Tech in check: Hong Leong Bank's chief digital and innovation officer Shailesh Grover

Shailesh Grover (pictured), chief digital and innovation officer, is no stranger to the digital and innovation world. At Hong Leong Bank, he is responsible for coordinating the strategic execution of the bank’s digital transformational agenda, driving innovation as well as industry leading digital capabilities across the Bank’s businesses and countries.

Prior to joining Hong Leong Bank, Grover was with Capco, Barclays and AT&T.  He has over 25 years of international experience working across multiple industries. Grover is passionate about building new ventures that leverage the rapidly evolving technology landscape and cater to changing customer behaviors and expectations. He constantly seeks to create and instill a culture of creativity, agility, design and innovation.

In this edition of Tech in check, Grover shares with A+M how his first digital role inspired him and the digital trends that he is excited about.

A+M: What was your first digital role like?

My first digital role was at a major UK-based bank in London when we established the Innovation and Customer Experience division. It was an amazing experience as that was where we had to experiment various approaches to understand which one was the right one, as there weren’t any successful industry examples and templates on best practices. So, we took an iterative approach and experimented heavily to underpin what would make sense.

The experience left a lasting impact on my career and I continue to apply the same learning at Hong Leong Bank as the chief digital and innovation officer.

I’ve learnt that the key to success is to have an open mind, be customer obsessed, continually challenge the status quo and make technology your friend.

The rest will fall into place. It’s all about how one leverages the unique aspects of digital, especially the smart devices, and deliver experiences that are in line with the ever-changing customer behaviours. Innovation is integral to ensure the experience delivered stays relevant with time and that the growth delivered is exponential in nature.

A+M: What was your biggest tech booboo?

I feel this question is not the most appropriate for the times as it is almost like expecting a guaranteed outcome! To quote Steve Jobs, “If you are not failing, you’re not trying hard enough." It is less about failures and more about learnings. If someone has never seen any failure, they’ve not really learnt anything.

A+M: What are some of the common challenges you face with digital today?

Digitisation is a buzz word that is driving everyone to put their customer facing experience on the glass(i.e. web and smart device etc). In the process, many are "doing digital" rather than "being digital". To be digital one has to change the ways of working and take the colleagues, customers and stakeholders on a journey.

It needs to cover every aspect of how one does things rather than pick specific experiences for cost-saving-only reasons and digitising them. It also needs to span the end-to-end life cycle of the colleague and customer.

You cannot be digital if your colleagues are reliant on non-digital experiences.

Human-centered design, where you put people or human experiences and expectations as the guide for your solutions, plays an integral part in the digital journey. It is extremely essential to understand people, culture and their life moments to successfully deliver a digital human experience.

A+M: Are there any digital trends which excite you or that you are wary of?

While most of the technologies have been around for ages, they have since matured to play a more meaningful role in enabling delivery of relevant personalised experiences that are of value. Some of the key disruptive trends that are of notice include nanotechnology, software bots, biometrics, artificial intelligence, personal data value platforms, voice based virtual assistants, blockchain, smart data discovery, prescriptive analytics, gene editing, drones and mobile augmented reality, to name a few.

A+MAny top tips for marketers and brands embracing digital?

Start with people, end with people. Start with understanding your consumer journey when coming up with digital solutions, and end with testing the solutions with real customers. At Hong Leong Bank, driven by our digital-at-the-core ethos that’s driven by customer’s experience, we are building a CX Lab, which is an innovation lab and digital accelerator to facilitate experiments and prototyping of innovation and new technologies in collaboration with customers.

We also encourage all employees to innovate and be the change maker. Find a problem that they want to solve or improve, whether it is to enhance customer experience or designing new products and work on it based on the RISE principle – how can we make banking simply simple for customers. All solutions, products and services have to be or provide:

  • Relevant and contextual
  • Intuitive
  • Simple and straight through
  • Ease of access

(Read also: Tech in check: McDonald’s Malaysia digital director Muhamad Zaid Hasman)