Посты с тэгом: Webinar Series

REVISED – Food for Thought: Unpacking Innovation Trends in Food Security

Опубликовано: January 5, 2021 в 07:00

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Категории: Insights

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The food sector is one that has witnessed the most disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. From food sources, technology adoption to policy and ethics, businesses have had to change their operation to meet new demands; and consumers have become more sophisticated in their choices of products in terms of price, health and safety. All these have led to expectations which experts have come to agree that technology will play a huge role in bridging this gap so as to ensure sustainability of food security around the world. 

Innovation trends have been the topic of discussion in all sectors as the world grapples with the question of “what next?”. The answer may as well lie in innovative mindsets for consumers, businesses and governments. In a series of webinars by EROE, we have been discussing technology and the future of food security globally. We understand that food security innovation is the most complex subject discussed on the public stage that grew to become a priority in the context of the global pandemic.

In the 3rd part series of our webinars on food security, EROE CEO, Daniel Solomon hosts three industry experts to discuss the food security challenges beyond the borders of the region and also have an in-depth look at sustainable global innovation trends for 2021. On the Panel are Mustafa Y. Koita – Founder and CEO of Koita Foods, Mark Tester – Co-Founder and CSO at Red Sea Farms, as well as Abdulaziz AlMulla – CEO of Madar Farms.

What is Food Security in your own words? 

Though this question has been answered in previous webinars, Daniel poses the question again as he has a different set of panelists. Mark is a Professor of Plant Sciences and has been doing research into plant sciences for many years. He is now enjoying developing saltwater-based agricultural systems in Saudi Arabia and the UAE with Red Sea Farms to improve sustainability of food production. In his own words, “in discussing food security, you need to have accessibility, stability and safety. Food also needs to be produced with a lower environmental footprint. At the moment the food sector takes almost half of all the land through its use. It is also the 2nd largest emitter of greenhouses according to our primary research. In this region, 85% of all the water used is from food. And frankly, not much food is being produced here to be using that amount of water. About a 3rd of all the water used for irrigation for food comes from underground sources, and so we are producing a large amount of our agriculture by mining water. This is unsustainable and so we need to reduce our environmental footprints in the food sector. For instance, doing things like using plant-based milk for dairy is fantastic because emissions from the dairy industry is huge. The water footprint from most of our food production is really shocking. A single date planted in the region uses 50 litres of water in its entire production, and so there is an urgent need to change some of these things. Fantastic opportunities have been given by technology such as engineering, digital and biotech innovations. I am optimistic that we would be able to roll out a number of these innovations for ourselves.”

Ensuring that technology solves access to food as a basic right for everyone 

Food and nutrition safety are considered a basic human right according to the Maslow Hierarchy of needs. In UAE, we may be very lucky to have access to food but the story may not be the same in other countries. Abdulaziz AlMulla is CEO and Founder of Madar Farms, a UAE 

start up focused on tackling food and water security through sustainable local production. His company in particular is focused on indoor farming and uses hydroponics and vertical farming as well as controlled environment to make sure that their plants have what they need all the time to be happy, healthier, all natural with no pesticides or insecticides and most importantly no preservatives. They are looking to decrease use of water resources and to get local production and security up here in the UAE. 

Presenting his thoughts on using technology to solve access to food as a basic right for everyone, he adds that “we are not producing enough and what we are producing is overusing our natural resources. Even though in the UAE, we able to go to the supermarket to buy what we want anytime does not necessarily translate into food security as it is a global issue. The two big words that come to mind is accessibility and opportunity. I have watched the testing process of growth on my farm and we were able to simplify it because it’s been run by computers. I can say the developments of IoT and its integration with agriculture suddenly made it accessible enough for people without agricultural backgrounds to produce. Technology is opening up ways and narrowing the knowledge gap. If we drive accessibility and awareness, then we can drive change and that is when technology brings opportunity. Talking about FoodTech and Agtech is now more about technology, marketing, alternative sources, an entire value chain. Technology on its own is not the change, it is the integration of consumers that enables the change.”

