Employees need to think cross-functionally and move beyond silos in order to execute digital transformation within their organisations, said panellists discussing the definition of digital leadership at the Singapore Fintech Festival.
Everybody needs to think across verticals to solve the problem of digital transformation, said Ms Adrienne Harris, Chief Development Officer of States Title Inc, a US-based InsurTech firm.
Ms Heather Cox, Chief Technology & Digital Officer of USAA, added that the digital journey is everyone’s responsibility – the workforce, the businesses and the IT need to work as a team.
Fear of failure is a key challenge leaders face as they undertake digital transformation. As leaders in established incumbent organisations with legacy systems, it is critical to overcome this fear in order to embark on the digital transformation journey.
And while vision is important for leaders, values are equally important to guide organisations in their digital transformation journey, said Ms Janet Young, Managing Director, Head Group Channels & Digitalisation at UOB Bank. She added the qualities of value and vision are what enables a sustained relationship with clients, and allows the organisation to adapt to changing circumstances.
Recognising that some clients may not be digital natives, it is critical that they are not left behind, said Ms Harris. She added that the word “disruption” is overused and small startups would benefit more from seeking partnerships with incumbents.
However, when working with startups, incumbents need to be mindful not to “smother” the ingenuity and agility of the startups and yet still addressing risk and compliance, said Ms Cox.
On the role of regulators in innovation, Ms Cox said that regulations don’t necessarily get in the way of innovation and noted the progressive stances of regulators in Australia, Korea and Singapore towards innovation. She added it was important that start-ups respect rules and regulations as they serve as necessary safeguards.
Having a mindset of customer obsession and relentlessness is critical as everything that financial institutions do revolve around customers, reminded Ms Young. Quoting a saying from FinTech counterparts in China, she said that “humanising digital and digitising the human touch” is a useful principle for organisations on the digital journey.
Meanwhile, Ms Harris believes that having the right talent as well as moving beyond a short-term mindset of focusing on quarterly profits are also important factors in the transformation journey. A