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1.1 Background to the Study
Information has always played a prominent role in human activities. The robust development in science and technology has immeasurably increased the role of information in every facet of human endeavor. The rapid expansion of a mass of diversified information has given birth to the term “information explosion” and a rise to the scientific approach in information management and in the interpretation of the concept of information.
The concept has been broadened to include information exchanges not only among men but also among machines as well as the exchange of signals in the animal and plant worlds. The pace of change brought by new technologies has had significant effect on the way people live, work, and play globally.
Today’s business environment is very dynamic and experiences rapid changes as a result of creativity, innovation, technological changes, increased awareness and demands from customers. Business organizations, especially the banking industry of the 21st century operates in a complex and competitive environment characterized by these changing conditions and highly unpredictable economic climate with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at the centre of this global change curve.
According to Harold and Jeff (2005), financial service providers must modify their traditional operating practice to remain viable in the 21st century and the decades beyond. Thus, ICT has emerged as a catalyst in the various industries of the world to aid the process and procedure required to ensure the realization of various organizational goals.
Indeed, the explosive growth in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have narrowed digital divide and turned business sphere to electronic world (e-World). Specifically, technological innovations have led credence to global transformation of operational dimension of traditional banks over a decade ago. Internet technology has brought about a paradigm shift in banking operations to the extent that banks embrace internet technology to enhance effective and extensive delivery of wide range of value added products and services. Consequently, Nigerian banks, especially the commercial banks, recognized electronic banking to be the most effective means of distinguishing themselves from other competitors by investing in sophisticated technology (Auta, 2010).
In the last few years, Nigerian banks have been witnessing tremendous success in the delivery of a wide range of value added products and services through e-banking and there have been evidences of increasingly acceptance of ICT application by banks in Nigeria (Ayo, 2010).
Globally, several studies exist on the application of ICT in banking and its impact bank performance. However, some of these studies provided mixed evidences.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become a very important aspect of today’s Banking and financial services delivery in Nigeria in particular and the world at large. The competitive nature of banking business has necessitated the emphasis now placed on ICT. In the developed societies, ICT is generally believed to have dramatic influence and is seen as continually determining the competitive nature of virtually all business. In Nigeria, the application of ICT to banking operations has become a subject of concern to all banks operating in the country and indeed, a prerequisite for global competitiveness.
As a basic prerequisite in the development of banking business, customer satisfaction holds the potential for increasing an organization’s customer base, increase in the use of more volatile customer mix and increase in firm’s reputation. The consolidation exercise in Nigerian banking sector has left customers with a wide range of choice for products and services.
Study by Keremati (2007) has shown significant and positive correlation between ICT and customer satisfaction and profitability. Although, the Nigerian banking industry is relatively slow in the adoption and utilization of ICT.
In view of this, this study seeks among other things to access the contribution of ICT on banking sector performance in Nigeria using Zenith Bank as case study.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of the study is to access the contribution of ICT banking sector performance in Nigeria.
Other specific objectives include:
(a) To access the extent Zenith Bank has adopted ICT in their operations
(b) To determine whether the adoption of ICT in Zenith Bank has led to improved customer services
c) To ascertain whether the adoption of ICT in Zenith Bank has led to increase in the profitability of the Bank
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions have been designed to elicit the desired response to achieve the objectives of the study:
(a) To what extent has Zenith Bank adopted ICT in her operations?
(b) Has the adoption of ICT in Zenith Bank led to improved customer services?
(c) How has the adoption of ICT in Zenith Bank led to improved profitability for the Bank?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were formulated and tested by the study:
Ho1: Adoption of ICT in Zenith Bank operations is not positive and significant
Hi: Adoption of ICT in Zenith Bank operations is positive and significant
Ho2: ICT adoption has not positively and significantly improved customer service in Zenith Bank Plc
Hi: ICT application has positively and significantly improved customer services in Zenith Bank
Ho3: ICT application has not positively and significantly improved the profits of Zenith Bank Plc
Hi : ICT application has positively and significantly improved profitability in Zenith Bank
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study will be of immense benefit to several groups of people both in the Nigerian banking sector and the academics.
a) Bank Management: First, the study will be of relevance to board members, bank management and staff in the banking sector in Nigeria espacially, for Zenith Bank. The aim of every bank is to achieve maximum level of returns on investment at the lowest possible cost and to secure a larger market share. The adoption of ICT is vital to the attainment of such goal.
b) Bank Customers and other stakeholders: customers, shareholders, employees and other stakeholders in the banking sector will benefit from the result of the study, in the sense that if the banks deploy ICT in their operations, it will impact positively on the quality of services rendered by the banks and the rate of returns on investment.
c) Industry Watchers and Analyst: Furthermore, the outcome of this research is also expected to be of significance to industry watchers and analyst. This group of people will utilize the platform of this study in their analysis on ICT use in the Nigerian banking sector. Similarly, the general public, through the findings of this research, will be better informed on ICT use in the Nigerian banking sector.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The research focused on the contributions of ICT on banking sector performance in Nigeria. The researcher made use of Zenith Bank as one of the foremost new generation banks in Nigeria. The Bank has branches in Enugu metropolis with a large customer base. The work focused on the staff and selected customers of the bank in Enugu metropolis.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
The researcher encountered some problems in the course of carrying out the research work. The first of these problems is lack of funds. This constraint limited the scope of the work. Time too was a constraint as the researcher was combining the research with academic work both of which required a great of deal of time.
1.8 Profile of Zenith Bank Plc
Zenith Bank Plc as one of the foremost new generation’s Banks in Nigeria has operated for over two decade. In other words, the Bank has grown older and with maturity comes wisdom from which the Bank makes decisions now largely influenced by customers’ best interest. Zenith Bank is reputed for its turnaround time in service delivery which the Bank pursues with great passion, energy and enthusiasm. Zenith Bank has a pool of professionals that are constantly encouraged to display their creativity, which would translate into greater wealth creation for customers.
As Nigeria improves its Information Technology (IT) infrastructure (telecom modernization) and celebrates GSM roll-out, Zenith Bank leading edge in IT makes the Bank one of the few that are well positioned to join the international Bank community in the next generation of E-Banking services. This is further enhanced by the bank’s sophisticated credit risk modeling and operational risk management system that seek to create a blend that not only grows customers’ business but strengthens it. The Bank’s credit management system stresses rational procedures and transparency. Zenith Bank is one Bank that sees technology as an enabler and as a generator of new opportunities while at the same time mindful of the disruptive power of digital revolution by its forward thinking and bench-marking of trends in technology with practical delivery on a highly automated platform that makes the bank unique.
In essence, Zenith Bank’s strength lies on its professional and highly dedicated workforce, its cutting IT infrastructure and quality of its management team. The bank’s leadership assets are manifested in the ability of its managers to combine strands of knowledge to create fast action value for the customers. The bank’s leadership combines vision with precision; using creativity, skills and ideas to expand their business reach into the lives of the customers by helping them fulfill their needs with speed and dedication.
The bank’s weakness lies in the external environment which is marked by unstable macro- economic environments, dearth of skilled manpower; uncertainty in political circles and insecurity of lives and properties. Threats to the bank comes from stifling competition from first generation and other emerging banks; the global financial crisis, the capital market crash which saw banks including Zenith lose some substantial sums in margin facilities and recently, the crisis in the Nigerian banking system which is assuming alarming and contagion effect even for healthy banks like Zenith.
However, Zenith Bank is leveraging on opportunities offered by expanded CBN corridor, the proposed deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil & gas which will see Zenith playing significant roles in downstream facilities and other consortia arrangements.
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