News

Blanc Labs launches Digital Academy in Colombia    

Digital Academy logo

Toronto, ON – April 19, 2022. Blanc Labs Inc. launches Digital Academy, a unique program designed to empower university students with learning of emerging technologies while still in their education journey. Students enrolled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics university degree programs, will have the opportunity to join Bootcamp-style hands-on learning that prepares them for a forward-looking career in a global innovative technology landscape.   

With operations in Canada, US, Colombia, and Argentina, Blanc Labs plans to open the door to new entrepreneurial minds and build communities of practice in emerging technologies, FinTech and HealthTech. Blanc Labs has chosen Bogota, Colombia to launch its first training and development community and plans to expand the Digital Academy initiative into other countries in the LATAM region.     

 ” We are excited about the launch of Digital Academy. Our Digital Academy team works closely with our Innovation Studios to ensure associates in the academy program will get world-class training and hands-on experience in the latest emerging tech. Bogota is a globally recognized hub for exceptional technical talent and expertise. We are committed to investing in the growth of our future talent in South America.”  said Hamid Akbari, CEO & President of Blanc Labs.       

In alignment with Blanc Lab’s vision of accelerating digital innovation and creating a global force of innovative change, the Digital Academy program offers a distinctive approach to developing talents and creating a gateway to the global digital economy.     

“Learning a variety of emerging technologies, combined with exposure to the real-life industry challenges, will enable Digital Academy Associates to thrive in their hands-on learning journey and professional career development. In alignment with Innovation Studios objectives, Digital Academy will revolutionize early-stage talent development at Blanc Labs and will strengthen our talent base globally” said Peyman Parsi, Chief Technology Officer at Blanc Labs.      

After completion of the program, Associates will receive the Digital Academy certification and a select group of the graduates will have an opportunity to join the Blanc Labs international team.   

Digital Academy showcases Blanc Labs’ commitment to social responsibility, education, and empowerment in Latin America. The program inspires students to develop their skillsets, advance in their careers, and prepare for the dynamic and constantly evolving technology landscape.    

The application process for the 2022 cohort is available now. Accelerate your learning and career development with Blanc Labs’ Digital Academy and visit our website to apply:  https://blanclabs.com/join-our-team-digital-academy/  

About Blanc Labs     

Blanc Labs is a preferred partner for enterprises looking to digitize and build the next generation of technology products and services. To help companies rapidly deliver on their digital initiatives, Blanc Labs has developed expertise and bespoke solutions in a wide variety of applications in the financial services, healthcare, enterprise productivity and customer experience. Headquartered in Toronto, Blanc Labs serves the Americas through operations in Toronto, New York, Bogota and Buenos Aires. For more information on how Blanc Labs is building a better future, visit www.blanclabs.com.     

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Blanc Labs lanza Digital Academy en Colombia     

Toronto, ON – Abril 19, 2022. Blanc Labs Inc. lanza Digital Academy, un programa único diseñado para estudiantes universitarios donde podrán fortalecer el aprendizaje de tecnologías emergentes a medida que avanzan en su carrera profesional. Los estudiantes inscritos en programas universitarios relacionados con ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas tendrán la oportunidad de unirse a entrenamientos y talleres prácticos que los prepararán para una carrera exitosa en el actual panorama de innovación y tecnología a nivel global. 

Con operaciones en Canadá, Estados Unidos, Colombia y Argentina, Blanc Labs planea abrir la puerta a nuevos emprendedores y construir comunidades de práctica en tecnologías emergentes, FinTech y HealthTech. Blanc Labs eligió a Bogotá, Colombia, para lanzar su primera comunidad de capacitación y desarrollo y planea expandir la iniciativa de Digital Academy a otros países de América Latina y el Caribe.  

 “Estamos entusiasmados con el lanzamiento de Digital Academy. Nuestro equipo trabaja de la mano con los Innovation Studios de Blanc Labs para garantizar que los estudiantes reciban una formación de primer nivel, así como experiencia práctica en tecnologías emergentes. Bogotá es mundialmente reconocido como un centro de experiencia y talento técnico excepcional. Estamos comprometidos con el crecimiento de los futuros talentos en América del Sur”. dijo Hamid Akbari, CEO y presidente de Blanc Labs. 

