Ben Elliott is the Chief Executive Officer of Experian Asia Pacific. He was appointed in April 2014 and has been instrumental in driving Experian’s vision of accelerating financial inclusion and literacy in the APAC region.
Ben first joined Experian in May 2012 as Managing Director, Decision Analytics, APAC where he was responsible for overseeing and growing Experian’s data insights and analytics business in the region. He then transited to the role of Chief Operating Officer, APAC in March 2013.
Here are the excerpts of the interview.
It seems, there is a new tech infrastructure that organizations especially tech companies and service providers are working around to combat COVID-19. What's your view on this?
As we prepare for the “next normal”, data and analytics will play a huge part in the recovery of economies and helping businesses and consumers to get back on their feet. We foresee data and analytics being used positively in several ways. For example, in the United States, Experian created an interactive heat map with data and advanced analytics to show populations most susceptible to developing severe cases of COVID-19. This has guided healthcare and government organizations in formulating plans for re-opening and recovery.
Data and analytics can be used in ways to understand past behavior to predict the future – we see this being used by banks and financial services providers, who form most of our clients, to understand their rapidly changing customer profiles to make informed decisions across the customer life cycle.
How do you see the role of technology in the fight against COVID-19? To what extent can tech innovations help businesses come out of the crisis?
When the pandemic first started in the region, we spoke to more than 30 banks and financial services companies, as well as e-commerce companies in Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Australia to find out how COVID-19 had impacted them. Fraud emerged as a common issue for the banks and financial services providers we work with, and they expressed their concerns about fraud and stolen identity data.
Unfortunately fraud typically increases during economic downturns, and while fraud was prevalent in pre-pandemic days, this will be exacerbated by COVID-19, particularly as more users spend time online.
Experian’s 2020 Global Identity & Fraud report shows that fraud has increased in the last 12 months for three in five businesses worldwide. With most fraud detector professionals working off-site during the pandemic and having zero or limited access to their on-site systems, some are unable to thoroughly identify and manage fraud cases. In the meantime, fraudsters have identified these gaps and are using malware and phishing campaigns to collect data – this is a trend likely to continue as opportunistic fraudsters take advantage of the situation.
Technology can help prevent account takeover fraud and scams which are likely to increase at a time when consumers are feeling financial stress from the global health and economic crisis.
While the fraud life cycle is an ongoing process, we predict that the specific impact of COVID-19 will be felt for as long as 24 months from now.
We are seeing the most progressive businesses getting ready for the “next normal” and protecting themselves against fraud by employing advanced authentication solutions underpinned by a layered, multifactored approach and using device digital footprints. When combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning, this ensures better fraud detection for businesses whilst helping to provide a more seamless customer experience.
How do you see the security implications of the post- COVID world because data will no longer be confined to corporate offices?
With data from multiple sources comes a greater risk of fraudsters misusing this data. Fortunately, there are ways to counter this. In Japan, we’ve helped businesses to detect fraud by using device data, and this decreased the detection of false positives by 78 percent.
On the consumer front, COVID-19 will be a major turning point for data rights and privacy. The pandemic will be a major fork in the road for consumers’ attitudes towards data rights and privacy. With increased usage beyond the office comes greater scrutiny. The pandemic will accelerate consumers’ awareness of their data rights and privacy, which will lead to the need for greater transparency into how governments and organizations treat and protect consumer data. Businesses and governments will need to work together to ensure consumer data is protected in a post-COVID-19 world.
COVID-19 seems to be accelerating digital transformation in the workplace across industries. How are businesses fast-tracking their digital agenda amid this crisis?
COVID-19 will bring to the fore any issues businesses had before the crisis and serve as a catalyst for businesses to fast-track their digital agendas. We have all seen more businesses and consumers shift online amid social distancing mandates, which has led to a rise in digital activity.
We observe many businesses now including these priorities in their digital agenda: managing vulnerabilities brought about by the impact of COVID-19, managing customers well to keep them engaged, detecting fraud and mitigating risk, all while keeping in line with their budget and resources.
How do you see the future of remote work and how will technologies evolve to make flexible work easier for employees and employers?
Remote work and flexi-work options will be the norm for companies as governments announce the gradual reopening of economies. The organizations who will be most ready for the future of work are those who will be able to adapt their strategies to utilize technology in a way that ensures their employees are future-ready, keeps business operations functioning smoothly, and makes sure their customers remain engaged.
We were already working on various L&D initiatives before the pandemic, with our program shifting fully online (as opposed to trainers flying in to train a large group in a room) during the “circuit breaker” restrictions in Singapore. Some of these initiatives include “presales clinics” to help our consultants who now must present in a virtual environment instead of their typical in-person approach. We are also providing online product training for our clients with a series of short “how-to” videos to optimize their use of Experian’s solutions. Many of the banks and financial services providers that we work with are under increasing pressure to move to digital channels to source for customers and manage them, given current social distancing mandates. As this trend is likely to continue in a post-pandemic world, we are providing them with support via cloud-based and on-premises solutions, so our clients can ensure business continuity wherever they choose to deploy their people.
While more businesses are turning to tech to battle COVID-19, according to a research, global IT spend will shrink 8% in 2020. How do you see this?
Most businesses are being mindful of their overall budgets amidst broader global economic uncertainties.
If their IT spend does shrink, business leaders need to be clear on the reallocation of their priorities. Many leaders will find themselves shifting from long-term strategy to shorter-term tactical measures to tackle immediate business problems. They need to make sure they have enough to spend in critical areas, such as ensuring their platforms remain secure for client use, and that critical data remains protected.