Fintech, or financial technology, is the utilisation of digital technologies or software, like algorithms and automation, to advance activities in financial operations. Fintech can be applied to, and has uses in, wealth management, lending and borrowing, transfers, payments, and the development of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Litecoin.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the study and creation of intelligent machines that are programmed to react or complete tasks like a human. AI is widely seen today across voice search and recognition, digital assistants, and partially autonomous vehicles.
AI has foundations in mathematics, logic, probability, linguistics and neuroscience, and includes computer vision, machine learning, robotics and natural language processing.
The future of AI is ambiguous, subject to huge expansion, and ever-changing. A popular theory is the idea of AI singularity, whereby AI is created to self-improve. If this were to happen, it would be hard to predict the future of AI because there may be a never-ending cycle of AI self-improvement.
Machine learning is a sub-field of artificial intelligence. It involves programming a machine to progressively learn from data in order to classify and predict non-linear functions and models, identify patterns, and make decisions with little human intervention. Machine learning often achieves greater accuracy than more traditional statistical methods. Some of the currently popular methods of machine learning include Neural Networks and Boosted Decision Trees, and Support Vector Machines, each carrying their own benefits and drawbacks.
As an example, machine learning is highly relevant to the finance industry because financial transactions carry a large volume of data. Machine learning offers reduced operational costs due to automation, as well as improved productivity and user experience.
A cryptocurrency is a decentralised digital currency which is highly encrypted for use in financial transactions. After confirmation, cryptocurrency transactions are irreversible, with accounts remaining anonymous from their users.
Possibly the most notable cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was invented in 2008 and uses Blockchain technology as a digital ledger for its transactions.
Blockchain technology is an incorruptible, cryptographic network designed to provide a record of economic transactions. Originally implemented as a core component for the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, it is non-centralised, does not exist at one specific location, and operates on a user-to-user basis. Blockchain is designed to be resistant to hacking because there is no centralised version and is hosted simultaneously by millions of computers.
Blockchain is, therefore, highly applicable to finance and businesses because data is encrypted and it can store and update large quantities of information. Blockchain could advance businesses by improving the management of data, enhancing real-time data quality and reporting, as well as contributing to sustainability and transparency.
The future of blockchain could have many uses including, but not limited to, crowdfunding, anti-money laundering, stock trading, and governance.
Big data is a term that can be used to describe complex and large datasets which cannot be managed with traditional technologies. Big data can come from many different sources including, but not limited to, business transactions, customer databases and social networks.
It can be analysed or mined with machine learning to reveal trends related to human behaviour and can, therefore, influence business decision making and vastly improve the ways that businesses and communities act on a larger scale.
Intrapreneurship can be described as the term for a person who behaves and thinks like an entrepreneur while working within a larger organisation. Intrapreneurs are usually motivated, aspirational and forward thinking, therefore having access to more resources and a lesser burden of risk. However, the financial rewards, successes or failures are recognised as belonging to the organisation as a whole rather than to the individual.
Disruptive innovation is understood as business innovation that significantly disrupts the way a marketplace or industry functions, including the displacement of leading firms or products. Well known firms Uber and Airbnb are thought to be disruptive innovators in their field, fundamentally changing how each marketplace delivers a service.
Risk management is the evaluation of future risk that could arise from societal, environmental or operational factors. Risk is forecasted and steps are taken to control or mitigate this risk, followed closely by ongoing monitoring. Risks are necessary for growth and development in both society and businesses alike, but they need to be managed properly in order to maximise their potential and minimise their threat to valuable assets.
Entrepreneurship is the act of taking on financial risk to set up a business venture in order to generate a profit. Entrepreneurs identify new ways to solve certain business problems and start a venture to add value to or fill the gaps within an existing market. Entrepreneurs are thought to be innovative, willing and determined to achieve their business goals, often starting out with small yet ambitious ideas that are to be scaled up into larger business models, embracing change and perseverance to succeed. Well-known entrepreneur Bill Gates offers a great example of entrepreneurship: his initial small-scale business idea of the modern computer has become pivotal to contemporary life.
Digital transformation is a broad term that includes the holistic transformation and integration of digital technologies into a business. It is the reimagination of all areas of business which often impact each other and come together to create an efficient digital operation which alters attitudes, behaviours and habits. Digital transformation harnesses unique approaches to how businesses adopt new technologies and how they adapt to using them. Digital advances that businesses are adopting include cloud technology, which is allowing businesses to add a layer of digital infrastructure to their operations. Employees, therefore, may need to familiarise themselves with these new programs and technologies.
Design thinking is a process whereby businesses primarily consider the needs and desires of the customer in designing new products and services. It is an ability to empathise with the consumer, making decisions about their product and service offerings based on big data in a contextual way to understand how the consumer makes decisions.
Business model innovation
Business model innovation can be understood as the remodelling of a business’ organisational activities to understand its potential for value creation, delivery and capture. The adoption of new technologies, including digital transformation, can lead to increased efficiency and create new opportunities for businesses in technological advancements. However, the study of business model innovation lacks empiricism, and therefore, there is no general consensus on the definition.
Innovation can be thought of as the implementation or execution of a creative, organic and new idea. For businesses, this means turning an idea into a solution that adds value to customers and shareholders. Innovation often creates new markets or radically changes an existing one, which is known as disruptive innovation. Businesses use innovation to stay relevant and create bigger opportunities that are incremental to business survival and economic growth.
Digital strategy is thought to be a business plan for maximising assets, performance and creating competitive advantages for itself through the use of digital technologies. While closely related to digital transformation, the two differ because strategy focuses on business models and technology needed to improve an organisation, whereas transformation is related to cultural changes across the entire organisation. Digital strategies are multi-faceted and present different challenges to both legacy companies and start-ups.
Organisational behaviour is an academic business theory that analyses how different people work and behave in organisations. This includes looking at human processes, how people influence others in a business, group dynamics, and the way a business interacts with an individual. The findings of organisational behaviour are often applied to businesses to help them operate more efficiently.