Como parte de la visión de Blanc Labs de acelerar la innovación digital y crear una fuerza global de cambio innovador, el programa Digital Academy ofrece un enfoque único para desarrollar talentos y crear una puerta de entrada a la economía digital global. 

“El aprendizaje de una variedad de tecnologías emergentes, combinado con la exposición a los desafíos actuales en la industria, permitirá a los Associates de Digital Academy avanzar en una travesía de aprendizaje que fortalece el desarrollo de su carrera profesional. Siguiendo los objetivos de nuestros Innovation Studios, Digital Academy revolucionará el desarrollo de talento en Blanc Labs y fortalecerá nuestra comunidad a nivel mundial”, dijo Peyman Parsi, director de tecnología de Blanc Labs. 

Después de completar el programa, los estudiantes recibirán certificaciones de Digital Academy y un grupo selecto de participantes tendrá la oportunidad de unirse al equipo internacional de Blanc Labs. 

Digital Academy representa el compromiso de Blanc Labs con la responsabilidad social, la educación y el empoderamiento en América Latina. El programa inspira a los estudiantes a desarrollar sus habilidades, avanzar en sus carreras y prepararse para el panorama dinámico y en constante evolución en la industria de la tecnología.  

La convocatoria para el 2022 ya está disponible. ¡Fortalece tu conocimiento y desarrollo profesional en tecnología con Blanc Labs y Digital Academy! Para más información visita la página web: https://blanclabs.com/digital-academy-es/  

Acerca de Blanc Labs 

Blanc Labs es un aliado de negocios para las empresas que buscan digitalizarse y construir la próxima generación de productos y servicios tecnológicos. Para ayudar a las empresas a cumplir rápidamente con sus iniciativas digitales, Blanc Labs ofrece su experiencia y un amplio portafolio de soluciones y aplicaciones en servicios financieros, atención médica, productividad empresarial y experiencia del cliente. Con sede en Toronto, Canadá, Blanc Labs ofrece hoy sus servicios para el continente americano desde sus oficinas en Toronto, Nueva York, Bogotá y Buenos Aires. Para obtener más información sobre cómo Blanc Labs está construyendo un mejor futuro, visite www.blanclabs.com.  

Articles

Mastering Quality Assurance

As the famous Japanese proverb states, “Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” I was raised by a great teacher. My father taught primary school for 25 years and was truly beloved by his students. There is dedication, responsibility, and a focus on details in everything he does. It isn’t surprising that it is these qualities that has made me successful in my life. I’m Pooja Bhandarkar, Team Lead, Quality Assurance at Blanc Labs and this is my story.

Quality Assurance Team Lead at Blanc Labs

I grew up in a small town in the Southern part of India, called Udupi. Today, Udupi is a thriving metropolis known for its trademark cuisine, educational institutions and historical sites. When I was growing up, it still had the charm of a small town and provided the perfect environment for my childhood.

The focus at our home was heavily on academics. My father would tell me to study, get a degree and then chase my goals. I realized very early on that I wanted to be an engineer one day. The action of putting together various elements to create a complete entity was fascinating to me.

My introduction to Quality Assurance

After graduating with a degree in computer science engineering at PES University, an institution on the forefront of technology education and research, I worked as a Quality Assurance (QA) Specialist for a company in India. The role of a QA specialist is to ensure that the product, at every stage of its development and presentation to the client complies with the company’s quality standards. I found myself adept at finding as many issues in the product as possible and it gave me tremendous satisfaction in knowing that my review helped my team succeed in delivering the best viable product to the client.

After four years of being a QA Specialist in India, I made the bold and exciting move of immigrating to Canada. This transition was not entirely seamless. Navigating the job market was challenging for a new entrant such as myself – the cultural nuances through the interview process in itself was a factor. But in November 2019, I found Blanc Labs and joined the team. I was drawn to the sector and the tech mindset, which was very forward thinking. I had never been in such an agile company going through a rapid scale up before. The entrepreneurial culture imparted a growth mindset in me, and I was excited to explore that, and the ability to create more impact on the overall performance of the company.  