How is the price point of the product determining sustainability of food security in this region in general?

Mustafa is Founder and CEO of Koita Foods, a homegrown Dubai Company which he started seven years ago. They sell three lines of items namely organic dairy milk, lactose free dairy milk, and plant-based/vegan milk ranges like soya, oat, and almond. They are already in eleven countries being a market leader in most of its categories and are very proud to have seen a lot of about the food security business. 

In answering the question, he says that “consumers are very sophisticated, this generation is extremely demanding. They want sustainable, organic, non-GMO and also a price point. The challenge through our primary research is that the consumer wants to eat their cake and have it. UAE does not have arable land so having a price point to mimic the ones with arable lands is challenging. Driving to a consumer-friendly price point is important.” 

All panelists agree that there should be a benefit and cost analysis to strike a balance as consumer demand drives the market share.

Alternative food source growth to be considered for food sustainable 

A very good example of this is on Koita Foods which introduced full plant-based ranges 24 months ago with, oats, almond (which is rich in fibre) and Soya (which is rich in protein). That product range has grown quite rapidly and has cut across geographical barriers. It therefore started investing more in R&D on the plant-based side.

How do we use technology to identify safety of food instead of just focusing on price point? 

Producers need to make food safe and general education needs to be targeted at all stakeholders including consumers. Social Media is a powerful tool in connecting brands directly to interact with their consumers and so it cannot be underestimated. 

Traceability is also important. For instance, adding QR codes to packaging to show information such as nutritional facts will be a big boost in this drive.

Making food innovation attractive 

Agriculture’s image has not really changed globally and it sometimes looks boring and therefore not a career path many consider. So, if the youth for example can be shown that it is possible, achievable, and that it can be done, they would be inspired and attracted. 

Knowing that the UAE government is entrepreneurial at heart and loves to take risks, it is a good country to get investment into the sector. Mark raised a point about one of the things that he finds really wrong in a lot of jurisdictions, not only in the UAE. In his opinion there are way too many subsidies in the system; and rather we should be paying the real price for “what we should be paying the real price”. This is because some of the basic elements of these subsidies are distorting markets and are also very strongly inhibitory of the actual true adoption of real innovations. 

The food sector has one of the biggest challenges the world faces so there is a big piece of the pie for everyone. It is up to industry players to use effective communication and collaboration to inspire consumers, businesses and governments on board so that everyone can have a piece of the pie.

What can we expect to see in making food security innovations more sustainable? 

Moving into 2021, there is a lot to look forward to in terms of innovation in food security. According to Mustafa, “in terms of alternative food sources, taste has been optimized and really improved. Marketing and distribution have also improved.” He expects to see a huge increase in consumers buying directly from the brand, that is a huge shift in ecommerce patterns and also more vegan products. In Abdulaziz’s view, “There has been lot of options on the market and the interventions we need are technology and Marketing Communications to close that gap. Land in the region is less arable and so has the greatest needs. Madar Farms for example is using LED light technology to aid with the growth of tomatoes, and so there is room to grow and disrupt which can be done from a wide space. We therefore need to encourage people to become part of this sector.” Mark concludes that “in addition to technology, consumer education to make more informed decisions is important in terms of their health, safety and being environmentally sustainable.” 

It is obvious that the gains of technology can be harnessed in the food and agriculture sector to bring about innovative solutions that will be beneficial to consumers, entrepreneurs, businesses, governments and the climate as a whole. We need to continue making efforts as stakeholders to continue the drive in bringing out sustainable solutions that will create self-sufficiency in local food production as a means of ensuring global food security.

The Future of Food Innovation, Food Security and Adoption of Smart Technologies

Опубликовано: December 22, 2020 в 14:54

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Категории: Insights

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Food is a basic human need essential for our survival; and so, the topic of food security is not one that anybody can shy away from considering the risks that would be involved should the world lack access to enough food. Already, there are many global areas facing challenges of food shortage due to economic, environmental, and socio-political factors. With the effects of climate change and even the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, there is a need to have conversations about food security to ensure our own survival now and in the future. 

