The future is here: Our top 5 skills

The future is here: Our top 5 skills

By Ross Pickford (Head of People - Global Kinetic)

The pace of digitalisation has quickened during the course of the pandemic, and this level of change will undoubtedly boost competition and attract innovation. We expect the entry of new digital players to challenge the current status quo. It is an exciting time, especially so for software developers. There is so much potential to invent new ways of working, transform processes and make your mark by dramatically improving the customer experience.

The sky is the limit, except for one limitation – the lack of skilled and experienced people.

It's not just South Africa struggling with a skills deficit, there is a shortage of skilled developers worldwide, but it is a particularly acute issue for our country given the many years of underinvestment in education.

At Global Kinetic, we understand the environment we work in and the need to impact communities positively through our search for talent. It's why we partner with a local non-profit, youth-at-risk organisation, Life Choices, for our internship programme.

So far, our programme has enjoyed a 100% success rate, and it has taught us so much. This experience, along with our recruitment experience, provides us with valuable insights into the skills and characteristics required to create successful teams.

A team with the ability to build highly scalable enterprise-grade software systems requires a unique combination of skills and aptitude. Our customers depend on us to solve complex issues in the most efficient manner possible, and it is this ability that has created our reputation for excellence.  Through our years of experience and consistent reflection and improvement, we have identified the five key attributes that align with our business values, mission and purpose. These are skills we believe to be vital not just for today's work environment but for the future of work.

  1. Ability to understand and reduce complexity

Our managed enterprise services help organisations meet objectives that are often incredibly complex; therefore, the ability to understand and distill this complexity into simple terms through clear communication, using visual and collaborative tools, is crucial. It allows us to bridge cultural and even language barriers.

In an age where remote working is commonplace, we have to be mindful of communication styles that may not translate through electronic means as well as they might in person. We need team members with a high degree of emotional intelligence who are aware of the pitfalls of communication and are cautious about making assumptions. Reducing complexity in the business case is vital and reducing interpersonal complexity is equally as important, if not more so if we are to build exceptional teams that work to the common goal. Communicate progress and risks; reduce complexity.

  1. Team first

Team player is an over-used phrase, but working in teams and remotely from each other is set to become increasingly common across so many sectors. Our ethos is simple – we care for and support each other. It is our primary core value, one that we eat and breathe daily and we ensure that our teams practice it. We work together to deliver on agreed-upon goals; there is no space for heroes and cowboys. Each team member is highly skilled and brings their unique perspective to the project. A successful team member can look at the task at hand and set team and personal goals, communicate their status at any given moment, take accountability should a problem arise and ask for help if needed, and importantly, self-regulate to be able to deliver on their goals and the expectations of the team.

It has been a very challenging work environment throughout the pandemic, but even before the crisis, we learned the value of respect for each other in the workplace.  Everyone, even the most positive and energetic of people, can have a bad day. Respect and care are requirements when creating a quality team, and it has been indispensable during a major health crisis.

  1. Craftmanship

A passion to achieve and a desire to learn are essential. It's this passion that sets people apart from others and delivers results. Our work is focused on problem-solving, improving the situation for others, making other people's work environment more manageable, and contributing to their success. In our experience, candidates who have a hunger to do better and a desire to contribute regardless of their current skillset are usually the team members who tend to work consistently on a problem until it's solved. Their love for what they do, their craft, and their innate need to find ways to do things better each time is what is needed to produce a top-quality outcome. Their drive to achieve means that they will find their way around most obstacles and, in the process, push the rest of the team to this same level of craftsmanship.

  1. Diversity

Diversity in a team has become incredibly important due to the complexity of the environment; we've found that the higher levels of diversity within a team environment boost creativity and innovation by challenging groupthink and significantly improve output quality. Recruiting for the IT sector in South Africa, we've found that achieving gender diversity is not as easy as attaining racial or language diversity, and we actively search for female candidates for our developer roles. While we have been successful in achieving targets in this area, it is a lifelong strategy. We can always be more inclusive, find new ways to upskill and bring people of skill into our business, and by extension, the industry as a whole. The more diverse our makeup, the more diversity we can offer our clients and products in ideation, creativity, and perspective.

  1. Ability to embrace change

The ability to embrace change in a fast-paced, rapidly evolving environment promotes longevity and stability when so many are feeling uncertain and anxious. High levels of uncertainty can make decision-making incredibly challenging, but the projects we undertake require constant movement and progress. Remaining calm and stoic in chaos can help quell any upheaval and push the project along quickly.  To embrace change requires a good support network, a positive approach, flexibility and confidence.

