Digital transformation pioneers and industry trailblazers were honoured at the Digital Leader Awards in Dubai on Thursday.
The event was co-located with the inaugural DigiTrans 2017 - The Digital Transformation Forum, organised by Khaleej Times and MIT Sloan Management Review GCC, which brought together a large number of experts from various sectors to highlight the importance of innovative new technologies. In total, nine awards were presented at the event across the individual and organisation categories.
Emirates NBD was the favourite at the ceremony, picking up three awards across different categories. Khaleej Times caught up with Suvo Sarkar, senior executive vice president and group head of retail banking and wealth management at Emirates NBD, after the awards to talk about the bank's success and its focus on digital transformation.
"Investment is absolutely critical for the next five to 10 years, because banking technology was fundamentally set up decades back," he said. "We are the oldest bank in the country, so we are obviously loaded with lots of legacy technology, and this is a problem with a lot of banks in Europe and the US as well. We have to reinvent ourselves in a very significant way on the path to digital, and we can't do that with legacy technology."
He added: "This year, our board announced a Dh1 billion investment for the next three years to essentially refocus our technology, revamp our systems and our connectivity, such that we can become a more agile bank when it comes to launching new products and services; and such that we can offer an omni-channel experience to customers; and such that our entire thinking and innovation process is far more integrated with business."
Surendra Shetty, chief information officer at UAE Exchange, which won the 'Emerging Digital Leader' award in the financial services category, said that digital transformation is not an IT transformation. The entire organisation has to transform including all business units and support functions, he said.
"To a large extent, it is a mindset change, and what the heart speaks out," Shetty said. "All the departments have to move together as a block for it to be successful. And whatever we do on this journey, has to be with the customer in mind. This is true for any industry whether it is banking, retail, manufacturing, or logistics. The approach has to be customer-centric, with their needs at the forefront. This is important if you want to retain customers and be ensured of their loyalty."
Rasheed D. Shakhsheer, director of the eDirham Program, which won the 'Digital Leader' in Government Services award, noted that from a fintech perspective, it is very important to leverage new technologies to better create system solutions to manage the payments and collection processes.
When a process is truly automated, and smart components are applied into that, then it becomes beneficial to process digitally, cashlessly and paperlessly, with less human intervention, he said. This reduces errors, and enhances the sustainability of the cash deposits as it is needed.
"There are certain blocks that we feel are important within the fintech industry, as well as within the digital transformation engine in general; IT is an important component, as is culture and management from the top management," he said.
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