The gains of technology can be harnessed in all sectors including food and agriculture to bring about innovative solutions that will be beneficial to consumers, entrepreneurs, businesses, governments and the climate as a whole. Considering the natural environmental factors in the GCC and UAE alone, it is useful to know that the region is leading the way in fostering an ecosystem for food technology (FoodTech), agricultural technology (Agritech), and smart farming. All these are efforts being made by key stakeholders to create self-sufficiency in local food production.

In an exclusive edition of the Business Transformation Explained series CEO of EROE, Daniel Solomon hosts a stellar panel of key stakeholders to talk about the use of technology when it comes to FoodTech and Agritech in a webinar Moderated by George Stoyanov, Partner at Grant Thornton UAE. Youssouf Kamal – Innovation and Partnership Manager at Plug ‘n’ Play UAE, Robert Kupstas – Co Founder of Pure Harvest, and Jacek Plewa – CEO of Healthy Farm Food Innovation are the Speakers who lead the discussion on the use of technology in increase food production, smart farming, food waste management and the ethical challenges we all face in respect to these.

FoodTech vs Agritech 

FoodTech refers to how the whole value chain of food supply, from production to distribution, uses innovative processes in their business models to improve output. Key stakeholders here include startups, entrepreneurs and government interventions. 

Agritech on the other hand mainly looks directly at the use of sustainable technology to increase and improve yield. Youssouf believes the two are similar with the key difference being that Agritech is at the beginning of the value chain with FoodTech coming after the industrial level. Speaking at the panel discussion he made the point that; “FoodTech is a branch of food science with the production process from food preservation, packaging, sustainability to the use of data.” As of 2018, an Arabnet report gave 459 million dollars as the total value of digital investments in the UAE alone. From this figure, technology is critical in how economies are going to thrive in the coming decades. The use of technology in the food and agriculture sector includes urban farming, thinking Artificial Intelligence (AI) as well as modern sustainability practices.

Using Technology to solve issues of Climate Change

In Daniel’s opinion, Food technology is a micro economic challenge ultimately driven by geography. This is true considering the kind of terrain that exists in the UAE for example, very few areas can be considered as arable land for farming purposes. For Jacek, the COVID-19 crisis has been a great revealer and has offered us a great opportunity to rethink food processing and how we treat food as these have a direct bearing on the environment. Studies have shown that the food industry is responsible for 26 percent of global GHG emissions. This can rise to 40 to 50 percent by 2030 if not properly handled. On the other hand, he says that “With this set up I think we are getting ready for a 5th industrial revolution driven by the challenges of the environment and this is related to technology, so it is a time to think. It is a great scope of work for leaders and businesses to rethink technology. Technology is available, it is more on the government and regulatory side to create an environment that addresses these challenges.” A UN study suggests that the world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, and this also means that this number will have to rely on food so we have to start creating sustainable systems. For example, Healthy Farm Food Innovation has for the past five years been working on alternative meat with a technology that has been available and developed for ten years, and accelerated more with investments. Jacek goes on to add that clean food is also important and defines it as saying no to chemicals, refined sugars or flours, artificial additives, and pesticides. In summary the less processed food is, the better. 

Quality control needs to be improved with focus on sustainable packaging as well. Pure Harvest for instance is planning to build 70 hectares of green house to provide healthier and more affordable local food.

How do we advance the Food and Agriculture capabilities we have?

The UAE being ranked 21st on the Global Food Security Index reflects the country’s role in advancing food sustainability. In Youssouf’s view, the UAE is very reliant on international supply chains and that puts the country at risk. We therefore need to create win-win configurations for all stakeholders to leverage technology for example, with startups and collaborations to improve the ecosystem. We also need to leverage private sector involvement. They may not be too open at the beginning but we need to educate, incentivize and prove to them by showing them the KPI’s and profitability proof that it is a business model that works.

