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To Hell with Digital

Digital Transformation – Blood, Sweat and Respect

“Blood, Sweat and Respect. First Two You Give, Last One You Earn” Dwayne Johnson

Banking industry is undergoing massive transformation in multiple areas. Never in history were banks experiencing this level of change. Each of these transformations have a journey from conceptualisation to execution to support.

Digital transformations currently in progress in banks may include:

Changing Customer Experience through New / Upgrade Digital Platform
Omni-channel Platform
Internet Banking
Mobile Banking
Offering completely new products and services to customers like
Completely Only savings account
Extending credit at the point of sale
Building online / near real time credit decisioning platform
Online bulk payments and collections
Deploying UPI platform with multiple e-commerce partners
Partnership with Fintechs

These transformations typically have Design Thinking, UI / UX, Analytics, AI, API Banking, Blockchain etc embedded under them. These typical “Trendy Terms” attract lots of new talent.

Interestingly, the key expectations of anyone joining a Digital Transformation in any role are:

It would be exciting.
I would learn new things.
I will shine and handle things it.
It would improve my market value.
It would help me get into a new role.

While the above may be true, there is not much talk about “Blood & Sweat” that you will have give to make them happen.

Digital transformations are liked by few and may be disliked by many
It may impact some units adversely as their activities may be reduced or completely changed (like IT, credit, ops, Finance etc)
Some units may have to accept higher risks (Compliance, Risks etc)
Some units may have to handle more work (like IT, Finance, Marketing etc)

Driving change management through the organisation is a difficult journey. Nothing will prepare you for the journey except the real experience.

Digital transformations typically impact your personal life adversely
Be ready for long working hours, working weekends, cancelled leave applications, late night calls, extended travels, missing marriage anniversaries celebrations not just of your friends but your own too!!

It may take you and your family time to adjust to this. Never underestimate the disruption in your life!

Digital Transformations can fail and you may have nothing to show but experience
Nearly 20 to 30 percent transformations do not go live to due to various reasons like
Lack of regulatory approvals (like a bank may try to launch a bank in new country but may not get license)
Lack of expertise may result in program failure (lot of initiatives start without getting skilled resources onboard… Results are obvious)
Funding issues – When many initiatives are vying for funds, not many get it.
Lack of governance – Many programs run without active support from management. These programs get caught in choppy waters and never come out. End result may be firing of the entire team…
Change in management – New management may just de-support the initiatives in progress. This happens far too regularly then you may estimate.
Another 20 to 30 percent get delayed by 6 months to 12 months due to above reasons

Be ready for not so positive results, without getting negative. There was a period in my life, wherein many initiatives did not go live despite all sacrifices by the entire team (bank as well as partners side). I still remember telling my team that the initiative that we had been working passionately for 9 months “was not proceeding due to regulatory reasons”. Nothing can prepare you for that.

In this journey, I have seen many team members:

Moving out due to inability to handle the work stress / extra hours
Getting negative and embarking on “this will not happen campaign”

Digital transformation journey is full of Blood & Sweat… with the hope of earning Respect in the end.

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