BY AMBROSE GAHENE
Absa Group, one of the largest financial service providers in Africa, has launched a cloud incubator initiative in collaboration with Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), a leading cloud services provider, to enhance its cloud computing skills across its operations in Africa.
As one of the largest cloud adopters in Africa, Absa is promoting cloud fluency as part of its broader efforts to promote learning, experimentation and innovation across the organization to enhance the banking experience for its customers.
By migrating to the cloud, companies can eliminate the expense of building and managing on-site data centres while gaining the ability to reduce infrastructure costs and scale up and down rather than paying for excess on-premises capacity.
“Cloud is rapidly becoming the norm for large companies, a trend that was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted a step-change in digital solutions,” said Andrew Baker, Absa Group Chief Technology Officer.
“Using cloud allows us to store much more data cost-efficiently, compared with physical data centres. Cloud has already improved our ability to manage and access data and will enable us to bring products to market fasterm,” he added.
World Wide Worx’s ‘Cloud in Africa 2020’ report reveals that 84 per cent of African organizations surveyed viewed cloud computing as cost-effective. Cloud investment is expected to increase significantly this year, with 56 per cent of respondents estimating that a quarter of applications will have moved to the cloud by the end 2021, according to the report.
To support its cloud transformation, Absa has launched an internal cloud incubator programme to participate in AWS’s Skills Guild initiative, a comprehensive cloud skills training programme designed to help large enterprise organisations accelerate their cloud adoption journey and build cloud fluency for their employees. The cloud incubator initiative will equip more than 1 500 staff across Absa’s African operations with advanced cloud computing skills this year.
“The AWS Skills Guild offers enterprises a comprehensive approach to organization-wide cloud enablement, and is designed to not only impart cloud skills, but create excitement, momentum, and accelerate paths to innovation. AWS Skills Guild is based on our experience building enterprise-wide skills transformation plans for our customers across the globe, including National Australia Bank, Deloitte, Kmart Group, and many more,” explains Chris Erasmus, Commercial Sector Leader for AWS in South Africa.
A key outcome for Absa’s internal cloud incubator participants is that they will be able to identify cloud opportunities within their businesses, and create more efficient, scalable services and solutions. Employees will have the confidence to innovate faster and experiment more to drive broadscale digital transformation across the business.
“Accelerating cloud adoption will have a significant impact on Absa’s ability to innovate, offer new value propositions, and play a meaningful role in our customers’ and clients’ experiences,” said Baker.
Absa Bank Uganda recently unveiled the bank’s first fully digital branch at Jubilee Insurance Building on Parliamentary Avenuem in Kampala that will offer customers greater convenience through self-service at automated digital platforms.
The branch was officially opened by Bank of Uganda Executive Director Supervision, Dr. Twinemanzi Tumubweine and Absa Bank Uganda’s Managing Director, Nazim Mahmood.Absa Bank Uganda Managing Director Nazim Mahmood said, “This digital branch will offer a more convenient, secure, personalized and engaging banking experience for our Business banking and corporate customers. Using self-service terminals, customers can look forward to an even faster and cost-efficient banking experience.”
Dr. Tumubweine from Bank of Uganda remarked that the banking industry is continuously being disrupted by technology and that Bank of Uganda appreciates the role that digital financial services play the in improving quality of banking services.
At the bank, customers will be able to print their own bank statements and transact on their own devices in the free wi-fi zone. There will be some customer service agents to help you while transacting at the digital branch.
The bank also announced the introduction of the Absa Chatbot, a customer service solution that gives customers access to 24/7 replies to frequently asked questions via WhatsApp and the Absa website.