Cloud Economics: Manappuram bets on cloud-led innovation

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September 3, 2020 4:50 AM

The Kerala-based group, best known for its gold loan business across India, is consolidating IT infrastructure across group companies and migrating to Oracle cloud

Manappuram has ushered in several technology innovations in the Indian NBFC industry—from being one of the earliest financial services companies to adopt ‘core banking’, to unveiling ‘online gold loans’.Manappuram has ushered in several technology innovations in the Indian NBFC industry—from being one of the earliest financial services companies to adopt ‘core banking’, to unveiling ‘online gold loans’.

In the last few years, Thrissur-based Manappuram Group has transformed the lives of several individuals, especially from low-income families. The group has grown significantly, with 4,622 branches across 28 States/Union Territories and close to 28,000 employees spread across the country.

Raveendra Babu BN, executive director, Manappuram Group, remarks, “From a business perspective, the bulk of customers we serve fall into segments that mainstream banks would generally not address, as there is a greater degree of credit risks. From a customer experience point of view though, we need to make informed decisions at pace and ensure quick loan disbursement. So we depend on advanced technology, such as cloud infrastructure and cloud analytics services, to speed up the disbursement cycle.”

Manappuram has ushered in several technology innovations in the Indian NBFC industry—from being one of the earliest financial services companies to adopt ‘core banking’, to unveiling ‘online gold loans’. This investment in technology has paid off in many ways; for instance, in streamlining processes to reduce loan disbursal times and in the implementation of advanced risk management practices.

IT driving business growth
Technology has become the backbone for the group’s many different business entities. And a key charter for the IT team is to help drive top- and bottom-line growth. It leverages technology to improve the entire business lifecycle—customer acquisition, expansion, engagement and retention.

Rishu Sharma, principal analyst – Cloud and Artificial Intelligence, IDC India, says, “The current scenario has highlighted the value that can be derived from analysis of large volumes of data to deliver rapid insight into business operations, experiences, and ecosystems. Organisations that had already invested in migration of data and applications to resilient cloud platforms found immediate benefit. But beyond data analysis is another trend based on real evidence from the ground, that cloud platforms can provide resilient and cost-effective IT infrastructure when enterprise business continuity plans are put to test.”

Cloud economics
In the last 4-5 years, Manappuram has diversified into new business areas such as SME lending, vehicle and housing finance and microfinance. Under the leadership of Raveendra Babu there has been a group-wide digital transformation exercise, starting with consolidating IT infrastructure across group companies, which involves retiring company owned datacentres and moving to the cloud. This is also aligned with Manappuram’s aim to improve business resilience and unlock new growth avenues.

“We were in search of a modern, secure cloud. After evaluating various providers, we decided on Oracle’s second-generation cloud infrastructure for its enterprise-grade features—enhanced security, extreme performance, and guaranteed superior cloud economics, for instance. By moving to Oracle cloud infrastructure, we will be realising 3X performance improvement and nearly 40% cost savings over the next 4-5 years. Our internal IT team will now be freed from ‘managing IT’, so we can innovate faster and focus better on supporting the core business,” adds Raveendra Babu.

Automation focus
By using bots, Manappuram has already automated several recurring manual tasks, resulting in increased operational efficiencies. The company is drawing up plans to accelerate adoption of IoT, robotics and automation in the next six months. Explaining the group’s emerging technologies roadmap, Raveendra Babu says: “We are very selective with our technology initiatives. We bet on only those paradigms that are fully aligned to our business goals and growth objectives.”

In the new decade, Manappuram’s vision is to evolve into a top financial services organisation, catering to a wider market, strengthening its footprint in its newer growth areas such as vehicle finance, micro-finance, home loans as well as loans for MSMEs, in addition to consolidating leadership in its core business offering of gold loans.

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