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Will train over 1000 employees to deliver on Metaverse & Web3 technologies: Vic Gupta, CTO, Coforge

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We have stepped into an era where digitisation has become imperative more than a choice. Organisations today have understood the power of technology and its capability to transform their businesses. Metaverse and Web3 Technologies are among the cutting-edge technologies that are helping businesses take a leap to become future-ready. 

Looking at the immense possibilities of these technologies Coforge has recently announced the launch of a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for metaverse and Web3 technologies in India, wherein the company has plans to train and upskill 1000 employees on the forefront of the immersive experience, real-time presence, decentralised control, and metaverse and Web3 offer possibilities. Shedding light on the initiative, Vic Gupta, Chief Technology Officer, Coforge, and Harish Nanda, Principal Architect, Coforge, interacted with Express Computer in an exclusive interview.

1. Coforge is providing specialised solutions for the banking, financial services, and insurance industry. In your opinion, how would emerging technologies like metaverse and Web3, be game changers for the BFSI industry?

Over the years, the internet and digitisation have transformed every industry and BFSI is no exception. Traditionally, BFSI organisations have been guarded in their adoption of any new technology, and rightly so, because of the stringent regulatory requirements and sensitive data they manage on behalf of clients. Over the years and through our experience, we have also learned that as soon as it is proved that the new technology conforms to the stringent security and data privacy requirements, the BFSI industry is quick to adopt and leverage the same in unique ways to drive value. In the past, this industry has adopted the internet and online trading/banking or self-service for insurance to drive unique and differentiated use cases. We are witnessing the same curve of adoption with the new age technologies, including Web3 and metaverse. 

Blockchain has already demonstrated that the core platform secures the data, guaranteeing the security of assets and associated data. Metaverse platforms are already making efforts to support enterprise scenarios with SOC 2 type 2 or 3 security compliance to ensure customer data security. With these assurances, the industry is already envisioning new business models and creative ways to drive value and experience. 

Some of the use cases that Web3 and Metaverse are enabling include (but not limited to):

  • Tokenised derivatives and assets – Investment banks/fund houses are using DeFi (Decentralised finance) concepts to enable creation of tokenised derivatives. Tokenisation of these assets provides two key benefits: (a) Derivatives can be quickly aggregated to suit the customer needs and can be fractionalised; (b) Ownership and provenance can be checked/proven easily and without any ambiguity.
  • Issuing dynamic insurance cover – New age insurers/aggregators are enabling dynamic insurance cover that allows multiple insurances to be bundled within the cover with the flexibility to enable insurance for particular periods, e.g. activate car insurance only for the period when you drive the car. The issuance of the cover, tracking of constituent insurances, and dynamic inclusion/exclusion/endorsements are all tracked through blockchain. Thus, all parties involved, including insurers, aggregator, and the client can track the transaction for its provenance and accuracy. Smart contracts can execute rules for each type of transaction, thus ensuring that the sanctity of the contract is maintained.
  • Marketplaces to enable use cases such as trade financing, invoice discounting, micro-lending/P2P lending – Multi-party financial transactions require immutable tracking, proper sequencing, and the ability to prove the provenance of any transaction or sequence of transactions. Today such use cases are handled either offline or all parties must trust the intermediary and pay high charges for using the platform. Even after this, the participants are not sure about getting the best bargain or getting assurance against fraud. In fact, there are abundant cases of fraudulent transactions in all these use cases.
    Implementing such use cases through blockchain can enable marketplaces to be more responsible towards their duties to drive secure transactions in an effective manner. Each action of each participant, e.g. agreement to offer finance against an invoice, financing a trade, or agreement to shoulder a percentage of P2P lending, can be put on blockchain to enable tracking and compliance. Smart contracts can ensure the sanctity of the contract. Past history and ratings of each party on the platform enable trading partners to manage and track the risk. Emerging economies, especially in APAC, are already showing a lot of interest in such marketplaces.
  • Digital currency and payments – Many countries are implementing or piloting plans for a central bank-backed digital currency. Recently, the Reserve Bank of India announced the pilot launch of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) to enable a limited set of use cases with plans of enlarging the scope and rolling out CBDC in a phased manner. CBDCs will be treated at the same level as fiat currency under the Financial Act 2022. By using digital platforms, Indian users will be able to purchase or trade using CBDC. We have also witnessed countries like Sweden, China, Ukraine, Jamaica, Bahamas, Caribbean countries, and Nigeria having their own experiments with CBDC.
    CBDCs enable a new channel for payments that can now fast-track various use cases like bulk payments and disbursements, at a fraction of the cost. They also enable adding a new channel to payment options and enable unbanked people to embrace the digital economy.
  • Virtual branch – The ability to visit a virtual branch and transact as in a physical branch is a crucial use case. This has become more relevant after the pandemic as customers are more inclined towards availing the remote services. This can be an additional channel to reach customers just like online platforms, contact centre or chatbot facilities; however, this channel provides an immersive experience that provides personalised connections and helps make the customers comfortable. You can augment the facility by having Digital Humans, which are avatars backed by AI bots enabling the institution to provide 24×7 coverage. Digital Humans can initiate the conversation and complete simple transactions. As they come across a complex situation, they can transition the interaction to a human avatar to help the client close the transaction.
  • Employee onboarding and training – BFSI could use metaverse to train new employees. This provides multiple benefits, viz (a) cost reduction by eliminating the need to travel, (b) reduced load on physical training infrastructure, and (c) improved engagement in the immersive world. For example, virtual space provides an opportunity for employees from tier 2 and tier 3 cities to interact with colleagues working in tier 1 cities and learn from their experiences. This can provide a strong bonding experience and a better understanding of customer handling, making the onboarding process easy and more effective. 

