Make timely moves to stay competitive 0 628

By Dr. Kishu Gomes
Prominent business leader, Corporate Icon & Management Consultant, Kishu
Gomes was the Chief of Sri Lanka Tourism (SLTDA & SLTPB) after leading a
multinational operation in Sri Lanka for over 2 decades. He continues to consult
businesses and corporates to take a transformational journey.

Many things cause organizational change. Covid19 is one big example only. Other than
pandemics or epidemics, economic downturns, tougher trading conditions, finance cost
escalation, technological changes, competitive pressures, including mergers and
acquisitions, customer pressure, particularly shifting markets, government legislation or
regulatory changes etc.
All organizations are in flux: changing their focuses, expanding or contracting their activities, and rethinking their products and services. Most organizations more than ten years old look nothing like they did even five years ago. Pre and post-COVID 19 are two different worlds altogether. And it is likely that in the next year or two organizations will not look as they do today.

In this context, managers have to be able to introduce and manage change to ensure
the organizational objectives of change are met, and they have to ensure that they gain
the commitment of their people, both during and after implementation. Often, at the
same time, they also have to ensure that business continues as usual.
Resistance to change may be active or passive, overt or covert, individual or organized,
aggressive or timid, and on occasions totally justified. Organizational change
management takes into consideration both the processes and tools that managers use
to make changes at an organizational level. Most organizations want change
implemented with the least resistance and with the most buy-in as possible. For
this to occur, change must be applied with a structured approach so that
transition from one type of behavior to another will be smooth.

As the speed of change continues to increase, change management is a fundamental competency needed by managers, supervisors, Human Resources staff, and organization leaders. To tap your wisdom, my recent survey about change management afforded me the opportunity to consolidate hundreds of years of experience in change management. Here, in your… Change is possible; the need for change is increasing; change capability is necessary for organizations that will succeed in the future. Change management challenges organizations to succeed during times of great change. Employees love to stay in their comfort zone because it is familiar and they know what their expectations are. Many employees fear change and the manager has the responsibility to help employees move through the change process. Managers need to develop themselves as a role model for change and create an environment where all of their employees will get aboard and be willing to make the changes that are needed. It takes a smart and intuitive manager to manage change in any business organization. In order for a manager to effectively manage change in the business setting, they need to develop an understanding of how employees react to change. Every employee will have a different view of change and what their reaction to change will be. It is important that the manager stays visible and is always willing to jump in and help the employees manage change. In order to be an effective manager of change, the employees must continue to feel valued and respected by their manager. If a manager helps the employees through the process of learning to let go of the old way of doing things, they can help the employee adjust to the new changes in their working environment.

Deal with resistance
When a manager is facilitating change in the business world, they need to be
aware and acknowledge that resistance to change is normal and common.

Smart managers will recognize that resistance to change can actually be viewed as a positive sign that the employees are involved with the changes that are occurring in their working environment. If employees do not believe in their managers and lack trust in their decisions or there have been explanations of the reasons for change and how it will benefit the employees, that manager will have difficulty managing any changes that need to be implemented.
Another effective tool for a manager to use to implement change in the business setting
is to involve the employees in the decisions that are being made to change their working
environment. This is a method to help the employees feel valued and more motivated
to go along with the implementation of the changes. This becomes a win-win situation
for the organization, the manager, and all of the employees. Managers that involve their
employees and let them become part of the change will have an easier road for
acceptance from the employees.

Communication is the manager’s best friend. This is how the manager prepares the employees for the changes and can clearly clarify the expectations and expected outcomes. The manager is the individual that clearly can communicate the rationale for the change and answer the employee’s questions and stress the importance for the change to occur. Managers need to remain positive and upbeat and show the employees they are energized to make the changes happen. There are always some risks when changes are being initiated. The manager needs to be ready for the potential negative effects of any changes and have a plan to handle them. If mistakes occur along the way, then this is the opportunity for the manager and their employees to learn from the mistakes and move forward. Organizations that have a talented and effective manager will be able to handle the changes that need to occur to keep them competitive in their industry.

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Artificial Intelligence in Marketing Decisions Comments Off on Artificial Intelligence in Marketing Decisions 911

By: Dr. Gehan S. Dhameeth

DBA, M.Sc., MBA, BBA, CIW Certified Data Analyst
Associate Professor of Business, Business and Economics Department, Wells College, Aurora, New York, USA.

The core of marketing is to find opportunities and challenges to meet them with the right solution in satisfying the expectations of stakeholders.

Artificial Intelligence in Marketing DecisionsEfficient marketers use concepts and tools to handle said opportunities and challenges. A decade or so, few marketers would have imagined that online advertising would pose such a serious threat to conventional advertising while some assume marketing investments to be held to the same standards of financial accountability as investments in more tangible aspects of the firm, like operations.

Only a few visionary organizations prepared themselves to exploit the availability of data and information that often overwhelm today’s marketing decision makers. In today’s marketing context, marketing decision makers are demanded to use data-driven (analytics) marketing decisions, going beyond the conceptual contents that have been honed by experience.

This needs more systematic analyses and processes. Hence, today, marketing decision making resembles design engineering: putting together concepts, data, analyses, and simulations to learn about the market place and design effective marketing plans. One of the famous schools of thought is to view traditional marketing as an art while others regard it as a science. However, modern marketing can be introduced as engineering, as it combines both arts and science to make marketing decisions.

Artificial Intelligence in Marketing Decisions-
Marketers today are bombarded with a plethora of all types of content, user and socially generated data, and expert opinions, and they can combine and process that information in new ways to enhance decision making. Hence, basing decisions on such information has become a minimum requirement to be a successful player in their industries. The most important factor when doing business is to be prompt in providing solutions to consumers. In managing a profitable business model, business leaders will have to thrive hard to meet the said expectations of consumers. The above task needs a lot of consideration given to the type of data, sources of data, storing, processing, and types of business decisions to make. As such, designing of an “effective and sustainable data warehouse” is of paramount importance of business leaders. Hence, this is where the big data comes to play with an emphasis on the three Vs; Variety, Velocity, and Variability.

