customer. This engine even works with low internet connectivity.
  • ‘Smart Wallet’ is a wallet that is based on credit mechanism. We have come across various digital wallets where we load money and use it for convenience in spending. Customers can use Smart Wallet just like credit cards. They can choose to pay back on a monthly basis and need not worry about loading money into their digital wallets.
  • Autobots is an AI-powered-suggestive-banking application and an automated support desk for customers and institutions. The chat application has the ability to login, show account overview, list term deposits available, show account balances, create fixed deposits and handle multiple accounts.
  • Knack is a Virtual-Assistant (VA) enabled solution that is aimed at providing hands-free banking experience to its customers. The VA is called Avatar that has the capability of responding to questions instantly (Not just banking related!). The solution is configured to work on multiple form factors.

ShipIt has and will continue to be a wonderful arena to explore and work on ideas based on technology innovations and turn them into real solutions. This is something we always look forward to!

About Market Simplified: Market Simplified is a thought leader in handcrafting custom solutions by continuously innovating and simplifying finance. We have maximized the revenues of industry leaders like OptionsXpress (Charles Schwab), Currenex (State Street), MB Trading, Maybank Kim Eng, Kotak Mahindra Bank and National Stock Exchange of India by providing enhanced and sustained user engagement through Experience Engineering.

About the author: Girijashankar is a Classical Carnatic Vocalist and teacher who loves to perform. He is also a voracious reader and prefers to read books on crime and mystery. He is currently working as a Business Development Executive in Market Simplified.

Beckoning Artificial Intelligence for Customer Services

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Artificial Intelligence (AI), chatbots, machine learning, virtual assistants and robots – All seem to be hot topics across industries ranging from health care to financial services. Many studies had revealed that ‘2017 will be the year of Artificial Intelligence, a market that could reach $47 Billion by 2020.’ All these studies suggest that AI is set out to make revolutionary changes across industries. This also suggests that all app based products are reaching maturity and AI is about take personalized digitization to a whole new level which will open a new horizon of opportunities.

Many tech giants and start-up firms have started making their own bots for financial institutions. These bots provide a variety of services to customers, right from banking, expense management and wealth management to wallet services.

Apart from these common tasks, chatbots and voice assistants have also started replacing physical Customer Service Centers (CSC) for banks and other financial institutions by reducing the cumbersome processes involved in running these services. I am saying cumbersome because, having a dedicated customer service center involves costs such as premises (infrastructure), office supplies, man power, training and many more. AI will definitely help in eliminating this difficulty, if not entirely, at least to a certain extent. On the other hand, chatbots and voice assistants will also be advantageous for customers since they will not have to call and hear an automated message, dial in the menu options and wait for God-knows-how-long before a customer executive (an actual person) speaks.

Though customer service centers can’t be entirely replaced by AI, a significant amount of common issues and their fixes can be handled by bots. This will help in reducing the burden of customer service executives to a large extent. Subsequently the centers will benefit by cutting down their expenses just by having a small setup to address customer queries that cannot be handled by AIs. This is just the beginning! We can never say for certain if AIs will ever have the capacity to reduce human dependency completely in the customer servicing front. Only time will tell!

Image Source: Internet

About Market Simplified: Market Simplified is a thought leader in handcrafting custom solutions by continuously innovating and simplifying finance. We have maximized the revenues of industry leaders like OptionsXpress (Charles Schwab), Currenex (State Street), MB Trading, Maybank Kim Eng, Kotak Mahindra Bank and National Stock Exchange of India by providing enhanced and sustained user engagement through Experience Engineering.

 About the author: Girijashankar is a Classical Carnatic Vocalist and teacher who loves to perform. He is also a voracious reader and prefers to read books on crime and mystery. He is currently working as a Business Development Executive in Market Simplified.

A DIPLOMAT’S VIEW ON LEADERSHIP

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It was a proud moment for all of us at Market Simplified, to be addressed by the British Deputy High Commissioner, His Excellency, Bharat Joshi. He was just 39 years of age when he joined as the British Ambassador. He is also the first Indian National to be the Ambassador for a foreign country. He is the person responsible for diplomatic missions in Southern India, which includes the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the union territory of Puducherry.

