Ramesh Lakshminarayanan, HDFC Bank’s chief information officer (CIO), spends two hours briefing the bank’s boss, Sashidhar Jagdishan, every day on “technology-related issues. Not necessarily on business, but on concepts.” That’s because the kind of terminology that geeks like him use may appear Greek to traditional bankers.
The CIO of India’s largest private bank was part of a panel discussion at Business Standard’s webinar on “Getting Cloud right: key to risk management in banks”; and sharing space with him were Akhil Handa, head of fintech and new business initiatives at Bank of Baroda; Murali Rao, chief technology officer at DCB Bank; G Sankaran, CIO at City Union Bank; and Rocha Martim, global director (head of Risk Banking Solutions) at SAS. The session was moderated by Tamal Bandyopadhay, consulting editor of Business Standard.
“We have to fundamentally re-architect the way we store data. Now how you do it – whether it is to a private Cloud; or if it is to be public or hybrid — is for the bank to decide. But the exponential growth in digital transactions means that we have to hasten this shift,” opined Handa.
In the Indian context, attracting talent remains a big issue because tech folks are used to work in new-age entities like an Amazon, Facebook, Google or a Flipkart. And given the human resource (HR) aspect, they may not necessarily be keen to work in legacy banks. While it was not specifically spelt out, banks will need to rewire their HR policies to attract and retain talent, more so in the case of state-run banks. What was also left unsaid that banks will have to get moving on the Cloud front quickly as a lot of business, especially on the payments front, are now being through outside conventional banking channels. And customers want to have a much different experience.
A few key takeaways from the discussion held on Friday were that a shift to Cloud technology is not to be seen as merely replicating existing processes on to it. It was reiterated that given the complexities involved – technology, people and the business models – it was difficult to back-pedal once a path was to Cloud was chosen. And this shift to Cloud comes even as the pandemic brings its set of pain points. “The entire eco-system of a bank’s partnerships, too, stands to get affected,” said Handa. Simply put, a bank’s partners will also have to be in-step with the changes underway.
“The security of data will become more critical even as it raises performance issues. It will call for a cultural change at banks and there will have to a relook at board-approved policies” noted Sankaran. “You have to aware of the specific eco-system you are operating in; and then take a decision as to go about it in an incremental way,” said Rao.
Cloud offers banks the headroom to be agile and quickly adapt to emerging needs. “Take risk management, for instance. There are typically monthly or quarterly peak load times. With Cloud, you can react immediately; and there are also pay-and-use models which you can avail of,” added Martim.