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“IndusInd is one of the few banks to have adopted a Bimodal IT approach”

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The Bimodal IT approach enables the bank to concentrate both on running the lights on kind of operations but still keep working on disruptive projects based on the industry developments, says Mridul Sharma, EVP and Head- Technology, IndusInd Bank to Abhishek Raval

Most of the banks, more or less offer the same services, they are into the same kind of businesses. However the differentiator is in the way they serve the customer. Your viewpoint ?

We haven’t created any buzzwords. All of the innovations that IndusInd bank embarked upon have been taken to its logical conclusion. None of them suffered a miscarriage.

The initiatives should be usable, long term and for the customer. Apart from the usage factor, the design is also important. For e.g. The feature at IndusInd ATMs to withdraw money in the denomination of the user’s choice, ₹100, ₹500 ₹1000; The facility for customers to have an account number of their choice. We don’t settle our eyes on anything that doesn’t serve the customer. Our view is from the his standpoint.

Even a small change or additional feature is well appreciated by the customer, if it serves the purpose. It doesn’t have to be always something big.

Please elaborate on the Bimodal IT approach taken by IndusInd bank in 2015 ?

In 2015, we have launched a Bi-Modal IT structure. It essentially means the combination of foundational IT, which is applications, infrastructure with the digital and trying out new innovations in the space. The Mode 1 consists of applications, infrastructure and Mode 2 is in the lookout for innovations. I am responsible for the Bimodal strategy.

In the Bi-Modal space, occasionally, there is a conflict between the two modes because both the modes run at a different pace. Mode 1’s objective is to keep the lights on, security and stability and the Mode 2 wants to challenge the status quo and disrupt. They are looking for scorching pace – they want to cut TAT and talk in terms of hours while the Mode 1 is still talking in terms of weeks. The Mode 2 wants the ports to be open often for them to try things out. The Mode 1 team might not allow that.

I have to make sure that both co-exist. The security and the stability has to be ensured and still be able to actualise the innovation work.

The way we have structured the Bi-Modal IT is: Mode 1 and Mode 2 are joined at the top. I try to maintain a balance between the two. We are one of the few banks to have adopted this approach.

How does the cloud technology fit into the bank’s operations ?  

We are actively looking at cloud. Not just for the buzz of it but how can cloud provide a better user experience because It results in an infrastructure which is more resilient and scalable for the bank to match up to the peaks and troughs of customer demand.

We have already started on this journey. This year we may have some of our services running on the cloud.

The graph of the number of mobile banking transactions is only going up. What are your plans?

We are working on some mobility initiatives.

The bank is ready with a next generation app with an intuitive end user experience. A wallet is introduced in the app from which, the balance can be checked. Moving on, the customer can log in to the main account and conduct other transactions.

The app is designed such that it’s simple to use. We have invested in a mobile application development platform because we don’t want mobility to be an unmanageable mammoth. It should not be that changes done in the code of one platform affects other platforms too, resulting in complexity. Thus with the help of the platform, the mobility platform will be on a single code base. At the same time, the experience will remain the same. It’s a win win for the customer and the bank too.

Payments is another area. We will soon be entering into partnerships based on what the bank is good at and what the Fintech space has to offer.

On the core IT side, the industry is undergoing some foundational changes. The way IT infrastructure can be run, viewing from a physical infrastructure point of view. Software defined networking is an important development in this space; Hybrid cloud computing, running some infrastructure on premise, some on the cloud. These developments are work in progress at IndusInd bank.

The baseline – we will look at whatever best comes our way but carefully choose only that provides reasonable value for the customer. Not getting carried away by irrational exuberance.

According to KPMG’s recent survey, 72% Indian companies faced cyber attack in 2015. It was also alarming to note that 54 per cent indicated that spend on cyber defences is less than five per cent of the IT spend. Your take.

It’s upon the CIO to make the board understand the importance of IT security. We have our perimeter security taken care of. Adequate security measures have been put in place for the end points, mobile device management and for network security.

In the current times, the way cyber security scenario is emerging, it’s getting converted into a lucrative business opportunity.

In times, when it’s said that the next war will not be fought in the physical world but in the cyberspace and banking being one of the mission critical infrastructures of any country, it will also be targeted, we look at cloud to address the issue of security to a large extent because a cloud service provider will have a much larger resource prowess of technologies than any individual organisation can have. The security organisations have larger stakes and they have economies of scale to implement technologies to the full infrastructure. Now, from a cloud standpoint, when the sovereignty issues are also being tackled from a data center perspective, the cloud data centers will be able to provide much better security posture to institutions than what they can do on their own.

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