Sumeet Srivastava, Founder & CEO, Spocto

With nearly two decades of varied experience in strategic roles and leading IT projects in several world geographies, Sumeet, in his last senior leadership role as the CIO Asia for a Fortune 100 agriculture conglomerate, was responsible for driving the company’s global IT vision across Asia. Under his leadership, an IT team was able to create a complete mobile based Rural Marketing business, touching lives of millions of farmers across the developing world. The free service was able to provide relevant services and results which had a profound impact on lives of smallholder farmers. Sumeet, through his career, has continuously demonstrated how businesses can leverage focus areas such as Cloud, Mobile Technology, Analytics to create a distinct competitive advantage in Core Sector businesses. He was previously associated with companies such as GE, ST Microelectronics, and Business Software Associates.

 

You must have heard the famous quote by Vladimir Lenin – “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”

Well, the banking and financing industry has been like this predominantly for multiple decades in regard to their collections and recoveries processes. Many still went the old school route with doorstep collections and or recoveries.

Even though technology had progressed, the bare inclusions to their tightly held or should it be aptly said loosely held process was tele calling agents, who would do their bit in contacting the customer and having an initial conversation to arrive at an agreement for making a payment.

All these efforts in place, banks and NBFC’s still had their recovery assets running into thousands of crores, quietly hoping someone somewhere will help them come out of this mess. As weeks progressed into months, and years most of these accounts are written off with no contact of the customer and no hope of receiving the outstanding payment.

To say that CXO’s have not heard of big data, analytics, machine learning or alternate data would be like living in a bubble world. While the terms are widely understood, concepts spoken about and implement in many areas of businesses including that of banks and NBFC’s, collections and recoveries seem to have been left out from this whole array of digitalization.

Who gets to decide where the budget spend goes? Are they taking a well-informed decision? Do they know that investing in technology can be more cost-effective and yield better results and faster too?

Some of these key decision makers have been receptive to change. That is the advantage the organization benefits from. When they understood the benefits of investing in the right technologies provided by a unique player in this new space, they jumped at the opportunity.

COIVD19 has crippled almost every business, no industry has been spared. However, being able to move ahead with operations in these unprecedented times, with the right investments is what they take pride in, having taken the correct step.

So, what are we talking about here, that some have already adopted and while many understand, they are yet to take the decision to adopt?

We are talking of technology being used to provide information and insights on customer details to contact, rate of contact ability of the customer, and the propensity of him/her repaying the overdue amount. Analytics of customers behaviour, on spends and lifestyle, gives the lending institution a holistic view on the account holder and can, therefore, device further strategies to recover the amount receivable.

On the other hand, interacting with the customer in a consistent and professional manner, answering his/her queries, routing the despite back to the lender to be resolved and providing options of payment, helps build engagement levels with the customer.

Clients adopting these technologies have seen 40% more collections in comparison to their traditional methods while experiencing the reduced cost of recovery and within faster timelines.

Maintaining liquidity and complying with the ratios that are of compliance norms are the need of the hour for almost every lending organization. With the pandemic still showing no signs of withdrawal or respite in the next few months, getting their engine running to fuel their other services and products is of paramount importance. Whether it’s acknowledged or not, whether it is a strategy they would like to adopt or not, technology has been a force that most resisting it has had to adopt it anyway. If I told you technology is not a saviour for most organizations at this time, I would be telling the biggest lie and you would know it right away.

Organizations have been forced to adopt technology to stay afloat, to run their businesses, to invest in more bandwidth so as to keep them in business. All this is to maintain the status quo! The thinkers who at this time are panicking but seeing ahead into the future, realize that investing into such domains that will help them reap benefits much after the pandemic has passed and will redefine the way they operate are the ones who will be considered as Key change-makers in the industry.

Now is not the time to sit back and allow time to pass and say let me think over this. The days of mulling over a decision and then slowly implementing it have passed. Ways of thinking and working have been redefined and it is the onus on every single leader in his space to adapt to this change and hasten the process of thinking and adopting new processes.

Few months down the line, the very same readers of this article will be the ones talking about how they acted swiftly, jumped on the wagon, and helped their organization sail through this storm. Because they would be the wise ones who would not waste time in starting to implement this and reap its benefits. These leaders will be the torch bearers and testimony tellers of the revolution that the industry is experiencing in a forced manner.

Some may even think of developing technology in-house, rather than implementing readymade and custom-made solutions, but at what cost will they be doing this? The cream is taken out only once from the milk, and that is the best layer of cream. So, unless there is fast and massive action, they will be left with the same books and accounts where customers are either non-contactable or unwilling or unable to pay.

The disruption has already taken place, it is up to the players to accept it and move ahead or cringe in denial hoping something else tides them through this phase.

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