EROE’s CEO Daniel Solomon will be part of a stellar panel of experts on a DMCC organised webinar themed Preserve Value to Grow and Thrive. The webinar is targeted to support entrepreneurs and businesses with tools and knowledge on how to preserve the business value and mission in a post-Covid19 world.
With an impressive track record in business transformation, Daniel Solomon will join Jignesh Sanghvi Chief Financial Officer at DMCC, James David Bernard Head Of Corporate Sales DMCC, K.S. Ramakrishnan President & Ceo DEI, Raja Lahiri Partner Grant Thornton India, George Stoyanov Partner Transformation Advisory at Grant Thornton Uae, Alok Verma Partner at Grant Thornton India and Russell Dalgleish Serial Scottish Entrepreneur And Investor.
During the webinar the expert panel will offer insights on the following topics:
Owners perspective and experience in current times
Industry best practices to preserve value and grow – new business models and performance improvements
Supporting SMEs – what type of government support is available for businesses
Creating a winning mindset and clients – right to win, building new capabilities etc.
The webinar Preserve Value to Thrive and Grow is scheduled on 25th August starting 3 PM Dubai time and you can register now here.
The topic of money is of interest to everyone and rightly so; it is the main medium of exchange for goods and services around the world.
The use of money has evolved over the years; from commodity barter systems to the use of cash. What has not changed is the value, in terms of whichever means of exchange is used.
In today’s world the value of money, how it is accessed and used are all digitally driven and interconnected in many ways from the consumer to financial organisations. Hypothetically speaking, a layman may answer the question about the future of money as being in the ‘pocket of people’. Technically however, the answer to the question might as well translate into the digital version of what they have in their pocket; just that they will have to access it via different mediums and points of exchange.
Since we are living in a technologically advanced era, how do we automate this with finance to achieve a greater level of value and satisfaction?
At EROE, we help businesses to grow, change and improve how society works through digital and business transformation. As part of a series of webinars which we have been holding since June 2020 to explain business transformation in practicality across industries, we sought to find the views of industry experts on what the future of money looks like, the security space and importance of the banking sector.
The webinar, hosted by EROE CEO, Daniel Solomon on 30th July 2020 was moderated by Kareem Monem who is no stranger to the digital business space in the UAE and EMEA region.
EROE provides a secure technical foundation for businesses using digital solutions, and so discussing a topic concerning the future of money is not out of place for us. We believe that Fintech is a very disruptive force in the finance industry, especially that of the banking sector.
Traditional Banking versus Fintech
“FinTech” is the short form for financial technology and describes the use of technological advancement to consolidate the banking and financial sector for a better consumer experience.
In decoding the future of money, there is the need to discuss the role of Fintech in pushing the innovation agenda for traditional businesses in the financial sector such as banks, from both the consumer and organisational perspective. The modern consumer attaches their loyalty to service providers who actually solve their problems.
Banks have always played conventional roles when it comes to consumer monetary roles and how they are accessed. Webinar panelist, Bill Ashlock who is also the Founder of Bosa Advisors shares his opinion that banks have always had the loyalty of consumers traditionally, and so over the years they have not paid attention to the real issues of customer experience until Fintech came in to disrupt the market providing ease of doing things and at a cheaper cost.
In terms of risks, there have been instances of privacy breaches by both banks and Fintech institutions, and so we cannot pinpoint one party to be riskier per se.
In the Fintech space, the main concept is convenience, and there are a lot of case studies to prove that people can put up with a lot of things when they are assured of convenience. It is therefore important to merge experiences with processes to become more interactive.
Many banks are now reinventing themselves to take on Fintech roles within their organisation by providing consumer innovation services via using customer data to help shape the way banking is done.
Segmentation wise, most of the customers of financial institutions for example in the UAE are SMEs and they have peculiar needs which have to be addressed in the most timely and cost-effective ways, of which most traditional banking systems are trailing behind.
From a financial service point of view, institutions should not be perceived as taking risk with people’s monies; neither should they be too altruistic.
With that being said, big banks will always have that responsibility of trust and being regulatorily accountable for it, as opposed to Fintech institutions. Banks largely have government support and play certain roles like being the lender of last resort.
How does culture affect service delivery and implementation of digital currency in financial institutions?
Culture has a very big role to play in addressing some of these legacy solution challenges. Patrick Campos, who is Chief Strategy Officer at Securrency and panelist at the webinar believes that the culture of the UAE for example which does not provide permanent residency for long term stay increases the chances of people having a short-term mentality in terms of financial commitments. Not that he sees anything wrong with how the UAE decides to run the country or its immigration policies, but his point is that regulation can affect the way technology is implemented in some of these financial institutions, especially banks. An example is how onshore and offshore companies have distinct variations when it comes to operating digitally hence the need to use digital platforms like blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Again, the UAE is largely made up of an expat population who expect things to be done in a different way. There is therefore a need to be innovative in the financial environment. Regulation plays a huge role in customer innovation and should be used as a tool to overcome the old way of doing things.
