CIO Priorities: Striking the Right Balance Between Growth and Efficiency

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1 Cognizant Insights CIO Priorities: Striking the Right Balance Between Growth and Efficiency As a slowdown looms, Indian financial firms CIOs are turning to technology to rein in costs without hampering growth initiatives. Executive Summary India has grown at a rapid pace over the past decade, and the financial services industry has grown in line with the market. New products and services were introduced, based on market requirements. As time to market was the most important consideration during this phase, efficiency ended up being compromised. Now, with signs of a slowdown emerging, organizations can focus on analyzing the alignment between technology and operations and undertake initiatives to improve overall efficiency. Also, with a negative IT budget outlook, firms are looking at ways to reduce the total cost of ownership by streamlining systems and/or processes. Cognizant Business Consulting (CBC) conducted discussions with leading buy-side firms and diversified financial firms during May-June 2012 regarding their short-/medium-term priorities in the current market scenario. A set of themes emerged around the often conflicting focus areas of growth and efficiency. Firms seek value for their operations spend while continuing to prepare themselves for future opportunities. Technology is considered key to achieving the right balance between these two objectives. Insights from the Survey Our discussions reveal that firms are focusing on driving operational efficiency to rein in costs, while continuing to keep an eye on market trends and growth avenues to explore when the economic tide turns (See Figure 1). Efficiency Reorganizing to Exploit Synergies A majority of the firms surveyed have added new lines of business or new products and services to their offerings over the past decade. Such expansion has, in many cases, resulted in business divisions operating in silos, often leading to a lack of integration across the enterprise. Consequently, firms are undertaking rationalization initiatives to increase enterprise-wide integration. Operations optimization: The aim is to reduce the cost of operations while improving scalability and flexibility to be able to respond quickly to market changes. It involves: > > Optimizing middle- and back-office workflow to remove process redundancies. > > Building a shared services model to rationalize the organization structure. cognizant insights august 2012

2 Key Imperatives for Buy-side Firms Growth How to effectively drive growth in business by adapting to changing customer needs, regulations and technologies? Enhancing customer alignment. Increasing focus on regulation and risk management. Investments in SMAC. Key Imperatives Efficiency How to drive efficiency in operations to reduce the total cost of ownership? Reorganizing to exploit synergies. Restructuring capital expenses. Figure 1 > > Adopting a service-oriented architecture for better enterprise-wide integration. > > Automating key processes to reduce manual workflows. Infrastructure rationalization: The focus is on increasing firm-wide infrastructure integration and sharing best practices. It involves: > > Optimizing IT assets across lines of business. > > Leveraging the existing enterprise infrastructure wherever possible. > > Reducing maintenance costs by taking a holistic view of the infrastructure setup. Restructuring Capital Expenses The challenging conditions in the Indian market are expected to continue for longer than initially estimated. Companies are therefore taking a conservative approach and reducing up-front capital expenses. Key initiatives include measures to convert capital expenditures to operating expenditures. Infrastructure costs: Given the falling cost of technology, most firms are entering into shorter-term contracts for infrastructure services and renegotiating terms more often to get the best value from their infrastructure spend. COTS products pricing: Firms are seeking innovative pricing models from their COTS vendors to reduce the up-front investment. Fees based on assets under management (AuM) or per-transaction pricing are increasingly being discussed with the vendors to align product license fees with business performance. Outsourcing: Firms are using the core-flex model for their IT staffing requirements, reducing business risk by keeping the core team in-house but using vendors to provide flexible capacity as and when required. Growth Enhancing Customer Alignment In order to improve customer engagement levels, firms are increasing their client-centric focus and investing in technology that helps them provide multi-asset, multichannel capabilities. 360-degree views: All the firms surveyed consider a comprehensive 360-degree view of each client relationship as essential to deliver more personalized service and improve crossselling/up-selling revenues. In addition, many firms are also investing in an external view that allows a client to view their relationship and transaction history with the firm across all services to help strengthen the client s engagement with the firm. A critical piece in this initiative is ensuring data reliability. Firms are therefore investing in projects related to enterprise data management. Customer service: Firms view customer service as a key differentiator in securing a larger share of wallet. As the industry services customers across a number of channels (internet, IVR, mobile, in-person), firms are directing their efforts towards ensuring a consistent level of service across channels. Increasing Focus on Regulation and Risk Management Our survey indicates that compliance through technology enablement is becoming ever more critical, especially given the growing number of financial products and the rapidly increasing regulatory requirements. cognizant insights 2

