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In Profile: Bhavesh Vaghela, CMO at ActiveOps

As the necessity to lower costs and supercharge efficiency becomes evermore prevalent, operations teams are increasingly looking to squeeze every last drop out of their technology investments.

Bhavesh Vaghela ActiveOps
Bhavesh Vaghela, CMO, ActiveOps

With this in mind, our latest In Profile feature meets Bhavesh Vaghela, CMO at the management process automation software company ActiveOps.

The UK-founded company helps organisations turn operational management from a guessing game into a source of efficiency and value. Its solutions are utilised by teams in Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa, North America and Australia.

Vaghela is a seasoned senior marketing executive with more than two decades of experience in strategic leadership, marketing, sales and operations.

Here he discusses ActiveOps’ applicability within the active operations management (AOM) landscape, its journey to becoming a globally-recognises brand and how his career trajectory has led him to tackle some of the fintech industry’s most pressing issues head-on. 

Bhavesh, tell us more about your company and its purpose

Simply put, we help operations teams do more with what they have. Operations teams are constantly under pressure to reduce costs and drive efficiency, all while maintaining a great customer experience. However, this feat is easier said than done.

Many have invested in all sorts of technology and process principles to help drive efficiency but still find themselves struggling to meet service-level agreements (SLAs) and operational targets. That’s where we come in – through our software and approach we help our clients find capacity and enable them to use it much better.

Our clients typically see customer turnaround times and productivity improved significantly improved with work in progress materially down. Clients also leverage the capacity created to invest in non-core activity and reduce levels of new recruitment.

Ultimately, our clients often talk about how they are now in control of their workload, rather than feeling reactive to it. That’s our aim and purpose.

Any recent company achievements you’d like to highlight?

Financial crime is one area we’ve been working on for some time now. Typically anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-consumer (KYC) processes require skilled analysts; analysts that are hard to come by and even harder to retain. Add an unstructured method of managing cases with a growing backlog and you have yourself a big challenge for cybersecurity departments.

It impacts individuals, major corporations, small businesses and the public sector – and costs the UK billions of pounds each year.

For us, the question was how can we help our clients find practical ways to drive more value from the resources they have rather than bang the ‘you’ll be fined’ drum. That’s what our new CaseworkIQ product does. It sits on a bank’s existing case management platform and provides visibility on what cases need to be worked on and in what order.

It sounds simple but is very easy for cases to suck up resources with little insight into cases that are at risk of falling foul of regulation.

The early signs are very encouraging. In a recent pilot deployment, CaseworkIQ delivered a 24 per cent improvement in productivity within a UK bank. 

What are the next key talking points for your industry as a whole?

As we most likely head into a recession, unfortunately, the focus in many boardrooms will turn to review where costs can be cut, where money can be better spent and how operations can be made more efficient.

It will no doubt be a challenging time for all industries. But those who are able to plan early and act in accordance will be best placed to support customers through challenging times.

We have just launched and are crunching through the numbers of a global survey of senior financial services operations leaders. Alongside this, we are also executing an aggressive interview process with senior leaders in the industry. This will provide industry guidance to operations leaders in preparation for tougher economic conditions. This report and survey results will be available in September and presented at our Capacity 22 conference in London.

Technology will have a huge part to play in navigating whatever the future holds, it’s our greatest tool as we look to predict what has long been unpredictable. Visibility over your day-to-day operations will be crucial to allow business leaders to confidently make decisions.

Those businesses that harness data in the right way and use technology to understand it will reap the rewards.

How did you personally get into fintech?

I’ve worked for businesses facing the financial services industry for more than two decades now, working with a variety of organisations that develop software products for financial institutions.

The fintech industry has grown with the emergence of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) market and the opening up on regulations; something I’ve worked on pushing from multiple different angles.

I’ve been lucky enough to market both SaaS and on-premises software throughout EMEA, APAC and North America; all of which have moulded my approach to business today.

The majority of the businesses I’ve worked at have customers in different markets around the world. In typically fast-paced and disruptive market segments, this helped me consider the customer view.

When the opportunity at ActiveOps arose I chose to join the company because of the value its solutions provide to banks and financial institutions. The amount of value generated for major banks and insurance companies worldwide was something I hadn’t seen before.

What’s the best thing about working in the industry?

The fintech industry is incredibly diverse, fast-paced and driven largely by innovation. A fintech company could be a challenger bank as much as it could be an insurtech.

The best ideas come from challenging the status quo and therefore, there is a lot of testing and failure in fintech. Exciting businesses appear every day and with that, businesses are finding new ways to stand out and give more control to their customers.

While ActiveOps has been around for nearly twenty years, the industry itself has changed so much with the development of new technologies. In fact, back offices are still looking for ways to reduce costs and drive up efficiencies. Eking out every last ounce of productivity is the endgame and it’s one we’re continuously working to meet.

“A fintech company could be a challenger bank as much as it could be an insurtech.”

What frustrates you about the industry?

The eagerness to push concepts further can sometimes forget the impact on the customer. Take the buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) space for example, as regulation catches up, the bubble is undoubtedly starting to burst and it is consumers that are feeling the impact.

Its success largely depends on consumers accepting more and more debt. The pressure to make a success of BNPL has seen consumers turn to loans in order to meet payments.

It’s a similar story with embedded finance, while an interesting concept it at times feels like it is being pushed as a must-have on businesses that don’t yet have the strong foundation necessary to act in place of a bank.

Sometimes there is a blind push that technology innovation is everything and customers will adopt and love it. History says that’s not always the case.

What has the future got in store for your company?

We’re continuously working on improving our existing products and looking for new ways to help customers drive more efficiencies. At present, the focus is on what value we can provide for financial institutions and banks during turbulent times. It appears a global recession is upon us, so helping our customers prepare and plan for doing more with less is our focus

We’re also constantly on the lookout for new ways to support customers in leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to access insights that can enhance decision-making.

In practice, this means offering the possibility of better visibility on traditionally unstructured processes and getting the most out of your existing technology stack and the data it gathers to maximise investments in existing technology.

Additionally, we focus on supporting people to give them more flexibility while helping them get the most out of their jobs and improve their overall experience at work.

For example, hybrid working doesn’t look like it shows any sign of disappearing. Technology can support businesses in getting the most out of hybrid work for people in a way that is scalable, focused on wellbeing, and supported by technology.

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