On the other hand, businesses tend to demand for digital transformation in relation to the banking system. This is why Kareem believes that there is a need to understand what the purpose of the financial sector industry is to the layman in the street and the value it can bring. He gives an example where a white paper by Hub71 stated that opening of a business bank account in the UAE takes an average time of sixty-three days! For him, in times like these where digitization is key, it should be taking sixty-three minutes instead.
To think of this is not acceptable considering an IMD 2019 World Digital Competitiveness Report which ranked the UAE as the number one digitally competitive country in the Arab World and the 12th globally.
And so, one may ask that apart from regulatory issues, what else is inhibiting bridging the speed of doing things gap with the needs of the consumer? Well, the panelists agree that expertise is important to execute futuristic hyper-personalised solutions to consumers. Also, there is the need to use technology to streamline automated processes to create systems that actually work for integrated workflow and there is a lot of room for improvement in that space. Challenges for digital currency will be how forms of value, security, cash etc would be shared and used to acquire other forms of value.
With that said, what is then the future of money?
With rapid innovation and technological advancement, it is not very easy to come up with one answer when asked what the future of money would be. However, participants at the webinar largely believe that in the future one form of value such as cash or securities will be used in exchange for another form of value which is digitally inclined. This is largely due to the fact that these digital forms such as cryptocurrency have no ‘middle ground’ value; transactions are made directly from one point of exchange to another. This should be done in a flexible way to prevent ‘trapping’ of money so that people will have freedom to do what they want with their money and access them whenever they wish even though at a financial institution.
Additionally, there is a need for collaboration to make the ecosystem better as there is enough space for everyone to make money and thrive, what people are looking for is the experience.
Regulation comes in here again because for example, you cannot use technology to be disruptive to a country’s monetary system. Technology is an extension of the regulatory extension requirement as processes are now automated.
In summary, the keywords are accessibility, inclusion, fairness and trust, agreed the panelists. The future would be looking at interoperability and more consumer experience. This cannot be done with a binary approach, because no matter what, optionality will always be there.
In Daniel’s view to conclude, companies have to think about people and how they implement things to help in solving the gap in responding to these needs by using rapid response systems. His perspective comes from a service delivery viewpoint. Customer experience is really key, and this is evident not only in the financial sector but other sectors such as retail are being disrupted in providing value to consumers. Those providing these particular services must consider consumers when it comes to their privacy and security. Regulation framework is very important to protect the end customer and also companies and even governments themselves. There needs to be dialogue with governments for example to tackle some of the regulation hurdles.
What the future of money would look like is about the value of transactions, and the future of personalized transactions will be the make or break.
How we think about money and value remains an ongoing evolution.
Business transformation has been on the agenda of many market-led industries prior to COVID-19. The pandemic has forced most businesses to review the ways in which they operate, and have to ‘innovate, adapt or die’. What now remains is how to win the next phase of business transformation which cannot be done by reassessing previous efforts, and using expert advice to implement an effective growth acceleration strategy.
Here at EROE, our core mandate as a digital and business transformation agency is to help organisations win the sustainable growth and profitability race. Hence in times like these our role in helping organisations to reinvent cannot be overemphasized.
CEO of EROE, Daniel Solomon who is also a delivery advisor hosted our inaugural webinar edition to discuss business acceleration in 2020 through transformation. He was joined by guest speaker Kareem Monem, an industry expert & Digital Visionary.
What has changed?
The year 2020 can be used as a case study and catalyst for change across various sectors of the economy.
For Kareem, factors have not changed much. “What existed in 2019 in terms of catalyst (social challenges, age and demographic challenges, healthcare considerations) are no different from the same just that it has accelerated drastically.”
Environmental and economic factors have not been spared, and there could be a no better time to implement business transformation techniques that we at EROE have been ‘preaching’ for so long. There is a growing need for enterprises to be more agile in adapting to the new business climate normal.
In agreeing that internal & external factors affecting businesses have not changed, it is noteworthy that whenever there is some sort of crisis there is a need for some sort of disruption which may be beneficial to certain industries but not to others. Transformation is therefore important, and so it is imperative to implement them in a business or organisation, be it profit or non-profit.
What does effective transformation involve?
Transformation can be classified in terms of:
Even though we are in a period where innovation is technology driven, transformation is not only synonymous to digitization but rather business transformation is core.
Companies cannot substitute their organisational needs to mean that they need a digital transformation as business transformation is generally the main topic. The fundamental core of business transformation though is the use of technology. This is because it is not about only what you do, but where you operate as well matters.
