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The people factor crucial to digital transformation

To many people, digital transformation is all about technology. A recent article in The Banker however argues it starts and ends with people. SEB is featured as one bank that is ahead of the curve in realising this.

In the article, Macknight talks to bankers and HR specialists about digital transformation and what it takes to be successful. The common denominator seems to be that "a truly transformational organisation is when the digital programme starts and ends with people."

The article brings up a McKinsey survey that states that six of the top 10 challenges to meeting digital priorities and making digital transformations successful were related to culture and talent. "The biggest issue was cultural and behavioural challenges, followed by lack of understanding of digital trends; lack of digital talent; lack of alignment in organisational structure; lack of internal business alignment; and lack of senior support. Clearly, it is not only about a digital transformation but [also] about a cultural, organisational and talent transformation," says Dana Maor, senior partner at the consultancy.

The article states that financial institutions are now waking up to the importance of new ways of working to attract talent, as well as training the existing workforce to address the growing skills gap.

"Closing the skills gap requires not only firing and hiring – as there is no way to do so fast enough – but must include a combination of upskilling, reskilling and redeploying," says Maor. "In addition, organisations must be thinking of new and different ways of employment, as well as hiring new talent, and with that goes building a different value proposition for employees."

A few banks are, according to the article, ahead of the curve in their people strategy. One of them is SEB. To address this issue of implanting a digital mindset across the organisation, SEB has created the SEB Leadership Foundation, which sets the framework to help business leaders understand and translate the digital plan to their group.

"People are free to move within these boundaries without having to get approval up the hierarchy chain, because working this way is too slow. We empower teams by giving them clear mandates and ensuring they understand where we are going," says Jeanette Almberg, head of group human resources (HR) at SEB.

SEB has a digital learning platform, SEB Campus, which is accessible to all 15,000 employees, as well as for collaboration with other non-competing companies, with the aim to get all employees to take responsibility for upgrading their skills on a regular basis.

Paula da Silva, head of transaction services at SEB, says that the people factor is crucial.

"It's all about people. People are at the core of everything that we do. It means that we are the ones that need to develop ourselves. We need to look into the future and see how we can stay relevant. During the autumn we have looked at critical tasks that we need to focus on to achieve our aims and goals. This includes having the right people, transformative skills, ways of working and continuous learning."