Banking on technology

One of the biggest challenges for a CIO is to 'future-proof' the technology investments of the enterprise so that obsolescence is minimised, says Global Trust Bank president (IT) PC Narayan. “CIOs need to be up to date with emerging technology trends and will have to function as managers of business and enterprise at some point in their careers.“

“Making this transition is a real personal challenge,“ says Narayan, who plays the critical CIO's role in the Hyderabad-based private sector bank. “I have been fairly successful in this regard. Today, I am responsible for two more business divisions in GTB — retail banking and operations.“

Today's complex business environment mandates that all technology managers must understand every aspect of the business of the organisation. “At the same time, business managers need to understand IT, more importantly use IT to nurture their business, and manage it more effectively and efficiently,“ says Narayan, who has been associated with banking technology for more than 13 years.

Narayan, who has an engineering degree in electronics and an MBA-holder from XLRI, believes that a properly 'architectured' IT solution is a prerequisite for a bank to be competitive. “The financial services marketplace has become extremely competitive over the last few years with margins getting thinner, and customer acquisition getting increasingly difficult and expensive.“

He agrees that IT-enabling the operations of banks has its problems. “We faced many IT challenges over the last few years, which we have overcome successfully. Building a high-bandwidth network covering all our branches and ATMs as well as a technology platform that is rapidly scalable to meet the high growth in our business volumes was a tough job.“ No wonder he considers building GTB's network and a state-of-the-art data centre his most satisfying achievements.

Narayan, who started his career in banking in 1987 with Standard Chartered Bank (he was responsible for implementing IT in six countries in the Middle East and South Asia), is leading GTB's efforts to woo every prospective customer by offering high-tech services.