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Banking & Technology: Are They On The Same Page?

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Speaking to Banker Middle East , Vivek Raghavan, CEO, United MakGroup Technologies, detangles the cords to marry the needs of a bank’s business and the technologies required to achieve mandated objectives.


STRENGTH IN SCALE, NOT NUMBERS? In our experience with both large and small local and international banks in this region, we have seen that most of them have a great willingness to adapt to new technologies and digital innovations. They are often headed by teams of extremely tech savvy personnel which further helps fuel the quickness to adoption and have the prowess and maturity to foresee potential bottlenecks in the roll outs. As consolidations and mergers bring some of the larger players together, we can see that this has helped drive fintech innovation to improve efficiencies and collaborations. Regional banks have the advantage of not being burdened by legacy solutions, have lower dependencies on branch networks, higher connectivity all of which help fortify their positions. They have now used this to their advantage and are now looking to be present in major financial capitals of the world. This expansion will lay the foundation and requirement for improved technology adoption that spans borders and matches their international counterparts. Then there is the whole other potential to invest in digitalisation, cloud solutions, customer experience, robotic process automation/intelligent process automation and process intelligence. We do strongly feel that majority of banks and financial institutions will see that their main resource is within the Big Data they all have available to them. This sets a solid foundation which allows them to invest in future technologies.

SETTING PRIORITIES STRAIGHT Banks have increasingly become tech companies trying to save time by cutting down process steps in every client transaction. Banks therefore, have to become more efficient and measure their efficiency in how many more transactions they can do per second (loans, deposits, wealth management, trade finance pass throughs). Robotic process automation is the natural choice to secure the utmost efficiency while artificial intelligence is a must to support mass personalisation based on client profiles. Majority of clients have dipped their hands into it and are now at the stage of deciding how exactly this fits into the grand scheme of things. When considering automating processes, we recommend clear process intelligence needs to be applied to understand actual workflows. These solutions lead to the challenging question regarding the road map for future cloud deployments. The question of which, what, and how is the of most discussions and often hinders current adoption of a solution based on the grounds of future viability of the same solution on the cloud. This also automatically raises concerns surrounding security and compliance angles which have taken much more significance today (in comparison to the past). The business and technology sides, now more than ever, need to agree before any technology solution is implemented. Cybersecurity is a major concern and hence any solution that the business wants to adopt needs to pass through very stringent security and data compliance requirements set by the respective bank’s technology departments. Banks are bound more tightly now to be in line with global policies and regulations in order to fight off potential financial and economic crimes. This has resulted in them being extra cautious about deployments and scope of work for any project. Since banks collect a lot of customer data and, when a technology solution is implemented in the bank, the vendor gets access to this data and governance around how this is being handled and what safeguards are available, are all major criteria in deciding the solutions. 

The key for any customer when faced with technology challenges is to partner with someone who will take full ownership of a project. When deploying a solution, for example, the bank needs someone who will understand their particular challenge and situation and look for a solution holistically. In an ideal world, a client would be able to hire their own experts in each of the technology solutions they have deployed. However, in today’s economic climate and with rapid changes in technology, this is neither possible nor viable. Furthermore, in mission critical environments at banks where data, integrations, compliance and security are extremely vital areas of concern, you need to have a partner that has a substantial amount of experience in that very same space. Systems integrators working within this area need to have a clear understanding of the security architecture followed by both global and local organisations and be ready to meet and support these requirements. Some examples of this include the ability to recognise and combat vulnerability scanning as a security threat, and counter data storage security and compliance requirements.

GROWING PAINS The biggest, or rather the most complex, obstacle we have seen financial institutions face here is with aligning their business requirements with technology solutions available. They need to focus and entrust this alignment to experts in the market who have the dedicated resources, long term stability, technological knowhow and customer-oriented approach. We have occasionally observed a tendency in the market for organisations looking for transactional deals—be it client side or vendor side. Technology must be seen as a tool to help banks in achieving their strategic goals and they must focus on aligning the solutions out there to their own requirements and not merely mimic what others are doing or take on solutions simply because they are the most gainful in the short run.

2020 PLANS While many systems integrators are buckling under the pressure of the current economic situation, we are using this as an opportunity to strengthen our position in this market. We are confident about our presence in this region and are looking to further expand our current footprint with new full-fledged sales and support offices in neighbouring markets. We are using this current time of volatility in the market to look inside our own organisation to further enhance efficiencies, upskill ourselves, add to our portfolio and create new opportunities for growth.

— Vivek Raghavan

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