Dr Israel Murefu speaking at the IOBZ Summer School on creating a collaborative work culture.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Our Human Resources Divisional Director, Dr. Israel Murefu spoke at the Institute of Bankers Zimbabwe (IOBZ) Summer School sharing his insights on how to create a collaborative work culture necessary for digital transformation. Below are some of the insights he shared.

“Digital transformation is the process of using electronic technologies to create new or modify business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. Zimbabwean banks are in varying stages of automation and as a result certain skills are becoming obsolete. There is also a corresponding scaling down of employees in the sector from about 18,000 in the mid-1990s to about 5,000 currently. This is made evident in the growing number of banks scaling down on physical branches while the emergence of Contact Centres or Customer Experience Departments is becoming a widespread phenomenon. The means of transacting over the past 20 years have also evolved. The industry has seen the phasing out of the cheque book among others and the dominance of the Bank Card as a means for transaction. We are currently playing our role in supporting the movement towards card-less banking.

Essentially there are 2 approaches banks can take to build a culture of collaborative experimentation, namely a Collaborative and an Independent approach. The Collaborative Approachentails banks pulling resources together and establishing innovation hubs for concerted research and development as well as back office processing.This creates synergies and economies of scale. It also avoids duplications and reinvention of the wheel which enables the industry to move forward technologically as one. Without collaboration, individual banks work independently meaning only the more innovative and agile banks will be able to build faster competitive advantage and this creates silos and destroys collaboration. It is therefore sustainable for banksto collaborate in technical areas and compete in non-technical areas.

Banks need to create a digital culture anchored on innovation, creativity and agility and this requires a total culture change that aligns with digital transformation. Otherwise technology without the requisite culture change will not achieve digital transformation. The employees must be prepared to embrace change because without people behaviour, change tools won’t make any difference. Subsequently talent management also becomes critical as organisations must identify employees of the future who are both malleable and flexible (must be able to adapt to new realities and capable of reskilling).

The need for a culture a culture change is more important now than it was 20 years ago because of the customers’ increasing adoption of digital lifestyles and the growing population of young millennial consumers whose inclination to digital providers is very strong. It is however, important to note that culture change is not an overnight event.  It involves changing the mindset and our way of doing things. Nevertheless, the sooner a company acts, the quicker it will be able to compete in today’s fast paced, digitalised multichannel environment.

The digital culture we emphasise must be strongly supported by a sub-culture of accountability. This is because holding people accountable to the expectations set and the commitment they made is vital in measuring performance and delivery of results needed to thrive in a digital environment.

The most important thing about culture is that it is the greatest source of competitive advantage and is the enabler to digital transformation. The whole essence of digitalization revolves around culture, innovation, accountability, performance/delivery of results and the creation of customer convenience and simplicity. It is not just the installation of state of the art technology. That technology has to be built around or interact with the right human behaviours that assist in providing solutions that customers are looking for.”