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Business Bread and Butter and IT breakfast

IT leaders gathered at a breakfast event in Mumbai to discuss the importance of cybersecurity in their business with Sify and Cisco

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At the Dataquest - Sify Mumbai breakfast roundtable, players from the industry, service providers and enterprise customers chewed upon some hot issues that surround networks and digital transformation- like smart execution, visibility, zero-trust tools, collaboration and customer requirement analysis

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It was a rainy day. And alongside a heavy downpour, there was a torrent of ideas in a room packed with the providers and users of cutting-edge technology for business networks.

Editor, Dataquest and PCQuest, Sunil Rajguru set the steam well by opening the theme of the discussion- Enhancing user experience with Digital Services, Secure Cloud and Software-defined Network Infrastructure. He underlined why these areas have become critical- specially as the Fintech revolution is progressing and platforms like UPI etc. are making India a Fintech super-power. But security, network issues, and changing UX due to digital platforms are crucial issues to ponder upon as we unleash more force ahead- he stirred the panel to share their viewsfrom their sides of the table.

Experience – The Clincher

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Core presenter Tirthankar Mitra, CEO-West, Sify Technologies started by identifying one common glue which brings everyone together in the digital transformation paradigm- it’s called customer experience. “How your customers experience your services and platform- how is it getting more agile and keeping pace with fast changes – that matters. Whether it’s a capital market company, an asset management company or a bank- everyone has been challenged. Customer generation is also quite fragmented. Getting the customer’s attention- with your array of services- is an opportunity but also tough when the customer is fiddling with the mobile.”

At this apt point, Pranav Desai, Director - Sales & Operations, Enterprise, BFSI, CISCO took the discussion towards regulatory frameworks in India. “As a Fintech company, or a bank, or as an asset management company, you are covered by one or the other regulator. The fine balance around agility, adaptability and meeting regulatory guidelines – can be challenging. Another struggle is on the side of many applications still residing in on-premise environments while some are on Cloud. How to ensure that the end-user experience is similar, then? And also to ensure that the experience is secure?” Overall user experience – given the customer’s impatience and little attention span- is a big pursuit that matters for many companies, he captured some current issues while also confronting network-related application-performance volatility.

Fintech players raised practical hassles like workload management, APM effectiveness, need for strong drill-downs, network problems, bandwidth issues in remote areas etc. Also with changing technologies like virtualization, dockerisation players are moving towards seamless experiences but a lot remains to be done.

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Desai acknowledged these concerns and explained, “Full-stack observability is an important evolution. When a user accesses an app on any device, it goes through multiple paths. Strong observability can help a lot in giving a seamless experience.”

Some panelists concurred that a comprehensive view during Cloud transformation is something that the ecosystem needs to look into. 

Singlehood in demand

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The round-table packed many key players and disruptors in the industry like Madhusudan Warrier, CIO, Mirae Asset investment Managers; Mukesh Mehta, CTO, Investec Capital; Vishal Chandane, Chief Business Officer, Cloud Services, NSEIT; Dr. Deepak Kalambkar, CISO, SafexPay and Ravi Pandey, Chief IT Manager, Nippon India Mutual Fund. These players contributed a lot to the think-tank by red-lining some practical issues and gaps they want to solve. Specially the factors posed by multi-cloud and single-cloud models – like applications, security, IT frameworks, need for single dash-boards and compliance. 

“As a business you should look at a partner that can provide a single-stop ease with multiple solutions instead of going for many point solutions,” Desai recommended.

Balram Choudhary, CISO, Ask Investment Limited also pointed out areas like password identity management, zero-day vulnerabilities, long patch management, tools for multi-cloud environment, extreme need for real zero-trust architecture tools. Panelists from Fintech community brought in many issues that are relevant to digital transformation and business in the current age. 

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A panelist chimed in here saying how having core team and infrastructure capabilities can make a lot of difference – given the challenges of changing vendors, and business dynamics. Skill-sets are key elements, and are we doing enough from an academic side, asked Nikunj Panchal, CDO, Mahindra Finance. “What are we doing to build skill-sets for new environments?”

I see....

Many such pragmatic predicaments came up during this discussion.

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How can we fix business downtime and why can’t OEM’s collaborate on a one-stop solution? Wondered Vijay Kumar, CTO, Maximus. Dinesh Singh, Head Technology, Edelweiss Housing Finance shared how visibility is a challenge specially with a single-pane-of-glass ease, and Melwyn Rebeiro, Director, Julius Baer hoped for more clarity on data protection regulations. 

While many important struggles like these were weighed in at the round-table, Tirthankar Mitraalso spent some time highlighting the basic distance between a business’s radar and IT. He was right in pointing out that a business’s core focus is not IT but its main business product or service. A bank does banking. An asset management company does asset management. It is not their bread and butter. 

Tirthankar also laid down many facets of a distributed architecture- like building a team with a diversified talent pool. “But if you look at an asset management company whose business is not technology- would that company make those investments. IT is an enabler to the core.  CFOs will always look at IT with a third lens- is this investment necessary?”

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He added how Sify’s biggest assets are people. “The biggest challenge I see in today’s organisations is two-fold- smart execution and people.  Business, customer acquisition, IT implementation or using a portfolio to solve a problem- all these areas need smart execution. Building an ecosystem of diversified Talent pool is important- whether you have it in your own team or you outsource it to someone.”

Emphasis on processes and people- with an honest assessment – emerged as one point as the panel dwelt upon some post-pandemic challenges.

A core idea that everyone converged on was the significance of nailing down an area of identifying a business need and doing it properly. “As a customer one has to be clear about one’s requirement. Why do you need any technology or tool and how it will help in expanding or serving your customer base- that should be done in a collaborative manner.” Tirthankar suggested. “It is a challenge for the customer also because the need is also diversified. A customer is also trying hard to define a need properly.”

As he recommended, capping it all up – we need to thrive in an environment where we are successful, provided, we collaborate in an effective way- that’s something we need to deep dive in. 

That’s some good coffee to wake up, and get going, with.

By Pratima Harigunani

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