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SBI reveals secret to doing innovation at scale

The State Bank of India has been a customer of Dimension Data for many years. At Elevate 2018, Mr. Mrutyunjay Mahapatra, Deputy Managing Director and CIO, SBI revealed how the Bank does digital innovation at scale.

Dimension Data has been helping the State Bank of India in its digital transformation. The bank has 60 digital branches pan India. Known as sbiINTOUCH, these futuristic digital branches offer advanced banking services such as instant loan approvals, assistance in choosing investment portfolios, access to latest mutual funds etc.

Read the release: Dimension Data powers 60 Digital Branches for SBI

SBI has most of its customers in rural and semi-urban regions. And its business operates at massive scale: 20,000 branches, 50,000 ATMs, 700,000 POS machines, over 430 million customers, 700 million accounts, 100,000 banking correspondents, and 200 million transactions, that’s 7,000 transactions every second. It can be a challenge to bring about digital transformation on that scale.

Kiran Bhagwanani, CEO-South Asia, Japan & New Zealand, Dimension Data and Mr. Mrutyunjay Mahapatra, Deputy Managing Director and CIO, SBIAt the Elevate 2018 event in Pune last month, Kiran Bhagwanani, CEO-South Asia, Japan & New Zealand, Dimension Data asked Mr. Mrutyunjay Mahapatra, Deputy Managing Director and CIO, SBI, how he manages to bring about digital transformation on this scale and make it relevant to rural customers.

“This is not just a story of State Bank of India, but a story about India in general. India is increasingly embarking on a big business digital journey, putting together an appropriate technology layer, so that people’s aspirations—you earlier mentioned customer experience—becomes more seamless, more omni-channel and geography agnostic. And all this will require continuous innovation. That’s what we are doing in SBI,” said Mahapatra.

He acknowledged that the complexity of the problem is “neither static nor simple”.

“Balancing the complexity and the magnitude is a challenge for SBI and for any growing organisation. We have (diverse) customers who are (on the one hand) digital natives to others who are digitally averse. Our customers are in metros and in places where electricity comes once in a day,” he said.

He recounted the early days of working with Dimension Data. There was no “elaborate technology” then, and people (from SBI and Dimension Data) had to “go out in the street” and work with customers he said.

Mr. Mahapatra also touched upon other aspects like changing mindsets to keep up with cultural sensibilities. For instance, a passbook is still considered important in the rural areas, but few use it in a metro.

Bhagwanani also asked Mahapatra how he does things on a massive scale, like for instance opening hundreds of thousands of bank accounts in a short time under the Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana program.

Technology is just 25% of the entire project and 75% of it is about operations and customer experience. When there are so many customers, a single bad experience can spoil the entire show

Mahapatra said organisations can deliver these “crazy results” only if there is balance of synergy, choice of right partners and choice of collaborative tools.

“Technology is just 25% of the entire project and 75% of it is about operations and customer experience,” said Mahapatra.

He said when there are so many customers, and a bad experience “can spoil the entire show” as dissatisfied customers can vent their anger on social media.

Mahapatra said Dimension Data and SBI did innovation on their feet along the years of their partnership. There was no single, ready solution available to solve business challenges.

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Brian Pereira

Brian Pereira has over two decades of technology journalism experience. He is the former Editor of CHIP and InformationWeek magazines in India. During his successful journalism career, he served India's leading newspapers: The Times of India and Indian Express Newspapers. Brian is also an Aviation enthusiast and gadget geek. He likes all things retro (80s). Write to Brian at: brian9p@gmail.com Twitter: @brian9p Linkedin: https://in.linkedin.com/in/pereirabrian

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