Rethinking Supply Chain and Distribution to decrease food loss/waste 

The panelists debated on the role of supply chain and distribution in curbing food waste. They however agree that the GCC has a high per capita food waste which not only contributes to losses but greenhouse emissions, and so the key here is making efforts to shorten the supply chain by exploring local opportunities. For example, the time frame from harvesting to distribution should be less. Handling of perishables through cold chain practices should also have fewer people in the supply chain. These topics should be added to school curriculums for the mindset of change to begin at a very early stage. Consumers should also be sensitized; schools and communities need to be involved in elevating values we represent as a society in terms of ethics. From an industrial point of view the use of software, biotech and AI to provide data on food storage will prove useful. 

In tackling food waste in the next two years for instance, solutions provided by the panelists include relooking at government regulations and investment into technology, as well as the value chain. In addition, we need to focus more on educating the UAE youth population so that they can bring these standards to the schools and households.

Exhibit: UAE’s Youth Population Statistics. Source- Global Media Insights

Online grocery shopping can be effective in reducing food waste as they shorten the supply chain, and also a healthy option for consumers who can get fresh produce coming directly from the farms. 

People argue that farmworkers who depend on their labour to put food on the table of their families may feel under threat from ‘agri bots’ with all this talk of technology. However, new technology can be managed in a way that is beneficial to all stakeholders. Though the UAE government shows a lot of leadership in terms of regulation, ethical elements must be shouldered by both the government and the populace to support the creation of a viable ecosystem. Whilst government support is needed through initiatives, entrepreneurs who believe in the availability of clear opportunities in FoodTech and Agritech are needed in the space. Organizations now have CSR in their DNA instead of being a ‘once in a year’ occurrence and so this can also help in making an impact. There are a lot of opportunities in Aquaculture farming as well, even though it is capital intensive and requires a lot of technology maturation.

Should we really trust machines and robots to produce our food?

In Robert’s view, it is possible if they are bringing us closer to nature. In the first place, he says that “My company uses hydroponics technology and so our produce does not grow in the soil but is still natural. Open field farming may not be possible on a large scale in UAE due to 

environmental factors so in this case, we need to talk about hydroponics and other irrigation methods. Also, processes have to be automated, for instance robots harvesting yield in order to achieve the UN’s projection on feeding 9.7 billion people by 2050. 

Future technologies to look out for 

In terms of technology, Aeroponics farming is promising because it is less capital intensive, very environmentally friendly and sustainable as it uses less water. Also, technologies that discourage the use of pesticides to grow any type of crop should be looked into in a bid to improve consumer health and boost their immune systems.

How do we link all these with pricing?

Speaking on pricing, Jacek believes that we have more vulnerable and price sensitive consumers now and so companies must optimize costs in production to decrease these costs. Youssouf on the other hand thinks that it will be hard to be competitive with traditionally established farmers, but sufficient technology and skills will need to be implemented in large farms to gain economies of scale. For example, robotics is expensive but cheaper if the farm size is large. Farm to table concepts also need to be looked at and ecommerce is key here. In Robert’s view, he uses his Company Pure Harvest as an example where they offer more value in terms of quality compared to the competitors who import from Europe. Since they produce locally, their produce has more sunlight which also accounts for longer shelf life as they do not use artificial lighting compared to what their competitors do in winter. Also, they cut on freight costs as they transport locally and so they mostly have to deal with cooling and capital costs mainly. In summary, the value proposition is great quality at an amazing price. 

From the contributions of the Panelists, Host and Moderator, it is clear that we need to have more of these conversations as a people to come up with practical and innovative ways of curbing the likelihood of food security risks now and in the future. Technologies are available, and continue to be developed and so all stakeholders have to keep the conversation going in addition to putting in practical techniques needed to achieve global food security goals.

SOURCES:

 https://www.arabnet.me/english/business-intelligence/digital-investment-2019

https://ourworldindata.org/food-ghg-emissions#:~:text=Food%20is%20responsible%20for%20approximately,to%20quantify%20food%20GHG%20emissions

https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/world-population-prospects-2019.html

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/general/uae-climbs-10-spots-on-food-security-index-

How Technology is increasing the Food Security in GCC

Опубликовано: October 13, 2020 в 09:52

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Категории: Insights

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The global pandemic of 2020 has brought to the global attention the need for advanced food security, supply management, and self-sufficiency.

