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Digital transformation: It starts with people, not tech

Mobile banking apps now offer over a 100 or more services, come with greater personalisation and enhanced security features.

By Raghav Gupta

In a session at the Henley Business School in 2018, Ashok Vaswani, CEO, Barclays UK, recalled how the bank went from about 1 million customer interactions a month in 2012—right before it launched its mobile app—to 151 million interactions a month in 2017! Digital channels like mobile, video and chat overtook branch visits and phone interactions, scaling and revolutionising customer service.

Technology has upended the customer experience for financial services at a fast and furious pace over the last few years.

Mobile banking apps now offer over a 100 or more services, come with greater personalisation and enhanced security features.

With expanding access, financial service providers can reimagine engagement models, making them more inclusive.

India offers a very large canvas for this change. Sharply rising smartphone adoption, coupled with government efforts to drive innovation in digital payments with the India stack, are creating a never-before opportunity for fintech disruptors. Talking to business leaders in the sector, I find the ‘why’ of digital transformation is well understood. Where the narrative falters is in the ‘how.’ With so much at stake, three dimensions are key for any BFSI organisation creating a roadmap for digital change.

Answer the right questions

Digital transformation touches every part of an enterprise, calling for fundamental, integrated changes at scale. But what does it take for an organisation to be digitally ready? Begin with identifying and answering the right questions, to understand the capabilities you need to invest in. Start with examining how digital will impact your business, how your organisation can understand it and take action.

Developing and scaling the capabilities needed internally to realise your digital vision hinges on closing competency gaps through equipping talent and bringing in a culture that reinforces digital thinking. Questions leaders must answer here include how the leadership team can lead this initiative and how it can build capabilities across people, processes and technology. With the building blocks in place, move to how you will measure, manage and scale this digital change.

Adopt an optimum approach to workforce development

We see transformation initiatives being most effective when organisations adopt a world-class, multi-disciplinary approach to learning. ‘Customised learning pathways’ can achieve this by hitting three important goals. They simultaneously equip diverse teams, while building the capabilities to transform processes and upgrade technology. These curated tracks can traverse business, computer science, cloud computing, data science and personal development among many other fields, to address rapidly evolving training needs across the organisation.

It starts with people

Given the breadth and scope of change, one of the main challenges L&D leaders grapple with is ‘getting talent ready for transformation.’ Employee buy-in is critical because digital change requires an entirely different mindset. Digital transformation doesn’t start with technology. It starts with your people. There are two important parts to the challenge.

Workplace learning programmes have to equip teams with the tech or functional skills they need to succeed in their current jobs, which technology has already overhauled. That’s about survival. Winning depends on an organisation’s ability to lead the next wave of disruption. This can only happen if transformation leaders reinforce the skills of tomorrow across their organisation. Whether it is building digital awareness, inculcating agile, entrepreneurial thinking, data-driven decision making or understanding and managing risks arising from new technologies. This will not show results today, but will keep your brand agile, relevant and standing five years from now.

The writer is director, APAC and India, Coursera