Lessons from “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Harari

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As I turned the pages of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, I came across a chapter where the author analyzes the reason behind the rise of European superpowers during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The Romans, Chinese, Persians and other Asian empires were convinced that they knew everything, with the effect that maps were drawn in such imaginary detail that you couldn’t see any empty spaces in them.

“...Unfamiliar areas were simply left out, or filled with imaginary monsters and wonders. These maps had no empty spaces. …

Voice technologies, Voice assistants & Voice as a Service

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I’ve seen a growing number of fintechs, banks, and other organizations set up innovation voice labs to experiment with voice-based technologies, be it in the fintech context, insurance context, retail context, healthcare context or n number of other fields.

Voice itself is an interesting channel? technology? commodity? medium?

Voice is being transformed into a variety of permutations and combinations, be it a virtual voice assistant integrated into your phone or laying slack on your bedside table that enables you to activate and access information on the fly, or as another channel to provide your content (podcasts, ads, information, guidance, touch-less support), or as a search mechanism (in addition to textual and image search). …

All about Payments, Fintech, Cards & Disruption

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As part of my new role in Cards and Payments innovation, I’ve taken the proverbial plunge to write more about insights in fintech, what’s trending in the market, long term opportunities I foresee and my outlook on all things disruptive.

I’m planning to make this a monthly newsletter to avoid bombarding our already packed mailboxes. However this monthly one-pager will provide you with a quick snapshot of the payments, cards and fintech market (with a few surprises hidden in there).

If you’re excited to read a few of my previous articles, do check them out here https://paymentsinno.substack.com/

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The news broke recently around Canada finally taking a firm conclusive stand to ban single-use plastics with an aim to eliminate the said plastic completely by the end of 2021.

This was already known to become an industry standard in the coming years, but with the onslaught of COVID and it’s indirect impact on the food, restaurant and packaging industry (and tangential industries such as face-masks, sanitizer and cleaning products), is Canada prepared to battle the fight against the all-pervasive plastic?

More specifically, what is banned?

A list of six items appears to be banned, which includes plastic grocery bags, stir sticks, six-pack rings, utensils, straws and some food-ware (take out containers) made of hard-to-recycle plastics. …

How to optimize your Capacity & be your own Chief Capacity Officer!

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LeanIn Canada, Toronto chapter, had it’s 2020 post-COVID kick-off event ‘Reboot Your 2020 Goals by Optimizing Your Capacity’ this evening with Melanie Sodtka, a truly inspirational speaker, creator and capacity creator who helps transform high achieving individuals from over-commitment and overwhelm to thrive in their current environments.

It was organized by some amazing set of volunteers, led by Torey Konecsni and KarenGeterdone (Karen Simpson). You can find more details about the team on our Lean In Canada, Toronto website.

Ethics in AI

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Technology needs to be ethical, or in more clearer terms, it needs to be used ethically. And ethics can mean a lot of different things — it can mean being transparent with how it’s used to solve a customer challenge, being able to explain and interpret the results and decisions made by that technology, being fair and unbiased in those decisions and also being accountable for the use of that said technology.

Why is regulatory compliance a elephant in the room for most organizations

By and large it depends on the context — the problem you’re trying to solve, and also how you’re solving that problem.

Where is the AI going to be used (context/industry/problem), and how it is going to be used (solution/usecase) is important in determining what kind of regulatory compliance and scrutiny your product/service needs. …

by Building your Personal Brand

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Me at a panel discussion at the Annual IIF (Institute of International Finance) conference

This article is for all my friends and acquaintances, co-workers and aspiring product managers, mentees and anyone else who has ever asked me —

“How do you get your speaking engagements?”

— with the implicit inquiry around how can they get the same.

What people don’t realize is that to get invitations to speaking engagements or to sit at panel discussions or to get requests for interviews does not happen overnight (Disclaimer — I’m not tooting my own horn here; I’m not even a tiny speck amongst the people who earn serious money out of these engagements or get invited to the most talked-about events & conferences in the country). …

Subtle trends in the market

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Some of the trends that I’ve seen in the market in the last few years, especially a few that have picked up scale during this global #covid19 crisis —

#1 Contact-less & touch-less payments

We’re already seeing a hockey-stick surge in e-commerce as big and small stores, shops and even medical services pivot to digital-led capabilities including tele-health consultations, curbside pickup and touch-less payments.

All forms of digital commerce and payments will be incorporated within the ecosystem of small, medium and large businesses and there will be an active use of digital for services that were traditionally delivered via face to face interactions (eg. …

The Duality of Using AI in an Ethical & Human-Centric Way

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In the times of crisis and disaster management of 2020, how did innovative technologies such as AI hold up?

There were many real world examples of machine learning helping with diagnosing COVID-19 infections, predicting the inception and spread of the virus or speeding up drug research. However among many wins, there was hesitation and mental barrier to using AI and experimenting during this time of critical decision making.

Secondly, was the use of AI ethical and conscious during this pandemic? …

How banks and financial institutions adapted to the global crisis

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Below is a message from one of our executive leaders around how we as a company, as a bank, pivoted and re-prioritized in the wake of COVID19.

…Quickly pivoted in order to enable 95% of our Operations and Contact Centre teams to work remotely, and how well we executed the changes to our regional banking branch footprint.

Our outlook on how we work and how we connect with clients has changed.

We’ve had to flex our working model and it’s shown us what’s possible — not that we’d ever move to a predominantly remote model under normal circumstances — but we’ve seen that we can move faster and that being physically close doesn’t need to define our way of working. …


Swapna M

Product Lead @RBC | #Fintech #Innovation #Payments #AI | Previously Head of Product @ Klood, @Scholastic, @Accenture | https://www.swapnamalekar.com/

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