CFO Day asks Thobeka Ntshiza how tech is changing the car-rental proposition


Zeda FD Thobeka Ntshiza shares how technology has changed the way people interact with cars.

Once a year, 100 of South Africa’s top finance executives come together for the full-day learning and networking opportunity, known as CFO Day. This year, it took place in the luxurious conference hall at The Leonardo in Sandton, and touched on the role man and machine play in the future of work.

As part of the day’s agenda, guests received the exclusive opportunity to ask three CFOs and one CEO their burning questions about integrating technology and people in a meaningful way.

In this article, we reveal Zeda FD Thobeka Ntshiza’s answers to some of the questions asked on the day.

1. How has Zeda changed the way people interact with vehicle hire using technology?

One of the things that have become very important in the car rental industry is the speed of execution. Customers are also demanding contactless service, where they can just get into a car and go about their day.

We are looking at an AI-driven solution that will enable customers to book a vehicle online and only use their licence to retrieve the keys. This will help reduce the long queues we’re currently seeing at airports to hire cars, which is our biggest challenge currently.

We’ve also started parting with various OEMs to find ways to use technology inside our vehicles that can authenticate customers – all so that we can save people valuable time.

We offer long-term leasing solutions, with additional product offerings that can measure driver behaviour and fuel consumption, and help businesses identify irregular spend or route optimisation areas.

All of this helps to ensure the safety of our people, which is the core purpose of Zeda.

2. What is the top priority for your business in the next five years, and how is that supported by people and technology?

Our focus has been on increasing our penetration of society. We come from the traditional context that being mobile means you have to own the vehicle. This comes with additional costs of ownership, including servicing, maintenance, and more.

Mobility is an issue in South Africa, however, as we have a large population that doesn’t have access to transport. Improving that accessibility will bring better economic opportunities for smaller businesses and create new employment opportunities.

3. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from this greater freedom that comes with automation?

It’s important to strike a balance between the speed of transformation and implementing automated processes in your business, while making sure your team isn’t left behind.

We’ve reduced some of the risks and increased the speed of the technology adoption by introducing cross-pollination into the team – bringing in different skills, ages, etc.

It’s also important to appreciate that unlearning an old way of thinking and doing is harder than learning a new skill. If you’ve been in the workforce for 10 years and have to adopt a new skill, you need a transformation path and coaching to get you there. Make sure that you have targeted sessions to make sure the people who need to unlearn and relearn have the time and space to do that when you introduce new systems.

4. What have been the biggest areas where you’ve had to unlearn?

The first thing we had to unlearn as an organisation was to let go of that pride in seeing long queues in our branches. Today, we’ve had to take a step back and ask whether the customer actually wants to see us. So we’ve had to create solutions that give them the opportunity not to.

For the customers who are still coming to the counters, we also have to consider how we are adding value to their experience.

So it’s really about interrogating and eliminating the waste in the organisation. Because ultimately the customer only wants the car, so how do you make sure they get it in the easiest, fastest way possible?

CFO Day was made possible by principal partner Workday, executive partner BDO, and associate partners Allan GrayCaseware AfricaCircitCoupaSoluGrowth and Transparent.

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