The State Bank of India (SBI) geared up its digital journey for enhanced customer experience nearly three years ago.The bank ensures 24×7 availability and performance of applications. It has been aggressively working towards strengthening infrastructure stability for years, says Shiv Kumar Bhasin, Chief Technology Officer, SBI, in conversation with Harshal Yashwant Desai of Elets News Network (ENN).
How did you streamline the IT operations within SBI?
We have done several improvements to streamline the IT operations. In order to enhance the staff productivity and effi ciency, we have launched Offi ce365 across the organisation which allowed us to add collaboration tools such as “Group.” Team, Skype, SharePoint, etc to help employees collaborate and share documents across the teams and groups in different branches.
These tools are available on fi ve devices per employee to enable them work from anywhere. We launched BYOD or Bring Your Own Device campaign which further helps us increase the efficiency of employees, as it allows them to work from anywhere.
A real-time 24×7 applications and infrastructure monitoring operations centre is built which monitors applications end-to-end from channels to backend. It ensures 24×7 availability and performance of applications.
We began our digitisation journey about three years ago to enhance the customer experience. We launched four SBI INTOUCH branches and we have about 800 such branches across the country today. Our ‘SBI Buddy’ is being subscribed by about 16 million people in the country as a P2P instrument. Post-demonetisation various P2P payments mode – UPI, Aadhaar-based merchant payments, etc. were launched.
Significant branch digitisation has been carried out by digi voucher mobile app (which replaces paper vouchers). Core banking system is digitised to make it ready for digital echo system to have micro services and APIs, and enhanced teller application to fulfil digital services to branch customers and reducing the branch queues.
We are also about to launch SBI Digital Bank which will allow people to perform regular banking operations from customer acquisition to fulfilment without visiting the physical branches.
This will allow us to address customers’ needs more proactively through omni-channel application, with deep machine learning analytics and cognitive technologies.
How are you influencing the existing customer base to be a part of the bank’s digital innovations?
We have made intra-operability as a key requirement, which will allow brick-mortar customers as well to subscribe the offerings of digital bank. SBI is providing both the choices to customers – if they want, they can visit the branch or they can avail the services online digitally. Hopefully, in the current quarter, we would be able to launch the digital bank.
Tell us about your core banking operations?
We have enhanced our core banking systems as well. For example, if a customer walks into the banks to avail loan, he can get digital advice as core banking business processes have been digitised where tellers can complete the formalities through four to five screens.
Further, based on Artificial Intelligence (AI ) and big data tools, we have introduced chatbots for the tellers in the branches. AI allows us to understand customer portfolio 360 degree as soon as he walks in. We launched dig voucher where no paper is required for withdrawal or deposit. This voucher can be submitted even before entering a branch.
We have also launched an appointment tool which allows people to seek appointment in terms of virtual token. Customers, through this application, can know the exact time to visit the branch.
Kindly tell us about your training module.
There are various levels of trainings that we follow. We first train the trainers and record the videos. These lessons are imparted to the staff by leveraging advanced digital channels.
How have you been able to reduce the downtime?
We have been aggressively working towards strengthening infrastructure stability for years. We have been working tirelessly to ensure high availability, right level of resilience and right levels of SLAs implemented across data centres and every business application based on its business criticality.
We have deployed advanced monitoring tools which are generating half a million events per minute, and the application is being monitored from the command centre.
Further, we are using advanced cloud technologies, hardware and software to ensure our services are up to the mark.
“SBI began our digitisation journey about three years ago, we launched four SBI INTOUCH branches and we have about 800 such branches across the country.”
What are your views on Blockchain technologies?
I am pretty sure that these technologies will drive the banking sector in near future. We are going to implement Blockchain for trade finance and payments, build ecosystem by developing a consortium of Indian Banks and wish to make the most of this technology. We have implemented Blockchain for few use cases of foreign remittances within SBI group.
You have been inspiration to many professionals working in public sector banks, what keeps you motivated?
It is our determination to see SBI in the top 10 banks in the world. If our services can help Indian citizens and make their lives simple and easier, it will be a great job satisfaction.
Our chairman has been very digital savvy to make customers’ lives simpler by technology. She has been one of the key flag-bearers for digitising the various banking processes.
Further, I am fortunate to have Mrutyunjay Mahapatra, Deputy Managing Director and CIO, who is very tech savvy. He is one of the most people-oriented leaders. He always encourages us to go for cutting edge technologies and encourages us to setup innovation centre within the bank. We are investing in blockchain, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, cognitive technologies, robotics, etc to improve the services for our customers. All this is becoming possible because of the support of top leadership team.