An Interview with Umesh Jain
McDonald: YES BANK is one of India’s fastest growing banks. What adaptive processes are you putting in place to appeal to the needs of your expanding customer base?
Jain: At YES BANK, we have deployed ‘technology’ as a strategic business enabler – to ensure a distinct competitive advantage. The objective is to effectively employ our technology in a cost-efficient manner to achieve superior standards of customer service. Since our inception in 2004, we have known that if we were going to take on other established and well-entrenched players, we had to offer a different and compelling value proposition to our customers. In order to thrive in this highly-competitive and cluttered sector we would have to develop a strong innovation quotient in our business model and strategy, riding on IT.
Total outsourcing has enabled YES BANK to create a more cost-effective and responsive IT infrastructure which promotes service stability and reliability. This also enables rapid response to changing market and business conditions. YES BANK’s sourcing strategy is based on a right-sourcing approach – the core decision making (policies, strategy, governance, architecture) are in-house; however commoditised services like infrastructure management, application development and maintenance are fully outsourced. Also overall project management and operations management capabilities have been developed in-house to ensure execution and delivery.
YES BANK partners with the vendors to conceptualise and actualise innovative solutions and products by synergising the core competencies of both the entities. Outsourcing to best-in-breed partners has delivered high performance and helped us achieve such benefits
McDonald: What are your top IT priorities for the next 12 to 18 months?
Jain: Top technology initiatives include: private cloud, mobile wallet, and social media?as part of YES BANK’S IT priorities for 2011.
This will include a focus on social media and will cover every aspect of banking including marketing, sales and customer engagement. The bank intends to move all of its applications to private cloud by the end of 2011. As part of our IT priorities, another project for 2011 is to deploy a virtual desktop interface (VDI). The team is evaluating various brand offerings currently.
YES BANK launched a M-Wallet (mobile wallet) facility in Chandigarh and Pune last year. We will introduce it in other cities in 2011 as part of our IT priorities. The bank will also facilitate the use of the mobile platform to help achieve a greater level of financial inclusion in India. Other important focus area this year for the bank is cards. While budgets for running the bank will be reduced in 2011, a greater focus will be laid on growing and transforming the business. The bank has cut its maintenance budgets by 20 per cent.
McDonald: What do you foresee as the next ‘big thing’ in banking innovation?
Jain: There has been significant transformation in the financial sector enabled by rapid strides in technology over the last decade. Newer technologies will spur innovation in payment and settlement systems that will facilitate affordable and accessible banking services.
The usage of internet banking and mobiles have changed the face of retail banking transactions. The concept of mobile banking has come of age, linking consumers and branches in face-to-face interactions, enabled by channels on a real-time basis.
Currently, the consumer is exposed to browser-based systems through different channels of internet and mobiles, where all applications can be accessed. Therein lies the opportunity and the scope for banks to innovate and integrate all applications in the back-end and present user-friendly interfaces for the consumer at the front-end. Mobiles offer convenience for consumers in terms of time, place and accessibility.
With 3G technology and Web 2.0 tools gaining ground, mobile banking will emerge as a powerful channel. Within banks, social computing can be leveraged for managing both outward facing (customers) and inward facing (employees) relationships. Externally, banks are creating a new kind of customer intimacy with Web 2.0 and social networking technologies and tools like blogs, micro blogging, pod casts, rating, RSS (Really Simple Syndication), tagging, video sharing, wikis and social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to reach out to customers and partners. Internally organisations are relying on technologies like mash-ups (a web application that combines multiple sources of data into a single tool) and blogs to keep the lines of communication open with their employees. Also tools like wikis encourage peer to peer interaction among employees for sharing of ideas, thus deepening the company’s pool of knowledge.
McDonald: Customer centricity is a core priority for YES BANK’s senior management team. How are you delivering on this philosophy; and from an IT perspective what can customers expect in the future?
Jain: YES BANK symbolises a high quality, customer centric, service oriented financial institution. We are committed to providing a 'consistent superior customer experience' by leveraging technology and hence, a holistic and comprehensive view of the customer requirements become integral for the realisation of this objective.
The focused customer information based service delivery model involves understanding of customer needs and providing customised solutions. The entire process chain from customer acquisition to customer service and customer retention is being effectively managed through three in-house conceptualised applications.
- Automates entire sales and customer service process.
- Records and tracks leads generated by salesperson and details of customer interactions
- Encompasses customer queries, request and complaint management system
- Provides an integrated view of all the Bank’s relationships with a customer
- In–house developed automated business intelligence solution
- Provides non-cluttered financial, operational, risk, regulatory and productivity related information and analysis
- Actionable information to stakeholders to take real-time, well-informed business critical decisions
- Customer service: improved agility through availability of information and quick reports
- Ensures actualisation of ‘customer delight’ and ‘customer engagement’
- Business benefits: productivity improvement in sales & service delivery
- Risk management: hierarchy level based access to secured information\
- Minimal cost: applications built using existing infrastructure and resources and low maintenance cost
Way Forward includes:
- Video based anking
- Integration with social network
- Option to choose language in various channels
- Play customised Flash informative through IVR
- Voice authentication based low risk services
McDonald: The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) recently launched the country’s first instant interbank mobile payment service (IMPS). Given YES BANK is offering this new service, what are the potential business benefits and security concerns shaping your strategy in this area?