A bonus skill

A candidate who possesses all five skills will be top of our list, but there is one more skill that excites us when we recognise it: the ability to know what you don't know. This is the person with that quiet confidence and humility, who understands what is needed to create excellence, who knows their limitation, takes accountability for any deficit, and who will make a plan to resolve any weakness. It is the openness to learning whatever skill is required to ensure the success of the project and a willingness to mentor other team members to help achieve project success that is often the difference between a great project outcome and an excellent project outcome. Their lack of ego and contribution to the team effort often has the ability to lift a project to the next level, and those are the results we want.

The Next Crypto Milestone - Capital Markets

The Next Crypto Milestone - Capital Markets

By Okker Botes - Data Architect, Global Kinetic

For those paying attention, we are watching the emergence of a new era for the global financial system.  Just as the power of the Internet slowly emerged in the 1990s and allowed the world to connect and interact in ways unimaginable before its existence, we are now witnessing the emergence of the ‘Internet of Money’, a phenomenon that will provide a network of roads for finance.

Decentralised finance, or DeFi, has significant potential to disrupt the financial system at an institutional investment level.

I feel privileged to be a witness to the institutional adoption of virtual currency.   Blockchain evangelists have talked about this moment for many years, and now we see it happening. Even more exciting is that I can be part of shaping this future.

Almost every day, leaders in crypto adoption, with a deep understanding of the market, try to sell the idea of a new financial system to incumbents and novices entering the crypto market.  It is a complex concept and there is a need to translate information into small chunks to help large financial institutions digest and understand.

Decentralised data exchange platform

There is an increasing focus on tokenisation, and we see the emergence of projects like Chainlink, a decentralised network of oracles that provide real-world data to blockchain networks.  A staking mechanism is used to guarantee the accuracy of the data they supply.

The ultimate vision, however, is to have a data exchange platform that is decentralised and open-source and not owned by any one entity.    The sharing of data can be monetised through non-fungible tokens (NFTs) which also act as the public-private key that can unlock the shared data.   To be clear, a NFT token is used to uniquely identify the data through a simple hashing algorithm so the shared data will not be public.   It's perfectly conceivable that this security NFT token could in itself be tradable as a right to access data and as a token of ownership.

Data Exchange Platform

Multiple stakeholders

In a platform like this, I envision multiple stakeholders such as Data Custodians, Data Stewards, Identity Holders and the Data-sharing Platform.  The guiding principle is that the Identity Holders have the sovereign right to allow or deny access to the data while getting paid for the use of that data.  The “all boats must rise” principle applies, where Data Custodians, Data Stewards and the operators of the network, as well as the Identity Holders, get their share of the valuable data that Identity Holders own but custodians can share. Such a platform aims to legitimize the trading of personal information which could include investment in institutional funds, transaction history and other key financial and personal data. This legitimisation can power a more sophisticated financial system with privacy at its core.

Integration of old and new

There is certainly value in the current financial system constructs, but I foresee a time when the blockchains and products currently in development can be leveraged by the existing financial rails and ultimately become the backbone of both the old and the new.  A key milestone in this journey will be integrating the traditional systems that drive the capital markets with the crypto world.  Integration will be a necessary step in the maturity ladder if institutions are to adopt crypto and ultimately help to build the future financial system, where blockchains become the ultimate custodian of the data.

In a future where the blockchain is the trading platform and the record of custodianship, it will not be necessary for any third party to calculate and read the transactions performed on a blockchain for a specific crypto wallet address and the real-world assets that a NFT represents.   Yes, I am sure that there is a market for sellable products for the safekeeping of cryptographic private keys, but in essence the value stored in the network is linked to a wallet and can be read by any system that can call a simple blockchain API.

The reality is that investors are not only interested in investing in Bitcoin but in the whole array of crypto products and other asset classes, some of which may have not even been developed yet.   With a data-sharing platform as described here, a new provider would register their available data and authorisation channels and consumers can scan these and use what they need.

To bring it back to the financial institution and incumbent’s business model - set data exchange platforms can create private channels of communication where multiple data custodians can interact with multiple data consumers.

As excited as I am to see how the adoption of crypto in the capital markets unfolds over the coming months and years, my hope is that there is synergy between the traditional and the new and that we can leverage the best of both worlds.