Enabling business continuity and collaboration through the right technology tools

Big bank building showing the road with cars

This year has seen a dramatic shift in the world of work, with companies large and small alike having to rapidly make the move to working remotely.

For a major financial services group like Nedbank, with over 30 000 employees and operations that span the African continent, making that move with minimal disruption presented a challenge – but the organisation was able to achieve that aim through technology adoption at speed and scale.

“This adoption and uptake took the form of a full end-to-end suite of Microsoft 365 services that enable and accelerate remote work and drive business continuity with minimised impact to client and service delivery through tools like Teams and Skype for Business,” says Fred Swanepoel, Chief Information Officer at Nedbank.

Nedbank began its adoption journey by first deploying Office with Microsoft Skype for Business in 2017 and then adapting to the change to Microsoft Teams. Teams is the technology company’s integrated collaboration platform incorporating chat, video and audio meetings, file storage, shared files, calendars and apps as well as collaborative editing.

The bank’s migration to Microsoft 365 was completed in November 2019, with Skype for Business on-prem as its telephony platform of choice. However, the need to move to working remotely prompted Nedbank to fast-track its use of Teams and quickly adapt to using the platform for meetings, conference calls and live events, all culminating in the bank’s annual general meeting (AGM) in May.

Changing the way companies work through seamless collaboration

“Teams changed the way we worked in a matter of weeks. Massive adoption of the platform has allowed thousands of employees to collaborate with each other simultaneously and seamlessly by bringing together all conversations, files and tools into a single workspace,” says Swanepoel.

It meant that productivity was maintained and even improved as staff were able to meet with their colleagues through virtual meeting rooms and conference calls. The number of conference calls jumped from 2 000 before the move to working remotely to approximately 13 000 every day since the bank moved beyond the office environment.

There has also been great success with live events and the AGM, helping to bring together thousands of people from around Africa no matter their bandwidth or connectivity. “It is helping foster a sense of collaboration and togetherness, even though we are apart,” says Swanepoel.

Staff have widely embraced the technology by exploring it and learning at their own pace after the initial training and change management was done. Champions within divisions also help drive uptake of the platform by providing on-the-ground support and getting staff comfortable with using the different capabilities of the tool. “Feedback has been extremely positive, and the tool has proven to be valuable from a user experience point of view,” says Swanepoel.

Adoption of the platform forms an important part of Nedbank’s digital transformation strategy to position it for the future, to improve both client experience and efficiency, as well as to become more of a disruptor in financial services.

Nedbank selected Microsoft as its digital transformation partner because of the synergy between the two organisations. “Transformation is a complex journey, so it is essential to choose partners with a cultural fit, which Nedbank and Microsoft enjoy. Nedbank believes financial services providers that get digital right will be more successful at traversing an uncertain future,” Swanepoel says.

“Microsoft is very proud of our ongoing partnership with Nedbank in its digital transformation journey.  We are committed to supporting the bank by enabling remote working and business continuity through optimised and streamlined operations underpinned by collaborative capabilities,” says Amr Kamel, Commercial Director at Microsoft South Africa.

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