A new United Nations (UN) report launched in 2019 states that the world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050. It is also expected to peak at nearly 11 billion around 2100.

A growing population always comes with its merits and challenges as well. 

Most people love to talk about food; but as the global population increases with the society currently faced with a pandemic and the impact of climate change on how we live, food production, security, and distribution must become sustainable. Practical ways to reform agriculture such as soil conservation, consumer education about behavioral changes, and the use of technology to produce, distribute, and reduce wastage ought to have a place on the discussion table. 

As part of EROE’s Business Transformation Explained Webinar series, CEO Daniel F. Solomon led a panel made of Jude Hamod from SRTIP and George Stoyanov from Grant Thornton to predict the future of food security, and answer questions on how innovation and technology can be used as tools in tackling food waste. 

With an extensive background in technology, Jude is the Head of Business Development at the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park whilst George is a Partner at Grant Thornton, a tax and auditing firm in the UAE.

What is food security and how is it economically impacting the UAE and the GCC region?

The United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security defines it as the means by which “people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.” The core of food security is whether people have physical access to food and whether they can feed themselves. 

Secondly, do people have economic access or economic strength for food? This can be looked at from the point of not only the individual person but collectively; first as countries and then from a global perspective. This means that each individual has the opportunity to have food and access its distribution and economic elements to support their families, nations, and so on. This should be done in the most environmentally sustainable and friendly manner in a supply chain cycle that is viable and secured making sure that food is not wasted. 

Each member of the cycle will play a pivotal role in this, and so it is everyone’s business to make this a mindset. Food production, capacity in terms of harvesting as well as technology plays a crucial role. These thoughts were shared by George Thornton during the discussion.

Locally, the UAE stepped up the vision towards the future of food security by launching the National Food Security Strategy which aims to make the  UAE one of the world’s best countries in the Global Security Index by 2051 and among the top 10 countries by 2021.

Main challenges to food security for a global population heading towards 9 billion by 2050

From a technology perspective, Jude Hamod believes that the population is still growing and GDP per capita is also increasing which drives global demand for foods that are resource-intensive such as processed foods. It’s not exactly the availability or affordability factor always for her, however, the main problem is the impact on the environment. Resource-intensive foods have had a negative impact on the environment such as on water, global warming, and the loss of biodiversity. There are ways to tackle these with the right technology. Farming techniques that use resources more efficiently, incorporating food waste processing well, and also going towards a diet that is less based on animal intensive resources is a way to go even though, with the latter, food may become more expensive.

The role of innovation by farmers and how we can support farmer-led innovation to tackle some of these challenges.

The agricultural sector has different challenges globally. In the UAE water consumption is one of them. Techniques such as vertical farming or hydroponics which aim to yield productivity through soilless, precision agriculture which uses satellite, productivity monitoring, huge use of drones, and IoT and technology must be implemented on a large scale. Currently, Jude Hamod mentioned one of the three companies in the UAE which are fully equipped to apply these techniques and several others and must be supported from all angles such as Agritech (Agricultural Technology) and Finance to sustain them. Making technology accessible means investing heavily in technology and innovation.

The United Nations’ World Food Programme has warned that an additional 130 million people could face acute food insecurity by the end of 2020, on top of the 135 million people who were already acutely food insecure before the crisis. This is alarming, and a reflection of the looming impact of food insecurity.

What is the best way to turn people into producing locally and how can it help improve the entire supply chain?

The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted livelihoods especially in the F&B and Hospitality sectors which are traditionally big in the UAE. We have to support the production of locally produced food even from the perspective of the consumer. Fruits and vegetables are the most perishable items in terms of the food supply chain system and so they rank high in the wastage part. This is why local supply should be encouraged. Hypermarkets and local online stores can also help here. Governments and regulators have a role to play as well. Financiers such as banks can help by investing, and this will create a domino effect to the benefit of all, according to George. There are many opportunities in Agritech and using analytics will be helpful to prevent food loss. Innovation is key.