In Kareem’s estimation, transformation works with three components: digitally enabled transformation which shows how organisations are set up to meet customer commitments, solution-based transformation which is specific to a solution and more of niche end-to-end support, and data transformation which deals with issues such as privacy.
When talking about leadership, organisational, cultural transformation, three fundamental reasons that define organisational purpose and culture are defending the market, differentiating and identification of disruptors.
Which industries have seen, or need transformation?
Regarding which industries are in the need for transformation, Kareem thinks that “the more traditionally established industries are the ones that have the biggest challenges in transforming”. These include banking, financial services, healthcare, telecommunications, retail and so on, all of which are historically big spenders on technology but the demand in their business by consumers have changed drastically and these could be the reason why they need these.
With focus on healthcare, transformation is really urgent. Artificial intelligence (AI) is really affecting how healthcare is accessed and delivered in a more effective way. Machine learning is able to predict and adopt future behaviour, and is also helping to accelerate the ability to get drugs in the market and at a cheaper cost.
Virtual reality is helping create safe learning environments, for example people with autism and even with payments.
Both consumers and providers of healthcare are all driven by technology, saving time, money and energy through techniques such as providing biometric information. Blockchain capabilities are even used to manage electronic healthcare records to identify irregularities, hence improving the whole experience in the long run.
And so, in all these, how can entrepreneurs and small and medium scale businesses adapt to the ever-changing business environment?
Kareem thinks they have a better chance of adapting to dynamic markets. They may not have the budget but have the right organisational structure and a higher probability to have a mindset of change and therefore need to overcome the barrier of fear. They also have to accept that they are in the phase of continuous evolution, and need the right talent to overcome certain barriers as one person does not know it all. Access to funding is also key.
With focus on healthcare, why should businesses invest in other sectors for accelerated transformation?
Based on information and data, organisations can invest into other sectors such as healthcare.
EROE CEO Daniel makes his case, focusing on digitization in the healthcare sector with interesting statistics:
AI powered tools market size is expected to grow over 34billion dollars by 2025.
Over 77% of the global population are expected to go online or use a kind of online tool to make their booking rather than calling a doctor/healthcare institution for treatment.
77% of healthcare organisations are using patient data for predictive analytics already.
Key barriers for business transformation and how businesses can prepare for transformation implementation
For Kareem, it is a pivot between theory and reality considering the complexities of business transformation. Businesses, especially SMEs need to look at things using a long-term approach, and whether the alternative business model is sustainable or not.
Also, there needs to be an answer to the question of where the transformation mandate starts and how it is rolled out in organisation no matter their size.
The biggest barrier to transformation is people, and so there should be high interest in investing in the right talent. Transformation works with change management and so the ‘people’ factor is rather critical.
Conclusion and the way forward
The future is defining what we need to be doing, and in some instances, we need to define how we get to an outcome that is market-led. Business transformation is all about agreeing that we need to change by understanding shareholder value.
On the way forward, businesses should be capability led rather than restrictive. There should be flexibility and readiness to change.
Sustainability is also important, using innovation to drive change.
Talent should be greatly considered as most of the barriers to transformation are people based. Governments and leadership can also play various roles through vision transformation. The core concern should be more of a business transformation rather than a digital transformation.
EROE also believes that enterprises have to be forward thinking. It is important to implement new techniques that encourage systems and processes to operate to their maximum capacity. Innovation is important in achieving business goals, reducing cost, and pushing for continuous improvement. Leadership has a part to play in thinking out of the box, reflecting on how they have handled past transformation led initiatives, and also having a positive and flexible mindset towards change and adaptability.
Doing this must be in a strategic way, and with a sense of urgency. This is where EROE comes in.
Implementing business transformation is quite a complex process, hence the need to introduce the service of experts who have successfully changed the way organisations operate in order to gain new markets, increase revenue, as well as customer satisfaction for continuous improvement. The time to innovate is now!
The growth of some companies increased while revenue plummeted, and others were not so lucky. To survive, companies have had to rapidly pivot their business with speed to adapt to the new world. Life will not go back to normal after the global COVID pandemic, but the good news is that there has been some positive impact made on worldwide business markets.
For us at EROE, our core mandate is business transformation and so with a crisis situation such as this pandemic, we believe it provides an opportunity for businesses to reinvent some of their systems and processes in order to thrive in a rather competitive market.
How have businesses responded in the past few months of COVID-19?
The past few months have impacted businesses in different ways; clearly as the panelists shared their experiences.
