Dr. Sunny Dronawat is the CIO of the Quantum Group. Headquartered in New York City, it provides point-of-sale credit card processing, Check Guarantee, Web-based E-commerce solutions, Cash Advance Funding and host of ancillary products such as- Electronic Health Records, Social Media Marketing, Business Concierge Services, Payroll and Paycard. Dr. Dronawat is the past CTO and VP of E-Commerce at LISG and Integrity Life, Western Southern Financial Group. Sunny has over 15 years of experience in Marketing, IT and Entrepreneurship. His background includes health care, education and practice in market research, financial services, IT, and engineering. Sunny has Ph.D., University of Louisville; MBA, University of Louisville; MS, Biochemical Engineering, NITK, India; BS, Chemical Engineering, Karnataka University, India
Top trend shaping the industry
One of the top trends shaping the industry is definitely cloud computing. Everyone today is more open in adopting and moving on to the cloud. The mobile payment and the mobile devices are also changing the way we do business. These are two trends that are pushing the way we do business. But the biggest question that remains to be addressed is ‘what can be moved on to the cloud?’ From reporting to merchant transactions to credit transaction, can all be done on the cloud. Also with more and more tablets and smartphones coming in, the whole industry is entering a new phase.
Promising technologies CIOs must adopt
As a CIO you have to make sure that you do not jump into the first technology that comes across. You have to make sure that these technologies comply with the constraints, requirements and regulations of the industry.
They have to meet the digital security standards and more; all these have to be taken into account before a CIO decides to go ahead with a technology. If a new technology comes out, it is necessary to make sure that there are certification processes; they are secure, and also compatible with the existing technologies or players in the market.
My role as a CIO
In my role as CIO, I have to make sure that our entire infrastructure is functional 24/7. All the devices that we put out there have to support hours of transaction. For example, if you are a restaurant owner and I gave you a credit card machine, that machine has to work without fail every single time. Secondly we have to make sure that the technology is there to provide the customer with tools, alerts and reporting that allows them to make sure no problems are there.
We will also have to protect against fraud. Primarily we do careful underwriting and it is included into the processes. Secondarily, we make sure that proper technology is there to stop any fraud. For example, in your restaurant, your average ticket is $50. But one day you are making transactions of $700 on each ticket; this creates a red flag on our systems. Then, it stops the payment from going to the merchant and sends them an alert reporting the anomaly. This helps protect both the consumer and the merchant.
New initiatives being driven at Quantum
Because we play in the commodity market there are several big players and an even bigger number of small players involved. The way we are approaching the market is by targeting the small merchants, who remain underserved. This strategy has proved fruitful as we are getting a higher profit margin from these players and the market is exhibiting excellent growth pace, more than 10 percent.
We constantly provide innovative ways to attract customers. For example, we have linked the point of sales to cloud; we are among the first ones to do this. Also we are bridging the gap between the online business and the real business. For example, you are a clothing retailer in the Silicon Valley and you are also selling cloths online. You have a piece of clothing item which a person buys in the shop and at the same time someone else orders it online. You only have one piece of this product but due to the lack of collaboration between the real business and online retail you are sure to disappoint one of your customers. We, by eliminating or bridging this gap and giving our customer one single device that can track both shop and online orders, helps them to manage the whole business more efficiently.
In the restaurant industry, we are innovating by putting online sales in open table. That means we are enabling customers to buy food from multiple restaurants in one ticket. You can order all these food with one credit card swipe and it will be delivered to you.
With these innovations coming in, technology plays a major role in the business. We makes sure that all these different technologies work together seamlessly to help the customer.
Top challenges for CIOs
Finding the right people has remained as a major challenge for me. As new technologies evolve, I am finding it extremely difficult to find experienced people. The market is moving so aggressively that I am finding very little time to properly train them. The second major issue is budget; this has always been a major issue with CIOs. Spending a lot of money in technology has to be validated, there has got to be result that justify the expenditure.
Vision for Future
One vision all of us embrace is that we want to be the leading edge of technology in this field. We are married to bring in new technology to the industry; we feel that with technology we can help the SMBs to compete in this business world. This is our agenda and goal.
(As told to Vimali Swamy)