His Excellency, Bharat Joshi

He spoke to us on ‘Leadership and its principles’ and also made the session interactive by answering a few questions asked by our employees, in the end.

Usually, these are some of the words that come to our mind when we think of a leader- selfless, open-minded, a role model and a good-listener. Being a leader is an incredible task. It requires clarity of thought and ability to take quick yet effective decisions.

He believes that a leader needs to have, what he calls, the 4 Cs-Character, Conviction, Courage, and Culture.

  • CHARACTER A leader must have excellent character and the ability to inspire his followers. Having excellent character does not mean, being righteous and preachy. In this context, the character refers to being original and unique, which is why he said “Management is about having our own distinct style. Always be yourself.” In today’s context, an ideal leader always makes the working atmosphere relaxed and fun for his team members.
  • CONVICTION is otherwise referred to as ‘clarity of thought’. A leader must have full faith in the path he has chosen and should be able to see his destination clearly. He must also have complete awareness of the surroundings and should be willing to listen and take suggestions.
  • COURAGE According to him, a leader should be able to stand up for himself and for his team. He needs to have the courage to protect his staff and to take informed decisions after getting the opinions and criticisms of his team members. A good leader is always a good listener!
  • CULTURE is mainly to create an environment in the organization that makes working fun. This responsibility also lies with the leader. He should ensure that the members are not under stressful situations. The quality of work automatically improves when the work environment is stress-free.
bharat-3

His Excellency, interacting with our employees

This was followed by a brief Q &A. Some of the interesting questions that were asked are below.

‘How does leadership style change during a crisis?’

For this, he said that, during a crisis everyone needs direction. The leader needs to be quick in taking decisions and must try to exercise control over the situation, though there is very little control. He gave us an anecdote of the bombing of the British Consulate General, Istanbul in 2003 and shared the strategies that were taken to overcome the situation.

 ‘Are leaders born or made?’

In the words of His Excellency, “Leadership is a muscle. A lot of it is about self-belief. Anybody can be a leader.” Until we try to lead and take ownership, we will never learn to lead. That first step ‘to own’ is very crucial to be a leader. Leaders are self-made in most cases except in a few circumstances.

The session was very interesting and I am sure we will greatly benefit from this. We thank His Excellency, Bharat Joshi  for sparing his valuable time and sharing his thoughts.

bharat-2

About Market Simplified: Market Simplified is a thought leader in handcrafting custom solutions by continuously innovating and simplifying finance. We have maximized the revenues of industry leaders like OptionsXpress (Charles Schwab), Currenex (State Street), MB Trading, Maybank Kim Eng, Kotak Mahindra Bank and National Stock Exchange of India by providing enhanced and sustained user engagement through Experience Engineering.

 About the author: Girijashankar is a Classical Carnatic Vocalist and teacher who loves to perform. He is also a voracious reader and prefers to read books on crime and mystery. He is currently working as a Pre-sales Business Executive in Market Simplified.

DO WE HAVE THE POWER TO ACHIEVE ANYTHING?

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We were so glad to have Mr. Sekar Jagannathan address us on 13th October 2016 to share his thoughts on ‘clarity of thought and the power to achieve ones goal’. Most of us know that Mr Sekar is the CIO of EB Global JV, Malaysia. Well, not just that. He is also the founder of ‘7C Life,’ an organization dedicated to spreading awareness on ‘celebrating life’ and activating inner success mechanism and personal wellbeing through self-empowerment and meditation.

Mr. Sekar started his talk with a statement “All of us are spiritual beings having human experiences.” He went on to explain how all of us have a ‘self within’ which meant that we all thrive with a sense of possession at various levels.

For instance, we say, “MY book, MY life, MY family, and MY career,” so and so forth. What is this MY? Where is the mind that keeps saying “MINE”? This sense of possession comes from Knowledge.

“We all know what we know, from our experiences.” Experience comes from what we have tried earlier and/or from what society has taught us.

Here, Mr. Sekar gives an interesting analogy from the life of a baby in its early/ formative stages.

