Technology / #ForbesTechnology

October 24, 2019,   5:12 PM

Organizational Agility Is Fundamental For Fintech

Samar Khouri


Regional governments and fintech initiatives are in the midst of creating a consistent and collaborative environment, driving innovation for big banks and startups. A recent report by technology platform Magnitt revealed that MENA fintech volumes hit an all-time high in the first nine months of 2019 with 51, exceeding last year’s total of 48, with the UAE and Egypt accounting for 74% of the deals.

Yet, emerging technology is still disrupting the financial sector and shaping the future of finance, which means organizations need to be ever more agile in today's rapidly changing business environment.

At Forbes Middle East’s Finruption In Focus event in September, some of the biggest leaders in the industry gathered to discuss how innovation in fintech is changing the way organizations work.

“We are now going more agile and that is really healthy. That change in itself hasn’t been that easy,” said Sonny Zulu, Managing Director for Retail and Banking at Standard Chartered Bank. “Agile is just not changing the way that you see. It is actually really literally changing the way that you work and it’s a very big shift for us.”

In response to this, the company is looking at the way they hire and recruit staff. Zulu revealed that the education system is unhelpful as the curriculum hasn’t caught up. With this in mind, Standard Chartered Bank is training its employees because “things have to change”.

“The goodness that we’re seeing is technology is no longer to do with Generation X and Generation Y. Everybody is changing. It’s beginning to be ageless,” he continues.

Sanjay Malhotra, Chief Digital Officer at Dubai Islamic Bank, said that are three aspects to agility: acknowledging it, aligning leadership around it and, most importantly, aligning the people around the organization to trust in a common goal.

Because everything is occurring at a rapid pace, most organizations have already acknowledged that changes need to be made. Yet some firms have not been able to break the silos.

Once leadership is aligned, Malhotra believes that the bigger challenge is “the cultural change and organization needs to undergo”.

“The tough part in an organization is how do you change your process, how do you change your training, how do you change your sales culture. So, they have to be brought into agility and that transformation in an organization is very important”.

For Ahmed Noor, Co-Founder and CEO of LIWWA, it’s more about “the mindset and about reinforcing a set of cultural values at an organizational level” rather than about being small, fintech and disruptive. “The balance, of course, is that you are in a regular space,” he added.

“In our experience, [we] try to cultivate a sense of ownership and entrepreneurship within a defined framework and within a specific role.”

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