Mani Mulki, Chief Information Officer, Tata Capital Ltd.

By now, we have seen several instances that prove how Artificial Intelligence can ease our daily tasks. From “Alexa, what’s the news?” to “Alexa, beatbox for me”, AI has revolutionized how we interact with technology. As integrating AI into our everyday life is scaling unimaginable heights, the pressure to assimilate next-generation tech is only mounting, and the BFSI segment is no different. However, owing to the industry’s delicate and sensitive nature, technology is heavily praised yet seldom adopted. While everyone waits for someone else to take the first step, Tata Capital Limited has no qualms in embracing technology. For instance, Tata Capital introduced TIA, an exclusive mobile app-based voice bot for disbursing personal loans. Using speech recognition technology, natural language understanding and text-to-speech technology, TIA is equipped with intelligent features and options, which can answer customer queries, assist in simplifying the loan process, help customers choose the right offering, and help the customer avail a loan sanction within the Tata Capital app. Then earlier this year, TIA partnered with WhatsApp, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, further proving its vast technological gumption.

Leading Tata Capital Ltd from the forefront with dexterity is Mani Mulki, Chief Information Officer. “Technology is a crucial component in reimagining customer journeys, simplifying processes, and creating new platforms and channels for customers to engage. Over the last couple of years, we have launched a plethora of apps and digitised many service components to ensure that the experience of the customer is seamless and frictionless. The results have been incredible! We have always kept the ‘Customer’ at the centre of our every strategy and plan of action. We have also been nothing less than aggressive and widespread in the adoption of technology.” Mani agrees that these are certainly difficult and challenging times with the most unsettling aspect being the swiftness and pace of how things changed. Social distancing and the whole lockdown, in general, has forced most organisations to seriously re-look at governance and business continuity and focus much more sharply on technology and digital.

“I strongly believe that there is no better time than now to remodel business structures and processes. From a financial industry perspective, while there has certainly been a dent in the business volumes, we have seen a sharp uptick in the revenues accruing from the digital channels. The industry is responding quickly and looking to automate even those segments of processes which required a physical presence of the sales office and make it contactless and digital,” he says. While everyone does seem like jumping on the ‘Digital Transformation’ bandwagon, Mani also stresses on the threat that it encapsulates. “It is fantastic to see financial services players embracing technologies such as AI, chatbots, real-time data analytics, and biometrics for customer identification and service management. At the same time, we must also be vigilant as cybercriminals are always on the lookout to exploit and manipulate security weaknesses. Traditional security and protection mechanisms may not be sufficient to deal with AI and advanced technology-enabled attacks. It is therefore imperative to have a robust cybersecurity risk management at the heart of any digital agenda of any financial institution,” he comments.

Having joined Tata Capital in 2018, Mani remarks that Technology is a very critical function in any financial services organisations and its strategic objectives like increase in revenue or reducing cost to income ratio or increase in ROE can only be achieved with the existenceof robust and agile technology and digital framework. The advent of technologies like Blockchain, Robotics, AI, Open banking etc. has, no doubt, the potential to dramatically disrupt the financial industry. “Hyper personalization at the lowest cost possible is the need of the hour and it can only be achieved with the existence of a strong and robust technology platform. I believe that blockchain will help in the elimination of intermediaries and in making the process much more frictionless. While Robotics can drive costs up, it can also automate routine repetitive operational processes and significantly improve turn-around-time. Meanwhile, Bots driven by AI can make smart agile decisions and offer many superior conversational interfaces to customers and Open Banking will make the flow of data between banks much more reliable and in realtime, again to the benefit of customers.”

He further adds that while strategic objectives in a financial institution cannot be achieved without a strong and robust digital and technology framework, it is not the technology itself but how we leverage it that differentiates an organization. At Tata Capital, Mani has ensured a digital strategy that focuses on whether the customer is being served directly or through a Field Force, Distributors or Distributor-Managed Agents. “Over the past two years, digital engagement with the customer base has increased significantly. We have also migrated a lot of branch walk-ins and voice calls to self-service on the portal itself. These service requests are addressed digitally ex. SOA / Amortization of schedule / updating contact information etc. We have also kept ourselves abreast with the customer’s current preference of channels and experience; for instance, Instant servicing through WhatsApp (statements, overdue payment, loan application). This was very well received by the customers and we had over 1 lakh SR’s within four months of its launch. We are also undertaking service fulfilment through Amazon Alexa and Google Assist to get SOA / Certificates. This was an India-first for an NBFC (Non-Banking Financial Company). Plus, Tata Capital’s TIA, which is a voicebot/ chatbot services customers and is currently available across various platforms,” adds Mani.

Mani continues to add that analytics is at the core of the business strategy at Tata Capital. Every operating decision that is taken is backed by a robust Data Engine. Recently, the Tata Capital team went live with a massive Data Lake, which is a repository of customer data across various applications. This repository helped the team achieve a comprehensive view of customers across LOBs. Tata Capital also leverages analytics for credit decisions, testing risk-based models for pricing; pre-approved loan offers; customer propensity models; customer acquisition; and driving efficiency in the collection process. “I firmly hold that the future of banking is only digital and hyper-personalisation. Customers will want and choose ‘banking services’ not ‘banks’. Speed, convenience and agility will be pillars of digital banking from a customer perspective. The sooner financial service institutions realize this and work towards it, the Indian BFSI domain can set headlines!” he concludes.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

• Hall of Fame Award – CTO Forum (2009)
• Part of Innovation Council in ICICI Bank
• Financial services Icon – CIO Choice 2020

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