Webinar reveals that digital transformation is an inclusive metamorphosis

Human-centric digital transformation elevates humans by helping them reclaim time to do strategic work.

On 18 August, CFO South Africa hosted a webinar, in partnership with Sage, in which Sage AMEA director of product marketing Mohammed Mosam and FNB Commercial head of analytics, insights and research Yudhvir Seetharam looked at how a human-centric approach to digitalisation can elevate humans by helping them reclaim time to do strategic work, think again and help their businesses thrive.

Mohammed said that the term digital transformation has been tossed around in recent years to describe a technology-first means to transform businesses. “But our definition of digital transformation is really around transforming people, processes and technology to interact for better outcomes.”

He explained that the point of digital transformation is to convert business models that were designed around people performing tasks and processes that are very manual, clunky and time consuming, to one that is designed around a smooth digital interaction with digital automation.

“For example, we used to look at paper maps and tried to determine the available and best routes to travel, then translated that entire process from the paper map into visually seeing and focusing on where you needed to go,” Mohammed explained. “But Google Maps and GPS services have transformed the way we travel – for better. No longer do we have to memorise the route and understand the landmarks, you just key in the destination and enjoy the journey. It reduces the stress of navigating significantly.”

Similarly, he says, you can use digitisation to automate what used to be very manual tasks and enjoy the business journey.

“Technology is there to help us make our jobs easier and to help us expedite the process,” Mohammed said. “There is always that concern that if businesses automate and digitise their processes, what becomes of our jobs? And while it’s a valid concern, we’re trying to dispel that myth.”

He explained that digital transformation isn’t about taking jobs away from people, but making them smart in their jobs and making life easier for them. It takes away some of the mundane tasks that take up most of their time in order for them to focus on more strategic work.

“Technology plays a role in digital transformation, but it isn’t the role,” added Yudhvir.

Mohammed explained that digital transformation is an inclusive metamorphosis, which is about keeping both people and technology in mind when making these changes. “When we digitise a process, it’s about understanding what the human factor is behind that and including it as part of the technology process.”

Achieving an inclusive digital transformation
FNB is often at the forefront of digital transformation and started on its transformation journey quite some time ago.

Yudhvir explained that the starting point of any digital transformation journey is to find out why you are doing it from a culture perspective. “Are you doing it just because other people are doing it, or because you want to increase the efficiency of running a business and want a better relationship with the customer?”

He said that, once you have the right reason for digitising, you have to package and explain it to your broader business so that it doesn’t come across as a fear move, but as a move to do better and increase relationships.

“The next step is to actively go out to your different areas, processes and technology to figure out what it is you can do to make things more efficient,” he said.

Start small
Mohammed said that digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight. “You need to crawl, then walk, and then run.”

He explained that, while it seems like a huge talk, you need to take it incrementally, starting with the most basic process to automate.

For example, in many businesses you typically would have to get a document, print it out, take it to the CFO’s office and wait for them to sign it when they get the time. Sometimes you even need a second signature and have to take it to the CEO’s office and again wait for them to get the time to sign it. “That is a massive waste of time,” Mohammed said.

He explained that, by digitising the process and implementing a document manager, it allows you to have workflows built into the system and different people can sign that document digitally. “Suddenly that takes away a huge amount of inefficiencies in the business and allows you to work smarter and get more things done.”

Mohammed added that, once you start seeing the fruits of the automation working, you become motivated and start looking at various other aspects of the business and how you can go about automating those too.

Prioritising the customer
Yudhvir said that, once you have identified and improved on internal efficiencies, you need to focus on improving the customer experience with your business. “If your customer is still not gaining anything from your digital transformation, then what’s the point of doing it?”

He explained that businesses need to maintain the human interaction with their clients while making the process as seamless as possible for them at the same time. “You need to identify what the pain points or obstacles are for your customers and then help them to minimise those challenges.”

One great example of where FNB has achieved this optimisation is by using robots. “If a customer gives you their ID or home affairs document, the ID number is always in the same place. So we implemented the same technology that scans and recognises faces on your phones to our application software to minimise the time it takes to open an account,” Yudhvir said.

This has helped FNB’s customers open accounts in a seamless and enjoyable way, which starts the relationship off well.

“Now that we’ve digitised certain parts of the business, you can take the time you have saved to develop more strategy,” Yudhvir explained.