Dr. Michale Gorriz, Group CIO – Standard Chartered BankBengaluru: Standard Chartered Bank opened a new Global Business Service (GBS) centre in Bengaluru recently. It aims to attract the best IT talent and strengthen specialize technology capabilities in the areas of data analytics, software development, anti-money laundering, financial crime surveillance and financial control.
And the bank expects to have 30% of GBS employees based in the Bengaluru centre over the next few years and is part of the bank’s strategy to invest $3 billion over the next three years in technology and systems.
On the sidelines of the GBS centre’s inauguration, Pankaj Maru of ETCIO spoke to Dr. Michale Gorriz, Standard Chartered – Group CIO to discuss about the new GBS centre’s role in bank’s technology strategy and specialize capabilities, leveraging the local talents, key transformation projects, the CIO challenges of driving technology projects globally and much more.
Q1. Can you brief about the new GBS centre in Bengaluru and the strategy behind it?
Two years ago we decided to invest massively in IT (Information Technology) with a plan of $3billion investment over the next 3 years starting 2016 to 2018. This new Global Business Services (GBS) centre in Bengaluru, is the testimony of our commitment to that investment. Actually, Bengaluru has the largest pool of talent in India. There’s a lot of competition, but there’s also a lot of supply here and therefore we decided to expand our network with this Bengaluru centre along with our existing GBS centres, which are located in Chennai, Tianjin in China and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. We always had GBS centre in Chennai and now have expanded centre in Bengaluru.
Q2. What role this new Bengaluru centre will play for bank’s overall business operations and other related elements like clients and partners?
There are couple of areas where we want to specialize in here at the Bengaluru centre and one of them is Agile software development. For any service that has to be developed in an agile way will highly likely to come here, which means we are looking at people, who are able to do UI/UX (user interface/user experience) interface, scrum programming, DevOps and also people with capabilities around writing automatic test scripts. So this is a whole development stack and then obviously product owners who work for business, defining the products and services for our customers. This is one set of expertise, which we are looking forward to recruit here.
And a matter of fact, we already started with a team of 300 people which has focused on the design of user interfaces and this team will expand further. But this is not just restricted to only UI and this might go into payment systems, trade finance systems or other specific systems in the financial markets. So all kinds of software used in financial systems, will be supported out of Bengaluru. Apart from that there are few centres of expertise which we will expand here and one is a whole job family around the Financial Crime Compliance (FCC), specifically financial crime surveillance and monitoring anti-money laundering. So for these two specific areas in FCC, we also intend to recruit here. Additionally, we are looking to expand our footprint here in product and valuation controls, risk management and standard financial controlling.
Q3. From organisation perspective, which are the technology and business areas that the Bengaluru centre will be leveraged? And does the two other centres in China and Malaysia are also involved in software development or it is mostly done in Chennai?
When it comes to software development, Bengaluru is the centre of software development and you really have millions of people, who know how to write the code. And the proximity to other R&D (research & development) centres actually helps to find and attract the right people. But there are also few financial institutions which are established here so we hope to get one or the other talent from these centres to work for us in the banking operations as I mentioned earlier.We do development in all the three centres in Chennai, Tianjin and Kuala Lumpur. Apart from the development, we have the technical services and production support from these centres and this is something, which we will build up slightly here and not massively.
Q4. Can you touch upon the key transformation projects done internally that has helped to enhance the overall organisational business?
There were a couple of developments that are part of this $3 billion investment package. We invest heavily in the improvement of our user interface – the mobile and web banking interface, and this is true both for retail and corporate. In retail, we have a global suite of global mobile banking apps, which we are developing at a fast pace and improving the user interface. And then on the corporate side, two years ago we started the migration of our old traditional or classical interface to modern interface, which we called Straight2Bank (S2B) next generation.
There’s one activity which has already anchored here in Bengaluru but will be expanded in the future and this is the whole capabilities around data analytics and data management. Data management is more than technical skills to extract the data from TP (transaction process) systems, inject the data into big data lake, and manage the data lake with the access control and all the security required. And then the second capability you need is the right analytical skills to get the information out of the data which you have gathered from the data lake. So these are the two capabilities, which we are also looking at in Bengaluru.
About our major investments include user interface, data lake and data capabilities and overhaul of our wealth platform. So wealth management products are very important in our product offerings and we started a lateral program in renovating the wealth management products and putting them with latest standards. And then the last and final is an investment in lot of regulatory requirements both in the accounting and FCC side like most other banks.
Q5. As CIO how much are you leveraging or experimenting with new technologies like blockchain, AI, robotics, chatbots and others for the bank’s operations and service functions?
Actually of these technologies are live as we speak in one or the other shape or form. So we have blockchain applications in trade, in couple of countries we have blockchain applied to one of our insurance partners for micro contracting. AI (artificial intelligence) is actually coming up very strong so there are companies we work together to apply AI or machine learning tools into our space that can be used, for example – for better scanning of paper documents or to scrubbing the internet to find specific information, which you need to rate and know your customer better. We also employ machine learning for analysis of our internal accounts to optimize liquidity management or risk assessment. Chatbots are used for improving internal help desks – this is a project, which is just on its way, but also to improve the interface to our retail customers so to give them the ability to chat and to send simple service requests over the chatbots.
Q6. As a CIO due to you see any major challenge while executing technology transformation projects in bank’s global operations?
Well, this is interesting indeed. There’s a variance in propensity in acceptance from different regulators. There are regulators who are much open to banks to experiment with new technologies and new kind of business models, which you want to, modify. This is the one insight into countries, where you have very progressive regulators and in other countries, you can’t, or have to be a little bit more conservative. So typically, our innovations are built in a modular way and so we can deploy it or we can restrict it to deploy in certain countries.
Q7. From business strategy perspective, what is the ultimate goal you as a CIO is trying to achieve for the bank?
Essentially, what we are looking is, to eliminate all the manual interactions in normal processing. So when you look into banking, it is a fully digital product and so there’s hardly any requirement for human interactions. But interactions with customers, yes, because customers need advice and consultancy, which we definitely want to give, as our concept is – the digital bank with a human touch. So whenever there’s life events like mortgage or saving money for a child’s education, we actually want to have a RM (relationship manager), which can talk and give you a best advice on what are the right products for you based on your profile and investment. But for the standard transactions – the things which you do day in and day out, we want to give you the full capabilities to do these transactions without any intervention.
Q8. Lastly, what kind of measures and technology is in place to strengthen the information security in the bank?
What we measure is how many minutes we lose to DDoS attacks, for example, which at the moment is zero so far. We obviously watch how many services are failing due to cyber events, which luckily we didn’t have any so far. So these are the hard facts, which we are measuring and monitoring, but then there are softer things as well like how healthy is our state at patch level, how good are we at detecting intrusions into our networks, and how well is access control managed and revised on the regular basis.