Why banks need Automation

Automation is helping industries transform – directly in some businesses and indirectly for many others. A look at running cost of banks gives a totally different picture. Today, ‘run the bank’ systems take 70-80% of the overall IT budget… and it has to change.
How has it evolved?
Core banking adoption across banks took almost 20 years (1980-2000), Internet banking another 10 years (2001-2010) and mobile/wallets took shortest time. Despite technology adoption and increased use of channels it didn’t have much impact on cost although increased the customer convenience. (Should it really cost this much to run a bank?) Gains through off shoring, captives and outsourcing are slowly disappearing with added cost of security, compliance and risk.
What next?
The next frontier for banks without any doubt is digitization (2017-Strategic Priorities) – and automation (RPA) is at forefront of this…. it reduces cost, improves customer experience, helps in compliance, mitigates risk of human errors and most importantly enable digitization.
Since banks have a very high degree of IT usage in operations, it makes them an ideal candidate for automation (RPA).
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Certain very apparent advantages –
Efficiency improvement – Augment staff capability and capacity by 40-60%
Reduction in error rate – Reduce human errors and dependencies.
And some not so apparent benefits –

  • Happier Customers – Turnaround time for customer requests come down drastically with lesser errors… whether it is loan processing, service requests, payments or any other area which needs attention.
  • Reduced cost of compliance – Ever increasing compliance costs (including cost of auditing, monitoring staff, reporting, checks and balances) can be reined in with many of these activities handled by Bots.
  • Insurance cost optimization – Banks spend huge some of money on insurance against frauds, malpractice, errors etc. With automation of processes and reduction in errors, insurance costs will see a huge drop.
  • Staff can do more – Bank staff can do much more than perform tasks. They are the ones best suited to automate the tasks they handle and can focus more on be moved to increase sale, service customer directly and improve the processes run by Bots.

And nothing can stop banks – No more excuses

  • I don’t have budget/funds to run another initiative – Automation of tasks can save you enough to fund the initiative on its own. Simple Automate -> Save -> Invest -> Automate -> Save. This is a journey and not an end state in itself.
  •  I am already working with xyz vendor and can’t/don’t want to replace – There is no replacement of any of existing vendor systems. Automation bots sit on top and help your staff execute faster, automated.
  • I can’t wait for a year to show results – ROI for RPA programs is 3-6 months and once on the journey, it only becomes faster.
  • My bank and systems are unique – And so is everyone else. RPA solutions have evolved far more than scripting. It can help integrate disparate systems – open, mainframe, text, images, xls.

And to the tough question – Will my folks lose jobs..
Yes and No. This is not first time machines will be helping amplifying human capability to achieve more. But it has only changed the way work is done and who does what. There will be a redistribution of work and skills. A set of people, who might move to something better and more challenging and with the existing know how of processes, products and customers, it might be a better utilization of the resources.
With banks increasingly adopting automation, there is little to choose from. Either, Automate and be the more efficient bank to survive OR competition will make you redundant sooner than later.
I am keen to hear your views on the topic. Comments are welcome and you can reach me for discussion on how automation can help your bank. It may not be as simple as it sounds and one needs to be aware of pitfalls in adoption of automation technologies and various modes of deployment.
In embracing the automation journey, there will be quick wins followed by next level of challenges. (Do Bots have their own Ids)? How to handle underlying system changes? What to do if assembly line gets stuck? And so on…). Nonetheless, it’s an interesting and rewarding journey for the organizations.

We practice Agile and Devops, but how do we measure and monitor Devops?

There are innumerable DevOps and Agile success stories around. Whether it is a start-up, digital natives or traditional IT Service organization, many have gained experience at least with Agile, but there are instances where DevOps is an uncharted giant. However, an organization had overcome this challenge in last few years and built on the capability and experience to implement Agile for their clients. Many organizations developed DevOps and Agile in a Box, which would allow customers to test, deploy and implement applications in a controlled environment before stepping onto on a large scale transformation. DevOps and Agile in a Box are ready to solve a real-world business problem. But does anyone know that right DevOps practices are being followed, or DevOps actually brings in the benefit, do the organization measure and monitor DevOps?
While there are many different tools and approaches to DevOps, it is an accepted fact that it is extremely important to gain experience than to get the tools right the first time around. As a result, many organizations have developed a full set of processes, tools and underlying architecture to get started and rapidly progress to actually delivering value.
With so many organization implementing Agile and DevOps, experts across the industry have conducted 100+ workshops on DevOps to understand the common challenge areas – and the top three challenges are No DevOps metrics, No DevOps Centre of Excellence and Planning in a DevOps environment. Though there are multiple success stories establishing the fact of DevOps plus Agile, there is multitude of instances where the majority of the organization’s struggle with the latest transformation journey. This may be due to a number of reasons:

