Pennant Technologies: Architecting Right Fit Solutions with an eye on the future

Date:   Monday , October 31, 2016

Increasing customer expectations, ever changing regulations and rising competition are becoming powerful forces that are shaping banking industry. More than ever before, the fierce competition from Fintech innovations posing formidable challenges to the banking industry and it is now an imperative for the banks to pay close attention to these disruptive technologies that can transform themselves and prepare for the future.

The application portfolio in a bank continues to be in dynamic state with bespoke applications being developed, procurement of new off the shelf packages, existing applications being maintained, enhanced or migrated to meet the ever changing business which results heterogeneous mix of solutions with varied capabilities wherein some have sophisticated features. Though the approach worked for some time, the renewed demand on driving down the operational cost, meeting customer expectations and the need to meet regulations demanded latest technologies and new applications.

This is where the Pennant Technologies, a Hyderabad based software company made inroads into the market by offering the right-fit technology services and solutions. It has structured its offerings that enable financial institutions to leverage their existing systems and infrastructure while delivering the business capabilities. Pennant mastered the art of filling the gaps by developing and delivering the right-fit point based system which can be integrated with existing applications leveraging its thorough understanding of the ground level realities.

Pennant built niche products that address specific functional areas where the banks truly need flexibility and configurability to meet the dynamic business needs wherein the existing applications are unable to offer that flexibility.

“Whenever we walk into financial institutions to demonstrate our solutions, we earn their attention by precisely pinpointing the issues they are facing with their existing solutions and traditional designs. Our functional understanding coupled with technological skills helps us to address those pain points by conceptualizing an end-to-end solution by putting together various components, which are configurable,” explains Rama Krishna Raju, Director & CEO, Pennant Technologies. Firmly believing that a product should not be customized unless and until it’s unavoidable or when not able to deliver the business capability, Pennant verges more towards configuration than customization.

Futuristic on the Technology Front

Thanks to its proprietary Product framework built with various reusable functional factories and numerous solution accelerators that helped to build the righ-fit solutions with reduced development timelines, since Pennant don’t have to engineer the whole design every time. Pennant has developed everything on Java J2EE to facilitate customers to scale up & down effortlessly as per their convenience. As opposed to most vendors who enforce clients to stick to particular software & hardware components, Pennant solution can run on majority of platforms, including various physical or virtual or cloud infrastructures , and it also includes the customers’ choice while selecting the database, OS or application servers.

A Well Architected Growth

Let’s rewind back a decade to understand how a startup in the mission-critical BFSI domain filled its basket with 22 marquee clientele across India, Middle East and UK. The company was born in Hyderabad in 2006 as a brainchild of a group of technocrats with 10-12 years of banking experience as well as business experience. Pennant embarked on this venture as a services company with initial focus on enterprise application integration services leveraging its technical skills coupled with deep domain experience.

Enterprise Application Integration being its core expertise, over the years, Pennant has accomplished diverse small integrations of application to application integration services as well as complex integration of end to end Middleware systems that should be up and running 24x7 for all the electronic channels/business applications.

Pennant has started offering application services that include custom application development, application modernization and application reengineering. Its prudent approach of focusing the value added business applications around core banking truly helped Pennant to make its mark in the Middle East market where it delivered simple to complex transaction processing applications. Pennant successfully delivered end-to-end credit card workflow/processing application to a leading bank in UAE and a complete branch automation development for leading bank in Oman. Likewise, associated with a leading bank in Qatar for over eight years, Pennant has done various product & custom development for them which is even featured in IBS Intelligence, the leading financial technology magazine. In fact, the Host Integrator solution it has built for numerous banks processes majority of the transactions in Qatar.

This experience of delivering over 100+ projects worldwide have bestowed Pennant with abundant insights about multiple vendor applications, especially the capabilities vs the end user expectations and requirements and so on. Similarly, the experience it gained by performing end-to-end product engineering right from designing and development to implementation to a leading ISV, enriched company’s knowledge enough to build a robust product.

It is the years of association with numerous banks across the geography that enabled pennant to acquire thorough understanding of the application landscape intricacies that are common and are unique to each of the financial institution especially the constraints and pain areas of the business teams in achieving the business capability. At this juncture, pennant sees the addressable market space for niche point based systems especially in the areas of Lending, branch banking and payments. However Pennant was cautious and didn’t jump into the product development but spent quality time in deriving the guiding principles and then developed its proprietary product framework that is open, modular and offers high-level of configurability

The Cutting-Edge Framework

Pennant started reaping the fruits of its hard work especially the considerable time it spent on the product framework as the proven product framework helped pennant to build several products such as lending suite, social collaboration system, Interactive Communication manager and many more with minimal development timelines leveraging the common underlying framework. Also opened its sales offices in UK and Dubai in 2010, the company shifted its focus from services to products and keeps upgrading its framework abreast with the advent of new technologies.

Pennant built a comprehensive platform based solution with all the right ingredients and an eye on configurability and modularity to manage the lending portfolio of any financial institution.

