the world's largest financial services group, is one of India's most diverse
financial service providers. It is India's leading retail bank and also the
leading issuer of credit cards. It has a customer base of over 900 large
corporates, 22,000 small and medium enterprises, and 3,500,000 retail customers.
It also provides banking services to the international Indian community in 23
cities around the world. Ravi Raman spoke with VOICE&DATA. Excerpts:
The preeminence of telecommunications in any business is a forgone
conclusion. Yet, CIOs often talk about issues and challenges related to managing
IT within their enterprise, while telecom is rarely discussed. Is
telecommunication outside the domain of CIOs in most enterprises?
Telecom forms an important part of a CIO's portfolio and is an increasingly
fundamental element of a CIO's domain. Unlike in the past, today it is discussed
in every meeting. Today, capacity on LAN/WAN/Internet space impacts the success
of IT projects. If not accorded adequate importance, it could lead to capacity
issues when projects are rolled out.
Communications and networking technologies are changing very fast. Many a
time new technologies are not just advancements over existing ones-they are
disruptive too. What is the best strategy an enterprise can deploy to cope?
Constituting a task force to evaluate the true value and benefit of the
technology is one way to approach this now-common issue. If there are indicators
that a technology has the potential to deliver business results, the next step
would be a pilot. On confirmation, the enterprise can begin full-scale
What role does the Internet play in your business? What is your take on
Internet has and continues to play a pivotal role in our business and it will
only become more significant in the days to come. It is particularly effective
in providing timely and updated information to customers and in processing their
banking transactions remotely-from their chosen location. With Internet
banking, customers no longer need to visit the bank to process their requests.
The key aspect of IP-based communications has been information security and as
long as this is not compromised, and adequate bandwidth capacity is available,
this will enable us to serve our customers better.
Wireless has grown rapidly. What kind of issues and challenges has it
thrown up, especially in terms of network security and network management?
We are in the early stages of deploying wireless technology and will prefer
to conduct a detailed analysis of issues and challenges at a more mature
What role does wireless play in your enterprise? What kinds of benefits
has it brought to you?
As stated earlier, we are still in the early stages of deploying wireless
technology. Eliminating the need for cabling and physical connectivity, which
are today additional points of failure, are some of its primary benefits.
Today wireless is mostly complimentary to wired enterprise networks. Do
you believe that this will change soon with wireless emerging as the primary
means of communications?
This is a possibility if it meets the information security, cost, and
reliability requirements of the business enterprises.
Getting the best value from a communications service provider is often a
challenge. What should a CIO keep in mind while dealing with a service provider?
What do you think are the key elements of a good SLA?
I think the key aspect is to ensure that the service provider has a good
understanding of your business and its criticality. While the SLA and metrics
will help us in focussing on the right areas for improvement, the key to success
is to engage in a partnership with the service provider so that problems can be
solved together. The partnership develops over a period of time through a frank
exchange of views and corrections based on feedback.
Are there still regulatory issues that hamper deployment of new
communication technologies in India?
More than regulatory issues, it is capacity issues that often create the
bottleneck. We have just three or four ocean cables connecting India
internationally while smaller countries have many more, thus enabling them to
provide services at lower costs. We need to build adequate capacity so that
system developers can develop systems without reference to constraints imposed
How can business, IT, and communications be aligned seamlessly for the
benefit of customers, suppliers, and partners?
Business, IT, and communications have to work seamlessly. There can be no
two ways about it. A good strategy is to group software development,
maintenance, data centers, and networks under the management of a single person
(CIO) so that the strategic direction and culture for the IT organization is
consistent all through.
Which are the emerging communications or networking technologies that an
enterprise must keep a tab of?
Wireless, convergence of various products into one unit like a PDA, and
encryption and security tools are all important to keep one's eyes and ears open
What challenges does 2005 hold for you as a CIO?
Providing cost-effective services with increased focus on information
security and controls will be key challenges.