Ashok Vaswani giving a speech at the AT Kearney Digital Business Forum London 2016

Six of the biggest digital myths

07 October 2016

Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK, highlights six misconceptions preventing businesses from capitalising on digital transformation.

Despite the potential of mobile, data and analytics, many users and organisations remain hampered by a series of myths about digital transformation, argues Ashok Vaswani.

Speaking at the AT Kearney Digital Business Forum London 2016, he rounded up six of the most pressing digital myths – and offered an insight into how Barclays is addressing them in its pioneering approach to digital across the Group.

Myth one: Digital strategies are confined to the technology department

Ashoki urged the audience not to consider the technical and digital arms of the business as working in isolation, but to embed these disciplines in all the organisation’s core strategies.

Everything we do is digital,” he said. “Everything we do. Digital is not part of our business, digital isour business. You have to get everyone in the business – not just the technologists – to understand technology and understand what the art of the possible is.”

Myth two: Digital is expensive

“Everyone expects me to talk about how expensive digital is. But moving the mindset of the organisation is far more important than finding the money to invest in digital.

“If your colleagues don’t buy into a product, there is no way customers are going to, which is why we have approximately 17,000 enthusiastic Digital Eagles who travel from branch to branch. People can be scared of digital, but if someone sits down with you and shows you how to use a product, it’s not that difficult.”

Myth three: Digital is all about cool apps

“Uber, for example, is fantastic. But Uber is not just the app. It has a whole ecosystem behind it, while the app just connects the driver to the customer. Think about the data, the analytics, the algorithms involved. I think of our mobile banking app the same way. The front end is what the customer sees, but behind that there’s a whole huge ecosystem.

Myth four: Digital will destroy the physical

“All the branches are going to go? Not in my lifetime. Apple, which is one of the world’s most valuable companies, is spending billions of dollars building stores in some of the most expensive locations in the world. The format of branches may change, what people do in branches will change, but branches themselves will not die.”

Myth five: Once your business is digitised, it’s done

“Not true at all. I’m excited by the amount of people who come to our app. But think what will happen if something such as Alexa or Siri really takes over. Suddenly my app becomes far less relevant to my customer’s life. Constant rejuvenation of the business is critical. We have to start cannibalising everything we’ve built and move onto the next level.”

Myth six: Digital solves all problems

While Ashok is unashamedly a digital advocate, he stresses technological transformation is not necessarily a panacea for every issue an organisation faces.

In his view, a digital strategy will have little value if not correctly executed and if it fails to take into account the needs of the business as a whole. “There are many issues behind digital,” he told the audience. “If you are not thinking about digital in its entirety, which is the entire plumbing of the organisation and the data elements that go with it, then you are going to be in trouble.”

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