There’s a strange beauty in the phenomenon that is digital transformation – while many individuals, communities and organisations have started integrating these concepts and solutions into their everyday life and processes, there is still so much more to discover, understand and ultimately adopt.
The success of advanced technology adoption is no mystery across various industries, the financial services industry (FSI) particularly within Africa, having seen tremendous benefit. Although many institutions are still getting started with these technologies, the FSI industry already holds high expectations of the potential impact of digital transformation. In fact, the recent Microsoft-EY research, encompassing the Middle East and Africa, ranked FSI the second highest of all industries in its expectation of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to drive fundamental changes, redefine customer interactions and create alternative revenue streams.
An excellent example of the unprecedented change digital transformation can bring to an industry reliant on legacy systems is that of Nigeria’s premier bank, First Bank of Nigeria (FBN). Since its inception, the organisation has relentlessly chased its vision of empowering people through providing staff, suppliers and customers with the best financial services possible. However, this did not come without its own challenges.
Challenges and ‘the solution’
The sheer size of the organisation meant that effective communication often fell victim to delays and error – particularly when staff are dispersed and frequently on the move. Having previously made use of a variety of tools, including email, text messages and Skype for Business to connect and keep operations afloat, it become clear that managing multiple streams of communication would prove difficult – leading to inefficiencies that held up effective collaboration, such as co-sharing and editing. “When the need for a new solution became apparent, FirstBank opted for Microsoft Teams. Our evaluation showed that the solution had the features we desired for overall enhancement of business efficiency, hence the decision to go with it,” explains Akeem Adesina, FirstBank’s CIO. “The project was part of the strategic initiative leveraging on technological advancement to drive and achieve business goals with a productive and conducive workspace for business efficiency and enhanced productivity”.
As with every approaching new frontier, while it may look good on paper – adoption and integration are often two of the main reasons why organisations are slow to realise the full potential of digitally transforming. The same was true for FBN, where staff were satisfied with Skype as a communication tool. To win employees over and build confidence in the shift, a step-by-step approach was adopted – kicking off with the deployment of Teams in the organisation’s financial control department. This has resulted in steady support throughout the bank – with employees stating that they have experienced a reduction in stress related to travelling to and from meetings, also citing the mobile app as useful when they have needed to connect on the go. The solution has provided enhanced mobility and agility to all employees – proving invaluable for those who reside far from the office. These individuals are now able to join meetings from anywhere, and work on any device, as Teams is compatible with several different operating systems.
According to Adesina, the application’s comprehensive sharing and collaboration support led to a significant reduction in the risk, time and cost of travelling for meetings and workshops: “With Teams, there has been over 10% reduction in the cost of travel and hotel accommodation for internal meetings, training, and workshops.”
Other benefits made evident through feedback include the ease of sharing, editing and viewing live documents – essentially covering all aspects of the organisation’s collaborative needs.
Creating a ‘broader Team’
While the benefits of effective collaboration have certainly been experienced internally at First Bank, it has also been an exciting prospect to build connections that go beyond the walls of the institution at large. Various departments within the organisation, such as its procurement team, have effectively used the Teams broadcast function to facilitate external communications. In addition to this, to celebrate its 125th anniversary, the organisation live-streamed events to staff who were not able to attend. This was particularly significant – creating the ultimate atmosphere for true collaboration and digital transformation in action.
The African continent has fast become the melting pot for innovation and an ever-expanding ‘case study’ for the positive impact of advanced technology. As the FSI industry continues its journey to better serve customers, we can be certain that technology will remain a crucial part of the journey.