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In common with most industries, the financial services sector is going through a period of rapid transformation brought about by the increasing sophistication and availability of digital technology. But where the financial industry is different, is in just how often it intersects with the key moments in our lives. From buying a first car and getting on the housing ladder, to securing that first job and then, decades later, retiring; insurers and banks are there every step of the way.
What’s also changing – and fast – is how customers are interacting with their financial service providers. The days of actually visiting the local bank branch are long past, and today customers are using everything from mobile apps and social media platforms to high-street kiosks and phone services to carry out their financial transactions.
New and innovative customer banking services are being launched pretty much every month, and banks are working hard to maintain trust in these services through sophisticated security platforms. Insurers, meanwhile, are witnessing the complete transformation of their industry as they develop ever more powerful analytics capabilities and embrace new technologies to meet the expectations of increasingly tech-savvy consumers.
The role of the HR department as an enabler for digital transformation cannot be overstated.
We must remember, however, that banking and insurance are service industries. As such, change cannot be about tech alone; HR transformation and a talent-centric approach to business are equally integral elements of change. Moreover, the role of the HR department as an enabler for digital transformation cannot be overstated.
At a recent Deloitte/HR Community event, I was lucky enough to hear from Giacomo Silvestri, Group Head of Organization at insurance giant Generali, about how his company has embraced its digital transformation. For Silverstri, one of the most important roles of HR is to instill in employees the right values and goals. In the case of the financial sector, a key element of this process lies in reminding employees that digital technology is the means to an end – it is not the end itself.
Indeed, this is as true for HR as it is for business operations – HR must enable communications and engagement within the business using whichever technologies are most appropriate. Employee engagement and a better-functioning workforce are the end goals; investing in digital technology just for the sake of it will have little impact.
At the same event, Cesare Cucci, HR Director of Cariparma, reminded us of the need for HR strategy to align with business strategy. To achieve this goal it is necessary for HR to design its processes to promote digital culture throughout the organization, as digital technologies can help ensure all employees fully understand the business’ strategy and are engaged with it.
I wholly agree. By implanting opportunities to learn and engage throughout employees’ working experiences, HR can help build a stronger, more knowledgeable and better engaged workforce.
It was not that long ago that the banking and insurance industries faced a huge economic crisis that nearly brought them to their knees. In the years since, however, banks and insurers have bounced back to become some of the most innovative businesses operating in in any field. Crucially, HR has played, and continues to play, a key role in driving their success.
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