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How Digitization is Redefining Our Business

Ishan Bhattacharya | June 27, 2016
Ashok Vaswani, CEO, personal and corporate banking, Barclays, talks about digital evangelism and how digitization is re-shaping the business of the 300-year old bank.

Shouldn't digitization require a focus on transforming business processes rather than focusing on operational chores?

Absolutely! Like I said, the technology is not that important. The important part is, how technology affects the way people do things, how does it make the lives of people easier. I feel, a technology that impacts the lives of people is extremely powerful.

For instance, we have an app that helps customers who are unable to hear interact comfortably with our employees. Once such a customer comes to our branch, we open the app which connects to a person who, with the help of sign language, plays the role of an ombudsman between the two parties to enable seamless communication. 

I feel, if you can address very small issues with sophisticated technologies the impact you can generate for your business is immense. For instance, I think opting for a loan can be a traumatizing experience for a customer and as a bank it is our responsibility to imbibe in him or her the confidence to do the same by showing them how much you actually care. Instead of having a desktop or a laptop in front of you which appears as a barrier between you and your customer by making the entire process less transparent, one can easily use a tab, which can be kept at the center of the table, to carry out the process with absolute transparency. This instills faith in customers.

Enterprise IT is always a work-in-progress, how then do enterprises build a phased path of migration to digital?

So, essentially I feel there are two ways of doing this. One way of doing it is, how well we can identify our product platforms and do these platforms have the required industrial strength and are they sufficiently scalable. Then, having known this, do not touch the industrial platforms, instead build a wrapper around it and use contemporary technologies efficiently to do whatever that has to be done. Alternatively, it is also important to find out that if there is a way to walk down the path of using completely contemporary technologies and then migrate people from legacy platforms to the contemporary ones. Here, again, it is a big bet on both sides. How well you take the bet, by understanding platforms, will define which way you want to lean.

You have a keen interest in India's microfinance industry. How do you see microfinance as a vertical that's embracing technology?

I am a firm believer in the fact that technology will disrupt every single industry vertical and obviously why would microfinance or a company like Ujjivan, be any different. The whole way of generating a loan, servicing the loan, the way of educating customers on what it means to use products, be it savings, loans or insurance can be delivered in a very cost efficient and nice way by leveraging technology, essentially speaking the mobile. Through technology, I feel there is a tremendous opportunity to leapfrog to a space where you can educate customers on the benefits of financial services.


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