Senior Vice President of Procurement and Realty Services Abdullatif Albastaki discusses how the move towards digitization has impacted financial service...
Since its formation in 2007, Emirates National Bank of Dubai (NBD) has been going from strength to strength, with operations in nine countries across the world like the UAE, Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), United Kingdom, Singapore and other countries such as India which will start operation in Q4 2017. With the potential to grow and deliver value to shareholders, customers and employees, the bank is staffed by over 10,000 employees representing 70 nationalities, cementing its position within the UAE with the potential to expand into further markets. With the aim to grow the business and its operations in alignment with Dubai’s Smart City vision, Emirates NBD is continually reassessing its procurement and supply chain strategies, remaining innovative with the creation of new products and services, with over 200 branches in the UAE and worldwide.
With a multitude of roles under his umbrella, Senior Vice President of Procurement and Realty Services Abdullatif Albastaki is responsible for the group procurement for the entirety of Emirates NBD, including Emirates Islamic Banks and the company’s international branches. In addition, Albastaki is behind the delivery of the bank’s supply and management in all regions, physical security, travel and transportation, alongside projects and engineering. Furthermore, his remit includes the fit outs for the bank and facilities management for both owned and lease branches. However, with regards to residential buildings, Albastaki confirms that this service is outsourced to specific companies, with contracts monitored closely.
“We provide all the support, strategic services and project management skills to ensure products that are required for businesses run smoothly and for products to reach the market on time, according to schedule,” explains Albastaki. “Last year was the best collaborative year between procurement and all the other businesses.”
With one of the biggest brand names in the region’s banking industry, Emirates NBD has significant buying power and presence within the UAE. To this effect, the bank continually focuses on providing an advantageous space for employees and customers through leasing management, fit outs and design. Albastaki sits on multiple steering committees, which incorporates the visibility and budget of new branches, alongside ones which need refurbishing and remodeling. All of this is allocated before the end of the year, with the aim to provide focus for the year ahead. It also ensures that all buildings under Emirates NBD are designed in alignment with the rules and regulations of the country, and that they are designed smartly to ensure collaboration with multiple teams. Albastaki comments: “Through negotiation and research, we find the best spaces, working with consultants and contractors to provide this in the best way possible, but at the same time, providing the best value for money, alongside the use of ISO certified and environment friendly materials.”
With approximately AED 3 billion invested in purchasing operations, Emirates NBD utilises procurement software Zycus to successfully undertake strategic sourcing, at which Albastaki is behind every purchase. Both requirements and budgeting is finalised at executive level, which is then cascaded down and allocated, enabling all teams to understand their forecast, build the required resources and allocate them accordingly in alignment with the number of projects planned. “We collaborate and sit together to plan all of the projects realistically, so we are able to hand it over due to the required time,” comments Albastaki. This has enabled the bank to achieve no delays in any given project, with products and services delivered on time and on schedule. Albastaki continues: “This highlights that we have strong teams in both Procurement and Realty Services in addition to the outstanding suppliers and service providers that led us to build strong stakeholders trust.”
The bank’s IT procurement team works closely with the group’s IT services to ensure first mover advantage with new products and ideas, with a strong focus on customer feedback and requirements. “From a strategic point of view, we are using a strong brand name which allows us to be the first in the market most of the time”, explains Albastaki. With a continual focus on sourcing technologies, Emirates NBD ensures these are consistently up to date, up to speed and open in the market, providing a stream of procurement earlier than everyone else, or alongside everybody else. Albastaki adds: “It’s really essential for us to be advanced with technology in our procurement and supply chain and of course, from the supplier perspective, we look at all these points as well.”
The bank has announced that it aims to invest AED 500 million over the next five years towards digital innovation and multichannel transformation of processes, products and services. Listening to customers’ feedback and providing consistent innovative solutions has enabled Emirates NBD to win a multitude of awards, such as Bank of the Year, Best Customer Experience in Banking and Best Mobile Banking app. It has also become the first bank in the UAE and the Middle East to win in three categories at the Euromoney Awards for Excellence in 2016. Albastaki adds: “All of these are of course useful leverages, which we can use in negotiations with suppliers.”
The bank utilises approximately 2,000 suppliers - a mix of both national and international - enabling it to cement its status as leaders in the market, manage all sourcing elements to a high standard and remain ahead of the game. Albastaki explains, “the number of suppliers goes up and down, because some smaller suppliers we sometimes bring in for one time only”. However, he adds: “We have approximately 100 or more strategic suppliers”, which is continually fluctuating. From a spend perspective, Albastaki confirms that there can be up to 200 suppliers that the bank can consider.
Nonetheless, the growth of Emirates NBD has not been without its challenges. One common issue is governance, both in Dubai and countries where the bank imports from, whilst logistics, lead time and benchmarking services are also regular challenges. Albastaki explains: “We are on boards with leaders and consultants which give us insight on what prices are around the world, and we try to benchmark them on current market conditions as well.” Emirates NBD also encounters internal challenges with regards to contracting, insurance and risk, at which Albastaki explains, “some governing bodies we have internally would want to see a minimum requirement which might not fit the suppliers’ appetite”. However, he concludes: “Luckily, being a brand name, we are strong ourselves and can mutually come to a common ground and finalise our contracts.”
Technological innovation is imperative for Emirates NBD to retain and attract further customers, remain competitive and bring requirements and products to the market effectively, ensuring positive, continual customer engagement. IT has become the biggest spend at Emirates NBD, where over 87 percent of the bank’s customer transactions are now undertaken through digital channels.
For this year, the bank will be focusing on the millennial generation and its influence within banking and digitisation. “We have noticed that the new generation want everything at their fingertips. People do all their payments online, transfers online, sort their credit card payments online, so the need to carry cash is becoming less, year on year,” explains Albastaki. “To allow this, we need to be digital, secure, and influence our customers to use and explore the digital world.” The bank’s aim to be proactive with customers and solve problems before they occur through providing solutions before customers ask for them is something Emirates NBD is striving to achieve. Use of online and mobile apps and products, creating a seamless and convenient financial service, will allow it to do just that.
With the vision to be globally recognised as a financial services provider, delivering tailored, innovative banking solutions, Emirates NBD will continue to listen to customers and drive key products to the market, whilst ensuring all new services encompass accessibility and remain user friendly through embedding smart technologies, strategic sourcing and essential procurement services. In 2016, the bank achieved all targets, despite a slowing in the market, and achieved steady growth, cementing its position within the UAE and opening up the future for expansion into new markets in years to come.