How CFO of Cleartrip is responding to the digital wave

In an interview with Express Computer, Indroneel Dutt, CFO, Cleartrip, discussed the impact of the digital capabilities on the traditional finance function. Further, he emphasised on building a finance team to complement the emerging technologies and highlighted the key elements of his data-driven digital strategy.

How is a CFO reacting to the extensively growing digital?
We have started as a born-digital company, to me digital is the crux of my mantra. If I extrapolate that to the product, the core offering has to morph. In past, we had the door to door salesmen, today it has taken up by the online marketing and outreach, but the core product has not changed. The pricing has become value-based pricing, the differential pricing more based on the value that the organisation renders to the community at large.

The speed of the new products coming to the market has considerably accelerated. Today the shelf life of the product is much lower. Now the CFO becomes the custodian of the integrity of the organisation, whether it is business, compliance, finance, etc the basics haven’t changed, but the way we perform that work has changed significantly.

So today, there is an overload of information, we have been pounded with a lot of big data and are presumed to make sense of the humongous data. We are supposed to identify the critical methods, the correlations between them and the sensitivity of the moment and then use those parameters to track your production efficiencies, cost reduction, etc.

Hence, to me, the emerging technologies and digital are redefining the processes completely, while the basics of the goal and integrity of the organisation haven’t changed. The way you perform your business has radically changed.

Often the regulators are left behind and they immediately introduce the new laws to govern the change. Hence, one has to constantly aim at the advanced digital offerings coupled with the regulations. Also, the people are determined to be aligned or re-tuned with the changing landscape of the product, industry and the legislature.

Thus, keeping these aspects in mind, how do we plan our matrix, for example, in the digital business, it is my job to provide my customer with opportunities that would bring him back to buy my product again. That’s where we are taking a lifetime value view of a customer, 5$ that we have spent in acquiring a customer could potentially give us 10$ of lifetime benefits. This, of course, is possible through the deep analytics applied to a larger data sets which throw out a pattern and behavioral aspect.

Hence, rather considering a transactional view, we have to contemplate a lifetime customer value view, which can only happen through deep technology-based applications on the financial matrix and therefore, helps you drive the right customer correlations.

We are leveraging analytics and data sets to have an overall transactional view.

Being a CFO, how are you leading the digital agenda? What are the key elements of your digital strategy?
Our job is to remove the friction points that a traveler can face and create a streamlined experience. Over time, we have built the ethos of the company center around the customer, all our business prophecies and innovations are determined to make the travel seamless experience. Within that the finance department or me, specifically, as a CFO, I consider myself a part of the business and working with the business teams, products and technology, constantly giving inputs, involved in every customer interaction and making the experience smooth.

How are you building a finance function that has the right people, with the right skills, to complement and get the most out of new technologies?
If you don’t have the right skill set to run the business, then your vision and execution may differ. The abundance of data is consistently been generated, and you have to have a team to analyze, understands the right tools and make sense out of that data. Just like the product, our people had to be evolved, more analytics-focused, where they able to get high-resolution insights, that’s what classifies the futuristic team.

At Cleartrip, largely we are matrix driven, create the ability for business to identify the best financial performance of the week, day or month. This gives us a certain set of outputs matrix for the business leaders can rely on for decision making.

Tones of information is floating around, it is critical to have a skill set who knows exactly what and where to look and what are the tools required to classify the data. We are using the right set of tools, people, to run the business, and provide a seamless experience and maintaining the financial integrity of the organisation.

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