[Column] Grant Phillips: Digital transformation should be about the customer, not the technology
Digital transformation alongside automation enablers like artificial intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA), coupled with the responsible utilisation of data assets will be determining business success factors over the next five years, according to Grant Phillips, Group CEO at e4. While the landscape will be enormously different in the coming years, Phillips says that the brands who will succeed the most are those that move beyond a fascination with the technology itself but to understand how it can address ever changing customer needs and expectations, remembering that winning will be defined by how the technology capability has delivered a world class user experience.
“Looking forward, increasing digital interactions, engagement, digital delivery of services or products will fast become the norm. The further demise of brick-and-mortar and its associated servicing models is almost guaranteed as so many more consumers and business move into the digital world. Seamless digital interactions that are built around user needs will allow organisations to deliver bespoke solutions in near to real time, effectively removing friction in value delivery,” says Phillips.
He says that the approach by financial institutions will need to change as they look to evolve. In this way they will gain a much better understanding of every consumer, recognising too that they are all different: “Traditional financial service organisations will need to look at their customer base differently. Portfolio level segmentation is no longer relevant as consumers demand customised solutions that fit their specific needs, without exception. In the future, digital technology will provide a million different products to a million different customers in near real-time in a channel of their choosing.”
As the country moves closer to the POPIA deadline, which impacts greatly on the consumerisation of data, Phillips says e4 is adequately prepared: “We have been incredibly pro-active in this space and are extremely well prepared. 18 months ago, we formed dedicated teams to ensure that we are fully compliant by the end of June 2021. There are also a number of senior stakeholders involved in this project and it features prominently at board level. From a regulatory perspective, we have ensured that there are a myriad of control processes in place to safeguard not only our own data but that of our clients and their customers. The project has also allowed us to approach data privacy and protection as a differentiator as opposed to a regulatory compliance exercise. With this mindset, we have been able to assist a number of blue-chip organisations, all new partners of the e4 Group, with their POPIA journey”
While digital transformation has been ongoing in most financial service organisations for some time, Phillips says the last two years have created a realisation that e4’s capabilities are more relevant now than ever before: “Front end digital enablement was never viewed as an area of stand-alone value creation by the Group and in turn by our clients. This mindset changed internally a few years ago and led to us developing several value propositions in spaces that are becoming largely industry agnostic and have provided the business with permission to engage in areas we historically wouldn’t have considered. In terms of processes, there is a much greater appreciation that the new way of business is a real-time ever evolving environment and what took 12 to 18 months must now take weeks if you want to stay relevant in this dramatic digital revolution.”