IT Invasion in Banking Sector: Convergence of Computing, Communication and Banking

Date:   Wednesday , December 02, 2015

Indian Banking Industry, the backbone of Indian economy, is probably the second largest spender to the IT. With the growth of high speed networks, coupled with the reduced price of computing power, there has been an explosion of technology that changed the banking industry from paper and branch banks to digitized and networked banking. While there has been a tremendous technological revolution, the banks across the globe still struggle to manage the data in banking and financial services. Financial institutions, both globally as well as in India have the unique privilege of owning huge quantities of customer data, and yet, there are significant laggards at coming up with meaningful insights that can assist their customers with making the right decisions with their financial lives. What makes it even more surprising is that financial institutions typically have a richer and historically longer data set compared to the newer internet companies in the form of customer master data and transaction data that constitutes what we call the \"internal big data\" of such institutions.

The major reason behind the inability of banking companies to leverage this data was technology - big data analytics and infrastructure technologies simply hadn\'t evolved enough to be truly nimble, insightful and cost effective. Data warehouses used to cost a fortune, and data architectures were hard to modify and change. However, in the recent past, there have been several technical breakthroughs in technical capabilities and in costs as well. Financial Institutions have grappled with challenges of legacy architecture and of existing business models, and have therefore been slow in embracing data analytics as a game changer.
Advancements in technology are allowing the delivery of banking services more conveniently and effectively than ever before. Today as technology offers vast opportunities of scale; it allows banks to serve everyone standing in the queue, irrespective of the length of the queue and the variety of needs amongst those queuing up. The real challenge faced is, extending the benefits of banking to those who cannot even afford to stand in the queue. Financial Inclusion, at its heart, must have a model where it doesn\'t expect the unbanked to come and queue up at a bank, but where the bank will go the customer. And that\'s possible only through non-linear technologies like mobile banking and innovative banking models, especially in the areas of KYC (Know Your Customer) and payment transfers.
Most forward looking companies have begun to recognize the pivotal role that IT can play - whether it\'s in terms of ensuring smooth running of day-to-day operations (what I call the Run-The-Bank IT) or in terms of IT driven business transformation (i.e. Change-The-Bank IT). Digital banking is built around the twin foundations of ubiquity and actionable insight.

The first - ubiquity - is all about delivering banking services in any form or manner that our customers want. Technology allows us to address the long tail of customer preference, so if our customers want us to service them through face to face interaction, we have our branches; if through a call, we have the call center; if through a browser, we have internet banking; if on their fingertips, we have mobile banking; if through social media we have Kotak Jiffy and Hashtag Banking.

The second - actionable insight - is about making sense of the vast volumes of data that our customers entrust with us, whether in terms of our internal big data or in terms of external social data. Today\'s technology allows us to crunch the data and arrive at insights, whether in real time, or in a more contemplative manner. Such insights guide our customers towards more control over their financial lives and towards making more nuanced, responsible choices.

The key challenge for IT leaders is to juggle between the duality of Run and Change, with its very different and often contradictory needs and levers. My personal commitment is towards ruthlessly optimizing in Run costs through higher efficiencies, and freeing up mind space and budgets towards Change. IT Change budgets needn\'t come only from business/finance leaders - as true business leaders CIOs and CTOs must be committed towards generating their own funds by optimizing Run costs in favor of Change. When organizations reach a tipping point in terms of complexity in their business processes, it\'s time to invest in business technologies that provide a framework to define, run and supervise business processes. Such implementations also offer organizations the opportunity to clean up and redefine their business processes, by leveraging the best practices offered by quality ERP/CRM softwares. In other words, effective leverage of such solutions depends on organizational maturity and willingness to reinvent. Merely overlaying such softwares on existing business processes may prove to be an expensive and sub optimal implementation. (As told to Deepshikha Singh)