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BFSI Tech Conclave: Pushing forward the digital agenda

The fourth edition of Express Computer's flagship BFSI conference, BFSI Technology Conclave, brought together IT decision makers from the banking, financial services and insurance sectors. Held in Pune, on January 18 and 19, the conclave served as a platform for technology deliberations pertaining to the BFSI sector

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The BFSI sector is among the pioneers in adoption of latest technologies and IT infrastructure. This is driven by multiple factors; one of the primary factors being the increasing competition and the need to provide the best customer experience. The 2019 edition of Express BFSI Technology Conclave encapsulated all that’s happening in the BFSI sector today, and what the future will bring for the sector. The conclave witnessed participation of renowned industry stakeholders over the two days. Spread over two days, the conclave also honoured innovative implementation of technology by BFSI organisations, with BFSI Digital Innovation Awards.

Direct from the industry
In his keynote session, Ritesh Pai, Chief Digital Officer, Yes Bank, expressed that there have been many changes in the past few years and organisations need to be agile, otherwise they will be left behind in the industry. He said, “Today, 4 D’s are the driving the banking sector, namely, developmental initiatives by the government, demographics, de-regulations and disruptive technologies. Today, internet banking is considered among the most basic services. This is followed by payments services and value-added services.”

Adding further, he opined that big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud, virtualisation and video banking form the current technology wave in the industry. Emphasising on Yes Bank’s efforts, Pai said the bank ensures that digital helps in customer acquisition, payments and transactions, and customer service. “At Yes Bank, we build alliances and relationships with technology,” he said.

In another keynote address, Shiv Kumar Bhasin, CTO & COO, pointed that AI and blockchain have been moving beyond the nascent stage. Citing that volume of internet traffic doubles every 12-18 months, he said that NSE handles on an average, one billion trades per day. He commented, “More and more connected devices is leading to data explosion. The BFSI sector possesses vast data; however, to get insights from this data, all the necessary attributes for deep learning must be made available. We need to shift our focus from collecting data to embedding analytical functionality in existing applications.”

Sharing his views, Gururaj Rao, CIO, Mahindra Finance, stressed on the necessity to embrace the concept of ecosystem and partnerships. He said, “Physical and digital; both worlds are today mixed up. Robotic process automation (RPA) and blockchain are two of the most crucial technologies at present.” Citing that Mahindra Finance is banking on blockchain for supply chain financing, he emphasised the need to optimise processes before deploying automation.

Speaking on ‘how to attract more investment in technology’, Ekhlaque Bari, EVP, CTO, Fullerton India, said, “Technology ambassadors in organisations must continue to talk about business, and divide processes into business. Business, before the IT, is just like putting the horse before the cart. Innovations are about a lot of experiments, but they should be inversely proportional to the cost of the investments.”

One cannot improve the business processes until the business cannot be measured. The IT leaders have to talk of business first, have data on their functions and then simplify IT. Further Bari added that, while delivering the critical projects, the business thinks of IT as an expressway and every IT employee is stretched by 2.76 times at the workplace. Tools and technologies are always required to win a battle hence companies should continue to invest in technology.

Knowledge exchange
A panel discussion titled, ‘Best practices from digitisation – Lessons from the masters,’ was moderated by Srikanth RP, Group Editor, Express Computer & CRN India. “We collect specific data in order to simplify customer journey and take meaningful insights. Our mantra is to simplify the products and faster claims,” said Gautam Dutta, CI&TO, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance. Other panelists included Gangadhar S J, Head – Technology, Digit General Insurance and Gaurav Zutshi, CDO, Aditiya Birla Capital.

Organisations have to be agile and should encourage frictionless banking. Banks must focus on consumer adoption and behaviour, and then create their digital strategy. While discussing the best digital practices, Zutshi stated, “Business models and digital strategies should be designed in unit economics, and organisations must create small use cases. Before beginning the digital journey, one has to identify the business pain-points and understand the need of the last mile.”

The digital era is pushing enterprises to be agile in nature. Enterprises need to have a mushrooming environment to identify the right fintech partners and skill sets. Further to discuss about identifying the right leadership roles to complement emerging technologies, the conclave featured a panel discussion on ‘Competing in the digital era: Perspectives from digital thought leaders,’ moderated by Ritesh Pai. As a participant on the panel, Prasanna Lohar, Head – Innovation & Architecture, DCB Bank, highlighted the five pillars of digital – enhancing the existing processes, adopting the latest technologies and understanding customer behaviour, adopting the changing regulations, identifying the right leadership roles, and collaborating with fintech and startup companies for agile and innovative ideas.

