Making business smarter
“We have lots of ways we can take our product forward,” said Ross Dalzell, Head of Digital Investment Platforms and former Head of Business Banking Products. “The bit I’m both excited and scared about is I think there is transformative change coming to all industries.”
In his previous role as Head of Business Banking Products, Dalzell needed to be sensitive to what these disruptions meant for his clients and the services Barclays – itself a part of an industry in transformation – provided. “I looked at a company the other day called Tesla Loop,” he said.
“It’s basically a taxi company running a Tesla night and day for two years, and the car’s done 480,000 miles and all they’ve changed are the tyres. That’s coming – the electrification of the car fleet is probably going to happen.
"What does that mean for the small businesses I bank? What’s my responsibility to help them to be successful? If you run an MOT centre, what job do I have to do to help your business be the one that wins in that environment? I think that wave of change is – in different ways and different times – going to hit almost every small business in the UK.”
“There’s a big opportunity for someone like Barclays to be the enabler and supporter of that, providing funding, providing advice, connecting you up, providing tools – and that’s what excites me and scares me.”
I’m very thoughtful about how we keep these businesses safe, while letting them use these amazing new technologies
Dalzell was speaking on the Fintech Insider podcast, produced by leading consultancy 11:FS and hosted by Barclays alumnus Simon Taylor. Describing his previous job as “looking after all the products and new business services that are sold to small businesses in the UK”, Dalzell considered the potential around Open Banking, saying: “It’s a fabulous piece of technology, but how can it make a difference in the real world?”
Dalzell revealed that his wife, father and mother all run small businesses, adding: “I think we can help small businesses be successful and there are no people I respect more than people who have set up their own business.”
Helping clients grow
Well placed to identify the main challenges for SMEs, Dalzell pinpointed “cashflow, finding new customers, hiring, and time” as the eternal concerns. Dalzell said that bringing together a store of tools to deal with each of these subjects – with cloud applications for everything from bookkeeping to stock management to e-commerce – would help Barclays’ clients grow faster and be more successful.
Taking cashflow as an example, he said: “It’s probably the single most important point. Cashflow forecasts are great, but the important thing is knowing what to do next. So, I can offer you a pre-assessed lending limit in the Smart Business tool, or you might chase invoices, or manage stock harder, or run a sales campaign.
The trick is to be able to go from insight to action instantly, and that’s what we’ve been working on with Smart Business – allowing customers to tell what’s going on quickly and, without having to worry about passwords, to take action immediately. Open Banking is one way you can create the pipework to move data back and forth, but the bit that really adds value is piecing the data together to make a decision.”
As the conversation moved on to the dangers of cyber fraud, Dalzell said: “Fraudsters used to target the vulnerable, but now they target the busy – because busy people who have a hundred things to do in a day can do one dumb thing and click the wrong link. Small businesses are the main target of that because there’s nobody busier than a small business owner. So, I’m very thoughtful about how we keep these businesses safe, while letting them use these amazing new technologies.”
I think we can help small businesses be successful and there are no people I respect more than people who have set up their own business