  • As an organization, one is not sure where to start from and what is most suitable – what tools should one use, what DevOps practices to follow
  • There are too many unknowns, difficult to develop a business case
  • Too many discussions, planning sessions and technical directions, no one actually focuses on the real-time business problem
  • Leadership is afraid of the investments required, no clarity on the areas of investment
  • Lack of DevOps training and capability
  • Last, not the least, difficult to change people culture, very difficult to shift from existing working behavior to the DevOps style of delivery. Everyone thinks that they are not ready.

Though Agile methodology has its own metrics but measuring DevOps or its success is still a dark cloud. But what should we measure – is it the User Experience, Productivity, Efficiency or the Software/Product Quality. The organization should have the goals defined linking together software quality, the speed of delivery, customer experience, business success and definitely client satisfaction. The below table details some:

Depending on the industry, domain, software being implemented, one may not focus on all the areas but can measure specific metrics. For e.g. a retail online shopping website checks on application performance, but an online railway ticket booking system will focus more on the speed or application response time, an airline booking and luggage check-in app will stress more on the user experience, etc.

AI and Future of Channel Banking

Artificial Intelligence in the banking industry is going to make consumer channel banking irrelevant.
Today’s banks have been improving channel banking with user-centric designs. There is increasing emphasis on employing aspects of artificial intelligence to engage with users in more meaningful ways. As we are witnessing this AI journey in banking, it is becoming quite predictable on how things will be in near future in channel banking space.
It starts with smart assistants backed by natural language processing. Assistants and bots are rushing to help users in doing things effortlessly on their personal devices.However, AI role is limited to help users navigate through banking tasks and reduce queues on customer care IVR. These assistants are passively present and mostly await for instructions from a user.
Next, comes analytics-driven insights. The channel banking apps, powered by deep analytics, actively initiate user engagements. The apps are able to predict upcoming and relevant banking activities and are helping users to complete them in time.
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If we take a cue from these developments, it wouldn’t be very hard to visualize channel banking apps watching users, engaging with them at a time and place that is convenient to users, having meaningful conversations with users, are aware of the surroundings, providing urgent insights on-the-go and keeping away the clutter of information that is not relevant. These possibilities are just a natural progression on the path that is being laid out. And thus arises a question – will things just evolve on a path that looks so mundane for the beast that AI is?!
Consumers use channel banking apps to manage their daily finances – park money in accounts, ensure liquidity for emergencies, move surplus to high-yielding accounts, pay the dues, and send money to people. Instead of putting AI on the bank’s side and engaging with users, wouldn’t banks of the future put AI on the users’ side and set users free from these routine banking activities?
Riding on AI prowess, tomorrow’s banking systems will be managing money on behalf of their customers. They will be making decisions on behalf of users on where to park money and for how long, should an old investment be terminated and new investment started for better yields, from where to arrange money for emergencies, when to pay the dues, whether to lend money to their contacts and how to recover the money while keeping the whole transaction risk free.
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The AI in banking will trigger a revolution in the bill payments area. The concept of ‘due date’ in bill payments will be remembered for the inefficiencies of the legacy systems. Banks will have systems that pay the bills, on behalf of the consumer, just-in-time the bills are generated at the billers’ end. The AI would have decided on safe payment limits and never bother users for routine bill payments. It will trigger a review with users for abnormal bills and reverse the disputed payments. Knowing the consumer’s financial habits, the system would have provisioned for upcoming bills, avoiding any defaulter situations.
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Personal money transfers will be replaced with personal lending-borrowing systems. Based on borrower’s need for money and financial habits, the system will devise a repayment scheme and choose the right lender in borrower’s circle of contacts whose financial habits accommodate the repayment scheme. The system would have covered for risks and thus make the personal lending-borrowing more safe and beneficial to all parties involved, without anyone actively participating in the process.
This may sound facetious or may raise privacy and security concerns, especially when money is involved. But aren’t we talking about Artificial Intelligence which is going to set humans free from mundane tasks?! AI will not just stop at paying your bills, but it will eventually become your wealth manager.
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AI in banking is going to reduce consumer channel banking to mere a chat widget and consumers would be using it just a few times in a lifetime!

