Ashok Vaswani, CEO, personal and corporate banking, Barclays, talks about digital evangelism and how digitization is re-shaping the business of the 300-year old bank.
What is the best lesson that you can learn from a waterfall?
That it keeps flowing. Just like Barclays. Imagine a bank that is 325 years old. A bank that has not only witnessed but also survived two World Wars, two major global depressions and is still standing tall. That's Barclays for you. Today, this bank so steeped in legacy, is embracing digitization and giving competition a tough fight. Ashok Vaswani, CEO, Personal and Corporate Banking, Barclays, talks about digital evangelism and how it is shaping Barclays.
What is your digital strategy and where do you currently stand in your digital journey?
We are a 325-year old bank, even older than the Bank of England and UK. We have experienced two World Wars and two major depressions but we are still running strong and one of the reasons behind this is embracing technology in different forms, as and when it comes.
So, today everything that we do in Barclays is digital. The concept of separation from digital and non-digital does not exist for us. The reason behind this is that, whether you like it or not, the digital revolution is coming. This is going to be bigger than the Industrial Revolution or the Agricultural Revolution and every time there has been a revolution of such a scale a lot of people have been affected. Some people got ahead and some were left behind. This time, Barclays is committed not to leave anyone behind and when I say this, I do not mean that our digitization journey is limited to banking, it stretches further. How do we take all sections of the society and help them get on the right track as far as digitization is concerned. That's what we are pursuing.
What kind of transformation do you think it will require in the technology, people and process layers to realize the full benefits of digitization?
I am not too much concerned about the technology. Honestly, technology is the easier part. It is getting the people, the culture and the mindset to shift within an organization and outside. You and I might have the same app on our smartphones, but how you will use the app could be very different from the way I use the app. Today's generation will find more than one way of using an app, whereas the older generation might not. The question is how we bring both on the same platform. Technology also has its cons. For instance, on social media there is, practically speaking, nothing called a 'delete button', the etiquette for social media has not been sentenced yet. So, how do we make people understand what content is appropriate. Frankly speaking, there is a certain degree of coyness, fear and apprehension among people, both young and old that restrains them from using technology to their benefit. This needs to disappear in order to enable businesses, people and institutions realize the full benefits of digitization.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.