IT is Not An Apology

DQI Bureau
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Talking about a fraud is not the best way to start the new year. But it is not the best way either to end the year with the news of a big banking fraud. What prompted me to take this up is the comment of a friend, working in the IT industry.


Thank God it has happened the old-fashioned way of conning customers, he said referring to the fraud by an employee in the Gurgaon branch of Citibank. Had it happened by breaking some information system, it would all have been blamed on IT, he added.

His comment, to a great extent, captures how the broader community thinks about ITs role in banking. Or for that matter, ITs role in business per se. Implicit in his comment is the assumption that by taking to IT, the information system and the confidentiality of the customer information is prone to fraud. And information is vulnerable. Well, why take to IT then? Because, it hugely enhances efficiency.


For some timeand much of the decade that has just gone bythat is how IT has been sold to businesses: enabler of efficiency and productivity. To such an extent that many believe that it actually compromises on many other aspects such as customer confidentiality, in this case but sometimes customer relationships as well.

That is a dangerous way to accept IT. For the IT fraternity, it is probably better that the customer adopts it a little later but not with the notion that he is compromising on something. But to the sales executive looking at his quarterly target, that is not too much of an issue to bother about.

A whole generationthat of non-IT and IT professionals, both on the user side and vendor sidehas grown up believing that IT just enables efficiency. In some cases, it does improve other things. In many cases, it does not. Worse, in many cases, it compromises on other aspects of business.


When we talk of the next decade, I believe that this tag of IT will probably go. And much of that will happen, I am hopeful, because of a new generation of professionals coming in, who have grown up with Facebook and know the power of relationships. Facebook relationships, many may say.

But I think even that is better than the metrics driven efficiency chart.

But only part of it will happen because of a new generation taking over. A lot of it will happen because of new markets taking over. As the game shifts from the developed markets to emerging markets, the definition of business value will change. ITa toolwill adapt accordingly to create that business value. That could be growth, that could be customer relationships and many other important aspects of business whose rules got defined in the West long backmuch before IT became ubiquitious in the enterprise. IT was, hence, put to use in areas where the businesses needed immediate change to impress investors. That happened to be efficiency.

While I started with discussing a fraud, I will like to end with a much better thought: the transformation that IT will undergo in making our lives a little more like they used to be. Relationships and not just efficiency will be sought from IT and obtained.

IT will not be an apology for my friend selling technology solutions to financial services firms.