Jain: NPCI is a fantastic innovation in mobile wallet/mobile payments space. Further the Reserve Bank of India (central bank) recognises the need for interoperability between mobile platforms of various banks as being one of the biggest enablers for microfinance/microbanking in India – which is so very critical for India as an economy to grow at unprecedented levels. Only when 300-400 million customers ‘unbanked’ as of today come into the banking system can the ‘churn’ of money be optimised and per-capital income increased. Its like this ... we can then finance these micro-banking customers, resulting in better income levels, further resulting in investments from these customers! Its a positively vicious cycle.
That is one segment of customers where IMPS has a big role to play. Another business value proposition is around m-wallet or looking at mobile as a replacement for cash/cards. Another area is around augmented reality/context aware device providing value added services to banking customers. This is the best I am able to share with you without compromising the confidentiality of our strategy.
McDonald: In early 2010, YES BANK announced a Business Process Management partnership with Cordy’s. What key benefits have been realised so far; and how is success being measured?
Jain: The partnership with Cordys has enabled YES BANK to provide a robust platform to achieve continuous process improvements by building solutions that embed business rules, promote visualization of processes and leverage real-time technologies. This has further enhanced flexibility, agility and inter-operability of the Bank’s current application systems. A BPM platform is enabling the bank to achieve enhanced customer service through a significant reduction in turn-around-time.
An investment in BPM software coupled with new approaches to project implementation has enabled Yes ABNK to institutionalise a sustainable business improvement program. Better processes produce lower cost, higher revenues, motivated employees and happy customers.
McDonald: How has YES BANK’s OneView platform performed in providing a single customer view solution; and what is next for CRM-based innovations in the near future?
Jain: After the great success of our Oneview adoption at Yesbank, recently we launched the phase two of Oneview called ‘Insights 2 Engage’. This is an in-house initiative to develop a holistic single interface to view all the customer details and relations the customer has such as: customer demography; physiographic details; products and relationships with the bank; and channels and service usage. This enables the bank to understand the customer better, thus enabling various bank users to generate cross-selling opportunities, deepening opportunities, proactive customer engagement, alerts to sales teams on various products and opportunities on intelligent customer profile searching etc.’ Insights 2 Engage’ will also be integrated with YES BANK’S BPM platform to generate alerts and action items for the relationship manager’s for their respective customers based on customer data. This will lead to the relationship team to engage the customer proactively enabling better customer engagement and superior customer service.
McDonald: Information security and integrity are major responsibilities for banking CIOs. How are you managing fraud and security vulnerabilities internally and externally; and how do you keep abreast of fraud techniques?
Jain: There are significant operational risk management activities that are carried out to mitigate the risk of fraud and IS. Most operational activities are result of‘learnings from the past and hence reactive in nature. Pro-actively you continuously keep yourself abreast of information, tools and techniques by multiple means – research papers, news/features and vendor meetings, seminars on IS/Fraud etc... and based on need/maturity/applicability in your business context, you form a vision and risk register. You work towards mitigating high risk items as against trying to do everything at the same time.
McDonald: A large proportion of India’s rural population is unbanked, however an increasing mobile banking technology presence in India is unlocking this demographic for banks. What mobile innovations is YES Bank introducing to capture this emerging market?
Jain: We see mobile as an enabler for highly diversified services covering all customer segments. At one end we have potential customers in a financial inclusion bucket with ‘low end’ handsets, only GSM connectivity for granted and banking needs being absolutely low value ticket items. At the other end of the spectrum are highly evolved urban customers with high end smart phones, 3G connectivity and open to try new offerings.
Last year, YES BANK and Obopay India introduced a first of its kind Mobile based pre paid instrument in the Indian market on February 15, 2010. This revolutionary mobile payment service establishes a platform enabling the transfer of money using the mobile phone in a secure manner.
Mobile Money Services by YES BANK augments financial inclusion amongst the unbanked and under-banked consumer segments by bringing financial services to the consumer’s mobile phone and has created a financial eco-system which is inclusive, sustainable and scalable. This cutting-edge technology facilitates convenience and ease of usage in making mobile payments through mobile phones, across the country. These services are agnostic to telecom service providers apart from being able to be accessed from mobile phones of different handset manufacturers
McDonald: Every IT leader, particularly at your level, has a legacy they wish to be remembered for. What is yours?
Jain: I am into my first role as CIO and just the fourth year into being a CIO. To that extent it is a little early for me to be thinking legacy. However to answer the question, to me good legacy would be not one or two projects/deliverables, but leaving behind a set of people, processes and tools that help the organisation manage a fine balance the two very key, but polar objectives of the organisation, and be sensitive to adjust the equilibrium as need be with changing times. On one hand I want to have a robust, efficient and effective technology solutions, which are continually driving the costs and risks down and facilitating BAU. At the same time have a very agile and innovative business transformation centric team and institutionalised processes which ensure that technology team is driving the business transformation from the front and in many cases conceptualising new business ideas. I think if I manage to achieve above, there will be multitudes of success stories that will form part of my legacy. On a personal front however, I would surely like to leave behind something that will make a significant impact to primary education in India.... I don’t know how and when, but that’s a dream I want to work on.