Cloud computing

We all have heard or felt being “on cloud nine”. But what is business or software on the cloud? Why should we move to the cloud, probably these questions have already come to your mind? Some of you might be already working on cloud, either for business or personal use. Let’s go through some more details.
What is a cloud?
The term cloud refers to accessing a variety of computing services like servers, storage, software, databases and more over the Internet. Many of us have used taxi services like Ola or Uber. People book a taxi to the required location and pay for the distance traveled. Similarly, users can subscribe to the cloud services pay-as-you-go basis and select the type of cloud service like selecting the type of car. As booking a car is convenient, it’s easier to use the cloud services rather than building own infrastructure/software platforms etc.
Cloud service providers (CSP) are companies that offer cloud services. Some of the commonly used cloud services are Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft Office 365, and Apple iCloud mail etc.
Cloud Computing Models
Cloud services are broadly categorized as follows:
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides computing infrastructure or the actual hardware (servers and disks). With IaaS, users are responsible for installing all the required software on top of the hardware. Some of the popular IaaS products are Amazon EC2, Windows Azure, and Google’s Compute Engine (GCE).
¬Platform as a Service (PaaS) offers all the hardware along with the required platform. It provides a platform for developing, testing, deploying applications making developers life easy to build apps, without worrying about managing application environment. Popular PaaS platforms are IBM BlueMix, Heroku, Google’s App Engine, and Red Hat’s OpenShift. The oecloud platform of Edgeverve offers PaaS platform.
Software as a Service (SaaS) offers readymade application services built on top of the required platform and hardware. Some of the popular products are Google Docs, Dropbox, Office365, and Salesforce CRM application etc.
Cloud Models
Now let us look at the types of cloud deployment models.
Public cloud offers computing services to the public over the Internet using shared IT infrastructure and resources. Users are charged as per usage. Examples are Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure Services.
Private cloud is private deployment option for an individual company which could be hosted on premise or externally by the cloud provider exclusively for individual business.
Hybrid cloud provides the combination of public and private models providing flexibility in moving data and applications between private and public cloud based on the business needs.
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Cloud containers
Containers provide a lightweight environment to run applications with isolation boundary. Unlike virtual machines, they don’t need a full OS within the container, multiple containers can run on the same host. Containers are popular in PaaS to manage applications. Microservices are best fit for containerization as they can be independently deployed as containers, scaled up or down. Docker is one of the popular open-source container technologies. There are other platforms like ¬¬Google’s Kubernetes, Warden from Cloud Foundry, and Rocket from CoreOS.
Why move to Cloud?
Why this shift, definitely because of the edge it gives to the business compared to the traditional software.
Focus on business: Building the IT infrastructure from scratch and maintaining is expensive. With cloud services, maintenance and security of IT systems are taken care by the CSPs.
Availability: Most cloud providers are extremely reliable in providing their services with very minimal downtime. Users can access the services anywhere anytime with internet connectivity.
Cope with demand: Flexible payment options are available like pay-as-you-use or fixed subscription fee. Depending on the business demand capacity can be added or removed.
Go Green: As CSPs host multiple customers on shared infrastructure, data centers are optimized for energy efficiency.
Backup and Recovery: Most cloud providers have excellent backup and recovery mechanism.
Challenges
In spite of all the benefits, there are some concerns regarding the cloud. As data is accessible over the internet, a data breach could occur via hacking or any vulnerability attack. Reliable internet connection is a must for the business. Some of the providers use proprietary software/hardware, switching to another vendor becomes a costly affair. Companies should thoroughly analyze the pricing plans and service contract considering future expansion plans.
Summary
Cloud is evolving at a fast pace, with wider adoption by various companies. Like everything else, cloud computing has its own pros and cons and some of the current challenges may no more be a matter of concern in the coming days.
What are your views on cloud computing? Please leave your comment.

