The future holds many uncertainties when it comes to business. But companies need to embrace these uncertainties, using technology to help them along the way, writes DOUG WOOLLEY, GM, Dell EMC South Africa.
In the future, when historians look back at our age, I believe they will characterise it for its mix of progress and uncertainty. We are currently undergoing some of the greatest shifts in humanity’s story. From individual rights to new political ideas and ideals, it’s remarkable how every day our world seems less and less like the one we’ve experienced before.
Technology has always been a part of the conversation, but in the past few decades it’s accelerated our world in unbelievable ways. This has added to that uncertainty, but also to the potential and progress, creating a delicate balancing act for IT leaders inside their organisations.
The demands on IT
Technology is supposed to represent stability. Businesses do not like uncertainty, which they typically define as problems. Technology is often the way that problems can be solved or at least eased. Technology is meant to do things better and faster. But when they also introduce change, things can get tense.
You know that these uncertainties hold great potential if you can harness them. You are not alone: the world’s top companies all wrestle with this transition, some more successful than others. It’s a matter of pride that I can say many of the success stories are relying on Dell EMC. But this isn’t a surprise, because the Dell Technologies family is built on the principle that these changes are happening and those who don’t embrace them will be the losers.
Our Chairman and CEO, Michael Dell, draws this insight right back to his childhood, when his father brought home a pocket calculator. The young Michael could scarcely believe what he saw: a small machine that took complex numbers and comfortably delivered simple answers. He thought it was magic and represented an overwhelming opportunity to amplify his skills and creativity.
Today that opportunity is now available to everyone, in particular companies. Business opinions reflect this: CEOs want their companies to be a technology company and business units want to be platforms. Agility is the focus, but the burden falls on technology leaders to find that balance.
Yet what to the business is magic comes down to very real technology. With that comes the need for IoT, cloud, workforce and security strategies. You have to focus on data and its tangible uses for the business. You have to realise your company’s digital future, and it is not a simple task. If it were, we’d not even need to have these conversations.
Striking a balance
Digital Transformation needs IT Transformation. You have a datacentre full of applications and infrastructure, carefully planned and deployed over the past few decades. Updating these into a cloud-native, platform-anchored and data-driven world is not easy. But with the right partners and strategies, your IT transformation can fund your company’s digital transformation.
Dell EMC has been walking this journey for a while and today many companies trust us with their transformation. Ninety percent of the top 20 IaaS providers, seventy percent of the top 100 cloud companies, all of the top 20 automotive retail and insurance companies, and the vast majority of the 100 fastest growing companies in the world use our services, insights and innovations to advance their futures.
Join us at the upcoming Dell EMC Forum event at Sandton Convention Centre on the 27th March 2018 (Register Here) where we will be looking at the challenges and opportunities for IT leaders to get transformation going. Uncertainty is a fact of our age, but uncertainty also translates into potential. Like two people arguing over a glass being half full or empty, we believe the right conversations with the right people can shift a business to see the promise in uncertainty, made possible through technology.
VoD cuts the cord in SA
Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.
That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.
The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.
Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.
Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”
The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.
“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”
New data rules raise business trust challenges
When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.
The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.
GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.
The fundamentals of trust
GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.
The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.
This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.
What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.
The risk of compliance
Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.
A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.
A three-step plan of action
So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:
Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.
Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.
Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.