Exciting new challenges

Taking a deeper dive into my responsibilities as QA Specialist, I had to check the application (built by the developers) against the client’s requirements (provided to me by the business analyst), ensuring there are no gaps/issues with functionality built. Though this seems straight forward, at the time, the developer to QA ratio was 10:1 (a more normalized number being 3:1). In addition, I had to learn the commercial lending process and delivery quality very quickly.

Always the eager student, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about the requirements, the stories, the questions, and the testing at very sprint. I am proud to say we saw no delays on any projects or deliveries.

The other challenge that I faced was my perception of the client. I’d always been taught to see the client as an entity that is superior to the company I represented. Their word was law and their needs and wants superseded my opinions. At Blanc Labs, we are completely collaborative with our clients in every project. My manager and mentor taught me that hierarchy should never get in the way of project delivery and success. Our clients are open and receptive to our insights and with that, I have been able to partner with them more effectively.

What does it take to succeed?

Today, I am proud to share I have grown to lead a team of QA Specialists. When I think about what it takes to be effective at what I do, it boils down to these things:

  • Become an eternal student: You have to understand the goal and recognize the outcome. You have to know the application in and which helps the process easier.
  • Stay focused: The quality of an application depends on you and so you need to be attentive to find every issue/ gap and ensure that the product is functioning and delivering in the way the client requires.
  • Agile delivery: With agile, QA is brought in early in the process to uncover any gaps, adding more focus to more effective delivery.
  • Demonstrate leadership: Irrespective of whether I was an individual contributor, or now, where I lead a team of QA specialists, I always take a leadership approach by establishing a foundation of standard practices across all projects, and encouraging those around me to learn and adapt to new tools, for example, to focus more on automation testing, which helps to improve test coverage.

I feel at home at Blanc Labs. Here, I am encouraged to learn, grow, and pursue new levels of excellence every day. Leadership has been instrumental as they have nurtured me to rise to new heights and for that, I am grateful. When I think about the success in my career, I go back to the three values that I admired in my father: dedication, responsibility, and focus. I realize that life has come full circle and I carry on the legacy of his work in everything I do and every frontier I choose to explore.

To learn more about the values with which we are growing our team, please explore our mission and vision.

Articles

Classification: The First Step in The Art of Speed Reading

Have you ever wondered how search engines and email accounts are able to provide suggestions to complete a sentence while you’re typing it? Have you ever been curious about how your Gmail account knows how to classify your emails under the Primary, Social and Promotion tabs? How does Siri, Alexa, Echo or Cortana know to play a song when you ask it? The answer is deep learning, and as part of a series on the subject, we’re about to give you a sneak peek at the first part of this story: Classification.

Natural Language Processing

The world is building a solid foundation of machine learning (ML) into various sectors, functions, and tasks in our everyday lives. There is a myriad of components that one may delve into when exploring ML but an area that we engage in extensively and is getting increasingly interesting, is deep learning applied to document and data capture or Intelligent Document Processing (IDP).

The ABCs of IDP

Let’s start with the basics: According to Bernard Marr at Forbes, “Deep learning is a subset of machine learning where artificial neural networks, algorithms inspired by the human brain, learn from large amounts of data.” IDP involves the capturing, extracting and processing of data from a variety of document types.

Now what’s so “exciting” about document and data capture? There are two types of documents from which you’d capture data: Structured and Unstructured documents.

  • Structured: These are standard forms (ex: government forms) that have specific and unaltered fields and patterns of information.
  • Unstructured: These are documents that don’t have any universal pattern. For this article, letters of employment would be good examples. Companies draft them in different formats and with different lengths (and cadence).

And with that established, lets delve into the two stages of how data is captured:

  • Classification: Examining and defining a document
  • Extraction: Capturing and recording key data from a document that has already been classified

There are two ways in which documents may be categorized: image processing and Natural Language Processing (NLP).

The Art of Image Processing

Here is an instance where machine learning models are trained to look at a document and understand the pattern of what it sees. It isn’t ‘reading’ the document but uses Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) to identify patterns within an image, which in turn informs its classification. We found this works well for more structured documents where patterns are identical while the content may be varied. However, where we came into a few issues was the ability to scale the process.

Why?

