Strengthening The Three Pillars Of Organizational Technology

by Ramnath Iyer - Chief Technology Officer, CRISIL

Uncertain economic conditions around the world have forced many organizations to continue focusing on lowering costs and increasing productivity. And technology is one of the main weapons in their arsenal to do this. Companies are trying to figure out ways to automate critical and time-consuming processes using technology.

So how should one go about realizing this goal?

Organizational technology has three pillars: Technology Infrastructure, Business Applications and Information Security.

Let us first talk about technology infrastructure, since it touches employees the moment they enter the office. From the data centre to the desktop, infrastructure helps you gain greater business agility, faster time-to-value and improved operational effectiveness with solutions that empower employees to create dynamic digital workplaces and innovate how work gets done.

The cloud – whether public, private or hybrid – has revolutionized IT infrastructure, development and management, enabling IT to offload the burden of upgrades and maintenance and focus instead on delivering business value.

Teams can often be dispersed widely across countries and time zones, but they need to share content, information and ideas as if they were in the same room. Creating an effective platform for collaboration is essential. Enterprise collaboration services transform how you work together by connecting people, improving content sharing and optimizing processes with services for unified communications, social computing, content management, portals and applications. The collaboration suite and the access to all the enterprise applications should be powered through the mobile phone.

Let’s now come to the second pillar, business applications.

The starting point of business applications is application development. Custom enterprise application development provides you with an alternative to packaged solutions, giving you the application development flexibility you need.

Managing customer relationships effectively has always been important. CRM transforms the customer experience around interactions that drive more profitable relationships. It should go beyond sales, marketing and service to deliver industry-specific capabilities that result in improved productivity and efficiency at a competitive price.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) services underpin organizations’ ability to operate in economies and industries that are subject to rapid change, creating opportunities and challenges. The new buzzword, data analytics, is also the key. Data is digital’s core currency, so turning data into a strategic asset is a business imperative, whether it’s about organizing your data, creating governance and strategy, data warehousing, or applying industry, mobile or predictive analytics.

Through it all, one needs to keep the focus firmly on the user experience. User experience can make or break a solution. User expectations soar as the gap widens between modern technology, consumer experience and the applications employees use at work. Therefore, the interface and functionality for all services and tools provided to the employees should have the user in mind. This leads to a great user experience.

The third pillar, information security, deals with the processes and methodologies which are designed and implemented to protect a business from unauthorized access to, and misuse or disruption of data. Without it, the first two pillars would remain incomplete.

At CRISIL, we have invested in state-of-art infrastructure ranging from desktops to data centers. All critical services like internet, email, MPLS links, networks, firewalls, servers, databases and storage are configured in high availability to make sure the reliability is high and the user experience is great. We use a world-class collaboration suite which enables employees to collaborate via text, voice, video and web meetings seamlessly from any device and from any part of the world.

Our business applications are customized to our requirements since our business processes are unique and no relevant product is available in the market. We have implemented finance ERP which takes care of all the aspects of financial accounting and integrates with our business applications for billing purposes. We use a business intelligence tool for data analytics which integrates with business applications and provides the required reports and management dashboards, which improves the process of decision making.

Information security (IS) is CRISIL’s top-most priority because of the nature of the business. CRISIL GR&A is an ISO 27001:2005 compliant organization and has multi-fold information security processes, with strict process, people and technological controls.

Let’s move to the emerging technology trends in BFSI:

Mobile: We’re entering a ‘mobile only’ era, where we see outcomes that would be impossible without today’s persistent connectivity.

Social: Businesses are no longer building technologies just to enable interaction - they are now engineering social platforms for specific contexts.

Analytics: Data needs to be made personal if it is to foster more meaningful relationships, and enable experiential service and products.

Cyber security: Customers have learnt to trust their financial institutions to quickly detect, isolate, and contain a cyber threat when it occurs.

There is enough evidence of the shift taking place as organizations move beyond a monomaniacal focus on cost control to a more balanced approach to profitable growth in this new technology-enabled world. Any organization not shifting towards the above trend will have tough times ahead and will find it difficult to survive in the competitive market.