Absa intensifies digital roadmap with cloud-centred services

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 13 Dec 2021
Jolande van der Hoek, talent acquisition lead: information technology office at Absa Group.
Jolande van der Hoek, talent acquisition lead: information technology office at Absa Group.

Absa is accelerating its cloud adoption, as the big-four bank evolves into a digitally-empowered business, premised on fifth industrial revolution (5IR) technologies.

During the Absa Cloud Incubator live series last week, Jolande van der Hoek, talent acquisition lead: information technology office at Absa Group, outlined the bank’s cloud strategy.

She noted that accelerating cloud adoption will have a significant impact on Absa’s ability to innovate, offer new value propositions for clients, and enhance the skills of employees to enable them to contribute to the future of work.

In April, Absa announced a cloud incubator initiative in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to up-skill and re-skill its employees in cloud computing skills across its operations in Africa.

According to Van der Hoek, Absa is one of the largest cloud adopters in Africa, and cloud has become a strategic enabler in how the bank conducts its business and how it provides services to customers and provides them with a better experience.

The bank has over the past few years been intensifying its digital roadmap to build a marketplace banking experience fit for the 21st century, leveraging augmented and virtual reality across its digital platforms to help consumers navigate banking and the digital marketplace.

Absa has also introduced various ecosystem services through its partnerships with African fintech firms, such as mobile financial services firm Jumo and e-hailing company Bolt.

“Enhancing the skills of employees contributes to the future of work. We are shifting our focus from the fourth industrial revolution to the 5IR. We want to become a digitally-empowered business,” said Van der Hoek.

Almost 1 500 participants had completed the Absa Cloud Incubator training by the end of October and a further 280 are expected to complete the programme by the end of the year, she noted.

All participants are placed within roles across Absa branches throughout the continent.

The key outcome from the cloud incubator programme is for participants to be able to identify cloud opportunities, and create more efficient, scalable services and solutions for the bank’s clients.

She elaborated on the important skills that Absa is always on the lookout for, in order to create agile products and solutions.

“We prioritise acquiring and honing technical skills – these are developers, machine learning and artificial intelligence, AWS DevOps, Azure, cyber security skills, data engineering, solutions architecture, salesforce skills (business analyst, release managers and salesforce developers). When we look at placing people, we are always looking for people who are agile; they need to be curious and continuously learn.”

Absa is strengthening efforts to grow its digital partnerships ecosystem across Africa with the appointment of HYBR and SystemicLogic in September, which are helping the bank identify potential collaboration partners.