When you train a machine to resolve categorisation, through the image approach, you are identifying objects specifically. However, forms don’t possess visual features for image processing. Every time we had to retrain a new document type, it would need to be trained from scratch with new data. This took days and weeks. In addition, we started to work with unstructured documents and found that we needed a new solution to effectively categorize them faster.

Enter: Natural Language Processing

With NLP, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and LTSM (long term short memory) networks are used to extract words, run analysis (determining the context of the words), and then classify the documents. Unlike image processing, NLP, along with transformer models considers the relationship between all the words in a sentence and determines the weight of each word to interpret its meaning. This reduces the training time for every new document introduced, making the entire process faster.

Where new document types may take a week to train the machine to classify using image processing, NLP does it in mere seconds.

Setting up for success

There are two things to consider when one starts a project with NLP to make the process easier:

  • Determine goals: What information are you capturing and why. And what type of documents will be required to process?
  • Organize data collection: Maintain the quality of data by building workflows or processes that support consistent quality of information and documents collected.

The Journey Ahead

When you look at algorithms, sentiment analysis and the capacity of machine learning to evolve its capabilities, the term ‘speed reading’ really is taken to a whole new level. Our story doesn’t end here. It is just the beginning; It’s an evolving journey of discoveries and we look forward to exploring other dimensions of our realizations, including our next chapter exploring extraction, with you very soon!

Explore Kapti, our intelligent document processing software to find out how the power of machine learning and automated document workflows can transform your organization’s loan processing experience.

News Webinars

The Evolution of Leadership & Empowerment

In celebration of International Women's Day 2022, industry leaders explored the critical ways in which the role of women has evolved and tools for success and empowerment as we navigate through new frontiers in leadership.

Articles

The Human Effects of Hyperautomation. Redefining processes and business models

The world around us has changed faster in the past two years than in any other era in our collective lives and will most likely continue to evolve at the same pace or faster in the coming years. What was once considered ‘business as usual’ no longer exists, with the rapid pace of technology advancement, global forces including climate change, viral diseases and even political unrest causing unprecedented turmoil and opportunity for society and businesses alike.

Now more than ever the phrase “amid chaos lies opportunity” should be resonating with business leaders.  This is not a time to hesitate but rather a time to adapt and move swiftly. The world has changed and those who can adjust quickly will come out on the other side stronger and with a greater market share. Herein lies tremendous opportunities.

According to the 2021 Gartner Board of Directors Survey, “69% of boards accelerated their digital business initiatives in the wake of COVID-19 disruption. Almost half anticipate changing their organizations’ business model as a result of the pandemic.” We live and breathe in a digital world. To stay ahead of the competition, serve our customers better and in the way they want, to grow market share while moving faster and more efficiently, companies must look to technology for assistance.

Robotic Process Automation is dead, long live Hyperautomation.

I say this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.  Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the automating of simple, rule-based tasks, and is an excellent starting point in digital transformation. However, as many companies start down the path of transformation, they soon find that they need more than just the automating of tasks; they need to be able to make sense of all the data that they have accumulated and have stored in dispirited backends and repositories.

Hyperautomation is a revolutionary approach to maximize the benefit of digital transformation to enterprises.” Hyperautomation is the application of advanced technologies such as RPA, Artificial Intelligence, (AI) Machine Learning (ML), and Process Mining to augment and automate processes, enhance the use of analytics in ways that are more impactful than traditional automation.”

Keep in mind that Hyperautomation is not just the bringing together of several technologies; it is the reimagining and redesigning of the entire business model. It is a continuous effort redefining the value you are bringing to your end user and redefining the business models that support those initiatives. In addition, according to Forbes, “Every day we create roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, and that number is growing at an exponential pace.” By applying technology to help you make sense of all your accumulated data you can make impactful and insightful business decisions.

Stakeholders in the Hyperautomation Journey

Reimagine engagement with both your internal and external customers. Your internal customer is the talent in your teams that help you engage with your external customers either directly or indirectly. They are the people you want to help by freeing up their time from mundane and repetitive tasks so that they can apply their creativity and insight to more high-value work. This is the core premise of the ‘digital workforce’. The common definition of a digital workforce is digital tools and technologies that enable your teams to work smarter. They are not encumbered by an office or legacy systems to accomplish their tasks and goals. Providing talent with a digital workforce that can work alongside them doing the tasks of copying and pasting data from one repository to another, as an example, will free them up and improve their productivity and morale. 

