The financial services industry has been at an inflection point. Regulatory requirements have been on the climb, consumers have begun expecting highly personalised experiences while security threats remain dynamic. The challenges for banks, insurers, payments tech providers and others are high. To reaffirm its ongoing commitment to the financial services industry (FSI) Microsoft participated in and sponsored the second Annual Africa Banking & Finance Innovation Summit (#ABSI2020), held in Nairobi.
The Summit explored the emerging technologies, developments, latest trends and new opportunities within ﬁnancial institutions and insurance companies throughout East Africa. The event provided a platform for experts, professionals and top organisations to come together to engage in two days of networking, knowledge-sharing sessions, real-life case studies and interactive panel discussions which focused on the latest technologies that cater to the growth and innovation of the FSI industry in East Africa.
(TOP: Kunle Awosika, the Director of SMEs and Corporates for Emerging Markets at Microsoft – left – receives a token of appreciation from Stanley Chege, the CIO of Madison Group, after making a presentation at the second Africa BFSI Summit – #ABSI2020 – in Nairobi).
Speaking at a keynote session Kunle Awosika, Director of SMEs and Corporates, Middle East & Africa – Multi-Country Cluster covering Sub-Sahara Africa, North Africa, Levant & Pakistan) at Microsoft noted that digital transformation can help drive solutions like cloud adoption for banking. “Financial institutions like banks need to think about how to use technology to create new opportunities and drive customer growth. Forward-thinking banks should be adopting cloud technologies such as ‘hybrid’ to reduce costs, analysing data to create more personalised services, and using customer-focused channels to effectively reach their customers”.
In fact, the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index Report reveals that there is a rapid increase in hybrid cloud adoption in FSI. According to the report, hybrid cloud deployment reached 21% percent, which is above the global average of 18.5%.
In Kenya, HF Group was able to establish a scalable, cloud-based IT environment in two months instead of two years compared to an on-premises setup. Azure also enables DevOps capabilities that enhance software development and regular app releases and updates.
“We run everything on Azure – it has helped us achieve the best availability, speed, agility, and user experience among the banking and finance apps launched in our market,” said George Njuguna, the CIO at HF Group Kenya.
Today, the goal of the modern CIO must centre around how well risk is managed from within. As such, security measures that come with digital transformation must be increased – particularly against a backdrop of staffing shortages and an ever-expanding attack footprint of users, devices, applications, data, and infrastructure.
At the event, the emerging dynamic nature of the CIO in digitally transforming financial institutions was also discussed and how those in this position are at the epicentre of the revolution in question.
“Today’s CIOs must evolve their approaches and their aims from safeguarding assets to building agile security frameworks that enable digital transformation. These strategies must be holistic – embedding the latest technologies into enduring processes and training programs throughout the organisation,” said Kunle.
Africa has certainly been at the centre of the fourth industrial revolution when it comes to embracing technology to transform the FSI space. Another great example is that of First Bank of Nigeria. Through adopting and integrating Teams, the organisation has been able to realise its goal of empowering its staff, partners and customers by providing unprecedented customer service and improved collaboration across the organisations internal and broader network. “Our evaluation showed that Microsoft Teams had the features we desired for overall enhancement of business efficiency, hence the decision to go with it,” explains Akeem Adesina, FirstBank’s CIO. “The project was part of the strategic initiative leveraging on technological advancement to drive and achieve business goals with a productive and conducive workspace for business efficiency and enhanced productivity.”
In Ghana, Ecobank, one of Africa’s leading banking conglomerates, has chosen business intelligence solutions from Microsoft to improve its overall business analytics needs. Of the Power BI solution, Sarah Oppan, Head of BI and Big Data at Ecobank said, “We were looking for a solution that provides a way to bring the data together and that offers a dashboard accessible anywhere and anytime, with an automatic refresh. We started looking around to see what we already had in-house. Then, Microsoft did a demo of the Power BI solution and we started using the different components in an incremental way.”
“The notion of ‘modern finance’ calls for organisations to confidently make the best decision for not only their company, but also their team and customers. Whether these challenges are rooted in growing revenue or allocating resources, technology is the shortest path to better, more confident action. But to bring technology to life, we must invest in our people,” said Kunle.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have been a part of this summit and are confident that Africa as a continent will continue to see growth within a sector that has traditionally resistant to change, but one that is also now fully embarking on this journey”.