Why PaaS

WHY PAAS! Is Cloud a Myth!!Anillusion!! Any ROI? Or just a Mirage to IT engineers

nopes

`In PAAS you have everything under ONE cloud `

Cloud computing or PAAS is a better way of understanding and doing you own in a business much more radiant and luminous way…

Like the human evolution, the Information/data is moving from something like an Ice Age to an Industrial Age and to a Participation Age. We get on our mobiles. Get on the net. and do any stuff under the `Cloud` …
Any instant message, personnel or professional… your blog, you take pictures, you publish, your podcast, you transact, you distance learn, your telemedicine.
You are participating on the Internet, not just only VIEWING stuff. You are DOING stuff.
But to get your hands dirty on this is a complex concept. It is not based on a single technological breakthrough but comes about through the combination of several innovations and improvements, most notably the development of virtualization, the increasing capacity of the Internet and the growing sophistication of Internet-based technologies.
Cloud is more Productive:
To make any companies apps run faster with much fewer faults. PAAS is the best solution. Here you may focus on core product development, Continuous Integration Testing, and best production operations. When you do not have to waste time in finding out the “how”, you can easily perform the required tasks in less time. As a result, Customers would tie a tight knot with the company due to focused attitude.
Cloud makes your Entire Enterprise Mobile
Anything from Anywhere is cloud mobility. Once the business apps are up and running on the cloud there. You can access information any point of time. All you need is an internet connection.
Enterprise mobility is inextricably woven with cloud computing. By running your business apps in the cloud, you can access information from them – anywhere and anytime, what you need is just an internet connection. It gives an instant and secure access to emails, contacts, content and much more. So, with the cloud, your business will go beyond its physical boundaries.
Huge Save on Initial Cost setup
It works on a pay-as-you-go model. So, you just pay for the right amount of resources that you would use. Cloud tech support has a good expertise, it would overcome the cost of maintaining your own team
Secure: Mitigates data loss Risk
Cloud supports Recovery/disaster management. Investigation reports. Cloud operations support. Data location and data Segregation with stronger encryption algorithms.
Test your apps functionality Cloud
For a start-up, setting up an entire server unit and then launching apps can be a drastic decision, as you can never assume the success rate. But if you deploy apps on the cloud, you can test their service acceptance rate and accordingly make future decisions to expand with cloud gives you the flexibility to run your apps on a test drive basis. By doing so, you can check your apps’ functionalities and get an experience in the cloud. You can choose which applications to move and when.
Cloud makes you innovative
You cannot trust the IT providers for everything. Each application small or big is heavily market-driven achieving innovation. The speed of the System, an accuracy of the output plays a vital role. So one could get creative, Customize each feature separately.
Conclusion:
PAAS is no Myth!!! It helps in:

  • Building Return on Investment from Cloud Computing
  • Strengthening your Business Case for Using Cloud
  • Cloud Buyers’ Decision Tree

Measuring Automation

Automation, AI, ML, – is this going to be the next wave of change?
Well, according to me, not yet!.
Currently Automation is like a belief and passion; a new toy in the hands of techno geeks and businesses to see how a new item in the menu can entice businesses to jump down the rabbit hole of automation wonderland and hope to achieve something great and so seamless that they can continue to survive in this competitive world of technology enabled products and services.
As you are aware, theoretically, one can automate any process that is defined, has KPIs, proper input and outputs that has the ability to be done programmatically by a machine or a combination of machines.
So, in effect the automation is a process of using machines and computational skills to reduce human effort. So, in effect, as a process, it should have the ability to be measured.

This post is to introduce a mechanism to measure the overall process of automation.
Approached towards measured automation
The core rules towards automation maturity model –

  • Identify processes that have maximum impact to the organizational business goals.
  • Identify dependencies and relations of various processes and sub-processes across the organizations that help run the overall business.
  • Identify base and derived measures that impact the organizational business goals.
  • Identify the level and possibility of automation based on the data collected on impact to organizational business goals.
  • Monitor and manage the identified automated areas for improvements and modifications to meet and exceed the organization and business goals.

To ensure that there is a system or mechanism in place for this, every business that has a need to move towards automation should be in a position to look at what level of automation is needed or necessary.
There has to be an Automation Maturity Model (AMM) that can govern how the business can be steered into a more objective strategy.
Conceptually, the approach can be represented as below –

A peek into Automation Maturity Model
Automation Maturity Model is more about putting a structure into how organisation can be measured in terms of its automation maturity.
Conceptually, it can be represented as below –


Plan Do, Measure, Act

How will AMM help?