How do we address the controversy of constantly producing more food to meet the growing demands of the population?

A large percentage of fruits and vegetables always go to waste. They are most susceptible to food wastage because of their natural elements which makes them more perishable. Transporting them means that there may not be a need to add more additives in preserving them. We, therefore, need to find ways to curb the food wastage percentage. It uses the law of increasing numbers. Companies can take advantage of this to optimize waste, improve storage facilities, transportation, and many more in a bid to curb waste. Harvest technologies and packaging is crucial.

Jude believes that controlling storage and transportation is important. The education of people in the supply chain can also help prevent waste. Most solutions are AI-based and so traceability technology is needed to improve the operations and reduce inefficiencies. The use of AI for analytics also helps in forecasting and planning instead of overproducing. Innovative packaging is also important in helping the consumer in being more conscious. This improves dynamic pricing for example on perishable goods.

How do we go beyond price, whilst educating the consumer about how to avoid food waste?

Panelists agree that we must ensure people are buying more organic food, changing consuming behaviours to more sustainable and nutritious foods. We must also encourage the use of applications that help people to be nutrition-conscious leading to 

sustainability is becoming a necessity and not a trend.

Changing the approach to nutrition, Consumers should become conscious buyers and different stakeholders have to be involved in eliminating food waste that leads to insecurity to support the UN goals. 

How do we address food security, nutrition, and waste in the years to come?

First, technology is key and so, companies and startups need funding to be able to use it effectively. Testing is also important to make sure techniques are viable.

Key stakeholders have to be consulted extensively to help implement these technologies.

The UAE has very high ambitions in going ahead in the rankings of the Global Food Security Index. In light of this, we all have a role to play. The role of regulators is vital, and authorities can play an active part however consumers have an equal responsibility of supporting the national vision by educating themselves and by changing harming inherited commercial behaviours. 

Moreover, financing support is key and investors should turn their attention towards startups and companies producing innovative solutions to support the change towards food sustainability.

Least but not last, an important component remains the nutrition and sustainability education, which should be implemented from an early age so that the next generation can develop a greener mindset from the very start.

Consumers, startups and governments together can achieve the National Food Security Strategy of the UAE. We all need to do our part to move everything forward.

SOURCES

https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/world-population-prospects-2019.html

https://www.ifpri.org/topic/food-security#:~:text=Food%20security%2C%20as%20defined%20by,an%20active%20and%20healthy%20life

https://u.ae/en/about-the-uae/strategies-initiatives-and-awards/federal-governments-strategies-and-plans/national-food-security-strategy-2051#:~:text=The%20strategy%20aims%20to%3A,the%20use%20of%20modern%20technologies&text=develop%20international%20partnerships%20to%20diversify%20food%20sources

https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/agriculture/brief/food-security-and-covid-19

https://www.eroe.co/webinars/the-future-of-food-security-and-the-role-of-technology-in-tackling-food-waste/

What does the future of money look like?

Опубликовано: August 17, 2020 в 20:24

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Категории: Insights

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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.

Infographic: UK’s fintech and traditional banking job markets prior to the COVID-19 pandemic

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. 

Infographic Source:

 Webinar Source: https://www.eroe.co/webinars/adapting-to-the-new-normal-devising-an-effective-business-strategy-in-a-post-covid-19-world-3/

Future Arrived: What is business transformation for acceleration in 2020?

Опубликовано: August 17, 2020 в 20:22

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Категории: Insights

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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:

  • Business, 
  • Digital, 
  • Organisational, 
  • Management-led and,
  • Cultural transformation.

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!

Infographic sourcehttps://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/promoting-an-overdue-digital-transformation-in-healthcare

Statistics sourcehttps://www.digitalauthority.me/resources/state-of-digital-transformation-healthcare/

Webinar Link:  https://www.eroe.co/webinars/future-arrived-2020-accelerating-business-transformation/