3 Risk management is another area where organizations are employing additional measures to ensure calculated exposure to market uncertainties. Compliance: The cost of meeting regulatory requirements in India is increasing. One of the survey participants indicated that their data storage requirements have increased by over 300% in the past three years. This trend is expected to continue over the next few years. The cost of compliance is impacting the firms margins and may become a threat to the viability of the businesses. Hence, all the firms surveyed are focusing on reducing the cost of compliance to prepare for growth. The measures taken include: > > Increased automation in the compliance division. > > Streamlining operational processes to reduce cost. > > Re-architecting applications to support increasing data requirements. Risk management: Firms are taking a proactive approach to risk management as any lapse has a significant impact on the brand. All the firms surveyed have an in-house suite of applications for enterprise risk assessment and management. These applications are continuously enhanced to better manage risk while maintaining smooth business functioning. The key risk management attributes include: Quick Take Below are excerpts from the responses of participants in our survey: Head of business solutions & IT, diversified financial services firm: We are seeking innovative pricing from products and services vendors. Pricing models that allow us to customize our mix of capital and operating expenses are the need of the hour. Chief information officer at a large capital markets firm with brokerage, asset and wealth management offerings: Given the constant downward pressure on margins owing to market conditions and escalating regulatory costs, we have stepped up our efforts to improve operational efficiency to ensure profitability. Managing director, global private bank: There is an element of novelty associated with mobile applications. However, the associated payment and technology ecosystems are still evolving. We expect them to gain wider acceptance in the near future. Partner, financial advisory firm: Although investors are aware of the risks associated with investing in financial markets, they are disappointed every time they experience a downside. Proactive risk management is essential to build a reliable brand in the marketplace. Chief operations officer, large asset management company: We firmly believe that customer-centric products and excellent customer service drive customer satisfaction and loyalty to brand. cognizant insights 3

4 > > Enterprise risk views for different lines of businesses. > > Risk reporting aggregated at various levels (e.g., client, region, etc.). > > Continuous updating of risk thresholds. Investments in SMAC (Social, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud) The survey participants believe that while emerging technology trends have significant potential for making an impact on how businesses operate, that potential has not been fully realized yet. However, as the technology and regulatory ecosystem evolve and pave the way for implementation and innovative usage of these technologies, they will go from being nice to have to becoming a necessity in the industry. Social media: While most firms have a presence on popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, they have not fully ventured into this space and are adopting a wait-and-watch approach. In addition, there is uncertainty around regulatory policies on the use of these technologies and significant risks of loss of data privacy and confidentiality. A number of the firms surveyed have made social media applications available internally for use by employees (financial advisors, field representatives, etc.) to facilitate better interaction. However, they believe these applications are not being used to their full potential yet. Mobile: The survey participants considered the availability of an online interface on mobile platforms, such as smart phones and tablets, to be a must-have. There is some demand from customers for mobile applications and most firms have provided or are planning to provide a basic mobile application to engage customers. However, most of the firms do not see a clear business case for investing heavily in building such applications. There is ongoing debate in the industry regarding the value of investing in standalone mobile applications vis-à-vis developing device-agnostic Web sites. Analytics: A majority of the firms surveyed are investing in third-party analytics solutions and are subsequently customizing them in-house to meet their specific requirements. As firms undertake projects to improve customer focus and infrastructure integration across the enterprise, they are exploring opportunities to leverage existing customer data to gain insights and improve cross-selling revenues. Cloud: Most survey participants use a private cloud (or virtual environment). However, they were wary about putting customer data on a public cloud given security and regulatory concerns. There is nonetheless a strong business case for the use of a public cloud, the advantages being reduced capacity wastage and minimized capital expenses. However, these benefits can be realized fully only when the privacy and regulatory concerns are addressed. Till then, firms plan to use public clouds only for processes with no privacy requirements. Conclusion Our discussions with the survey participants indicate that, going forward, both growth and efficiency in technology must be managed to drive sustainability in business operations. Any imbalance can have a long-term impact resulting in the company being under-prepared to tap into industry growth. Technology is expected to contribute ever more significantly to the overall performance of the organization, making it a strategic differentiator. About the Authors Dheeraj Toshniwal is a Manager with Cognizant Business Consulting and leads the Wealth Management Consulting Practice for APAC. He has experience leading business and IT transformation engagements with global banking and wealth management firms. Dheeraj can be reached at Siddhi Chanchani is a Senior Consultant in the Banking and Financial Services Practice at Cognizant Business Consulting. She can be reached at cognizant insights 4

5 Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank the senior executives from leading financial firms who participated in the survey. The authors also thank Aamod Gokhale (Director of Consulting, Cognizant Business Consulting) and Saurabh Bhandari (MDI, Gurgaon Batch ) for their contribution to the research design and execution. About Cognizant Cognizant (NASDAQ: CTSH) is a leading provider of information technology, consulting, and business process outsourcing services, dedicated to helping the world s leading companies build stronger businesses. Headquartered in Teaneck, New Jersey (U.S.), Cognizant combines a passion for client satisfaction, technology innovation, deep industry and business process expertise, and a global, collaborative workforce that embodies the future of work. With over 50 delivery centers worldwide and approximately 145,200 employees as of June 30, 2012, Cognizant is a member of the NASDAQ-100, the S&P 500, the Forbes Global 2000, and the Fortune 500 and is ranked among the top performing and fastest growing companies in the world. Visit us online at or follow us on Twitter: Cognizant. World Headquarters 500 Frank W. Burr Blvd. Teaneck, NJ USA Phone: Fax: Toll Free: European Headquarters 1 Kingdom Street Paddington Central London W2 6BD Phone: +44 (0) Fax: +44 (0) India Operations Headquarters #5/535, Old Mahabalipuram Road Okkiyam Pettai, Thoraipakkam Chennai, India Phone: +91 (0) Fax: +91 (0) Copyright 2012, Cognizant. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the express written permission from Cognizant. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

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