Technology leaders are in a unique time of their careers, knowledge is accessible, advancements in computing power, connectivity, and new technology trends like AI, block-chain, VR, and AR is laying the ground for innovations and new business models in the market. We just need to think differently and more liberally about technology and the rest is easy
When asked how he planned his career path to be a successful Head of Digital Innovation & Digital Factory, Emad Shawky, Head of Digital Innovation & Digital Factory at Banque Misr, in an exclusive interview with CIO News, said:
- My passion for technology started more than 25 years ago in the college where I studied information systems.
- After finishing my study, I started my career as a software developer in the financial services industry where I built technology for fund management and securities brokerage businesses and helped investment banks expand regionally as well as in new NBFS businesses like consumer finance and leasing.
- In the rise of the digital era, it became obvious that technology can do more to business than just “support”. Hence, I ventured into building digital platforms for stock trading, consumer finance, health tech, and banking.
- Recently I helped Banque Misr build the first of a kind in the country “Digital Factory” where state-of-art digital customer experiences are built by young and fresh minds with design thinking, modern technologies, agility, and analytics at its core.
- As I progressed in my career, I was blessed enough to make the right moves that deliver on my passion for digitizing businesses and building new business models through digital and technology.
When asked about challenges he faced in his career path and how he overcame them, he said:
- In the earlier days, the main challenge was access to knowledge and infrastructure, but it got solved fast after the fast internet, cloud computing, and online learning platforms
- The other challenge was the rapid changing of markets dynamics and difficulties to keep up with it while building technology. It got solved once agile was introduced, I’m a big believer in agility and the benefits it gives organizations mainly around the fast response to market changes
- Another challenge is the ceiling that some organizations or industries put to technology that its stops at supporting the business that minimizes the impact of technology in the organization. I believe organizations are keener now to utilize technology to innovate in the business models and offering to their customers
When asked about a cyber-attack or any security incident faced by his current organisation and how he tackled it, he said, cyber-attacks are part of the daily business in all industries these days. No organizations can claim to be cyber-attack free. All that matters is how to make sure that you have the right technology, processes, and people to minimize the attacks and its impact. And at the same time respond fast and diligently to any attack that takes place. In Banque Misr we are always very keen to protect our customers and assets by continuously revising and investing in our controls and infrastructure making sure it keeps up with the latest trends and risks in the market.
When asked how his organisation geared up in terms of technology in the COVID times, he said:
We were very fast; we launched multiple services to better serve our customers in this difficult time:
- WhatsApp account and chatbot to compensate for the unprecedented demand on remote customer service.
- We launched a digital lending platform for SMEs to help them get access to finance to sustain their business in COVID time.
- We offered a bunch of COVID-relief tools that were wisely planned by the central bank like waiving transfer fees, rescheduling loan installments, waiving ATM fees, and others.
- We scaled our digital factory to offer more digital services to our customers and minimize the need for customers to visit branches or call our call center.
- We added more services to our mobile banking and business banking to help customers do all their financial transactions from home.
- We redesigned our branches to ensure minimal waiting times and faster service delivery.
- We moved to a fully remote work environment in a few days that required many investments in technology and tools as well as training and onboarding for all staff on the new operating model.
When asked about technology solutions and innovations he plans to implement in the post COVID era, he said:
- In this fast-paced and digital-hungry time, I’m focusing on scaling the use of DevOps, micro services architecture, and analytics capabilities in all our platforms.
- Also applying agility at scale and adopting platforms and tools to enable it.
- In addition to having a dedicated capacity and budget focusing on innovation by experimenting and finding use cases in AI-enabled trends like voice recognition, image recognition, NLP in addition to new technology trends like blockchain, IoT, and similar.
When asked about challenges faced by other technology leaders while implementing digital technology, he said:
- The first and foremost challenge is finding talent. It’s a big challenge that will continue in the foreseeable future. The demand for tech and digital talents is un-presented with digital on the rise.
- The second challenge is cyber security risks. Cyber-crime will grow relative to the growth of the digital services offered by organizations.
- The last important challenge is customer on-boarding on digital channels.
When asked how technology leaders can overcome the challenges faced, he said:
- To manage the talent challenge, multiple work streams are needed. The continuous learning and up-skilling of the fresh talent in addition to providing a good work culture of innovation and personal growth for talent to stay and thrive. On-boarding talents from different industries also provide a very healthy diversity for the work environment
- Mitigating this cyber-security risk is the key in the digital era. Organizations must invest continuously in people, processes, and tools related to all controls and awareness about cyber-crime and its impact.
- On-boarding customers on the digital channels will be easier by designing an easy customer experience around the customer needs and then doing a continuous awareness and incentives for the customer to migrate to digital channels.
- Tech leaders now just need to define clearly what they want to do and make sure they choose the right technology to achieve their goals and not get dragged in over-engineering and technology hypes. Then find the right talent and invest in getting them ready to do the job and finally create the right working culture that promotes innovation and ownership. These ingredients have never failed me in creating wonders.
When asked about industry trends/best practices/his advice that he would like to suggest for successful professional journeys of other technology leaders, he said:
- Adopt agility in delivering technology whenever possible.
- Invest in human capital and instead of price wars on talent be the person that invests in young and fresh talent that makes the market and creates jobs.
- Create the right working culture as the main enabler for talents to innovate and excel.
- Keep up with the latest technology trends, if things are working that doesn’t mean we should keep it without change for years.
- Take risks in your career, technology now should be at the forefront of any business, and if this is not the case in any organization that it will not be ready for the future.
He highlighted that technology leaders are in a unique time of their careers, knowledge is accessible, advancements in computing power, connectivity, and new technology trends like AI, block-chain, VR, and AR is laying the ground for innovations and new business models in the market. We just need to think differently and more liberally about technology and the rest is easy.
CIO News, a proprietary of Mercadeo, produces award-winning content and resources for IT leaders across any industry through print articles and recorded video interviews on topics in the technology sector such as Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Cloud, Robotics, Cyber-security, Data, Analytics, SOC, SASE, among other technology topic