  • Industry standard automation maturity model.
  • Businesses can decide what level of maturity they want to achieve as per their business needs.
  • Better focus and strategy on using the right mix of technology and people.

Next steps

  • Create a team of experts who can define the nuances of the AMM
  • Establish standard methods of management of a business automation
  • Educate businesses and employees on the importance of an objective approach towards automation.

Knock-Knock, I Am Blockchain!

Blockchain technology was preliminary introduced for the bitcoin virtual currency, however now it’s increasingly being used to track and validate different types of assets, from electrons and stocks to bonds. Decentralized digital ledger technology holds the potential to revolutionize numerous sectors of the economy.
What is Blockchain?
Before we move any further, let us understand the concept of Blockchain. This is an innovative technology that records a list of transactions in a way that averts dishonest use, like double spending and tampering. They enable a computer to keep a track by compiling the records into a block, which is then encrypted to create a number named as ‘hash’.
The encryption process within this entire set up is extremely vital. It can be categorized as an algorithm that can be calculated easily, but when it comes to reverse process, like factorization, it becomes a complex process. The resultant hash value is a unique characteristic of the block, and any tinkering with the records, changes the hash, making it immediately evident.
New transactions are amassed together into another block and added to the current hash value. Then it is encrypted to build a hash for the new block. It is further added to the subsequent list of transactions as they get encrypted, and this process continues. The outcome is a series of blocks that each comprises the hash values of all previous blocks, and thus getting its name – Blockchain.
All the systems that store these blocks repeatedly compare the hash values to validate whether they are in agreement. In the instance of any disagreement, the respective computer throw-outs the records that have been causing issues.
The growing industry
Last year, the industry witnessed a growth of many Blockchain startups in different sectors, right from financial services, energy trading, supply chain custody, remittances to global development and health care. In the ongoing year, we may see the emergence of preliminary Blockchain consumer platforms release.
Whereas a Blockchain can support the costless substantiation of the attributes it transmits, recording those elements may require intermediaries and labor-intensive plans to avert fraud. In this segment, sensors and internet-of-things devices can radically expand what can be fabricated on top of this decentralized digital ledger technology.
From the long-term scope, cryptocurrencies show the potential to transform the way internet services are delivered; open-source communities support their development; the way micro tasks and expertise are crowdsourced; the payment mechanism for media and content; and the process to harness talent.
Irrespective of the context and sector, there’s a strong probability that Blockchain will affect different businesses. The only big question is when it will happen? Instead of looking for an answer to that question, let us embrace Blockchain and explore how can we capitalize on this decentralized digital ledger technology.

Should it really cost this much to run a bank?

There is no doubt on technology adoption by banks. It is ubiquitous – in ATMs, payments, statements, channels, mobile, internet banking and most if not all our interactions with the bank.
Or is it? Not so soon….
In reality, technology adoption is partial with a limited view of customer and competition. It is still old and expensive technology and process at the back end of most banks. While, the banks have given more options, convenience, and comfort to a customer but has totally failed to benefit the customer in terms of cost of banking. The cost for the customers has not come down in line with the technology adoption we see. To fund the back-end processes and technology, banks have to keep rates and fees high. In fact, the cost ratio of banks in region is quite high – India (53.5%), Singapore (44.4%), Malaysia (48.4%), Indonesia(49.5%).
In one of his interviews last year, RBI governor Mr. Raghuram Rajan noted “We can see the effect of the IT revolution everywhere in the banking system, except on the expenses side… why aren’t the expenses coming down? We need to look at whether technology is really bringing down costs.”
One of my colleagues working with banks all over Asia in technology modernization was surprised at the amount of money/time spent on back-end activities and processes which can be done much cheaper using technology. One such example is various reconciliation activities. There are vendors and tools but most of the work is still manual (read staff using computers – not automated) and overall cost doesn’t come down.
So what’s next – How will this change…
Next wave to reduce the cost for banks and its customers has started. Some are already happening and others are more radical and need regulatory oversight and changes. With central bankers across the world more open than in past, this will happen sooner than we can imagine….

