Girish VS
Managing Editor, BFSI Vision

Digital Marketing – Much Ado About Nothing

For a long time I have been watching the marketing space. Agreed, I am a professor of finance. I cannot but wonder at the current discourse among marketing professionals. The trend seems to be digital marketing. When I was doing my MBA, I was taught about marketing- how to identify my potential customer, how to target and position my message to maximize the effect. I was taught that there were multiple channels through which we can get our message across – print, radio, TV or movies. Radio was a digital medium. So was the TV – at that time we used analog signals for TV and digital for radio. We did not worry about the channel – we worried about the message.

The Geo-Politics of Global Oil Prices

I was reading the analysis offered by a variety of experts on the decline in Oil prices. Everyone seems to believe that the current slide in oil prices is due to slowing global growth and the possible reduction in demand. That seems to be the classical explanation for the low prices. Demand supply mismatch. And that precisely is the trap we are walking into – explain the price movement through economic principles. We are trained managers – we are conditioned to think in terms of demand and supply. Did we try and look at the figures?

Risking the Bank

The Banking, Financial Services and Insurance sector has been a champion of security – data, physical and cyber. Millions have been spent on creating the right security environment for the institution to perform. Regulators have added their might to the effort by prescribing norms. After all this, we believed the data and transactions are secure.

An Alternate to Alternate Channels

The recent ad where a harried man searching for a SBI bank branch, finding it in his pocket- his mobile - brings out the ubiquity of alternate channels. Customer 3.0 is supposed to be the wireless customer – used to banking on the mobile, tab or any other mobile device. A whole new gamut of technology enabled channels have emerged – and banks have embraced them to reduce costs and improve service. Alternate channels are at the core of the bank’s strategy – to get people to move from branches to other channels.

Paralysis through Analysis

For decades, our biggest worry was data – or rather, the lack of it. We used to worry ourselves silly that we do not have the data we require for understanding the patterns of customer behavior, embedded risk and the like. Today, thanks to an explosion of digital media and with big data coming mainstream, we have swung to the other end of the spectrum. According to estimates, by 2015, we will have 7.9 Zeta bytes of data – and this is set to rise to 35 Zeta bytes by 2020.

Why Virtualization Fails

Virtualization is not new – it can be traced back to the1960s – when mainframes ruled the roost. And neither is it glitzy – it is a humdrum, not so glamorous part of the IT strategy. And that is why we decided to focus on it for this newsletter. Like any function that has a strategic angle to it, virtualization runs the risk of failure.

Finding a Use for Your Branch

It is no secret that branch is the most expensive channel for customer service. Apart from the direct customer engagement – something that marketing gurus seem to discount – the branch is losing its mojo. There was a time when the branch was at the heart of customer contact – the customer had to come in to the branch to transact. Today, technology has made it possible for financial institutions to deliver customer service through a variety of channels – the branch being just one of them.

Social Media Strategy – Designed to Fail

By now it is a commonly accepted fact that social media is a game changer for marketing, customer connect and understanding customer needs. Marketing pundits and their corporate counterparts have spent a fortune in creating a social media presence for their firms. Unfortunately, I believe, social media has failed to deliver the bang it promised. Apart from maintaining social media presence and one off anecdotal evidence of how firms have used to reach out using social media, it is not a shining success. And the popular indicators that are used – fans, likes and followers – do not amount to much, unless you can initiate a conversation or gain new customers.

Time to Kill Mobile Banking

The banking industry is caught in a time warp. On one side, the customer is evolving rapidly – a combination of technology and global experiences means the customer has moved on. Welcome to customer 3.0. On the other side we have the banking industry struggling with technology 2.0. Clearly a mismatch. This is nowhere as evident as in mobile banking. The customer is comfortable with the smart phone. She has a number of apps to make life interesting. She expects a contextual application, with a clean design and simple interface.

On Cloud Nine

Cloud computing cannot be ignored by the financial services players any more. For a very long time financial institutions were resisting moving on to the cloud – the biggest stumbling block – their concerns for data security and ownership. The recent massive security breach at Apple's cloud data service is not a welcome news for cloud technology advocates. The 2014 Gartner Hype report on Cloud Computing places it in the trough of disillusionment – with a possibility that it will move into the slope of enlightenment soon.(Gartner Hype Cycles provide a graphic representation of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications, and how they are potentially relevant to solving real business problems and exploiting new opportunities.) Cloud is finding increasing acceptance among financial services players – with order management systems and portfolio management systems finding cloud attractive.

The Chimera of Expectations

I welcome you to another insightful offering from BFSI vision - the BFSI Vision C-SUITE Conversation. BFSI Vision C-SUITE Conversation is a theme based weekly offering from Knowsys Media. Every week we will bring you views and opinions from across a wide spectrum of users and technology professionals on one topic of interest to the BFSI community. For the inaugural issue we chose the reason we all are here – the customer.

Petrol Pricing Enigma

Petrol price hikes are a mystery. The consuming public is told that prices need to go up either because the USD has appreciated or Rupee has depreciated or international crude prices have gone up. On the face of it this is a very likely explanation. The only problem is that the data does not support it. I did a back of the envelope calculation, using data from the internet. I looked at the data from 1st August 2013 to 1st July 2014.

The Birth of BFSI Vision CSR Awards

BFSI Vision was founded with the objective of providing members of the BFSI community a platform to exchange ideas and push the boundaries of knowledge. Along the way we did have our own share of learnings.

The Non-Argument for new banks

The other day, I was reading a very senior central banker aver that India needs new private banks because these banks will bring in new technology, new ideas and new business models.

Microfinance Is a Business of Making Money

I was reading an article in today's edition of Mint on "Why many in SKS love to hate founder Vikram Akula". Interesting. I had interacted with Akula during the IPO phase.

The Burden of Over Regulation

We seem to be doing it again. This time it is SEBI's turn to over regulate. SEBI is planning to lower the limits of liquid stocks. This is in response to the flash cash of NIFTY on Friday.

The Quixotic Measurement of the Wealth of States in India

I am puzzled by the facile way we generate data and jump to conclusions. In today's edition of Mint, the front page news was "The wealth of States in India."