How SBI CTO Shiv Kumar Bhasin is driving digital transformation
SBI has set its sights on being one of the world’s top 10 global digital banks.
How do you get a 200- year- old stodgy bank to reinvent itself to keep pace with the digital era?
That’s a question you ought to ask Shiv Kumar Bhasin.
As the CTO of SBI, Bhasin is infusing digital technologies into the infrastructure and operations of the bank. Ask Bhasin about the enormity of the task at hand and he will tell you at its no walk in the park.
It surely isn’t.
The first thing that springs to mind when you think of the State Bank of India, is its sheer scale and size. SBI has over 550 million customers and more than 750 million accounts. It has 25,000 branches, 57,000+ ATMs and 500,000 PoS machines. It accounts for 30 percent of the Indian debit card market and around 45 percent of the transaction volumes of debit cards go through its payment gateways. SBI has 40 million Internet banking and 30 million mobile banking customers. From the balance sheet perspective, it is at the 45th position among global bank.
That probably explains why SBI is the big daddy of India’s banking industry. Besides, it has set its sights on being one of the world’s top 10 global digital banks. And when a banking behemoth with such a formidable presence and stronghold, goes into a digital overdrive, the process is nothing short of an organizational rebirth.
Bhasin knows this only too well. “A transformation of this magnitude is possible only through reimagination. The exercise of reimagining our business processes and operations cannot be an annual or quarterly target. It has to be an ongoing journey. In the digital era, the cycle of transformation is getting compressed because we customer experience is changing so fast. We have to transform our business processes in terms of customer service, workforce environment, and agile methodologies,” he states.
To a certain degree, every bank is now a technology company with a banking license. It has to view its business models through the lens of digital technologies. And rightly so. An infusion of digital technologies is a sure cure to shaking off lumbering legacy systems of the staid but solid SBI.
“IT has come to play such an important role in our digital transformation that business and IT are now closely intertwined,” he concedes.
Digitally empowered workforce
With customer experience being the touchstone of success is the digital era, SBI wants its employees to move closerr to customers. So, the people on the front lines need to be vested with the knowledge and awareness of the digital strategy of the bank.
“The workforce has to be digitally enabled and digitally aware. We will impart the digital services to our customers through the various touchpoints and the workforce has to be clued in on these services,” he confesses.
Bhasin is orchestrating a robust enterprise mobility management program to facilitate this.
The bank seen a considerable adoption of SBI Workspace, a comprehensive solution which provides secure access to internal applications and resources such as staff facing mobile and tablet applications, intranet applications, email, documents collaboration and other staff collaboration tools etc. 12,300 mobile devices have been enrolled in SBI Workspace since its launch on March 8 2017.
The mobility solution has helped SBI realize a plethora of benefits. it has improved user satisfaction, increased employee productivity, promoted a self-service culture for internal IT services and facilitated faster onboarding of employees and third parties.
In a unique attempt to boost workforce productivity, SBI has launched one of its biggest digital employee empowerment measures enabling its staff to work from home. SBI’s enterprise mobility management program sets the tone for its recently launched ‘Work from Home’ policy.
“We use mobile computing technologies and exercise continuous control over all the enabled devices centrally to manage and secure the data and applications on the mobile devices. We will use carefully designed MIS and dashboard to enable improvements in work from home approach,” he says.
In recast mode
SBI has also created a digital platform called SBI Digi Bank. The platform has three pillars- a financial superstore, an online marketplace and a digital bank for an end to end digitization for all products and services.
“This is a step towards creating branchless banking where all transactions will be done with the help of apps, internet banking, and mobile banking. It will be an omnichannel, one-device digital bank which will be available to both new and existing customers. The digital-only bank will be paperless, device-agnostic, will use the Aadhar infrastructure for not only onboard customers but also provide them services online.” he says
The bank is trying to reach its digital customer through its 257 sbiInTouch digital branches. SBI InTouch is the bank’s state-of-the-art Digital Branch which facilitates instant opening of accounts, printing, and issue of the personalized debit card, and expert advice on investment through video conference. The bank is working towards removing the use of paper from its branches for end-to-end digitization.
“We are also focusing on making our network connectivity robust. Unlike many of the private banks that are urban-centric, we have a presence in deep and remote geographies. This mandates that before we go all out with digital initiatives, our platforms must be in high availability mode. So it’s important to transform the entire platform bringing in intelligent networking technology that straddles across platforms like cloud and WiFi. We need scalable networking technology where concurrency can go up to even 20,000 transactions per second. We have recently improved our network bandwidth from 64 Kbps to 2 Mbps link. We plan to increase the network strength from 8 to 10 Mbps which will bring it on par with several other global banks,” he says.
In a major breakthrough, the bank is playing a lead role in bringing lenders and tech companies together for using blockchain technology to share information among banks which will eventually help prevent frauds and tackle bad loans.
“The Bank chain initiative is in partnership with IBM, Microsoft, Skylark, KPMG and 10 commercial banks. We have also tied up with a startup firm Prime chain Technologies for this exercise.We are experimenting with credit finance, consortium information sharing and to help prevent frauds and tackle bad loans. We are also working with IIT Kharagpur and Mumbai to carry out research on the potential of the blockchain,” he informs.
To enhance workforce productivity the bank is also looking at deploying software robotics in its back office to automate processes and redeploy branch staff to its salesforce.
“These initiatives are notable in the run- up to the digital transformation of SBI,” Bhasin signs off.