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Banks having mid-life crisis

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Banks are experiencing a midlife crisis. They desperately want to transform and become digitally enabled but they are being hamstrung by legacy systems, data silos and disjointed marketing, says CARLA PETERSEN, Senior Business Director at Acceleration, London.

Digitally maturing organisations who are leveraging technology to redefine their businesses understand that this journey starts with transforming their customers’ experience of their brand through the transformation of their operational models, which ultimately leads to the transformation of their business models.

They, therefore, treat their customer data as an asset and foster a culture that supports rapid iteration, rapid prototyping and risk-taking, enabled through well-integrated marketing technology. If something doesn’t work, they chalk it up to learning and try something else.

Yet, banks are inherently risk-averse. This is not unexpected given that the financial industry is one of the most heavily regulated, especially when it comes to the responsible use of their customer’s personal data. Most have the challenge of integrating expensive legacy systems that are still being used and navigating the slippery slope of digital analytics, mobile, social and cloud solutions that should enable the modern marketing capabilities of their organisations. A common theme, too, is the lack of executive-level buy-in and commitment to drive the type of cultural change that puts the customer at the centre of the business strategy. So where do some of the opportunities lie that will empower banks to be more future ready?

Data silos

A recent study conducted by Wunderman and research partners, Penn Schoen Berland, (in which 250 senior executives from global brands were interviewed) indicate that whilst 99% of all executives surveyed believe that data is critical to achieve success, 62% feel that they are unable to convert this data into insights or action and an even further 68% say they can’t use the data to create relevant messages. 

Banks have a wealth of information about their customers’ income, lifestyles and purchasing behaviour. The problem is that this data resides in silos within the organisation, making it impossible to understand what a customer needs when they need it – much less accurately predicting their needs over time so that the customer benefits from every interaction they have with the brand. The credit card division works off a different dataset to the home loan division, for instance. The result could be that the bank ends up offering a credit card to a customer who already has two or three, rather than offering him preferential rates on a home loan because the bank knows he’s looking to buy a house.

When data is integrated and centralised, all departments work towards a common KPI: to drive business growth by meeting the needs of a particular customer at a particular point in their lifecycle.

Yet, performance in banks is still measured by business-unit KPIs. This has resulted in disjointed organisational cultures and decentralised decision-making.

Stop-gap solution

There is some awareness of this problem though, as seen by the trend towards creating cross-functional teams when launching a new product or brand experience. In these set-ups, brand and product teams, marketing teams and the IT department come together to focus on what a good customer experience looks like and how technology and data can support it.

Once the cross-functional brainstorm is finished, however, the different teams go their separate ways to focus on their individual objectives that usually have nothing to do with the KPIs that result in digital transformation. Digital transformation requires strong leadership and vision to drive the change and reap the rewards.

Customer first

All marketing and digital transformation strategies need to put the customer experience first – and that requires a new approach to data management, a new approach to technology enablement and, most importantly, a new approach to organisational culture.

This cultural change can only be driven from the top and it is imperative that senior executives integrate digital transformation across all their products and services and create a team of digital experts who are experienced in modern marketing practices and understand the customer journey and how data and technology can enable that experience. Until this happens, the agility crisis facing banks will continue, putting their business models at risk.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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