Technology trends and the changing responsibilities of CIOs in Financial Services
It’s evident that technology has changed the way we communicate, transact, analyze and even take critical business decisions. School of thoughts which believed “fundamental remains the same” is also challenged time and again, let it be around storing and retrieving data in an RDBMS or business-logic to be defined as per business principles. Today, unstructured database has revolutionized the world and cognitive development is the new mantra where data rules the business-logic. A belief that an expert sailor or navigator should have a sense of direction while exploring has been replaced by sophisticated decision making systems, systems which can guide the navigator basis the enriched “experience-data”. Trend based recommendation was supposed to be an expertise of an analyst a few decades ago. Now it is merely an algorithm defined by someone sitting on the beach of San Francisco or the greens of Bengaluru which mines all the possible data available within the company, topped with the data available publicly and puts the recommendation on a platter. Here decision makers can choose the relevant one which marries their business objectives.
Technology across industries has changed the conventional way of doing business. In today’s world an IT giant is one of the largest garment store, a leading taxi company, a real-estate company and the list is end-less. It is not far away that an IT giant would target to be the largest bank, an insurer and a financial services company of the globe. In this era of supersonic and disruptive changes, CIO of brick and mortar financial services companies are no more expected to just enable the business by providing predictable systems with high performance. CIO in today’s world has a much larger responsibility to become a catalyst for transformational change. A change which transforms a company known for arranging funds and giving loans, to become a platform for customers as well as lenders to feel safe and insured while doing business. The revolution we are observing in Banking, Financial Services and Insurance is just the beginning. A next step in the journey of BFSI is even more challenging for CIOs,who may get caught in fulfilling the varied demands of business users. Reason is simple: Everyday, there are hundreds of new solutions built by software companies where different ones catch the attention of different business users based on the context of their business objectives, challenges or needs. In this situation expectation form a CIO would be to get all these applications or software evaluated and aligned with the technology architecture and roadmap, which may create panic and stress. Today sales is looking at technology to provide near accurate predictive analytics around an individual’s propensity to opt for a specific product, and customer stickiness score for upsell-cross sell opportunity. On the other hand operations is looking at complete automation of processes to crash the cost of operations, let it be using sophisticated workflows, collaboration & communication tools, cognitive solutions for customer servicing and ideally, a combination of all. Similarly risk and compliance will have their objectives with obvious reasons.
To meet these expectations of “TECH AWARE CEOs” the CIOs today need to be thorough in technology, not just aware but embedded. CIO needs to be an integral part of the executive body of the company to co-relate all visions and carve the technology strategy and even influence the vison in light of newer possibilities due to recent technology innovations.
Decision making is the key. If a CIO lingers on a decision to embrace or reject a solution, there will be twenty more solutions available to evaluate in the same space leading to delay and dilemma. Hence, while there are numerous solutions with heterogeneous underlying technologies, mere superficial knowledge of technology, products and platforms pertaining to their business strategy can be disastrous. Gone are the days when financial services companies had an MIS team to cater to their data requirement. Companies with this mindset will sooner or later either shrink their business and diminish OR will lose big time on opportunities by becoming a late entrant in the FinTech world.
With the dynamic evolution of newer mobility solutions and technology platforms, there is no single pill to success. CIOs of companies need to collaborate more than ever with CEOs and move in all directions, let it be Mobility for ease of use and customer stickiness, digital marketing to expand business footprint, business process management for shooting operational efficiency or business analytics to take turn-around decisions. Mantra is: All this should be achieved within the constraints of cost. With a flurry of start-ups in India, this is achievable as long as technologists in company are “Technology-Aware” and also “Empowered”.
A CIO constantly needs to keep one eye on transformational changes, as that’s no more just a key to success but an essential element to sustain in business, or else competition will eat the pie in no time.