Managing business processes old school—manually and email-based—can make tracing key information difficult. Executed well, the deployment of a digital workforce should result in humans refocusing their available time to pursue innovative growth strategies and finding new ways to improve the external customer experience.

As for the external customer, the journey has and continues to change at a dramatic pace. If we look at our world today, smartphones grant us access to information, forge connections and transact at the palm of our hands, live streaming has opened up our world of consuming content, crowdsourced GPS provides the fastest way for us to reach our destinations, ride sharing has transformed transportation (as will large scale adoption of self-driving technology), short term rentals have disrupted the way we plan travel – and the list goes on. The commonalities in all these examples are the instant gratification and personalization that they provide. Thanks to digital-native companies, customer expectations have changed too. Customers expect to engage with you seamlessly, with speed and simplicity.  They demand a highly personalized experience and interaction with proactive recommendations and offers. If your legacy processes cannot provide that experience promptly, you run the risk of losing that customer to a savvier competitor.

Hyperautomation can enable that level of personalization by predicting customer needs and accommodate the instant gratification of information and service through prescriptive engagement – all powered by artificial intelligence.

Where to next?

It isn’t enough to simply automate existing processes. Look at that big picture and long-term view and think about how automation (today) and hyperautomation (soon after) is going to transform your business. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What am I trying to automate?
  • What types of data do I need to use today and what would I need for decision making in the future?
  • Can I reimagine my business model with hyperautomation in mind? What is that vision?

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions and are on your way to creating that redefined business model, begin layering automation onto it and then introduce the concept of hyperautomation to the plan. With this long-term view, you will create additional value in your customer base and with your teams. This isn’t just about updating a legacy system; it’s about redefining and evolving your business to stay ahead of the curve.

Hyperautomation in the path ahead

Each year brings with it new market opportunities and scope for growth. The goal of every forward-thinking leader will always be to find ways to empower their talent and enhance the customer journey of their products and services with the mission of sustainable growth. Adding Hyperautomation with ML and AI to the right processes connects disparate data sets, eliminates inefficiencies, lowers lead times, reduces process times, provides greater customer insights and experiences, and results in more empowered and productive team for that brighter future.

We think it’s time to get rid of the swivel chair. Let’s talk about how we can help you on your automation journey. Explore our experience with enterprise automation and let’s accelerate your organization on its digital path.

Webinars

Decanting Digital Transformation with Equitable Bank

Blanc Labs hosts a fireside chat with Dan Broten, CTO of Equitable Bank, exploring topics of digital transformation, the future of banking and the secret sauce that led to EQ Bank, powered by Equitable Bank being named the No. 1 Bank in Canada on the Forbes list of World's Best Banks 2021.

Speakers at the session included Dan Broten, CTO, Equitable Bank and Arash Barol, VP of Delivery, Blanc Labs. This session was moderated by Dariush Zomorrodi, Chief Innovation Officer, Blanc Labs.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • The definition of digital transformation
  • The importance of talent and corporate culture in enabling transformation
  • The Impact of partnerships in the financial services ecosystem
  • Digital identities in Canada
  • The future of Banking as a Service and the financial services ecosystem
  • How banks are going to build technology in the future

View webinar recording

Please provide your name and email below.

Articles

Breaking barriers and finding my voice through opportunity

This is my story of courage; a story about boldly journeying towards unknown horizons, a quest to find one’s voice, the never-ending thirst for knowledge and growth. This is the story of how I began my career and grew into my role as Senior Software Engineer at Blanc Labs.

I grew up in Charallave, Venezuela, a city in the outskirts of Caracas. My mother was determined that I received the very best education and moved the family to Caracas to make it possible for me to attend university. It was after our move and when I was in university in a computer science program that I made the first promising steps towards building my career.

The first meeting

I had heard of Blanc Labs through friends. They recommended the company to me and spoke about the culture and the prospects of learning more and growing my career. I decided to take the cautious route of connecting with the head-hunter hiring for the company on LinkedIn in the hopes that it may lead to something positive. My instincts rang true, and I very soon received an invitation to interview with the company.

