Redesign financial services: Navigating crisis through digital transformation

IT is becoming a true horizontal for growth for businesses. Finance firms are more open and flexible to adopt new IT solutions. Apart from adopting IT, ecosystem across sectors to develop social skills such as—more collaborative, upskill, flexible.


The COVID-19 has changed the way we function about life and work. It has also accelerated the digital transformation, which was steadily happening across the sectors. However financial services were already at par at adopting technology, now the industry is re-shaping its IT infrastructure at a faster pace. 

The Guild in association with VMWare, a world leader in cloud and virtualisation solutions organised a webinar session on ‘Redesign financial Services’ which gave an overview on how NBFCs are leveraging technology business continuity and in terms of providing a better customer experience. And how IT leaders are embracing newer technologies in firms amid the new normals and challenges that global pandemic has thrown in their ways. 

IT leaders present in the webinar unanimously agreed that the CIOs role in the current scenario is more than to solve mere IT problems. Also, the operational methodology they adopted was challenged and questioned. However, the adoption of exponential technologies into work sailed them smoothly through the new normal and improving their IT infra. 

IT leaders in the finance sector believe that the future is of digital transactions. Thus, their IT roadmaps now include leveraging better IT solutions, Cloud technology with bigger IT budgets. In this transformation journey, VMWare which provides agile cloud solutions can help financial and banking companies to build an elastic and scalable IT infrastructure.

Puneet Kaur Kohli, CTO at Mannapuram Finance said, “CIOs role has been drastically changed. They are also responsible for making business decisions. The more business generates value; the more CIOs must be productive in terms of giving excellent customer experience and engagements. And newer technologies are playing a big role in this.”

Commenting on the current scenario, she said, “COVID-19 crisis has changed the entire mode of IT. Pandemic has given us the ideal situation to work upon IT roadmaps which were earlier defined for the next 2-3 years down the line.”

Kohli points out that COVID-19 has accelerated the importance of IT solutions in financial institutions like more than ever. Mannapuram Finance has undergone due to the current scenario, such as designing a WFH policy in place; BCP practices played a huge role in implementing it. The company adopted many corporate apps and payment mechanism to enhance customer experience during the lockdown. They were able to disburse more than Rs 350 crore in the pandemic situation.

For financial companies, going on WFH mode was the biggest challenge as for banking and finance institutions office space comes under the eyes of regulatory bodies such as RBI and SEBI. Also, there are security challenges which cannot be overlooked due to the risky assets and investments. 

A Balakrishnan, Executive Director at Geojit Technologies thanks newer technology solutions such as Microsoft Teams and CRM solution which made WFH transition easy. “Since we already have internet-based technology infra, it helped in COVID-19 time, 85 per cent of our transactions are already digital. Microsoft CRM and teams made the WFH mode easier.” 

However, customer engagement, productivity loss during the transition period were some of the concerns as WFH was not in the Geojit’s work culture. But technology enablement made it pass through.

Another speaker N Raveendran, CIO at Sakthi Finance, sharing his thoughts said that COVID-19 had been an eye-opener in terms of IT infrastructure in the banking sector. IT personnel are in the limelight, and lots of expectations are set. “Digital Transformation is highly imperative for NBFCs. We understand that consumers are quite tech-savvy; thus, we are adopting more digital modes to conduct business per new normal and RBI mandates.”

According to him Committed internal system enablement using SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) is driving digital transformation in the firm. 

Sakthi Finance is implementing Digital marketing strategies to all other business areas, realising that customers are incredibly familiar with digital payments apps such as Google pay and are comfortable in making payments through that during constricted mobility lockdown period.

“Current situation has given a chance to the IT sector; there is a compulsion to change the infra to digital technology. And people are listening, understanding and align to IT solutions,” said Suresh A Shan from Mahindra & Mahindra Finance. He discussed how COVID-19 had accelerated the importance of IT. During the quarantine period, the entire shift is now towards digital transformation for both individual and corporate to survive the crisis. 

With this, three entities are the focus areas: Internal customers, external customers and Dealers/agents. Also, the departments (Accounts or backend) which were slightly resistant to use technology are now bound to use IT solutions. Local rural banks to govt schemes all are going digital. Nowadays, customers get informed through dealers that we are digitally equipped.

“IT infrastructure has got matured. IT solutions are driving business and its compliance securely. Using consumer IT, customers are becoming responsive more than ever. Fifty per cent of customers (rural included) communicate through mobile. Beyond COVID-19, technology will be widely accepted.”

Pointing out the pros of using digital channels, Suresh said that through fintech solutions, dealers/agents could reach within 24 hrs to the consumers with new information. Moreover, commission custom has also been abolished.

Presenting the banks perspective, Amit Jaokar, Chief Digi Officer at NKGSB Co-op Bank, says, banks are anticipating the change caused by Coronavirus and are moving fast on digitalisation.

“Banks will adopt a more software-defined approach such as virtual network, virtual platforms or virtual storage managed by all in one console. Also, banks will focus on user experience, which will hover around next-gen solutions such as cognitive availability, real-time collaboration, real-time demand-supply, ease of use and self-service.”

According to him, during the lockdown period, more users have opted a mobile banking platform, especially in the senior citizen category.

Shekhar Rao, COO of Savvy Apps opines that with a paradigm shift in the banking sector, banks are adopting agile mode from the waterfall model. His vision for new normal for banks are: take less time to roll new schemes (24 hrs); remote working; more collaboration; notion of hierarchy is moving away; Capabilities and skillsets get priority.

“IT is becoming a true horizontal for growth for businesses. Finance firms are more open and flexible to adopt new IT solutions. Apart from adopting IT, ecosystem across sectors to develop social skills such as—more collaborative, upskill, flexible. Domain skills, the gig economy has also become relevant.”

As a Neobank aspirant, Savvy has to accelerate their plans as it wanted to create a savings platform, especially for the millennials. “The entire operations of our solution is fuelled by the digital revolution—KYC, device handling, cloud infrastructure.” He adds. 

Mohit Arora, Senior Director at VMware India, emphasising on imperative digital transformation in the current scenario, elaborated on how financial service providers can ensure better services through VMWare innovative solutions designed from basic virtualisation to rolling out customised IT apps through VMware technology.

“Financial service sector always has been at the forefront of exploitation of technology. As VMware provides the digital foundation to customers, the banking and finance sector remains one of the most significant sectors for us. We are here to help in building, running, managing, connect and protect their IT needs with our vast portfolio,”

In times of WFH mode, VMware solutions are more relevant and can expand customers ability to WFH efficiently. VMWare’s digital Workspace one is a solution which enables access of the digital applications by launching a secure path. Also manages these applications by ensuring the cybersecurity, he adds. 

Arora points out that significant challenge customers are seeing is to move the apps from on-prem to cloud. As Cloud usage is going to increase; people will not depend on hardware and have challenges to access datacenters. “VMWare solution can help in expanding the applications from on-prem to cloud, enabling them to expand their data into the public cloud without making changes to their applications. We also offer multi-cloud facility; copy-paste on-prem running applications into hyperscalar such as AWS, Azure, IBM, Oracle or Ali etc.,” he concluded.   

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