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We’ve adopted hybrid, harnessing the best of both on-prem and cloud: Siddharth Bhat, CTO, Religare Broking

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In the era of digital transformations, the BFSI sector is one of the leading industries with extensive adoption of cutting-edge technologies to optimise business. Alongside using chatbots and other interactive interphases for customer service, the industry has also heavily embarked on data centres and cloud infrastructure. “We have adopted a hybrid strategy, harnessing the best features of both on-premise data centres and the cloud,” highlights Siddharth Bhat, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Religare Broking in an exclusive interaction with Express Computer.  

Religare Broking is one of the big stock market securities firms in the country that caters to over 1 million customers. Considering this extensive footprint, how is the role of a CTO crucial in managing workloads while driving efficiency and productivity?

In the Broking industry, trust plays a pivotal role and leveraging technology is paramount in establishing and enhancing trust with our customers and prospects. As regulatory and technological landscapes rapidly evolve, the role of the CTO becomes increasingly challenging and exciting. The tech team’s ability to adapt to these changes: embrace innovations and meet market demands while providing a stable, scalable, and highly responsive platform for customers, makes a significant impact on the business competencies.

At Religare Broking, we have formulated a robust strategy to effectively navigate the aforementioned changes, leading to tangible improvements in efficiency and productivity within our technology department and across various business functions. We have a clear vision and systems in place to proactively address regulatory shifts and embrace technological advancements, resulting in a heightened level of trust and satisfaction among our stakeholders.

By synergising cutting-edge technology with our customer-centric approach, we continue to build a strong brand identity that instils confidence in our clients.

There’s rapid digitalisation ongoing in the finance and investment management sector. What emerging technologies are you leveraging at Religare Broking and what are some industry-first initiatives that Religare Broking implemented to get an edge over the competition? 

At Religare Broking, we have been fortunate to embark on the digitalisation journey ahead of our competitors, positioning ourselves as a digitally native company. Our initiatives are entirely driven by a commitment to digital excellence, enabling us to stay ahead in providing exceptional digital experiences to our customers.

Currently, we are actively reinventing our existing digital assets, striving to deliver an unparalleled digital experience to our valued customers. As part of this process, we have wholeheartedly embraced the adoption of public cloud services, propelling us forward with newfound agility and scalability.

Expanding our presence across multiple channels, we are particularly thrilled about our usage of WhatsApp to connect with customers. This has been immensely successful, and we have witnessed a significant surge in engagement levels.

Our dedication to leveraging AI across business functions has yielded substantial benefits in enhancing our business outcomes. By deploying AI, we identify better upselling opportunities, enabling us to provide our customers with personalised recommendations. Additionally, mundane tasks, such as outbound calls, have been efficiently automated through AI, freeing up valuable time for our team members to focus on more strategic initiatives.

It is believed that data centres, be it on-premise or cloud, mark the beginning of the digital transformation journey of a firm. What’s your take on this? How data centres proved to be significant in driving Religare Broking’s digital transformation journey?

Data centres are the unsung heroes of the digitalisation journey. Amidst the relentless focus on customer experience, the significance of establishing a robust, secure, and scalable infrastructure often goes unnoticed.

It’s crucial to recognise that infrastructure serves as the bedrock on which the entire digital story is constructed. If the foundation lacks strength and security, any progress built upon it is likely to encounter challenges and setbacks.

To address this, we have adopted a hybrid strategy, harnessing the best features of both on-premise data centres and the cloud. This approach has propelled us into a new realm of agility, surpassing the limitations of relying solely on on-premise data centres. As a result, we now have the capability to rapidly implement innovations, surpassing our previous capacities.

By combining the reliability of on-premise data centres with the scalability and flexibility of the cloud, we have achieved a harmonious balance that optimises our digital transformation journey. This integrated approach allows us to effectively manage resources, ensure data security, and accelerate the deployment of new initiatives.

Considering that Religare Broking deals with critical data, what approach to cloud adoption you preferred? Can companies rely on security infrastructure from cloud providers or do they need to be vigilant enough to take their own approach?

While most of the top cloud providers offer very good security infrastructure, it is imperative that organisations exercise their own due diligence to implement the security framework which best suits their own needs.

Every organisation should have their information security strategy clearly articulated, as we have done in Religare Broking. The tools available on the cloud can only be seen as enablers towards implementing this strategy, but the eventual ownership of why, what, and how the security layers are to be placed lies with the organisation.

Even regulatory bodies like SEBI have given clear guidelines for adopting the public cloud and the posturing related to cybersecurity on the cloud.

While cloud providers play a significant role in maintaining the infrastructure’s security, it is the organisation’s responsibility to build a robust security foundation and continually monitor and adapt to the evolving threat landscape.

Generative AI and automation are the buzzwords today. How is Religare Broking leveraging these technologies?

We are thrilled about the immense possibilities that lie ahead with Generative AI. To take full advantage of this cutting-edge technology, we have formed a strategic partnership with the Centre of Excellence IoT and AI, backed by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) and NASSCOM.

This collaboration opens up exciting opportunities for us to connect with numerous startups that are actively exploring and pushing the boundaries of Generative AI. By engaging with these innovative startups, we aim to foster a dynamic ecosystem of creativity and expertise, propelling us into the next phase of innovation within our organisation.

How do you foresee the future of the BFSI sector reshaping with technologies driving the growth? What innovations are you planning to come up in the coming year?     

Exciting new technologies like Generative AI and VR hold immense potential for reshaping the BFSI sector in the short term. These advancements are expected to create ‘Intuitive’ and ‘Immersive’ methods for customers to interact with us.

In light of the manifold increase in digital traffic, safeguarding customer interests through robust cybersecurity measures is paramount. Generative AI can play a critical role in enhancing our cybersecurity efforts and bolstering areas like fraud and risk management.

In line with our commitment to enhancing customer experiences, we are actively exploring new innovations emerging in the payment sector. We believe these innovations will lead to a seamless and frictionless experience for our end customers, simplifying their financial transactions.

To fully harness the potential of Generative AI, we are prioritizing the strengthening of our data strategy. A solid data foundation will accelerate our adoption of Generative AI, enabling us to make data-driven decisions and deliver even more personalised and impactful services.

Every major cloud provider is slowly developing some niche areas where they excel. Hence, in the future, a multi-cloud strategy will be imperative. This will also open up exciting new possibilities of innovation.

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