All posts by Aditya Joshi

Five aspects driving the future of banking

Key Take-aways and Learning

During the Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2015, organized by Expotrade Global in Dubai on 14-15 Sep 2015, the speakers presented their views about different aspects of innovation, and how is banking industry taking the path of innovation. The question, How much/what kind of innovation is enough/real innovation is often debated in the industry circles and organisations board rooms? While the ‘once- in-a-blue-moon’ Disruptive innovations are the ones which really transform an industry or a company, the importance of marginal and continuous innovation cannot be ignored for any business organisation.

mebis2015-expotrade

The banks and other industry partners are investing heavily on innovation at all levels, and lot of work seems to be happening at the back stage, here are some of the key areas that are coming to the fore now:

1. Digital Banks

Banks and Service Providers such as Visa, and technology set-ups alike are working towards digitizing the banking experience to the next levels. Banks are looking at creating automation and digital experience right from customer on-boarding to collections management. Enabling secure online payment, educating customers about it, and providing enough motivation to customers to opt for it (instead of cheque and cash) are the endeavors that leading banks are taking up.

Ever since the arrival of ATMs, things have changed a lot in the last two decades, the endeavour to minimize the visits of a customer to the bank branch are still on. One of the leading banks in the UAE, Emirates NBD now has a feature in its mobile app which allows customers to click a picture of the cheque and send it via the app. The cheque gets deposited in the customer’s account. Isn’t that really simple! Banks are also looking at institutionalizing the age old method of doorstep delivery of cash by way of launching Mobile ATM for corporate – a bank in Poland is already doing that!

2. Online Payments and Authentication

Industry seems to be moving from Swipe-in or Chip Credit cards for making payments to Contactless payment options. This technology innovation aims at speeding up the payment at retail counters – minimizes queuing up and slowing the retailer ops – and at the same time giving a super quick check-out to shoppers. The same applies to the online payments too; online shoppers will need to feed in their details only once, and rest would be taken care of by way of authentication from the next purchases onwards. Technology leaps by Apple (Apple Pay) and other players – Android/ Samsung are soon catching the fancy of the customers. New age technologies like voice recognition and voice biometrics are also creating dents in some parts of the banking world. Wearables and beacons are seeing growing acceptance amongst organisations and customers, their success in future would largely be defined by how well they get accepted by the customers.

As regards online shopping, cash-on-delivery still rules [In UAE, 88% payments are cash-on-delivery, and only 9% are online – card payments (by volume)]. A huge majority of online shoppers are still coming to terms with making online payments and developing their faith in online sellers. Players like Twitter and Facebook are now facilitating social banking, allowing customers to pay using these social media sites.

Security still remains one of the prime concerns for the potential online customers. There are players creating newer ways to ensure higher levels of security. Tech companies, like Oberthur Technologies have come up with mechanism like Motion Codes, which embed dynamic cryptogram into the cards, which changes the key digits in a credit/debit card number every few minutes. This is another leap ahead of OTP which get delivered on the mobile phones

3. Effective CRM and Loyalty

A loyal customer adds more to both the top line and the bottom line of any business, and banks are no exception. A well crafted loyalty programme not only encourages the customers to deal more and more often with the bank, it also adds value to their lives, at large. As against most of the earlier prevalent loyalty programmes which allowed customers to accumulate air miles (high perceived value – low frequency benefits), the new ones launched by banks enable banks to get closer to their customers and developed more entrenched relationships (low value-higher frequency). One of the leading banks in UAE, Abu Dhabi Commercial Banks (ADCB) has played its role very well by allowing customers, on the one hand, to create baskets of their purchases (Grocery, Fashion, Fuel etc.) to earn bonus points on their cards. On the other end of the programme, they also allow the customers to redeem their points at multiple points (once again – Utilities, Fashion etc.). Needless to say, such programmes go a long way to create loyal customers who go on to become ambassadors for the brand.

4. Design Thinking and Culture

Design Thinking is the new philosophy that is circling around even in the banking industry. Bringing design to the core of any business, rather than a fringe/ad-hoc function is being considered by many. Design is also being considered an integral part of any innovation project, more than ever before. A lot of top notch organisations are now setting up separate Design Studios or Design Labs, which allow and foster creative thinking and ‘Innovation’ culture.

5. Strategic Partnership

Banks partnership, with organisations like Visa the one hand, and with technology players (e-pay, m-pay, mobile apps etc.) on the other, are becoming more pronounced. This augurs very well for the industry and the customers, as innovation no longer remains the responsibility of any one of the partners, but comes out as a joint, single minded focus of all who want to create a difference! Ideas can come from any of such players, and if adapted and executed well could shift the paradigm for the industry and the customer!

