The multibillion-dollar valuations of India's new tech stars, FLIPKART and Snapdeal, are no pricing bubble, but a signal that the country's e-commerce boom has begun. The next five years will see a flurry of digital technology innovation that will transform India as much as cellphones have over the past 15 years. This will be enabled by the availability of low-cost smartphones, penetration of internet facilities, the digital identity that India's Aadhar project has provided to hundreds of millions of people who lacked any documentation, and a host of exponential technology advances. A billion Indians will be joining the global economy during this decade.
Keeping the pace on, Ujjivan has initiated a transformation across the organization- Ujjivan 2.0.
As a first step, Ujjivan 2.0 is a promise to discover newer ways to enhance the employee's personal as well as professional experience digitally. These days all your basic needs are at your fingertips, with the help of so many utility apps coming in. Ujjivan believes that the employees of Ujjivan who are very savvy in technology and just need a bit of awareness of how these applications needs to be used to improve their lives. We already have already loan officers processing loan applications on tablets, field staff process repayment & access customer information on their Android phones and in our operations & credit departments we process loans paperless.
The final leap is to transact without customers using digital technology: we are exploring possibilities of mobile banking.
As a part of reward & recognition program, Ujjivan has gifted IPads and Leveno Tablets to the top performing officers of Ujjivan. This is over & above the lap tops they are provided for work. The staff are provided interest free advance to purchase Android phones.
Now, here comes the DIGI BUDDIES of Ujjivan.
The Digi Buddies at Ujjivan are digital evangelists who are comparatively savvier on technology and who assist colleagues on digital technology applications across the organization including ordering lunch for guests!
To mark the launch of this event, Ujjivan had the good fortune to hear from Ashok Vaswani, CEO, Personal and Corporate Banking of Barclays Bank, where he spoke about digital evangelism and how digitization is re-shaping the business of the 325-year old bank.
**Please find below some interview excerpts where Mr. Vaswani speaks about Digitization:
What is the best lesson that you can learn from a waterfall? That it keeps flowing. Just like Barclays. Imagine a bank that is 325 years old. A bank that has not only witnessed but also survived two World Wars, two major global depressions and is still standing tall. That's Barclays for you. Today, this bank so steeped in legacy, is embracing digitization and giving competition a tough fight. Ashok Vaswani, CEO, Personal and Corporate Banking, Barclays, talks about digital evangelism and how it is shaping Barclays.
The interview is available on the following links:
What is your digital strategy and where do you currently stand in your digital journey?
We are a 325-year old bank, even older than the Bank of England and UK. We have experienced two World Wars and two major depressions but we are still running strong and one of the reasons behind this is embracing technology in different forms, as and when it comes.
So, today everything that we do in Barclays is digital. The concept of separation from digital and non-digital does not exist for us. The reason behind this is that, whether you like it or not, the digital revolution is coming. This is going to be bigger than the Industrial Revolution or the Agricultural Revolution and every time there has been a revolution of such a scale a lot of people have been affected. Some people got ahead and some were left behind. This time, Barclays is committed not to leave anyone behind and when I say this, I do not mean that our digitization journey is limited to banking, it stretches further. How do we take all sections of the society and help them get on the right track as far as digitization is concerned. That's what we are pursuing.
What kind of transformation do you think it will require in the technology, people and process layers to realize the full benefits of digitization?
I am not too much concerned about the technology. Honestly, technology is the easier part. It is getting the people, the culture and the mindset to shift within an organization and outside. You and I might have the same app on our smartphones, but how you will use the app could be very different from the way I use the app. Today's generation will find more than one way of using an app, whereas the older generation might not. The question is how we bring both on the same platform. Technology also has its cons. For instance, on social media there is, practically speaking, nothing called a 'delete button', the etiquette for social media has not been sentenced yet. So, how do we make people understand what content is appropriate. Frankly speaking, there is a certain degree of coyness, fear and apprehension among people, both young and old that restrains them from using technology to their benefit. This needs to disappear in order to enable businesses, people and institutions realize the full benefits of digitization.
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.
From the perspective of a leader in the banking industry, what according to you still remains a major bottleneck when it comes to implementation of technology?
Being such an old bank, legacy architecture has to be the answer. It is difficult to re-wire and put legacy systems behind and get into the new world. Another thing is changing mindsets and bringing everyone onto the same agenda that technology offers is also a humongous task. Digitization is too important a thing to be left only to the IT department. If we can digitize the way two colleagues interact with each other, then definitely they will become more excited about technology. An educated and demanding user will always benefit both the IT department and business.
Mr. Ashok spoke to all the Digi Buddies across the regions on how digital power is disrupting every industry and the future is Technology. (You can view the highlights of the talk by Mr. Vaswani, by clicking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzliTJuzZuk
On this occasion, Ujjivan gifted i-pads to all its top performing employees and with smiles all around, a new energy was seen among the employees at Ujjivan having a secret promise of bringing the change in the form of DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION @ Ujjivan- Ujjivan 2.0.