In a special media gathering held yesterday at The Ark by UnionBank located at the G/F of Insular life Building in Ayala Avenue near Paseo De Roxas, we were able to meet with the chief digital architect and the visionary of the future of retail and banking in the Philippines – Ms. Myla Villanueva, the founder and CEO of Micro-D International, Inc. (MDI) and Ms. Ana Maria Aboitiz-Delgado, the Chief User Experience Officer Of UnionBank.

Two women who have been instrumental in making Digital Transformation (DXT) happen in the Philippine Banking & Finance industry.

MDI has been in the forefront of almost all of the digital innovations here in the Philippines. With over 25 years in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry with a combined experience and expertise in the IT sector, from systems integration and managed services, MDI has carved its name on every major digital transformations that happened across all the major industries such as telecommunications, power, BPO, retail, government and banking & finance.

With 30 years in the IT scene, Myla Villanueva is already considered an icon when it comes to the Philippines digital revolution. I was able to talked with her briefly right after the program and asked her about how she is able to manage to be always a step ahead and at the forefront of all digital innovations.

Myla Villanueva

Her answer is inspiring and challenging at the same time and is a response worth taking to heart whatever industry or field you may be in right now.

“I never stop studying,” Ms. Villanueva said. “I always make sure that I keep myself abreast, I travel a lot, I talk with thought leaders,.. one other thing is that you have to be brave enough to try the technology, test the newest and the best.”

And then I asked her about how she is able to know if the technology will “work” (or will be accepted) here in the Philippines.

“I think that’s the secret sauce. I just know because I don’t think about the technology per se but what it will do to the life of a person. So when I first started with broadband wireless at that time my goal was to make sure that the sari-sari store in municipal village can have access to the internet. So it wasn’t about broadband wireless, but what it will do for people. It is the outcome and if tech happens to solve it, then well and good.”

That will entail a lot of research from your end.

“It’s a lot of things, research, experience and of course the ability to articulate what it can do for you because at the end of the day, companies will have to use it.”

So you connecting everything together, it’s a gift.

“Well I hope so, we’re still around, technology is very fast moving so we’re happy to still be part of it.”

MDI’s latest and bravest project to date is The Ark by UnionBank which Ms. Ana Maria Aboitiz Delgado, the Chief User Experience Officer of UnionBank (first CExO in the Philippines) said is going to be the future of physical banking replacing all the traditional processes to complement its full digital transformation.

Ana Maria Aboitiz Delgado

All low level transactions can now be accommodated through its highly intuitive apps and The Ark will serve as a so-called “third space” for clients. Imagine a bank with no lines or queues, you start the banking process as soon as you enter the space and when a bank ambassador asks you for your concern and hands you a tablet to begin selecting your transactions.

All the screens are interactive and can be used for various processes. The Ark also has a VR or Augmented Reality Zone that is used to assist customers primarily for various offsite requirements like getting a feel on houses or cars to loan without leaving The Ark. That is so very convenient.

The Ark will also serve as a venue to educate clients and offer those who are not yet comfortable using the apps or call centers with a face to face assistance from their friendly bank ambassadors.

“The ARK is a bridge between the real-world banking experience and the digital experience, which we have made possible by teaming up with our partners, led of course by MDI,” Ms. Ana Aboitiz-Delgado added.

To put it in a nutshell, what MDI did is to work on the collective vision of UnionBank to go full digital, driven by the necessity to make banking relevant or more adaptive to the needs of its clients today and tomorrow.

The concept of Digital Transformation (DX) is carried seriously by MDI with the aim of providing its clients with a remarkable customer experience. And to do this, they adhere to the principles of what they call as “DX Trinity” or the three components of a Digital Transformation – Design and Technology, the Physical Space and the Brand’s Aspiration.

The general idea is to apply technology in every aspect of business, it will disrupt traditional processes and customs but it will also bring forth powerful customer experiences. This is perhaps the bravest thing that UnionBank ever did to keep their promise to provide their clients with the best service possible.

And for that, PRAISES to all the movers and shakers who made The Ark happen.

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