BFSI organisations that are stepping into web3 and metaverse are attracting the younger generation. The new generation is more tech-savvy and does not prefer the traditional banking or insurance experience. Virtual presence in the metaverse and backing of web3-based platform would be a great branding strategy for the organizations and the early adopters of the metaverse may have the first-mover advantage.

Moreover, the evolution of metaverse and Web3 has begun and will only accelerate in the future. Web3 and metaverse can offer BFSI a wide range of new opportunities and possibilities when backed by appropriate policies, regulations, and government assistance.

2. What do you aim to achieve with the launch of the Centre of Excellence for metaverse and Web3? 

We are excited to engage with the metaverse, Web3, and related technologies to tap the countless opportunities for innovation they offer in our core verticals of BFS, Insurance, and Travel and Hospitality and in new verticals like Retail, Manufacturing, Healthcare, and Public Sector. We aim to be at the forefront of the immersive experience, real-time presence, decentralized control, and possibilities metaverse and Web3 offer. 

Similar to the use cases for BFSI as we discussed earlier, we have identified use cases for each of these industries where metaverse and web3 can add immense value to the business. We are working with our clients and prospects to enable these use cases.

We will also be training and upskilling over 1000 employees to deliver on the Metaverse and Web3 requirements of our customers.

3. How is Coforge helping enterprises in their digital transformation journey, especially what has transpired over the past two and half years?

Coforge has long-standing deep domain expertise in specific industry verticals and competence in emerging technologies to transform customer businesses. Coforge’s differentiated value proposition is led by robust and growing capabilities in business consulting, architecture consulting, Application Development, Infrastructure Management, agile application management, Product Engineering, Integration, Cognitive, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML), Metaverse, Blockchain, User/Customer Experience (UX/CX), Cloud, automation, Business Process Management (BPM), and Digital Process Automation (DPA). 

Over the past two years and half years, we have successfully executed various digital transformation projects for our clients across verticals. 

To give an example, we recently completed a digital transformation project for a tech product and services company within the travel and hospitality space. The company wanted to create an end-to-end digital experience solution enabling hospitality companies to boost customer affinity and generate new revenue streams through innovative acquisition and engagement programs. We helped them create an agile and scalable environment, seamlessly integrating their numerous new and existing data sources, internal and external, and automating many resource-intensive processes.

We proposed MuleSoft’s CloudHub, a global, fully managed, multi-tenanted, secure, and highly available platform for APIs and integrations. Working with the customer, we implemented CloudHub and seamlessly connected the customer’s digital platforms and on-premises systems, whilst optimizing and automating many manual processes.

4. With the emerging technology, the need to upskill the workforce also emerges. What are your plans to upskill and build capacities of the workforce in Coforge?

Coforge is People, Coforge is Growth – that’s our value proposition and brand promise to our employees – our biggest asset.  Future-skilling the workforce is a board-room agenda, and we are focused on building people’s capabilities to create a future-ready workforce that contributes to achieving the business goals of the organisation. We have an agile learning ecosystem with a robust and immersive learning space leveraging diversified learning methodologies which include cutting-edge content and hybrid methodology of learning.

