Enabling a Data-Driven culture within BFSI GCCs in India

Data is the key element across all the three tenets of engineering brilliance, customer-centricity and talent strategy and engagement and will continue to help us deliver on our transformation agenda.

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In the post-pandemic world, Global Capability Centers (GCCs) have played a pivotal role in enabling organisational resilience by being at the forefront of driving innovation and operational efficiency. An article by a reputed visualisation partner reported that data-driven GCCs/organisations within India weathered the pandemic better and with more confidence than non-data-driven companies.

About 83 per cent of companies that were data driven reaped critical business benefits in the uncertain times of the pandemic. BFSI (banking, financial services, and insurance) has been one of the early adopters of data-driven decision-making compared to other sectors. While this sector has long been using data as an asset to drive the right customer products and enable faster, more customised and safer outcomes for the end customer, it was interesting to see how the pandemic drove a lot of the GCCs in India to adopt a more data-driven culture as a way.

In this article, we will look into each one of the enablers separately and discuss how BFSI organisations can leverage data to deliver engineering brilliance, customer-centricity, and engage talent.

Engineering Brilliance

Technology has been one of the major disruptors in the way banking was done previously. While the pandemic accelerated the adoption of digitisation across industries and sectors, our dependence on these latest advancements has been magnified to a great extent. 

We are witnessing trends that are revolutionising BFSI processes. This includes omnichannel banking, blockchain-powered financial services, robotic process automation, modernising legacy systems, upgrading banking platforms, and transforming paymentslending environments, and trading systems

The 2020-21 annual report of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) shows that the total digital transaction volume in 2020-21 stood at 4,371 crores, against 3,412 crores in 2019-20. 

As a leading international bank, we have been intelligently analysing data for making some useful decisions, like detecting fraud, finding new customers, offering new products to current ones and learning more about our customer journeys. Our big data for the bank refers to petabytes of structured and unstructured information utilised to predict market seasonality and develop strategies progressively. Increasingly, we are investing in future-fit technology skills to accelerate our digitised offerings and at the same time using Intelligent automation/RPA to simplify and speed up our internal workflows. 

We know that GCCs that utilise data at scale are more ‘outcome focused’ and become ‘valued partners’ to business, operations and frontline retail teams. By continually measuring NPS, uptime for Tier0 (tier zero) services, MTTR, revenue channels, and growth spurts, our engineering teams provide (and then consume) immense data insights that feed into the strategic planning cycles.   

For a bank as big as our size, it is imperative for us (GCCs) to have created synergies between Tech, Ops and Business teams to collaborate and anchor strategic assessment on thematic challenges to evaluate: 

  1. Current state 
  2. Target state 
  3. Expected outcomes

After looking at the data across the bank’s several value streams, we design a strategy to work on gaps and grow. Then, using data metrics, we deep dive into studying and benchmark performance and keep raising the bar QoQ. 

Our data-driven culture has led us to find that our key markets use different legacy/heritage systems, manual processes, and tactical tools during the sales, onboarding and servicing journey.  With DevOps and agile ways of working our leaders thrive in building a culture of engineering excellence that starts with a clear understanding of the purpose of engineering, its value to the bank and aligning all aspects of the business to fit this purpose. And then our engineering success dashboard with rich data drives the team’s Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to become faster, simpler, and better than before.   

Customer centricity

Over the next five years, we will leverage our size and global reach to transform banking. We cautiously utilise our data feeds, making us more insightful. When we are able to understand and act on data – we make better decisions. As per our strategic vision, we will continue to leverage on centralised ‘data lake’ and enhanced AI and analytics, giving us a clearer view of our customers. We’ll know what products they are using and how – and as a result, we’ll be able to support them more effectively.  