With the growth of organizations facing well-informed customers who seek greater value, organizations must scrutinize the productivity of all their management processes. Therefore, re-engineering marketing functions, processes, and activities in line with the digital age is paramount for organizational survival. Despite the challenges marketing managers face today, such as reduced cost to improve productivity, mass marketing gave way to micromarketing, fine-tuning to meet individual customer needs in their respective market segments, global competition, and demand to use lean management techniques. Marketing managers have access to hardware (computers, hand-held devices, and mobile phones), software, and data and must use these tools to find and deliver value to micro markets through fragmented media and channels. As a result of these trends, marketers need much more than just concepts to exploit their available resources; they must move from conceptual marketing to Marketing Engineering.

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LankaQR Reshaping the Digital Payment Landscape of Sri Lanka 0 342

The world is ever evolving and advancing towards a digital eco-system. With that, digital banking will play a crucial role in increasing efficiency and convenience in this fast moving world. It also has the ability to increase financial inclusivity, and motivate engagement in economic activity. Therefore, the development and promotion of a digital payment eco-system should be at the fore-front of a developing country.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka named 2020 as “The Year of Digital Transactions”, understanding the importance of enriching the digital payments ecosystem. The Central Banks has taken a giant leap forward in the digital payments spectrum introducing LankaQR, a national QR payment technology.

BiZnomics spoke to the Director for Payments and Settlements at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Dharmasri Kumaratunge, to find out more on how LankaQR empowers the digital payments eco-system of Sri Lanka, making it a nationwide experience.

What was the setting that led up to LankaQR?

Sri Lanka is gradually transitioning into a digitalised economy. In this transition process, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka set out to champion a digitalised national payments system in order to streamline financial inclusivity and a less-cash society. The Central Bank recognizsed the lack of low-cost, secure digital payment methods for Sri Lanka’s small and medium merchants and the general public. We identified QR technology to be the most viable solution for this problem, while also realizing the importance of having one interoperable national QR code, taking in to account the experiences of other countries. Therefore, the Central Bank together with LankaClear (Pvt) Ltd., which is the national payment infrastructure provider, and banks came together and developed an interoperable national QR code standard, under the name of LANKAQR. The LANKAQR is a national QR code standard, whereby all payments made using the LANKAQR code that comply with the LANKAQR standard, enables customers to pay instantly from their bank accounts into a bank account of a merchant, who may be a customer of any other bank.

Walk-us through what QR technology is and how LankaQR works?

A QR code (which stands for ‘Quick Response’) is a form of barcode that is comprised of a matrix of dots. It can be scanned using a QR scanner or a smartphone with a built-in camera. Once scanned, software on the device converts the dots within the code into numbers or a string of characters, which would form a command based on the purpose of the QR code. For example the QR code received by merchants, when scanned, will command the device to initiate the digital payment to the relevant merchant, confirming the payment information.
All licensed banks, licensed finance companies and licensed operators of Mobile Phone-Based E-Money Systems, who offer QR Code based payment solutions, are required to onboard merchants onto LankaQR. This enables money to be transferred between any two financial institutions, thereby increasing efficiency.
The merchant will be provided a sticker with their own unique QR code, which can confirm payment information. Now the merchant is able to accept digital payments through a mobile phone. The customer is simply required to scan the code through their mobile phone camera. This will allow them to make a payment to that merchant through the payment app of any bank that they are currently using.

How will QR technology lead us towards a less cash economy while empowering the small merchants?

The spread of the COVID-19 virus has made the general public more aware of the risk of viruses spreading through the exchange of notes and coins. Further, the cost of issuing new currency to the economy stands at an estimated Rs.3.2 billion yearly, excluding processing charges/storage and destruction of money. These factors along with the need to increase efficiency in payments makes a less cash society a priority for a developing nation.

Our data shows there are over 23 million debit cards and 1.8 million credit cards in use, however there are only 83,000 Point of Sales (POS) machines being used in the entire island. The high cost of these POS systems and high Merchant Discount Rates (MDR) creates a barrier for small merchants to enter into the digitalizsed payment network, and they are forced to transact in cash. Currently a POS machine costs between Rs.50,000 to Rs.70,000, and Merchant Discount Rate vary between 2% to 3.5%, on top of which there may be an monthly rentals.

However since QR technology uses a simple sticker there is no initial cost for the merchant to enter the payment network. The Central Bank has also regulated the Merchant Discount Rate charged by banks at 1%, making it much more attractive compared to traditional POS systems. As a further incentive for merchants, we reduced the MDR down to 0.5% for 2020 and are hoping to further hold that rate for the first half of 2021.

The Central Bank has also decided that payments made to Government entities, such as water and electricity bills will not be charged the MDR. We believe LankaQR will empower small and medium scale merchants’ , making sure they are not left behind as Sri Lanka becomes digitalised.

How has the Central Bank spread awareness on the digital payments eco-system?

It has been identified that the awareness and usage of digital transactions is very low in Sri Lanka. Currently, Sri Lanka has a highly cash-based economy. Although the literacy level of the country is high, financial literacy is comparatively low. Even though the mobile phone penetration is high in Sri Lanka, the use of the mobile phones for digital payments is low. Further, the wasting of time and money by way of waiting in queues, travelling to cities/bank branches/particular shops for making payments such as utility payments, government payments etc. could has been observed. Furthermore, employees of financial institutions are not aware of their own products, and are not knowledgeable on the use of existing facilities to make digital transactions.