Puneet Kaur Kohli (VP and Group CTO - Bajaj Capital)

Digitalized Enterprise
My role as a CTO is enabling digitalization and all the digital platforms through technology. Technology is a rule so I am a business enabler where I am understanding how digitization will help in terms of this transformation for enterprise as whole. So, That’s my key role. Everyday there are challenges where you have to get well equipped, taking the competitors’ framework, how you have to be cutting edge in terms of your survival in the market and from leader’s perspective, I have to understand the expectations that business have from IT where I have to do a transformation, change management role, the adoption of digitization from an offline to an online journey.

Key Business or Technology Trends that are changing the Industry
Technology is playing a very big role today, where the concepts of digital banks are there, paperless transactions are there, where banking and financial Industry don’t understand what the customers ask and I don’t think the survival of a big company would be a question mark.

So a CIO has to work as a change agent to enable this transformation and in my journey I have to do a lot of research based on what is the upcoming technology and trends in the market, who is my competitor and what they are doing, what is the mind set of visitors who are coming, what are the 360 degrees’ view of the customers, what is the client segmentation I have to work on. Taking the client centricity approach, what best I can automate and give to them and then apart from that the way the west is transforming, so is India and there is a huge potential in BFSI segment today that the customers are pretty self-savvy , they are technology oriented and every day they expect a new transformation and they expect the companies whom they are enabling paperless transactions, they want to create a basket and they want to transact online. So, That’s a challenge for me every day where I have to keep myself well equipped.

Creating value and innovation in Digitalization as a CIO
See, it’s a top bottom as well as bottom top approach where you know your CXOs are more inclined with you in covering this digital and transformation journey then the excitement really becomes multifold. How Digitalization will help the client centricity approach, how the CRM, Customer Enablement, Customer Enhancement, then Retention of the Customers, Customer 360 Degrees or Employee 360 Degrees, all these things have enabled and embedded us in this transformation journey.

So they are walking hands in hands with us in terms of helping us how this enablement will help to change the new phase of the business. So, I think the digitalization is the new phase of technology and business.

What is you take on Cybersecurity, Cloud and Digital Banking?
This is no more hype that cloud adoption is definitely a need of the hour. Reason being because the kind of CAPEX and OPEX Investments that come along with the cloud solutions, there you really have to see that how ready is your company or organization as a whole, how the change management is playing that role and how the user experience really helps you out there. So when you talk about investing crores and crores in CAPEX and if one user experience is bad then at the backend whatever technology investments you have done, user would not be able to understand what exactly you have done. You may have the best of the technologies, the state of the art datacenters, but if your transaction is not enabled in a fraction of sign, the user experience doesn’t come out to be good or the optimization of you core application doesn’t give a very good role model, then I think all these investments are a big question mark.

From an end user perspective, what you want, what you want to cater, a CIO needs to understand that. CIO has to get into the shoes of the management or the customers whether they are external or internal and probably be able to deliver those things. Now the adaptation of technologies how to host these platforms whether it is on cloud, datacenter, off-site, virtualized, or probably you can say cyber security: That goes hand in hand. The wave of cyber security, the online transactions, the customers’ self-service portals, m-commerce platforms, E-commerce digitalization where end to end transactions get linked to the payment gateway, so Cyber Security definitely plays a very big role there, and coming from a BFSI, Banking and financials are our core regulatory requirements one cannot foresee, we cannot go away with. We have to keep our customers’ data and privacy into view where there are certain restrictions that may be at one point of time the regulatory framework doesn’t allow us to host the customers’ data outside our premises, so we have to have a solution of something which is a hybrid approach where we have a private side of a cloud hosted in our data center where the clients’ data and privacy all are retained in-house.

Secondly in terms of cyber security the data breaches that happen. You talk about the west today, every third or fourth month you will hear there are breaches happening whether it is the best of the BFSI verticals or a bank. Basically the transactional things are compromised, so cyber security is such a thing which cannot be compromised. Customer data leakage and prevention is utmost tool of a CIO and it’s a mandate today for the regulatory framework if your data breaches have been compromised, you have to give a declaration on the media about your data breaches being compromised with 24 – 48 hours, so that you are able to do a business continuity planning and you are able to work out on the disaster recovery plans also that how you are able to create this privacy act and under the IT acts all these things should be very much clear on the websites like what is your data privacy act , what is the social media policy outside, what are the code of conducts of your employees. All these things have to be worked out.

Disruptive Innovations in the Industry
The disruptions for the digital journey today is definitely - Data Breach, where you never know what kind of threats you might foresee in your future. Sometimes you keep on deploying lot of firewalls because of lot of external threats, spywares may come, you might have attacks from your competitive frameworks, hackers may hack into your applications to see what exactly are you doing, but sometimes we forget that your employees can also be an internal threat to you. With the kind of smart phones existence and the smart tablets and the mobility space, the way the mobility is moving up, the real task of business is the Mobility Platform. When you ask your salesforce to go out and they transact and they retain the data to meet up with the clients on the ground, they are the guys who are the real threats to the business. You never know they might have a new job in their hand and retaining that data would be a big question mark to us. So today, data breaches happen inside the office you never know, the employees who work with us when they leave, they are leaving with a proper code of conduct and when they are on boarded, they have been employed with the proper guide lines as well their health checkups and etc. These all things need to be taken care by the HR and the IT people of the company for employing an individual in a firm.

And then there is a Risk Assessment. Every organization should have a risk assessment department in place, where the growing needs, how the governance framework is working. Specially in our industry, where we have to handle lot of portfolios of our clients where we can see that the kind of sharing of knowledge we doing on their portfolios is up to the mark or not, keeping in mind their data is not been compromised, their information is kept secret, the kind of calls we are doing. How do we ensure that one person who leaves the organization is not carrying the data with them through any external hard drives or anything? So all these are step by step procedures which have to be in checklist of who on boards an employee and till the time employee exits the company, an overall employee lifecycle has to be managed and similarly is the customer life cycle management needs to be managed too.

Technology Forecast
Its evolving every day and it’s an excellent era to work on – Digitalization, to know basically how the advisory works, how different engines come, how the cognitive thinking works. Earlier there used to be a concept to have a personalized touch point from an RAM where they used to advise, based recommendation used to come that you do your investments in such kind of schemes and asset classes and all. In our industry today, you will say that it’s all self-supported, it comes through automations, a technology and a computer understands what the ask of the customer is and based on his financial planning and his goals at any point of time it keeps on guiding that these are the top performers of the schemes that are evolving whether they are mutual funds or plans in the insurance vertical, these are the best equity or fixed income platform that you need to invest. So those kind of combination of west and east can play a very good role. So technology is definitely a sure short enabler today and I am very passionate about a technology and this era of digitalization in next five years is big boom and I want to survive this boom.

Changing role of a CIO, today
It’s been 22 years into the journey and it’s been a fabulous journey till now taking step by step approach and reaching up to this ladder. This journey has been very good, very impressive very challenging and enterprising also. My message to the younger generation or the forth coming women leaders not only in the technology space but also the different spaces, is that – “Gone are the days when we had to do only home management, it is like we have to have a very good work life balance along with our families and managing both the fronts with very good knowledge and a presence of pro activeness. I think that is the need of the hour. And especially at our level there were not much leaders in IT as far as women are concerned but the younger generation coming I see a huge potential to takeover these roles, especially when we see companies like TCS and Accenture, where we see middle management role being played by a lot of women leaders as VPs, AVPs and senior managers. I think this is very good potential for them to take over these kind of roles to become the forthcoming CEOs or CIOs of any company”.