At the end of it all, the big questions that are still playing around in everyone’s minds are:
So is the society going to turn into a cashless society? If yes, what is the time frame that one can consider?

Images Source: Flickr

Freshers – Getting to your first job interview!

India is at a cusp of a unique phenomenon. On the one hand the number of students graduating from the mushrooming Technology & Engineering colleges is growing exponentially. On the other hand the quality of these budding ‘engineers’ is getting questioned all around. The vision of why one wants to take up an engineering course does not even go beyond getting entry into an engineering college.

At one extreme we have the biggies from India (and VC funded start-ups), the likes of Infosys, Wipro, TCS, picking up their choice of engineering graduates at never-before-heard-salaries, at the other end of the spectrum we have qualified engineers who end up taking up roles of data entry operators (if not embellishing the so-called “Bench” of an IT company).

Misaligned curricula design, course content biased towards theory (than live projects), short sighted priorities of students, and lack of basic etiquette towards approaching the potential employers completely mar the opportunities of even bright minds to make it big in the world of information technology.

That brings us to the most important thing that’s ignored – Language and its power! In today’s day and age, English remains an important tool in cracking any problems in the technology world. The problems come to you in English, the solutions come to you in English, and you will be solving them in English. Bleeding edge technologies, programming languages, scripts are being developed and refined every day to be closer to English.

No matter how bright you are, use of inappropriate language and lack of some basic etiquette can snatch the opportunities right from your hands. As they say, “Resumes make or break your careers”. In most cases, first impressions about candidates are made just by the Resumes – how they were sent, the kind language used, and how people choose to present themselves.

It was just today when we got a mail with an attachment but no message or any signature that could address the sender. Now why would someone open this mail? (Employers don’t really fancy playing a “Boojho to Jaane” or “Hide-n-Seek” game)

Every employer seeks the answer to this ‘why’ – why should I look at this mail? Did you, as an applicant, provide answer to such questions in the message body of your mail, something that could have left us curious to open the CV attached with the mail? Never forget that this first email can be your greatest opportunity to make the difference. With thousands of emails that companies go through every month, maintaining the basic etiquette is the simple solution to get heard.

Some common mistakes that drive applicants’ resume to the Trash

Carpet Bombing! Sending an email with a huge list of email addresses in cc shows the lack of your interest in being a part of any of the organizations in your cc list. Needless to say, the companies classify these candidatures as “not-interested” or “applied through hit-&trial”.

Just One Attachment! As mentioned earlier, sometimes we get messages with just one file attached with it. What is an employer likely to think of it – A mail from a bright prospect for the organisation, or someone trying to span his/her mailbox? It is just like you are walking on the road and a stranger comes, hands you over a bag and leaves.

I Work 24 hours! How would you like if someone rings your doorbell at 3 am for a cup of sugar (matter of life and death cases notwithstanding). Similarly, your email in the middle of the night or at 4 o’clock in the morning is very unlikely to ring the bell (pun unintended) in the right way.

So how should you go about this business?

Build good knowledge about your future employer and the role
Developing at least a basic knowledge about the organisation where you are applying to, nature of its business, the role that you are considering yourself for and how you see your future in that organisation is the quintessential Step1.

A proper email is no less important than a well crafted Resume
Your email should clearly show your interest in the job and organization, and the reasons thereof. Your key message should represent your sincerity, interest, and etiquette by letting the receiver know that how much you know them. And, after knowing everything about the company and its work how much you are interested in working with them.

What do you bring to the table – The Resume
The most essential thing the employers come across is, your Resume. Your Resume is the image that you want to create in front of any employer. And yes, the details that the Resume should avoid carrying are as important as the ones that it should definitely carry.

So how should you build your Resume/profile

Before we start talking about how your resume should be, let’s have a look to this list of funny errors employers shared from some of the resume they receive. There are a lot more examples of resume disasters. But instead, let’s talk about how to turn your resume into your best impression. And, trust me nobody is looking for a hard-core “Resume of the year”. The employers look for the Resumes which are simple, to the point, and do not contain the bulk of unwarranted details about your fishing skills!