For someone who was still seeking my voice, my source of confidence, I walked into the interview gripped with insecurity and apprehension, hoping my abilities matched up in this corporate world yet excited at the prospects of working for a Canadian company with the opportunity to grow and of course, practice my English! My interviewer immediately set me at ease and I was able to sail through the technically focused assessment. This felt right. It seemed like Blanc Labs was going to be a good fit for me. Two interviews later, in August 2017, I joined the team as a junior software engineer.

When I think about the experience of being interviewed at the company, there were 5 things that I would recommend to anyone looking to begin their career in technology:

  1. If you’re still in university, apply for internships and get real world experience
  2. Focus on courses where you can enhance your technical skills
  3. Research the company, the industry and the basics in technology
  4. Work on your communication skills – there’s no point knowing things if you can’t effectively communicate them
  5. Develop an openness to learn and a curiosity about those things that you don’t already know

Hello Blanc Labs!

From almost the very beginning, I was given opportunities to execute on projects and to present the results to members of the leadership team of the company, which I admit, was nerve wrecking. Breaking those barriers was important. I was not sure of anything but I was learning a lot and that truly built my confidence. Blanc Labs has been so empowering for me: the learning, the certifications, the opportunity to work with clients, the teamwork – my work family really.

As my projects progressed, I found that I enjoyed being more involved – playing a role in the decision-making process in the architectural discussions with the client. I am usually a shy person, but when I am at work, I am someone else entirely. I have the urge to communicate my thoughts and to debate them with my team. It is this empowerment that inspires me to grow further.

The reason for my drive

The pride for my work is marked by my ability to make a difference. I think what we do is useful for the world, and we are changing how people do things. That is very powerful, and I appreciate that I am a part of it – that I am contributing to it.

My core values span responsibility and respect and that translates in everything I do and the goals that I set out to accomplish. My inspiration? Family. My mother is the person I admire the most in this world. Working to make a beautiful life for her is what drives me. When I work and when I speak to my clients about solutions, the feeling that I can do more pushes me to grow further – that is how it all comes together.

My growth at Blanc Labs is attributed to the very same things that made me successful in my interview: communication skills, curiosity and the willingness to learn and apply that knowledge.

Adventures in travel

My journey at Blanc Labs led to a visit to the Canadian office, which had very memorable moments. I always thought I was fairly soft spoken. I think in LATAM, we speak in much louder tones compared to my fellow Canadian team members. I walked into the office and went around saying ‘Hi!’, in what I thought was a regular tone, but everyone seemed to almost whisper back. It was at that moment that I realized – maybe I had a loud voice! I’m not sure if everyone noticed, but it was really funny!

In LATAM, we greet each other with hugs (pre pandemic of course), but in Toronto, I had no idea what protocol was, so I started to do this awkward wave versus reaching over for a hug because I didn’t know how people said “hi” in Canada. I still chuckle at the vision of myself emphatically waving ‘the Canadian wave’.

Canada would not be the only place I would travel to with Blanc Labs. As the company evolved, I found myself to be the sole team member in Venezuela. I remember an eventful meeting where the question of relocation was brought up. My manager asked me if I would like to go to Colombia and I responded, “Yeah, okay!” Two days later the leadership team asked me that question again and one week after that, I was on a flight, moving to Bogota, Colombia! It was done so quickly!
What helped through the transition? People at the office. It was so much easier knowing that there were people who cared about my wellbeing and who helped me transition to this new environment. We consider ourselves a work family and that made settling into the new city more enjoyable.

Expanding my horizons

Today, I lead a thriving life in Bogota, spending my time with friends, playing ping pong, and now, truly finding my voice through my new hobby, music! I was looking for a new interest and a friend told me that she thought I’d be able to sing so I tried it out and now I am enrolled in singing classes. My passion for learning and the urge to attempt new things seeps into every aspect of my life.

As I progress through this eventful and joyful path, I can’t help but think back on the journey I’ve taken from that small city on the outskirts of Caracas, to the bustling virtual life of navigating and leading digital transformations that have global implications. I feel that I have truly found my voice, through my work and my artistic (musical) expression. I am determined to channel this energy to reach new frontiers in our collective growth and success.

Discover more about the people and culture at Blanc Labs!

Interested in hearing how we can accelerate your digital transformation?