Lending is always the corner stone of banking and moreover lending products offer a significant and differentiating feature of relationship that lasts for years. With the lending process becoming more customer-oriented and the introduction of self-service options, financial institutions need an open & robust solution that is capable of helping them to meet ever changing customer expectations and also to address their key challenge of driving down the operational cost. Pennant managed to attract the attention from the financial institutions as the product truly addresses the key challenges of the banks.

Pennant’s lending system (works for retail, corporate, conventional and Islamic financial institutions of Middle East), which is running successfully for three years has led the company to explore other markets and started positioning its product in Indian market for the last six months.

Raju asserts “We are seeing lot of traction for our lending suite where we managed to win couple of wins with stringent competition from leading and established players across the world. We won these only because of the rich and differentiating features of our solution though we may not match either in the size or numbers with our competitors.

The recent signup with a leading NBFC in india echoes the views of Management as it won this deal again competing with leading and established players

“There are several banks in India that have adopted the lending system decade back and most of them are reviewing systems whether to upgrade or replace…, we see a great potential in Lending area in India as well as in other geographies.. With enhanced product framework, rich functionalities and next generation cloud ready architecture, our product is ripe for the voluminous Indian market,” asserts Raju.

Maintaining an Agile Technologically Advanced Team

Pennant from the inception believes in having competent lean team with more focus on solution accelerators to accelerate its development timelines and to achieve the standardization and consistency. In addition, the management team with hands on experience nurtures the team members to develop the required competencies around its proprietary product framework and solution accelerators.

“To build a product you don’t need a thousand people team. To build the right product, an agile and competent team equipped with the right tools and competencies will suffice. We’d like to keep our team lean as well as technologically advanced and continue to focus enhancing solution accelerators as the solution accelerators truly helped in many instances not only to improve our development timelines but also to achieve the consistency in all of our deliverables which simplify the maintenance of the same.,” remarks Raju.

Constantly enhancing the product framework apace with the technological evolvement also helps its people to be abreast with cutting-edge technologies. Further sweetening the deal is its cross-training programs, which allows them to shift from one stream to another. “If they want to learn Big Data and Mobility, we help them to learn those and apply their current skills on the new platform,” affirms Raju. Besides chiselling its people with internal training, the company also brings trainers from outside.

Pennant still enjoys a startup culture with an open environment and a flat hierarchy, where seniors can be easily approached by juniors. While the number of years of experience carried by one is respected, at the creative environment of Pennant, people who solve an issue innovatively are deeply valued. The company has given its people the assurance that their career growth will be bridged along with Pennant’s growth. This clarifies why most of the people, who have joined Pennant in the initial years are still associated with it and how it’s maintaining an impressive near to ground attrition rate.

Gearing Up for a Better Future

Confident that Big Data is the future of analytics and predictive decision making, Pennant is building an end-to-end solution based on it that covers both reporting and predictability of giving loans to customers. Moving from traditional mechanisms to machine learning, it will also allow customers to perform credit decision on Pennant’s platform. Pennant already made inroads and developed mobile applications for the customers and field sales staff on its Lending Factory product and it continues to add additional mobile capabilities in the near future. Additionally, Pennant also intends to develop a few complementary solutions on top of which it is offering to customers as a service offering now. Currently charging clients based on fixed license cost, Pennant is tuning its licensing terms to include volume-based licensing model, which will help smaller organizations to exploit its solutions. “As per the wish of several Indian clients, we are also planning to move the whole licensing model to cloud so that it can be deployed and can be rendered as a service offering. With this pay-as-you-go model, clients won’t be burdened with a heavy upfront cost,” concludes Raju.

Key Management:

Rama Krishna Raju, Director & CEO

Rama is a techno functional professional who has held several key roles in BFSI domain and has delivered multiple large scale technology transformation initiatives for various banks in the past sixteen years. Solving business problems using innovative technology designs being his strength, he specializes in general management, product development, business operations, strategy, negotiation, key account management and technology.

Pradeep Varma, Founding Director

Pradeep is a techno functional professional who has held several key roles in BFSI domain including the Islamic Banking. Delivered multiple large scale technology transformation initiatives for various banks in the past twenty years and managing the projects with more focus on solution accelerators is his priority. Lending is his forte and played very critical role in conceptualizing and productizing the flagship products of Pennant. He specializes in core product engineering so as to achieve the modularity, flexibility and high level of configurability.

Offices: Hyderabad (Headquarter & main development center), UK and UAE

Clients: Qatar National Bank, National Bank of Kuwait, Emirates NBD, Commercial Bank of Qatar, RAK Bank, Al Hilal Bank, Ahli United and National Bank of Oman, to name a few

  • Featured as notable vendor by Gartner, Inc.’s ‘Market Share Analysis: Banking and Securities Vertical-Specific Software, Worldwide, 2014’ in June 2015

  • Won ‘The Best Financial Technology Company in Asia for 2010’ Award from The World Finance Magazine