The recipe to create an impressive resume is very simple – you just need to be yourself on your Resume.
Simple is Powerful. No one bothers to read your life story, until and unless it is about how you were a superhero or how you survive ‘the journey to the mysterious island’. In general cases, employers would be pleased to know the things about you that-
– Match the profile they are hiring for
– Are the most impressive things that others should know

Customize. Never send one copy of your resume to a bunch of companies without making changes according to their requirements. Remember that each organization is unique with its unique work and working styles (even if they are all working in the same stream). Your study of organisation and the role would be of key significance here. Don’t forget to mention your interests that match well with the profile’s requirements.

Value your LinkedIn profile. Today organisations explore every piece about you from social networks even before you are invited for a job interview. Your blogs, LinkedIn profile or any other social media network profile give them enough cues about you. So make sure you have a properly created profile, and you do not have any kind of unprofessional / controversial content there, before giving the links.

Utilize tools for creating an impressive resume. Experimentation may not be the best friend here. If you are having a tough time creating a suitable format for a Resume, simply use the websites that offer the tools to create resumes online. These tools have formats of the resumes that are preferred by most of the employers.

Seek Friends’ Help Always run your Resume past a few close friends/associates/seniors. See if you had a few blind spots, factual or ‘typo’ errors that you missed out on correcting.

Hope the information here would help you stand out of the crowd and bring you closer to ace the interview. Click here if you’re looking to apply for a job at arroWebs. If you have any query or suggestion regarding this post please feel free to comment below and let us assist you further.

Big Data Analytics: The New Game-changer

“He who wants the pearls has to dive into the sea” ~ Kurdish Proverb

Information is exploding, growing exponentially with every passing day. It’s a complete onslaught of media, newer TV channels, and more radio stations, ever increasing social media sites, more and more apps demanding our attention. Add onto that, the expansion of your brand stores, more sales and customer level data to absorb!

Consider the media scenario today – one remarkable phenomenon which is fairly apparent is the shift of preferences from so-called traditional media (TV, radio et al) to the new age online media. And mistake not, this movement is much faster than what is visible to the naked eye. While for most organizations, the digital media budgets still remain lower than the traditional media, the shift in priorities is pretty much on the face.

Let’s get real, online is the medium with a truly mass reach. If that’s not good enough, it allows businesses to interact with its customers – one-on-one, literally. So here we have it now “Mass Media with a Personal Touch”. Has this not been the dreams of all the marketers for so many years?

Well then, if it is all so evident, what is it that’s required to ride this giant? The first and the possibly the most critical thing is to know what’s happening and to get the right information, at the right time and with valid inferences. As someone aptly said, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”.

So what are the challenges? When an organization starts treading this path of data analytics, factors like Inaccessible technology, lack of focus, non availability of skilled personnel act as impediment in its journey.  Even when the data is all available to the organisation, as in case of internal sales data, consumer offers, store level data, conventional media data, market shares etc., often times a majority of companies have little understanding on how to meaningfully assimilate those data sets to support action oriented decision making. The vision of benefits of analytics and the value of data just do not get established.

Here is the silver lining though, the importance of pooling in data from all possible sources and making the most relevant business conclusions from that, is gaining the due traction. The benefits of ‘Big Data Analytics’ have just about started to dawn on the business managers, and rightly so. Innovative players in the field of Big Data Analytics, like Mixpanel are developing this as a complete science. Mixpanel allows data inputs from virtually all possible sources (sales data, distributors data, store level data, audience monitoring reports etc.) and brings out action oriented data analysis.

Talking specifically about the online medium, it would be fair to say that WEB is like an open book, everything can be tracked with a proper science backing it. Further, leaders like Google now have robust measurement and decision enhancing tools, such as Universal Analytics and Skyglue, available to the business managers who want to be sure how their efforts are effecting consumer connection.  Today it is pretty much possible to track the entire consumer decision journey, on the web, and feed communication almost customized to each of the customer or customer set. Thus, remarketing based on the customer interactions on the net is becoming a very effective tool to ensure customers are caught at the right moment to effect their decision in your brand’s favour.

To sum up, organisations ready to start this journey may need to consider the following steps:

  1. Develop and believe in the culture of data based decision making
  2. Put together a skilled team of internal and external partners who can support the cause of organization
  3. Dig deep into the rich data to draw the real benefits of all the data that exists in the reach
  4. Get close to the customers, understand her purchase decision cycle better
  5. Build the right communication and consumer connect strategy; serve befitting communication to sharply segmented customer groups (or even individual customers).
  6. Review and realign

Join us at the Smart Data Summit at Dubai on 25th and 26th May, at Sofitel Dubai the Palm Resort and Spa, to delve further into this ever expanding ocean of Big Data. arroWebs is the official Start-up Innovation Partners at the Smart Data Summit.