Our strategic summary includes: 

  1. Continue to improve the communications with the customer across additional modern channels 
  2. Provide a self-service channel for servicing journey 
  3. Build canonical data model within domain API/ Process API for each servicing journey to cater for multiple markets
  4. Consolidate systems and migrate legacy ones with new cloud-based platforms

What would these data insights mean for the customer? Digital banking experience (remove paper-based processes), e-signature wherever possible, automated end-to-end dispute management, unified customer-centric view (for all products they hold with the bank), consistent customer journeys, automation/ STP, real-time view of all banking products (to both active/ inactive customers).

Talent Engagement

While we have seen data transforming the way we interact with customers, it has also changed how we interact with our employees. As traditional work environment make way for a virtual work environment, it has also brought to the fore some unanswered questions and challenges about keeping our workforce engaged. 

One of the core aspects of making well-informed and confident decisions to navigate through such ambiguities is to understand what your data says. Data enables better decision-making, provides visibility, helps us understand the task of the employees and also helps us identify the changes required to the policies.

Here are a few things we tried introducing in our workplace:

We used the insights generated through our annual Snapshot surveys, feedback captured via various internal channels, and focus group discussions covering all demographics (job level, geography, tenure, gender etc.) to enhance our employee experience across the entire employee life cycle (ELC). We identified we had to bring greater diversity to the workforce, boost retention, invest in our employee’s well-being and prepare for the future of work.

We adopted a 3C approach of Connect, Contribute and Communicate, where we collaborated with teams to not just identify the problem but enable them to implement the solutions for the following key areas.

Employee Engagement: We understand that a surefire way to boost employee productivity is to invest in their well-being. We launched various initiatives and programmes encompassing all the aspects of well-being, mental, physical and financial. Some of these initiatives included the Employee Assistance Programme, Headspace, courses on resilience, speaker sessions daily virtual gyms, Kaido Challenge, and financial counselling sessions. We keep reinventing our engagement programmes, with the latest one being Be the Change, where we equip our people managers to create a culture which encourages speaking, listening, developing and thinking.

Digital enablement: Integration of the strategic collaboration tools has helped our colleagues get more things done in less time. Also, continuous measurement of the engagement metrics has further enabled large-scale adoption.

Open and transparent communication: We enhanced our communication channels to ensure two-way communication between the staff and the leadership through platforms like StratTalk, Friday Connect and focused exchange sessions. We tweaked our newsletter format and content to suit the hybrid worker. HTI Connected, the intranet was revamped to enable speaking / sharing by all colleagues, and forms an important always-on listening channel for the leadership. Specialised community forums like IdeaHub and My Voice were launched to enable getting colleagues to speak openly about making every day functioning of the organisation work better.

Development and growth opportunities: We increased our focus on continuous learning, thus enabling our employees to be future fit, supporting employees with various digital learning tools and platforms. We have tied up with O’Reilly, LinkedIn Learning, Udemy and several other platforms. We have launched Talent Marketplace (TMP), a gig-based collaborative platform based on crowdsourcing to deliver a single solution, build a network amongst colleagues, and create an ecosystem which enables them to get hands-on experience in newly acquired skills actively, contribute to projects across the globe and innovate.

Hybrid working: We embraced hybrid working by designing a human-centric workplace to balance our talent and business outcomes. We redefined flexible working to introduce flexible working hours, flexible leave policy, hybrid working facility, part-time working policy, sabbatical leave policy and facilitated home office set-up reimbursement to evolve our workplace culture and make it more sustainable.

A final thought!

With technology at the heart of what we do, there is no question about the value of harnessing data. Data is the key element across all the three tenets of engineering brilliance, customer-centricity and talent strategy and engagement and will continue to help us deliver on our transformation agenda. Our data-driven culture fosters continuous performance improvement to create differentiated experiences and enable growth; it opens up new possibilities for customers, creates opportunities for employees, and new avenues for banks and financial service providers.

Pradeep Menon

Pradeep is the Managing Director and Head of HSBC Technology India and the Global CIO of the Bank’s Data Technology Function. He is also a member of the Group Technology Executive Committee at HSBC. A frequent speaker at various industry forums, he is also an active member of many industry bodies across India and Asia and holds council positions with NASSCOM and CII.