‘AI, Hybrid Cloud to improve customer experience’

Technologies like Hybrid Cloud and Artificial Intelligence are completely going to transform the entire Banking and the Financial Services sector. If you improve their decision-making ability, it reduces the risk and improves customer experience tremendously, says Ramanujam Komanduri, Regional Director, Marketing & Services, NetApp, in conversation with Anupama Mehra of Elets News Network (ENN).

What exactly does this Budget mean to you? How is this going to help you overall?

The Union Budget 2019 has given a lot of emphasis on boosting the whole sector structurally. From refinancing of all the PSU Banks, to infusion of huge amounts to improve liquidity and encourage digital payments, the Budget seems really positive.

Ramanujam Komanduri

The Budget is really encouraging from the consumer perspective as well as the industry perspective. The banking and financial sector is a very large part of our business portfolio and we do some innovative things with some of the largest banks in the country. The budget helps us in a couple of ways. The banks and the financial institutions are structurally stronger, and a lot happens through technology. We believe that technology is going to have a big role to play and we are a very strong player there. Also, in terms of digital payments, the emphasis on very efficient technology and modern technology is positive. So, from both aspects, the Budget is a big plus for NetApp.

How do you feel the microservices are augmenting innovations in digital banking?

I would try to link this up with the way the government and the financial sector are working; there is obviously a lot of emphasis on the JAM trinity – Jan Dhan and Aadhar, and Mobile. This leads up to the fact that every citizen has the ability to receive, make a payment, do a financial transaction from his/her mobile device. He has an account, he has been authenticated through the Aadhar, and the whole thing is done from a smartphone any which way. A whole bunch of these get accentuated through microservices.

If you think about a situation from a bank’s perspective, they must reach a citizen irrespective of the type of account he holds and the type of device he carries. Their entire interface is becoming device agnostic. In such a situation, most banks, as well as financial institutions are moving towards microservices. It helps them be nimble and agile in rolling out services faster. We have been seeing this adoption in the insurance as well as in the banking sector. They are creating more IT infrastructure or rather adopting microservices as a way of rolling out more business products and services and improving the customer experience.

What are the new innovations you are planning to implement over the next year?

There are a few things which we do, and these are from a pure technology perspective. These are in the areas of hybrid cloud, and Artificial Intelligence specifically. Now think of a situation where a bank or financial institution had to roll out services very rapidly or at a very short notice. Their development cycles are shrinking and the ability to test the whole application or code also reduces including the time period during which that service runs. Also, there are some situations where the service has been available for two days and so on.

In such a situation, most banks or financial institutions want to be able to quickly move to a cloud-like infrastructure to be able to run their development. And in some situations, possibly roll out their services from there, and roll it back when they want to shut the service. This is completely different from the way they have been functioning so far. Banks or other financial institutions must quickly move to cloud infrastructure and bring it back within a short span of a week sometimes.

We can illustrate this further with the Freedom sale or Independence Day sales. It launches on the midnight of 14 August and 15 August and ends over the weekend. There are thousands and thousands of consumers shopping. The entire service is valid for a time period of two to three days. For this kind of scale, the infrastructure must support lakhs of transactions that happen and a few hundred crores of revenue which gets generated during those few days. For banks or financial institutions, this is a great opportunity. However, they have a time period of maybe a week or 10 days to create, get it up and running on the cloud, ensure that the service is up and running without any downtime.

In such a situation, the entire hybrid cloud concept – being able to move to a cloud and come back – the entire layer provides this glue. Suppose, we make a credit card transaction, the bank must approve or disapprove the transaction in a matter of milliseconds. There must be an engine that reads the entire credit history with the bank, and goes through the payer’s credit, savings and borrowing profile with the bank. And in a few seconds, decides whether the transaction is good or not good. That is where real-time Artificial Intelligence comes up.

These are the two large innovations which we believe is completely going to transform the entire Banking and Financial Services sector. If you improve their decision-making ability, it reduces the risk and improves customer experience tremendously. They want to reduce the risk and want to better their decision-making ability and of course, improve customer experience.

The implementation of data is across all the sectors. Do you feel in the future, five years down the line, the banking or the financial data is going to be fully data-centric?

The backbone of the success for all these organisations is going to be data. Being able to have the right and pertinent data for business profits is crucial. Data can be available from various sources and can be of varied format- social media content, video content, video-audio files, SMS chat files, etc.

So, it is really being able to have the right variety of data, the right sort of data which is required to be processed to enable the efficient business decision. There are two different aspects, one is the ability to collect and handle core data, and at the same time keep it long enough for compliance regulatory requirements, while handling security. All of this and being able to process it, in that millisecond of time to be able to make the right decision is imperative for the business and improve customer satisfaction. So, data is going to be absolutely fundamental.

Today, every bank or insurance company emphasizes on ensuring a singular view of all the data. Irrespective of where it lies, irrespective of whether it is distributed, current or historic data and irrespective of what form. How they can have a singular view of the entire data and then be able to process it, based on each and every business vertical, is one of the biggest tasks.

Again, taking the example of a bank, the need for a corporate banking sector is different from an auto loan segment or a home loan segment; each vertical has different data requirements. While they can view the data, the nuances of being able to provide the relevant and appropriate data in a timely manner for them to make the business decision at that instant is another aspect.

What steps do you think any banking or any financial firm should take for driving smart and intuitive user journey?

As a consumer, as soon as I get in touch with the bank or insurance company, they know my profile and secondly, will be able to service my request in a specified period. If I have a very simple request, I expect an immediate answer. If I have a complex request, it obviously takes some time but that should not be an unending time. AI plays a great role here.

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