  1. White-Label branches
    It is not uncommon to have 5-10 different bank branches next door in certain areas while unable to locate a branch in another part of a city. The branch cost is borne by customers eventually. Banks are always in the conundrum – whether to reduce branches to optimize cost or to increase branches to improve customer experience. This is a something which provides best of both worlds. Time is ripe for regulators to look at the option of allowing white-label branches. When can same ATM dispense cash for all banks worldwide, why banking has to be limited to a branch of a specific bank? Look at how vfs-global solved the problem of having embassy/consulate everywhere. Banks can still differentiate on what they offer and have standards set for specific customer types – product innovation will be key and it could be a totally new set of players running these ‘Branches’.
  2. Robotic-Automation in banking
    With technology, the calculators and ledgers were replaced by computers. Nothing else significantly changed in the layout of branches or the work to be done by individuals whether it was tellers, agents or back office staff. The move to automate the repetitive work done by individuals will not only reduce cost, improve productivity, reduce errors but also free up bankers and staff to focus on better customer experience and value added tasks. Refer my other post on automation – RPA Robots are here- Are banks ready?
  3. The Fintech frenzy
    The currently on ongoing Fintech frenzy and offerings are going to bring the individual service and transaction cost dramatically. While they can provide alternate processes, provide tools, innovative offerings but it’s for the banks to utilize, optimize and then pass on the savings to its customers. They must not only look at technology which is the focus right now but also optimize on changing the role of staff, overall count and layout of branches, and re-thinking how the customer should interact with banks.

Do or Die?
If current big banks don’t reduce a cost of operation, someone else (mostly non-banking entities) will make banking cheaper. Why bankers can’t keep doing what they did so far?
After all, now banking is not limited to banks. Better buckle up for the future. It’s closer than you think.

Together, we grow – Business Networking

What’s unique about human brain and business?
Need brains to run a business (didn’t know that!).
Well, for a proper functioning of the brain, neurons, and their network plays a key role and so is a business network for any business to flourish.
Tracing back to earliest days of trade, we have seen in the history how traders sailed across oceans to establish their business with an intent to get the best out of it. What this indicates is that no business can stay local beyond a point and if true objectives of the business are to be met.
Period wise, geography-wise and business wise, there can be different forms of business network, but the key is to establish the right mix in an efficient way.
Let’s look at few variants of a business network to understand the significance of it and will then apply it to banking.
With barter system, it was the earliest way of establishing demand and supply equilibrium and then paving the way for niche offering.
Then came the big industrialization revolution which introduced a clear two layers of a business network. One on the raw material supply chain and then the other one on the same consumer side of distribution and supply chain network.
One of the best examples that come to my mind here is Reliance Industries, how they achieved backward integration and then built a vast distribution network and even today same business ethos run this business conglomerate.
A variant of this is – co-operative societies (a personal favorite of mine), this probably to me, comes very close as to how the world should evolve along the lines of a compassionate capitalist economy (borrowing this pet term of NRN).
In recent times, a couple of such coops caught my attention – The Cooperative Group, the UK which practices FairTrade and more recently, one in our own backyard – Organic Mandya (http://www.organicmandya.com/ ).
And then we have the aggregator business model, – Uber, Oyo, AirBnB, Ola, Billdesk which is a very smart way to approach business.
Amazon, probably world’s largest retailer is a great example of how business network comes to the fore at a global level and not to forget Google in the same space.
So what has changed in this digital world of business networking is : it’s not just about building your supply chain (input and output), but now the focus has shifted in creating smart ecosystem of complimentary business so the context is not lost from a consumer point of view and consumer is not let go off your platform.
A simple example – I was searching on Amazon for a premium watch the other day and for rest of my day, most other websites that I visited (not related to Amazon), showed picture of the watch I had seen on Amazon along with one more similar one suggested by Amazon on the right hand 30% of website’s panel, making sure that my mind never switches off from the thought of buying that watch.
In the current digital world, banks are transforming into lifestyle banking. This transformation is being redefined on superior technology platforms creating a smart business network for the banks.
Open banking, PSD2, UPI, Blockchain, IoT and the like assume significant importance in creating a business network for the banks where banks will not be at the center of the transaction, rather will be a partner in the ecosystem either driving, fulfilling, analyzing, prompting or advising a transaction.
Once FinTechs were considered as disruptors for banks. But today reality is banks and FinTechs are working together to grow. Some of the leading banks in the world are nurturing FinTechs and are creating FinTech hubs (real estate wise also) which signify that in the current world, innovation doesn’t happen in silos but together in the business network.
A very recent example in this space is: https://www.finextra.com/newsarticle/30663/hsbc-opens-social-network-for-business-customers?utm_medium=newsflash&utm_source=2017-6-6
For Finacle, this is a great place and time also in two ways – first as a provider of a platform for banks to create and maintain their business network and secondly, to build our own business network to support the platform offering from our side.
As with IoT revolution, just a word of caution here will be to look out for data privacy and data security and not to go overboard in creating a personalised experience, yet retaining USP.
Canara bank’s punch line is – Together, we grow- I think this sums-up-it-well about business networks.

