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We will witness increasing number of AI use cases in the asset management industry: Suraj Prakash, CTO, Edelweiss Mutual Fund

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Q. How has technology disrupted the asset management industry?

In general, people see technology as a disruptor. But for me, it is more of an enabler. Technology has
eased the ways of how you can handle information or how fast you can get any information. In the asset
management industry, earlier the agents used to sell the offerings based on the information they had.
Now you have more channels, like websites and mobile apps that carry all the product-related
information and give insights to the customers. These could not have been possible without the help of
technology.

Today, everyone’s talking about cloud but we are leaps and bounds ahead for the simple reason that 90
percent of our applications are on cloud. Some of the few remaining ones are the legacy applications,
which will also be moved to the cloud at an opportune time.

Similarly, automation has also helped redefine a lot of processes in our industry. For example, we have
automated our back-end / back office processes and made it work seamlessly. Earlier, reconciliation
used to take a day and a half but now it is done in half an hour. We have also automated the generation
of the statements of accounts, SMS, WhatsApp messages – all these things going on the fly as and
when any transaction happens. We have introduced IVR services to handle all the queries of the
customers. However, this doesn’t necessary mean that we are doing away with human resources. We
are utilising them for more intelligent tasks.

Q. What have been the key tenets of your digital transformation journey?

One of the focus areas for all the stakeholders at Edelweiss is how soon or fast we can be ready with our
information, when it is required by a particular investor, be it a distributor, an individual, financial advisor
or the direct investor. How soon can we be ready to hit the market – right from ideation,
conceptualisation, and implementation – there has to be a minimal time gap.

Here, we have adopted some methodologies like we have automated deployments and do robotic
performance monitoring of not only the hardware but also of the websites. For instance, even before the
customers realise that our website has slowed down or not working, we are intimated. And this helps us
take proactive measures before any customer raises the complaint.

We are also leveraging technology to improve turnaround time to market. Besides, we have automated
the testing processes, which has not only helped us save a lot of time but also the cost.
Our product information is available to the customers at the earliest. We have done search engine
optimisation, wherein a person looking for any information on Google or any other search channels,
he/she gets access to all our information. We have also optimised our website in such a way that it not
only throws up information at the earliest but all the information is available in just 3-4 clicks.

Q. How are you passing the benefits of these initiatives to both internal users and external
customers?

Like stated above, we focus a lot on time to market. During NFO’s, we make our applications
configurable and focus on intricate details like API integrations on data, making the data available and
standardising it, and making the distribution freely available. We have created a fully capable and
transactional websites so that customers don’t have to walk into the branch for any practical purposes
related to investing with Edelweiss AMC.

Furthermore, we have moved to the next level with the launch of our ‘Einvest’ mobile app. Today, a good
number of customers are logging into our website via the mobile application and using it to interact with
us.

From the customer perspective, the other focus area has been on ‘grievance redressal’, which could be
related to a query, request, or a complaint. What we have done here is that as soon as a customer sends
in an email about a query, request or a complaint, the system automatically creates it as a ticket; the TAT
is configured based on the kind of complaint that is coming in; and we can measure it end-to-end.

We also have an integrated CRM application in place, wherein we have done end-to-end integration for
customers’ emails, their calls, missed calls, and outbound calls. The CRM application not just caters to
the investor services but it also takes care of the integrated marketing requirements, campaigns, social
media, etc. We can manage social media through a single interface.

The next big thing for us is leveraging AI for ‘sentiment analysis’. We have put an app that can analyse
the sentiment of people interacting with us and respond accordingly. Similarly, since the CRM application
caters to campaigns, wherein we can look at how much a customer has invested with us, we can
generate campaigns to up-sell or cross-sell our products. For our internal business, the CRM application
helps by consolidating all the sales leads and gives the sales team an overview on their target goals.

Another key focus area for us is data warehouse. Historically, the biggest challenge for us has been
consolidating data from everywhere – whether it is generating from social media, CRM, and physical
interaction with the customers. Today, we are using automation tools to collate and churn all these data,
analyse it, and help management team take informed decisions and serve the customers better.

Q. Do you agree that that AI as a technology will become more pervasive in the entire enterprise
domain?

Yes, we will see more and more use cases of AI in the coming years. In our industry, AI can be used to
create Robo Advisors that can address both customer requirements as well as handle queries from our
investment management team. Apart from suggestions, these Robo Advisors can be used to actually do
the investment with the consent of the investors and come back with a confirmation of the investment.

Right now, we are seeing usage of AI in terms of chatbots but going forward, these Robo Advisors will
help customers in setting up SIP, e-mandate, doing a direct debit, etc.

Q. Will it be true to say that the degree of digitisation in the asset management industry lags
behind the conventional financial services or the maturity has come and we are seeing the real
use cases?

The maturity has come but there would still be some areas where digital adoption is yet to pick up. We
aim to become a ‘Digi AMC’. And for this we are automating all the manual processes.

Q. Any macro themes that you think will drive the AMC industry and any particular technology
that you are closely looking at to implement in the coming years?

Analytics and AI are the two technologies that we are closely looking at and will implement in the coming
years. Machine Learning to a certain extent as well. Both the technologies can be used to create Robo
Advisors and then intuitive reports and alerts for every stakeholder.

Moreover, we would leverage AI to grow our business in lesser time than compared to the conventional
methods.

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