By mid 2015, all applications in BFSI will be running on HANA

SAP Andrew Pitcher-high res

Andrew Pitcher, Senior VP & GM, Financial Services and Strategic Industries, SAP APJ, shares insights into SAP’s commitment to the BFSI sector and the latest customer trends in adopting HANA in an interview to Jasmine Desai.

BFSI is a risk-prone industry. How comfortable are organisations in this sector shifting their database to HANA in this region?
HANA real-time data is most important to financial services, because the protection of data is the most important thing. Through this, they can detect fraud very quickly. The need for real-time is very critical in BFSI. There are two scenarios in big data in terms of what banks know about their customers and what banks know about themselves. If a bank wants to grow, knowing in real-time what offers to put, is the best way to move ahead. BFSI has been slower than we anticipated in adopting some of these technologies. It is not very difficult for existing customers to move to HANA because we are porting all of their applications to HANA. By middle of next year, all applications in BFSI from channel to core to analytics will be running on HANA. For new customers, they are coming to us because they see value here, in terms of real-time decision making.

How can database be an advantage in terms of TCO?
Presently, there are multiple applications in an environment from multiple vendors running on multiple databases, sitting on very different infrastructure. It is a very complex environment. The whole story is that we move to standard applications with a single database i.e. HANA running on a simple infrastructure and probably hosted on cloud. It is going from very complicated on three levels to very simple on one level. That draws significant advantage to the TCO. The other part of data specifically is real-time nature and configurability of it. One can get real-time reporting through standard queries, which adds lot of value.

How can organisations make data consumable for risk management officers through BI?
BO (BusinessObjects) is run by at least 50 clients in BFSI in India. The entire hierarchy of an organisation runs from this platform and that gets exposed on the mobility layer we have. It also depends on the extent to which an organisation uses SAP technology. The ones who use it extensively, we pretty much become the data management layer. The provision of real-time helps the risk officer, through real-time fraud detection and real-time geography and risk algorithms. There is a risk engine at business level pre-configured, which can be used for risk detection as well.

How is customer demand in BFSI changing in terms of CEM?
The focus has moved too much to customer experience. Omni-channel can be done with single platform or multiple platforms. Some organisations have developed very complex technology landscapes with good or not-so-good customer experience, but over time, it builds a massive legacy that as the market moves, has to unpeak and [they have to] rebuild it or start it again. We focus on building excellent customer experience with single or multi-channel experience. That is the macro context across the region.
The proliferation of devices and OS complexity is something that no client wants to handle. Our platform supports any application at the back-end. It ensures we can cater to both kind of customers, i.e., people can do mobile banking and unbanked population. For the latter, it is made possible to do three simple transactions like cashing, withdrawal and transfer. We have simplified that for financial inclusion in India. We have also connected the mobility platform to Aadhaar. We can provide financial inclusion services where the beneficiary may not be a bank account holder and money can be directly transferred to their Aadhar account.
Organisations in APJ are going cross-industry with their customer experience and that is an extremely interesting area for us. It is not as yet a trend in India.

Is finding skill for SAP implementation still a challenge in India?
Skill is not a challenge in India; scale is. One of the challenges of cloud is that it changes the economics for partners because the idea of cloud is to move to standard solutions typically implemented in half the time that it used to be. The available pie for partners is less. Some partners are not quick enough to move to that model. They need to be more than implementers and look at more volume business and becoming a re-seller or different type of partner.

jasmine.desai@expressindia.com