“Conventional banking will take an important turn in the industry and DevOps process will continue to be the critical pillar for digital,” opined Biswabrata Chakravorty, CTO, IndusInd Bank. Geeta Singh, DGM – IT, Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank and Balakrishnan A, Executive Director, Geojit Financial Services were among the other panelists.

Another panel discussion titled, ‘How to deal proactively with emerging threats’, was moderated by Joydeep Dutta, ED and Group CTO, CDSL. As one of the panelists, Milind Mungale, Executive VP & CISO, NSDL, said, “Security should have a proactive approach. CISOs must identify the critical data, where does it resides and value of data, in order to act proactively.”

CISOs and business should look at security as insurance, and information security should be kept parallel to business. “Have basic hygiene and security parameters in place, and make them absolutely non-negotiable. Also new technologies should be put in the regulator’s checklists” commented Maya R Nair, CISO, Reliance Capital. Sayyad Salim, Head – IT Infrastructure & Cyber Security, Bajaj Finance; Shashank Bajpai, CISO, ACKO General Insurance and Shiju Rawther, Head – Tech Infra Operations & Security, TransUnion CIBIL were among the other panelists.

Tech talks
The conclave also witnessed numerous presentations by leading technology infrastructure and solution providers. Representatives from these companies covered a diverse spectrum of topics. Speaking on data management and compliance in the cloud era, Pete Yamasaki, Regional VP – APAC, Druva Data Solutions, shared an interesting insight indicating, by 2020, 50 per cent of the data will reside out the data centres in most industries. Highlighting the need to be aware of where the data travels, he said that the company sees good acceptance of cloud in India.

In his session titled, ‘Accops enabling trust with zero-trust networks,’ Mohan Bhat, MD of Accops, opined that every organisation needs to build a zero-trust environment. He further said, “Security is about preparedness and working as a business enabler. We need technologies that are able to alarm and notify in different situations.”

With digital being part of every organisation’s IT transformation, there is a need to strengthen focus on service delivery and customer experience. Speaking on ‘Going beyond digital,’ Nilesh Marathe, Digital Engagement Solution Sales Leader, Avaya India, was of the view that innovation is all about staying relevant. He further added, “The digital workplace and digital marketplace needs to be focused upon, in order to ensure greater customer experience. Voice and messaging have emerged as new user interfaces,” while stating that 71 per cent of consumers would like to bypass identification and verification questions by using voice biometrics. During the session, Marathe also demonstrated a voice-based use case on policy renewal.

In another session, Ravinder Pal Singh, Director – Cybersecurity, Digital Healthcare & Digital Cities, Dell EMC, stressed on Edge security, as 95 per cent of the attacks happen at the last mile. “Today, the challenge is that information is spread across multiple platforms. Another challenge is machine-human interaction. Dell looks at security as the fourth pillar of digital transformation.”

Powerful discussions
The conclave various power discussions, wherein IT decision- makers from BFSI companies deep-dived into the various facets of technology solutions and how they can address the current challenges. A power discussion hosted by Qlik was titled, ‘Paving the way of data-driven transformation’ and was conducted by Nilesh Kulkarni, Pre-sales Manager India, Qlik. Kulkarni highlighted the struggles that enterprises face while transforming the data into business results. “Business intelligence has the capability to optimise the human data when the enterprises harness the collective human intelligence,” he said.

Themed ‘Digital disruption 2.0 with AI,’ the power discussion conducted by Dell EMC, affirmed the the services segment is the biggest beneficiary of digital disruption, but this has also brought large amounts of threats. Dell EMC team pointed out that progressing economies are embracing new models and India is at the cusp of digital transformation, with initiatives such as Startup India, Skill India, Digital India, Smart Cities and more.

A power discussion by CrowdStrike, the company’s representatives addressed the various concerns raised by the audience, which included various security solutions working in silos and the need to have one solution for the endpoint. Another participant pointed out the need to secure application with a centralised security approach.

Another power discussion titled, ‘Smart data on a digital world’, was led by Manish Mirajkar, Sales Engineer, Netscout, who spoke about the factors and criticalities driving the digital transformation. This was followed by a power discussion hosted by Bakshish Dutta, Country Sales Manager – India & SAARC, Druva. Dutta highlighted the risk associated with emerging technologies and ways to protect sensitive data.

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