How does a baby say he is hungry when he can’t even talk? He cries and his mother tends to him. Does he know what milk is? Does he know if he will get it for sure? Does he know if it is warm or cold? All he knows is that he is hungry! So, how does the baby still succeed in getting what he wants? What is the need for the baby here in this case? His hunger! His hunger needs to be satiated. This is why knowing ones needs, is very important. In order to achieve what one wants, he/she must first know what he needs! In this case, the baby knows exactly what he needs.

As a baby, we have the ability to achieve anything. We are sleepy, we are put to sleep; we are dirty, we are cleaned up. The baby does not even say a word. All he does is cry to get the attention of his mother. The baby really does have the power to get what he wants, doesn’t he?

So what happens to us when we grow up? Have we lost this power in the process of growing up?

The answer is “No! We haven’t. We have just forgotten that we have this power.” How did this happen?

Knowledge! As we grew up, we were told what is right, what is wrong, what to do, what not do, where to go, where not to go, so on and so forth.

We started believing in certain things we were told, as truths. Mr. Sekar said, “Truth is what we believe!” For instance, we are told, “Do not play with fire!” This is plain truth. How do we know this for ourselves? Experience is the entity that adds to the truth. Burning our fingers strengthens the truth for us.

On the other hand, society is an all-powerful entity as well. They make the norms and dictate a certain code of conduct for us to live by! When we start following these norms, we lose our ability to actually realize our goals. Our goals invariably become what the society has dictated to us! For instance, I want to be an engineer, so that I can get a well-paying job and ultimately settle down in life. Having a professional degree is the key to embarking a solid career. So, merely settling down and having a solid career, is one’s goal? Isn’t there much more to life? As human beings, we are all different in so many levels. Even if someone is incredibly talented, let us say, in painting, he/she is trapped because of ‘societal pressure’ and end up letting go of their passions and only do what the so-called society has prescribed as ‘ideal.’ Society is actually driving who we should be! We have lost ourselves in this pursuit of mere knowledge.

Mr. Sekar addressing the crowd

Mr. Sekar addressing the crowd

Mr. Sekar gave an interesting comparison here. We are all like a library full of books, loaded with information. What are we achieving with this information by succumbing to societal pressures and needs? This is where “Wisdom” comes into the picture! We all have the same level of intellect and exposure to information. But, wisdom is what helps us differentiate between what we should and should not do.

Mr. Sekar further tells us how, in reality, knowledge limits our imagination in deciding what we want to be. It clouds our judgement by stopping us from having a free reign over our decisions. We are so used to the mediocrity that we limit ourselves within our cocoon, which is our comfort zone. Since our comfort zone is derived from all our experiences in the past, limiting our imagination.

Our human brain has the ability to achieve anything! So why limit ourselves? How can we overcome this hurdle? The answer is: step out of our comfort zone no matter how difficult it is and start thinking. This is where the power of thought comes into play. Mr. Sekar says that our ability to think is so powerful that it is capable of achieving the unthinkable. Our thoughts can actually translate into achieving our dreams. Constantly thinking about our goals and successful results has a direct impact in our universe. The cosmos enables us to achieve our goals!

You can’t just think about doing something and sit around waiting for it to happen on its own. You have to work hard to achieve your goal. It is the key to success! To sum it all up, imagination, the ability to think out of the box, visualization of our dreams and relentless hard work is what manifests into success.

We thank Mr. Sekar for meeting with us to share his thoughts. The session was extremely engaging and interesting. I’m sure many of us took back so many valuable insights from it.

About Market Simplified: Market Simplified is a thought leader in handcrafting custom solutions by continuously innovating and simplifying finance. We have maximized the revenues of industry leaders like OptionsXpress (Charles Schwab), Currenex (State Street), MB Trading, Maybank Kim Eng, Kotak Mahindra Bank and National Stock Exchange of India by providing enhanced and sustained user engagement through Experience Engineering.

About the author: Girijashankar is a Classical Carnatic Vocalist and teacher who loves to perform. He is also a voracious reader and prefers to read books on crime and mystery. He is currently working as a Pre sales Business Executive in Market Simplified.

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