Article by Kathy Gibson at Fujitsu World Tour, Bryanston, Johannesburg
Swazi Bank was given a mandate to transform to a digital, online banking experience – and it has exceeded that expectation.
Paul Wasswa, CIO of Swazi Bank, explains that when he joined the bank, availability was bad, staff were unproductive and customers were unhappy. He immediately started setting up a software-defined data centre, with Fujitsu and SAP HANA.
“We didn’t have a lot of legacy, so that wasn’t a problem,” Wasswa says. “But now we are not worried about availability, we can focus on innovation. And we are able to compete with the big South African banks.”
The key challenge was changing at all, Wasswa says. Management and customers were accustomed to doing things in a certain way and this had to change. Access to technological skills was another challenge and these had to be developed on the ground.
“We have introduced mobile banking and the uptake has been incredible. We have introduced innovative products around mobile money and have worked on solutions in collaboration with telecommunications providers. We have won a deal to disburse elderly grants, and are exploring other innovations in that area,” he says.
The bank also uses PalmSecure to allow customers to do their own Know Your Customer (KYC) registration. Kiosks have also been rolled-out at post offices, taxi ranks and malls for elderly people to register and collect their grants.
“It’s another step for Swazi Bank to show that we are an innovative bank.”
When Wasswa joined Swazi Bank, he had tight deadlines for implementing solutions. “We managed to do a lot of these things in six months,” he says.
Buy-in from management and customers helped to achieve this, along with hard work and dedication from the IT staff. The project, overall, has helped to reinvigorate the bank and it has introduced new products and services that have helped to boost income.
“Digital banking is important to ensure we stay relevant going forward,” Wasswa says.
Having a trusted relationship with Fujitsu was an important issue in the success of the digitalisation project, he adds. “You need to leverage on people’s strengths, learn from their mistakes and make sure you don’t repeat them. Importantly, it is about trust.”
Working with a technology has to be a two-way street, Wasswa says. “And it hasn’t ended. We still need to collaborate. We have exposed ourselves to the digital world, so there are security issues. We now need to move forward to the next level, ensure we stay ahead of the curve and don’t let competitors catch up.”
Craig Parker, Head of Fujitsu Integrated Systems for EMEA, points out that new solutions can’t really be deployed without modern technology.
Importantly, Fujitsu talks to customers about their needs, and develops systems that address these needs.
“A lot of the recent developments have been around virtualisation, so we have developed converged and hyperconverged solutions. We have been in the cloud for some time. The big thing we are looking at is the development of both the top-end of the stack, how we integrate cloud and sensors; but also at the back-end. A lot of the investments we are looking at now is how we improve automation in the factory – tools that help partners to build these solutions and order them for customers.
“We work very closely with partners as well as customers,” Parker stresses. “A lot of what we do is to take the risk out of developing these system for partners. We invest a lot in developing systems and certifying them. Partners can then deliver service on top of that to bring more value to their customers.”
Abdul Moosa, Chief Technology Officer of Fujitsu South Africa, points out that this development from Fujitsu helps customers like Swazi Bank, who are under pressure to deliver solutions quickly. He says Fujitsu takes a collaborative journey with clients. “We don’t want a once-off sale. In line with Japanese culture, we are in it for the long haul. And we constantly get great feedback because of that.”
It’s important that technology helps companies to remain relevant and competitive, and this is particularly true in the manufacturing space.
Michael Frans, Head of Strategy and Development at T-Systems automotive and factory, points out there are real needs that customers need to address. “For instance, how can we bring unconnected workers into the system?” he says. “We need to bring the Internet to people who don’t have it.”
All customers are struggling with hybrid cloud environments, he adds. “It has to be about partnering. It’s impossible for anyone to do anything on their own.”
Industry 4.0 comes out of the German environment, Frans adds. “We have adopted that term all across the world.”
In South Africa, it should be part of the National Development Plan, and be about readying young people to enter the workforce, and to be part of the global economy.
“If we want to grow manufacturing, we have to look at how we R&D products, we need to get our skills base in a real position to benefit from digitalisation. If we can work together as a collective to position our business, to produce world-class products, we will succeed.
“For that to happen, IT needs to be part of the business, talking about how we develop, manufacture and distribute products.”
South African companies produce world-class products, Frans adds. But IT has to come to the main business table, and engineering, production and design need to be part of the digitalisation mix.
Parker adds that innovative new solutions don’t need to be on a massive scale. “Big data doesn’t have to be massive data – you can start providing analytics quite quickly.” This ‘small data’ can be converted to knowledge that helps businesses solve their issues, Frans adds.