Technology is at the heart of our Customer Experience as we continue to service our customer safety and security.
Changes in the Operating environment caused by the Covid Pandemic required the Shared Services Group to increase its operational agility while embracing change. While the year under review was challenging, the Shared Services Group was able to meet these challenges, mitigate risk and continue with implementation of a significant change agenda.
The Pandemic resulted in change of customer behaviour with significant migration of customer transactions from more traditional channels to Mobile and Point of Sale. In addition, the Bank was able to adopt a flexible working policy for it’s staff to ensure the service levels were maintained during the lockdown.
Information Technology (IT)
In line with the Bank’s strategy, the IT departments continued the Digital transformation journey with significant enhancements to the Customer Experience on the Mobile Application whilst maintaining a high level of customer service (refer Digital Footprint and Technology Transformation on page 83).
A number of strategic IT Projects were successfully delivered including the transition to a state of the art Tier IV Data Centre and implementation of Phase one of the Core Banking replacement project. This will enable the Bank to be faster to market and enhance the level of resilience across our IT Services.
Business Operations and Support Department
The Operations function was able to maintain a high level of service to customers despite the challenges of the Pandemic. This included the maintenance of high service levels across the Bank’s Branch ATM and POS Network.
The Bank partnered with the public sector to improve services – in particular with regards to Saudi Payments through mada cards (refer Retail Banking on page 53), resulting in a 35% growth in total cards spend as customers adopted non cash payments methods during the pandemic. Implementation of the Muathiq Services, facilitated the smoother transfer of Property Deeds for our customers (refer Digital Footprint and Technology Transformation on page 83).
Other initiatives taken during the year under review include:
- Enhancing the Real Estate deed transfer process
- Implementation of Robotics to enhance operational efficiency
- Cash Service Cost Optimisation initiatives resulting in higher service levels and reduced cost
- Enhanced Self Service Kiosk performance with additional features and more reliable delivery
Operations Excellence and Governance Department
The Operational Excellence Team continued to focus on operational efficiency opportunities to enhance costumer experience. This included the ongoing adoption of advanced technologies leveraging Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Optical Character Recognition. These are all designed to provide the Customer with a faster and more efficient experience with the Bank. In addition, the team continued to develop the control environment to ensure relevant Risks were understood and mitigated.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the Procurement team was able to continue the provision of key services across the Bank.
With a view to supporting the Bank’s supply chain, the Procurement team launched an online portal for service providers allowing them to present their products and services to the Bank without the need to visit physical premises during lockdown restrictions. This portal also resulted in the registration of alternative vendors enhancing competition and the diversity of products and services offered to the Bank.
Over 94% of the Bank’s vendors are Saudi nationals as the Bank continues every effort to contribute towards Vision 2030.
Al Rajhi Development
In charge of the Bank’s property and services needs, Al Rajhi Development initiated cost reduction initiatives through power saving projects with an estimated saving of SAR 9.6 Mn. Since 2018, initiatives such as those aimed at reducing electricity consumption, have been initiated at 303 branches with roll out to further branches planned for the near future.
Pandemic-related restrictions negatively impacted the real estate market and commercial leasing. For Al Rajhi Development the restrictions affected the movement of people and material, resulting in delays to project delivery schedules.
The team is currently working to expand renewable energy initiatives through the more widespread use of solar energy following the first successful implementation at Sulimaniya branch.
Al Rajhi Development is also redesigning all new retail branches to be able to offer remittance services, reducing the cost of setting up standalone remittance branches. This is expected to lead to a cost reduction in the establishment expenses of remittance branches by at least SAR 750,000 per branch.
Al Rajhi Development continues to respond to various business needs, implementing projects as required, applying policies for reducing costs, and increasing capabilities to deal with the pandemic across its network.
In line with the BOTF strategy, Shared Services will remain focused on initiatives that will improve the overall customer experience and supporting the growth in product offerings and new sales. This includes more reliance on latest technologies and Robotics to improve the operational efficiency and performance while ensuring to meet the set control measures and mitigate relevant risks.