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Standard Bank reskills employees from closed branches

Read time 3min 50sec
From left: Lillian Barnard, Microsoft SA MD; Sabelo Nkwanyana, Standard Bank CIO for personal and business banking SA; and Cathy Smith, MD of SAP Africa.
From left: Lillian Barnard, Microsoft SA MD; Sabelo Nkwanyana, Standard Bank CIO for personal and business banking SA; and Cathy Smith, MD of SAP Africa.

Standard Bank says to support its workers amid concerns over job security, the bank has accelerated reskilling its employees.

The bank says with its transition into the digital space, it is shifting in ways that require comprehensive plans to retrain large segments of its workforce.

Africa’s biggest lender by assets has in recent months been going full steam ahead with branchless banking.

Standard Bank has already closed 100 branches, and Sabelo Nkwanyana, Standard Bank’s CIO for personal and business banking SA, says the majority of the workforce from these branches is being reskilled.

He explains: “What we want is to empower our teams and train them to adapt to new technologies and adapt to digitisation. Similarly, from a business perspective, 3 000 people in the branch environment are in training right now to be able to do universal type of banking as opposed to the traditional account maintenance banking.

While reports last year indicated Standard Bank was looking to cut jobs, Nkwanyana says: “The bank is making sure we train our staff to reduce impact as much as possible.”

Nkwanyana addressed media yesterday at an event where Standard Bank was announced as the first customer in SA to move core SAP Cloud Platform services to Microsoft Azure.

Standard Bank says this will significantly improve the experience customers have with the bank, while enabling it to introduce new solutions to market more efficiently.

Nkwanyana says leveraging the computing power of Microsoft and the product innovation capability of SAP demonstrates how Standard Bank is embracing partnerships and ecosystems to develop customised solutions for its clients.

“SAP has a deep understanding of our business requirements and how we want to ensure our customers are happy with our service offering. This partnership continues our focus on innovation by leveraging the respective skills of SAP and Microsoft to transform the digitisation and personalisation journey for our customers.”

In October last year, SAP and Microsoft signed an agreement, also termed Project Embrace, aimed at helping companies accelerate and modernise customer transitions to SAP S/4HANA and SAP Cloud Platform on Microsoft Azure.

Cathy Smith, managing director of SAP Africa, says the Standard Bank announcement is the biggest partnership centred on SAP implementation in Africa.

“This will empower the bank to create new business models and deliver more personalised outcomes in today’s dynamic business environment. By providing Standard Bank with consistent engagement and delivery models, SAP and Microsoft bring both industry-specific best practices and deep local insight to deliver a compelling value proposition for their clients.”

Working with Microsoft and SAP, Standard Bank intends to deliver a faster time-to-market on products and services, while ensuring its IT infrastructure is optimised.

According to Nkwanyana: “Through Project Embrace, we are now able to better identify our business pain points and effectively address them through technologies that deliver a demonstrable return on investment.

“Having the ability to more accurately predict where customer challenges and dissatisfaction will occur enables a more flexible enterprise environment. We can help our customers transform their businesses and their lives in a secure way. This is much more than SAP and Microsoft supplying us with products. This is about fundamentally enhancing our digital journey for the future.”

Lillian Barnard, managing director of Microsoft South Africa, says: “The Project Embrace initiative between Microsoft and SAP announced globally last year is centred around the customer journey to SAP S/4HANA and SAP Cloud Platform on Microsoft Azure.

“The work that we are doing with Standard Bank is the first local demonstration of this partnership, and another milestone in the journey Microsoft is on with Standard Bank, to bring innovation into every aspect of the bank’s IT system and enable enriched interactions with the bank’s customers.”

Moreover, she says: “Enterprises are migrating to cloud providers at an accelerated rate. This makes it critical for our customers to have the right cloud infrastructure in place, enabling them to unlock the power of innovation.

“Microsoft’s significant investment on the African continent, with our first hyperscale data centre regions in Johannesburg and Cape Town, means many more partners and customers are enjoying the benefits of our intelligent cloud platform.”

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