The shoe appears to be on the other foot, when it comes to banking and technology. When the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) became the world’s first bank to adopt Facebook at Work last year, it was described in the media as a “landmark move”, “ground breaking” and in other superlative terms. More than six months later, it seems RBS senior management is still reeling from the experience.
“It was a reasonably difficult process to achieve, just trying to persuade them (Facebook) to have breakfast with us in Menlo Park” said Kevin Hanley, Director of Design Services for RBS, at a round-table discussion on the future of digital banking held by SAP Financial Services last week in the City of London. His amazement at that realization was still palpable.
“The banking industry is changing dramatically and innovative solutions are needed to help banks with digital transformation” said Andy Hirst, VP Banking Solutions for SAP, opening the event. But a survey released the same day by SAP SE shows that just one in four banks (24 %) in EMEA has created and executed a holistic end-to-end digital transformation strategy to engage customers.
The study, conducted by IDC Financial Insights, surveyed 250 retail and corporate banks across EMEA. Its findings suggest that digital transformation often occurs only in the front office, creating “islands of innovation” that prevent banks from reaping the benefits of digital transformation at an organizational level.
Just one in five banks (21%) surveyed currently has a chief digital officer (CDO).
“For digital transformation to become ingrained in a bank’s DNA and strategy, there needs to be a champion – and that is the chief digital officer. The role of the CDO is still new and maturing, but it should be focused on aligning different segments of the organization and different technology processes around one common goal – greater customer engagement and retention” said Jerry Silva, research director for IDC Financial Insights.
The study also found that key elements in creating enterprise-wide digital transformation included “a collaborative culture and a focus on a digital core that embraced analytics and open, agile technologies.”
Banks are still struggling to play catch-up with technological and generational changes. At the SAP event, Christophe Chazot, HSBC Group Head of Innovation said: “Banks have not started to catch up with the financial crisis until 2012″, while stressing the need for better communication and collaboration within the sector.
And there still appears to be some paralysis on the need for changing corporate structures. “I spend a disproportionate amount of my time looking sideways, rather than outwards now” said Mr Hanley of RBS.
Not just banks, but the financial services sector as a whole is a laggard when it comes to coming to grips with changing business models for the future. On Friday, Richard Rowney, the new CEO of LV, the mutual insurer, announced substantial investment in digital spend in the next three years.
“We’ll spend £100 million ($143.6m) making sure we have the right capabilities in digital and data. Rather than investing in old IT systems, this will be about being fit for the future. Insurance has fallen off the pace in terms of engagement with customers and their expectations about how services should be delivered” Mr Rowney told the Financial Times.
To make matters worse for U.K. business, last week began with a report from Britain’s House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, which suggested that while 90% of jobs require digital skills, 12.6 million U.K. adults do not have them. “The UK will need 745,000 additional workers with digital skills to meet rising demand from employers between 2013 and 2017, and almost 90% of new jobs require digital skills to some degree” it said.
There have been multiple calls from a variety of sources on how best to respond to the need for these skills. But one aspect of change often goes ignored, and that is changing attitudes to work to take into account the changing mindset of a new generation.
Also last week, a report released by Ricoh UK on ‘present-eeism’ at work examines the extent to which young professionals are being given the platform to build a successful career in the U.K. It finds that two-thirds of them admit to ‘faking’ workloads by staying late in the office, with nearly half believing that being seen to be working long hours at a desk is the way to get ahead.
“Growing up as digital natives – with a unique experience of harnessing the latest technology and using it to improve their performance at work – today’s young professionals are equipped with skill-sets that have the potential to put the U.K. on the brink of becoming a true technological leader and innovator” it says.
“Britain cannot continue to allow these outdated and analogue working practices to triumph in the digital age. We should be equipping new generations of young professionals with the latest technologies and enabling them with personalized flexible working plans so they can bring new skills to businesses” said Phil Keoghan, CEO of Ricoh UK & Ireland.
As ever, it seems the answer to innovation for better businesses, making them better connected to the needs of the societies they serve, is to think across industry sector boundaries, and collaborate.
There may be a ‘skills shortage’ but it is likely there is also huge wastage of human capital in evidence today.
Just as you do not change the composition of listed boardrooms by refusing to entertain anyone who does not already have experience of a plc board, it is surely hard to find the digital skills needed if you have preconceived notions on where to find them, and how the people who have them must spend their working days in order to be most productive.
This article was written by Dina Medland from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.