Muhammed Mekki is the Founding Partner at Astrolabs, a capacity building company in the UAE that works both online and offline, and provides many services such as being a business incubator. He was on the panel and shared his experience of how they received the news of COVID-19 and how they have pulled through so far. According to him, it was initially a “big shock to their system.” He narrates how they had a training for Digital Marketing due to start on Sunday only to get the message on Friday from KHDA, the regulator for education informing them about the ‘no in person’ training restrictions. So, they had to figure out alternative ideas and how to inform people who had already paid for the course. Eventually they ended up having a virtual program by reducing onscreen hours, doing prework and post work etc. They had to build a virtual platform for their course which is now out. Currently, a self- paced version of it is also underway. For him, the whole experience has gotten them to be more creative in the way they approach their product and also increased their geographic reach to other parts of the world.
In the case of Tech entrepreneur and Founder of Dimension 14, Melda Akin, her business took the health and wellbeing of their teams both in UAE and Turkey very seriously from mid-February when the pandemic was gaining ground till March when it became full blown. Her company is an AI company that also focuses on e-commerce and so her team has been able to deal very well with the change, even beneficially to the extent that and they have gotten to know each other better through video conferencing as a means of communication. Ravi Bhusari, Co-Founder and CEO of DUPLAYS has had a different experience in all these. It has been more of “reframing their value” as their business involves co-working spaces and outdoor sports. They have had to rethink their product and how it is relevant to their consumer space. Since most people are no longer going to the gym for example, there has been a sharp drop in demand for their services.
What are some of the steps put in place for effective business transformation?
When asked about the actionable steps put in place to accelerate business growth and transformation to fit the post COVID world, Ravi says that for his business, what they can do is to take advantage of their network and of learning experiences from the last decade and really try to connect to Sports, Health and Fitness. Currently, they are connecting Fitness entrepreneurs with other real estate in Dubai so that they can monetize their own service for the old or even new customers. His company is also trying to provide a marketing platform so that they can go out and acquire new customers because many of them have lost their old customers. They are also working on concepts to improve mental health, and admits that the pandemic has forced everyone to prioritize what is important.
Business adaptation strategy
In terms of how businesses can adapt in their day to day operations in an ever-changing environment regarding reporting, performance and client relation till efficient delivery to the end customers, Muhammed and his team focused on introspection, reassessment and how to align these to efficiency.
Melda, who brought more of the human side to the conversation talks about how her team worked on “keeping both the team and technical bonds “so this is actually helping their KPI’s at the moment and have helped put in tools to make work faster.
We totally share in this opinion at EROE, as we believe that working remotely has helped teams to communicate seamlessly because certain barriers such as traffic and movement have been broken.
The way forward post COVID-19
The future must be to create enhanced cultures that fit into the new world and transition into it by thinking out of the box to fit new company cultures. This would involve trust, focus on key projects and improving organisational cultures.
Speaking about practical steps they are implementing to transform their business to someone who hasn’t had the experience or taken all these steps, the panelists took turns to offer their advice. For Ravi, it depends on the type of business and what it is going to be. His advice is to be as agile as possible and find ways to cut costs. Their business type means they will have to be more agile, because they do not know when this situation will change, so they are doing their best to reduce costs.
Melda also thinks it depends on the nature of business and how it wants to be transformed by what players and stakeholders are doing, so as to know whether to focus on cost cutting or efficiency for example. She mentions the need for collaborations and also finding out whether there are other industries to invest in.
Muhammed also believes that governments can do a lot to help businesses, by putting in regulations that improve the ease of doing business.
COVID-19 is not only having adverse implications on the health of people worldwide but also economic indicators. In reality, enterprises have to start, stop, and accelerate in order to rethink the whole business objective and pivot it into a new dynamic, without losing the human touch.
At EROE we will keep monitoring the impact COVID-19 is having on business survival in order to implement viable techniques which will accelerate growth for our clients in order for them to gain competitive advantage. We believe that there is a need to have structured processes that measure KPIs and how businesses are operated as a whole in order to ensure effective business transformation and adapt to further disruptions that might occur in the coming days.
Decoding the Future of Money: Fintech, digital assets and transformed currencies
There was a recent episode of “Business Transformation Explained” where top personalities from fintech and digital assets space and discussed the future of money. It was hosted by Daniel Solomon and Kareem Monem, with planned guests including Patrick Campos (CSO Securrency), Bill Ashlock (Bosa Advisors) where the future of money was discussed. It offered thought-provoking conversations about the context of digital assets, and innovation, insights on security and regulations.
According to its webpage, the modern world is defined by an expanding and deepening digital connectivity. Smart products, expanding mobile data networks and ever-more powerful application technologies mean that people now live and spend differently. With the increased need for contactless payments, the rise of digital literacy amongst users and the convenience of fast-online-service, the regulators and the fintech space is on a race to find the best solutions to meet the demand for disruption and the need for data security and transparency.