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The different dimensions of digitalization: PRAVEX BANK 13 September 2021

Andrea Urgolo, Head of Digital Transformation at PRAVEX BANK, talks about how a transformed culture must accompany any successful digital transformation project. 
If digitalization is a strategic priority in your institution, how is this priority translated into organizational terms?

Yes, it is absolutely a strategic priority. I think a successful digital transformation requires a deep cultural, organizational, and operational change and not just simple IT development like most executives think. Technology, RPA, AI, and ML alone do not guarantee success without the tools, processes, culture, people, and mindset to go with them.

What we are doing is adapting our company to a more general transformation at any level triggered by a global digitalization which impacts all industries and customer behaviors. Going back to the original point, in organizational terms we are promoting a massive assessment of the potential of our staff and a massive training program in order to move the ones with the highest potential and a flexible mindset to more valuable tasks. We encourage new assignments, rotations, secondments and similar valuable programs in order to give them more responsibility. In other words, empowering them! 

The final goal is to set up a self-sustaining culture, driven by employees, which will maintain a digital focus over the years. In this exercise, I would say that HR has also shifted from an old-style service unit into a strategic partner.

What new profiles are needed to drive a successful digitalization strategy and where do you find inspiration in other sectors/industries?

Well, aside from job descriptions, what is really needed to have a successful transformation are employees with a flexible and adaptive mindset and, in my experience, it is not only young employees who are flexible but also older employees. And it is a mistake to assume that young people are flexible just because they are young.

Self-awareness, attitude toward innovation, and being open-minded about the role are all qualities generated by an adaptive mindset. Let us not forget that digital transformation is a complicated and risky journey and, unlike other journeys, it is a never ending state of continuous innovation as new waves of disruptive technologies are released to the market.

What are the dimensions of your digitalization strategy (infrastructure, processes, channels, way of working, etc.)?

We are currently preparing the next 3-year strategic plan as the previous one just ended. Considering the huge changes in customer behaviour and the dramatic acceleration of the global digitalization process caused by the Covid pandemic, we are redefining our business model almost from scratch and this will impact any aspect of the company. In other words, the transformation process of the bank will hit almost every unit and, consequently, that means changes are coming to processes, sales channels, retail and corporate business, IT infrastructure, etc.
 
Beyond the benefits already achieved and the expected benefits of digitalization, what are the obstacles and dangers to avoid?

Digital transformation is complex and the failure rate is very high. This is true regardless of the industry. The most dangerous obstacle is the lack of integration of all transformation efforts with the rest of the company and just considering a digital transformation as a pivot into a new business area will end in failure.

On the contrary what is needed, at the very beginning, is a commitment from top management and a real, deep, honest cultural shift of the company. Executives and business leaders usually address the digital transformation to technologies and applications but that is only one part of the equation and not even the most important.

How can digitalization be reconciled with the need to humanize customer relations?

The root of any change starts with customers. Customer happiness is the way to win in business and customer expectations are, in our times, driven by digital innovations. Only continuous learning about the customer journey and behaviors across all digital interactions and touch points will allow the development of a long-term customer relationship.

As a matter of fact, in the age of chatbots, digital payments, and artificial intelligence, the key to “humanizing the customer experience” is authenticity, and only reliable human insights can build a successful CX strategy. 

Personalized services, tailor-made offers, and using preferred channels to contact the client are good examples of “humanizing.”
 
How can digitalization be 'sold' to the company's employees?

I once came across this sentence: “It is apparent that the company can’t be better or any bigger than the growth of the people in it.” It was Leo Burnett who said it and I think it is the best answer to your question. The best way to sell the “transformation” is to show the staff that they can grow together with the company 

To what extent has the Covid crisis changed your digitalization program?
 
I already touched on this, but I can add that the global pandemic not only accelerated our program but forced us to expand it and think of a wider digitalization of our company for our upcoming 3-year strategic plan. 

If you want to join the Efma Digital Transformation community, you can reach out to the community manager, Dorota Valkova at dorota@efma.com.