Inlaks, the leading African systems integrator and financial technology solutions provider, has hosted a webinar with some of its partners in the financial sector on strategies to implement in keeping businesses afloat during and post COVID-19.
The webinar saw experts from various sectors of the economy contribute to Sustainable Strategies for Staying Afloat Post COVID-19. They include Olufunmilayo Okubena, Country Manager of Inlaks; Yacoba Amuah, the Territorial Head of Infrastructure Business Unit of Inlaks Ghana, Thairu Ndungu, Deputy Managing Director, Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG),
Micheal Appiah, Chief Operating Officer (COO), ARB Apex Bank; Samuel Tamakloe, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), CalBank, Evans Amartey, General Manager, Operations and Technology, National Investment Bank (NIB).
In his opening remarks, Femi Adeoti, Managing Director of Inlaks, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had changed all aspects of human lives and businesses significantly. Organisations must look to new ways to continue doing business. “The way we work, live, play and learn are changing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe that after this pandemic is over, the way we do business transactions would be changing,” he said.
Femi Muraino, Executive Director, Inlaks, in his opening remarks, explained that the webinar was designed to bring together key finance and technology experts to address the fundamental issue of what happens after COVID-19.
“With the adverse effect of the virus, we must find ways to ensure that the impact of the virus on our businesses is minimal. We also need to address the impact on cashflow of businesses and organisations. Companies must present detailed plans to keep the business afloat. There is also the need to imagine the new normal and discontinue the impact of the virus. What do we need to do differently in terms of that? The webinar provided ideas of how to move forward and strategise to keep businesses going,” he said.
Thairu Ndunga, Deputy Managing Director, CBG, touching on how to do business in the new normal, stated that although business in finance have not been greatly affected by the pandemic like it has the services sector, it has thought the banking sector a lesson of what they need to do to stay afloat post coronavirus.
He noted that CBG has thought of rethinking capital and operational expenditure. Key among which is to accelerate digital banking investment, optimise work environment by utilising online meeting rather than face to face, work from home for those roles that can and workflow automation to eliminate documents.
Taking his turn, Michael Appiah, COO ARB Apex Bank, noted that in times like these “we need to intensify market research because the customer is key.” So, he advised investment in market research to identify evolving customer needs and for companies to move at unprecedented speed to serve customers with quality service that meet those needs at affordable pricing.
He also suggested on prioritising the NOW, that is, to focus on supporting people i.e frontline staff to be able to provide the needed support to customers to maintain customer satisfaction through customer service centres and e-channels.
In Mr. Appiah’s view “effective way to retain customers in a downturn is pricing innovation – making your offering more affordable to the customer and improving your own cash flow,” while urging companies to adopt innovative ways to sell or market products by accelerating digital sales and services.
For his part, Samuel Tamakloe, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), CalBank advocated scaling up digital agenda. He said COVID-19 has brought about a fear factor which has introduced work from home, paperless solution, digital agenda, virtual projects and virtual meetings. Still, despite these, there is the need to focus on looking at reliable and trusted new products.
He noted that new products such as newer ways of transfers, newer ways of customer onboarding and newer ways of deposit mobilisations must be adopted. Mr. Tamakloe was, however, quick to add that companies must look at how to keep customers excited or else there’s a human factor that will fight to resist the new changes post COVID.
General Manager, Operations and Technology, National Investment Bank (NIB) Evans Amartey, advised companies to adopt digital channels post-COVID. With regard to that, he said companies should focus on customer experience, how the needs of customers have changed and determine how to meet those needs.
He added that seeking help from third parties with regards to technical skills saves time and money and urged businesses to invest in technology and involve the team – that is – frontline staff that deals directly with customers in whatever plans they intend to take to make them feel a sense of belonging which then translate into better customer service for clients.
Olufunmilayo Okubena, Country Manager of Inlaks, noted that businesses must face tough truths, manage expenditure, do better, not more, think out of the box, reduce perks and benefits. To him, leaders must lead with resilience, empathise and unify, create a community and constantly think of future scenarios.
“Resilience is the difference between giving up and getting up. Resilience is a choice, a personal act of defiance that changes the narrative and assumes control of your inner dialogue. In a crisis, leaders typically manage the business from a spreadsheet and manage the culture by walking around. But this crisis is different. Walking around must now be virtual.
In anticipation of a recovery, give yourself & your team as many options as possible. Surround yourself with big, bold thinkers. Seek where you can pivot and develop a plan. Don’t do this alone. Be intentional in surrounding yourself with the right people. In our connections, we gain perspective. Choosing counsel & support from calm and grounded people will serve as a healthy buffer during hard times,” he said.
Yacoba Amuah, the Territorial Head of Infrastructure Business Unit of Inlaks Ghana Limited, also underscored the need for empathetic leaders post COVID-19. According to her, the move is the surest way to ensure not only business growth but also to help the world deal with the scary layoff numbers that awaits.
“Post COVID-19, leaders need to be empathetic, in taking our decisions, we cannot take decision looking at numbers alone or looking at just one aspect of the business. Decisions would have to be made with the heart. Leaders would need to be transparent; there should be a lot of thinking on the feet and being innovative because if you just stick to your process amid a situation and you are not innovative, you will lose out on a great opportunity.”
She advised businesses to take good care of their employees post COVID-19 as there will be opportunities that will attract the very few qualified persons. She stressed the fact that employers should be more deliberate with employee engagement and get closer to know the challenges of various employees and find a way to fix them.
Again, she admonished employers to trust employees to work from home and reduce the burden of officing every employee; but she was quick to add that, there should be the measure to hold employees accountable and track their efficiency.