Artificial Intelligence – that doesn’t sound alright!

Embedded real-time intelligence powered by IoT-based business networks – sounds like too many jargons, time for one more portmanteau?, well, maybe yes, because that’s how I see the true way to look at artificial intelligence because I don’t like anything that’s artificial!
Today, many of us see artificial intelligence (built on platforms using machine learning, NLP, cloud, and analytics etc.) being the order of the day with analytics engines churning out outputs which lead into automation of many aspects. To me, this sounds sticking to or rather extending the vision that father of AI- John McCarthy tirelessly worked towards (with absolute respect to the great visionary John McCarthy, been).
There is absolutely nothing wrong with machines reason like a human, capable of abstract thought, problem-solving and self-improvement (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/john-mccarthy-computer-scientist-known-as-the-father-of-ai-6255307.html ) – as envisioned by John McCarthy.
But in today’s world of cloud-based IoT world and with the availability all the cutting edge technology around it, if the same is plugged into the business network as well, then I feel we will have much more meaningful and more realistic intelligence than just being artificially intelligent.
We currently have science and platform in place through a neural network which is passive as the data and information are either processed or augmented to arrive at an artificial intelligence.
The future of AI that I envision is the one where AI should breath in this neural network by way of embedding intelligence at the design phase and not being applied as an afterthought – looks crazy?, but I think this is achievable.
We are already progressing towards the world where in all possibilities I have a digital identity which for most purposes serves as the single source of truth for all that I do/get involved in. This digital identity will become smart identity as and when it starts flowing into each of my network activity and thus networks start breathing with this smart digital identity as the oxygen which runs through the entire network and will probably lead into providing me a cloud-based smart digital personal assistant/adviser (probably the future of Alexa) which Is completely personalized.
Let’s have a quick look at below example:
Based on my previous day’s schedule, next day’s schedule, BMI, personal sleep pattern alarm is set-up for my next day and as soon as I wake-up, I am read out shlokas that I recite every morning, then through a 3D holographic given a view of my today with inputs on weather, world news in general and news specific to my interest, water temperature being set based on weather and my personal preference and with a view on how much water I should conserve, for me to take shower. Automated gates open for my car with clear guided instruction on traffic and with a parking slot booked at the nearest metro station. While I am approaching metro’s turnstile, my favorite masala tea (sugarless) is booked at my favorite cafeteria within the metro station with amount debited from my digital wallet and so on. What we see here is everything is just not connected, but intelligently and meaningfully connected with my bank too being part of it in an invisible manner.
This also leads to a question that is we were obsessed with personalization and is this scalable model for large corporate/banks? , my take is, we need to design smartly such that such personalization are identified in segments and grouped such that economy of scale than can be applied.
For example, if we apply this at corporate banking level, this may altogether open up a new way to look at the current credit rating concepts being replaced with trust/credibility factor as we will have end to end view of each transaction a corporate gets involved with and thus accordingly allows banks to design financial products which will be contextual, personalized to the corporate, yet profitable to bank.
Designing based on the same principles across a B2C and B2B in this smart intelligent breathing network can lead to probably an example like this:
A matrimony/networking site which does profile matching across multiple parameters like finance, educational background, lifestyle, family, culture, physical and mental health etc., finds a near perfect match and then provides event management service for marriage, travel package for honeymoon, mortgage services based on financial plan worked out and may be a doctor’s service for family planning!
This also means that brands need to be really deep in their offering with a clear brand identity established to stay niche and relevant.
And, what do I do with such real breathing intelligent systems around in future? –Think of writing such blogs and tada- my blog is ready!