Post M&A, Bank of Baroda's focus is on tech integration
IT heads of the three banks began work on a strategy as soon as the merger was made public for a smooth customer experience.
Integrating was essential to allow a customer to go into any branch and request basic services such as account balance, depositing cash or using ATMs without facing out-of-network charges. “Even though we used the same core banking platform – Finacle -Bank of Baroda was on version 10, while the other two banks were on version 7. There is a huge difference,” said Bank of Baroda’s chief technology officer Sharad Saxena.
“So, we had to create interconnections between the systems, because migrating everyone to one platform would take too long,” Saxena told ET. The three banks had about 25 core applications and 100 surrounding applications to run their operations, he pointed out.
“We had teams that were prepared to run the banks’ IT and manage innovation, but not necessarily to handle the large amount of integration it required. We brought in people from outside and hired consultants to help in the process,” Saxena said.
The bank now has an 18-month plan to begin migrating all of its customers to a single platform, he said. It has already begun to migrate corporate customers. Over the next few months, all customers will get the benefit of a process by Bank of Baroda to open new savings bank accounts through the use of tablets. The bank is also looking to consolidate the various IT services and technology providers.
In any merger, there is usually a massive displacement of service providers and vendors as companies consolidate parts of their technology stack that have been duplicated. For Bank of Baroda, this meant having to understand what to do with the three banks’ networking equipment and data centres, and how to manage all of this to achieve cost-savings that are at the heart of any consolidation.
Part of the wish list for the amalgamated entity was to ensure that the consolidation occurred with minimal wastage of expensive technology investments, Saxena said. The bank also had to figure out what to do with the sometimes overlapping investments the three lenders had individually made in innovative technologies.
“We had to understand what the investments were and how to bring them to a logical end. In some cases, the work is still underway till it comes to a natural end-point. And, some of Bank of Baroda’s innovations are being extended to the other two banks,” Saxena said.