To make sure that our employees’ skills remain relevant, we offer multiple internal as well as external learning platforms. Some of this content is powered by  our alliance partners such as  Microsoft, ESI Learning Portal, Automation Anywhere, Trailhead, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Learn, Udemy, Focus on Force, ServiceNow, Percipio, Globesmart to name a few. The learning platforms also provide customized domain learning tracks in the form of learning academies like the academy for BFS, Insurance, and TTH. 

Role-based training is designed and mandated across key career paths from Data Scientists to AI Developers to Cloud Ops Architects to DevSecOps Engineers. There are multiple upskilling learning interventions facilitated by the technology CoE leaders in Digital, Quality Engineering, Data & Analytics, Cloud & Infra Management Services, AI & Cognitive to build an internal capability talent pipeline. The career path also mandates developing professional credibility through certifications across skill drives by technology providers.  This year we have invested in 1200+ Microsoft Certifications and 500+ Foundation level cloud certifications with our partners such as Microsoft/AWS/GCP.

Our learning framework is designed to facilitate knowledge and experience sharing by blending pedagogies with gamification, device-agnostic micro-learning, social learning avenues, simulations, mentorship, action-learning projects, and ensuring that opportunities are provided to apply such skills at work and for career growth. In the last financial year, we had a total of 876,000 learning hours clocked globally via different platforms and modes, which translates to an average of 47.6 learning hours per employee. 

In recognition of Coforge’s Learning and Development efforts, we were awarded the Leaders Award for ‘Best Learning Outcome 2022’ by Skillsoft, a global leader in corporate digital learning.

5. In September 2022, Coforge was awarded Financial Express FuTech Awards 2022 for ‘best use of AI in the BFSI sector. Please shed some light on your initiative. 

At the FE FuTech Awards 2022, we were recognised for the best use of AI in the BFSI sector for the campaign Application of AI in Credit Risk Scoring at a large multinational bank with a great presence in Europe.

Our entry on Coforge’s framework is designed to uplift credit platforms and provide the ability to use AI and Behavioural Analytics on both internal and external data for existing and new clients and arrive at a credit score that would help banks to make quick and informed decisions on loans and credits were acknowledged and resonated well amongst jury members during the evaluation process.

6. How have the conversations with the customers evolved in recent times? What are their expectations now?

In the last few years, we have observed a gradual shift in the expectations of the customers and the way they engage with partners and service providers.

The first and foremost shift is that the decision to outsource and engage with partners is increasingly gravitating toward business. The business leaders are driving such engagements while finance, procurement and IT act as enablers and ensure compliance. This is driving changes in expectations and engagement models. The business has a laser-sharp focus on cost, quality, and opportunities to expand the business. Thus, any proposition that impacts one or multiple of these parameters is of interest. In such situations, innovation can be the differentiator between you and the competition.

The other shift, which is somewhat related to the previous one is that the customers are now open to experimenting with their business model and new capabilities that technology can enable. If you are able to demonstrate how a new technology or use case can help the business or open new opportunities, the customer will jump in to discuss it further. In business and architecture consulting, the ability to quickly experiment and envision new models and the ability to fail fast is key here.

The third shift we have witnessed is relevant for organisations that have been outsourcing and off-shoring for some time now. They are increasingly gravitating towards integrated deals that include managed services, new development as well as innovation. Here, they are looking at quality with speed. Lean operations, agile development, automation, and innovation as a service are the levers that help in such deals. You have to efficiently implement a bi-modal IT organisation with new-age enterprise architecture for such deals.

7. If I ask about the recent future, what is your way forward with emerging technologies?   

We operate across the product engineering and application services continuum. Our differentiated value proposition is driven by our strong capabilities in product engineering services and digital transformation including capabilities like data and analytics, cognitive, AI/ML, cloud, digital process automation, business process management (BPM) services, and Web3 and Metaverse.

Our innovation group mainly focuses on emerging technologies in the areas of metaverse including mixed reality, web3 including blockchain, AI, and cognitive services such as video analytics, advanced natural language processing, advanced and interactive user interfaces, etc. 

We recently launched a Center of Excellence (CoE) on metaverse and low code and are creating an ecosystem of capabilities through our partnerships. Going forward, we plan on building our portfolio in emerging technologies and identifying potential use cases of the technology that can help businesses evolve, innovate, and stay ahead in the game.

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