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We are ‘born in the Cloud’ organisation: Godrej Housing Finance CTO

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2021 was a year of resiliency for Indias real estate market as it enjoyed fundamental tailwinds arising from softening home loan interest rates, a buoyant capital market, liquidity infusion and a record FDI flows.

Home sales in the top seven housing markets rose 71 per cent (year-on-year) last year, with 237,000 units sold in 2021, thus reaching 90 per cent of pre-Covid 2019 levels according to data from Anarock Property Consultants.

IANS spoke to Jyothirlatha B, CTO of Godrej Housing Finance, to get her insights on the trends of the entire ecosystem witnessing digital transformation and how they plan to cater to their digitally-savvy customers going forward.

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Godrej Housing Finance was launched in November, 2020 and has primarily forayed into the ticket size of Rs 40 lakh-Rs 1 crore.

Q: Over the last year, the digital journey for the financial services sector has gathered pace with customers not only accepting the technological changes but demanding more from the companies. Can you tell us how digital strategy and innovation is aligned to your overall business growth strategy and improving customer experience?

Over the last year, we have been observing an increase in customer inclination towards low touch digital processes. They are becoming more digitally savvy and now expect an experience which is personalised, touch-free yet seamless. This transformation of consumer consumption urged many businesses, including ours, to pivot.

We, at Godrej Housing Finance too, in line with our business strategy, adopted a tech-first strategy to remain relevant in this competitive market. To encapsulate, technology has become the cornerstone of financial products and services — an enabler in facilitating growth across functions and customer acquisition by addressing the needs and demands of the customers

Q: The Indian housing market is on a strong growth trajectory with demand expected to remain robust over the next few years. How do you expect technology to disrupt the housing finance ecosystem?

To cater to the demand and the ever-evolving customer expectations, financial institutions are finding value in digitalisation of their processes. This has optimised the operational costs and provided a more personalised experience to the customers. Within this BFSI landscape, the housing finance is currently operating in a phygital mode.

However, in the coming time, technology is expected to slowly redefine processes to be more digital and to integrate physical channels with digital data for better customer experience and consumer insights. Initiatives like Account Aggregator and OCEN are also expected to further improve the digital adoption in this sector.

Q: Can you tell us about your cloud journey and the benefits you have experienced by leveraging cloud technology?

We are a “born in the cloud” organisation. Cloud Technology has obvious benefits of scalability, flexibility, and faster go-to market strategies. It also gives flexibility to the technology leader and the option of choosing from the marketplace to design robust solution architecture. Resilience and business continuity are critical aspects of any business and cloud technology plays a key role in target achievement.

While launching the business, estimating the exact infrastructure requirements was very difficult. With cloud technology, we could adjust the platform scalability in line with our business growth.

The time-to-market has significantly improved as the team was focusing more on functionality rather than focusing on deployment requirements. Using the readily available features of cloud like multi availability zones and the high availability, we could achieve significant cost savings while meeting the stringent compliance requirements.

Due to AWS, we witnessed approximately 60 per cent setup cost reduction in rolling out certain mandatory compliance requirements and ease of operations through the RDS setup. Further, we could get 99.9 per cent uptime due to the multiple availability zones and HA architecture.

We have all our business and customer applications running on AWS. We are exploring and leveraging AI and ML platforms.

Q: Security and compliance is top priority for FSI institutions. How do you ensure the best of security guardrails and a compliant environment on Cloud?

Digital transformation has paved the way to greater vulnerabilities and newer forms of threats for enterprises. Security perimeters are now being redefined. With technology moving at a fast pace, there has always been a challenge for security. More challenges lie in the cyber resilience of the organisation to reduce the impacts.

This requires proactive monitoring and lean response time to the threats with advanced detection techniques. We, Godrej Housing Finance, have cloud security policies and methods for the security governance. It is an iterative process and is an integral part of our technology strategy. This is continuously evolving with the help of AWS and other partners.

Q: What are the must have qualities of a successful CIO/CTO today?

Corporates have started viewing technology as the biggest game changer. The role of technology leader is becoming more strategic.
Now, CIO/CTOs need to be business technology strategists as well.

They are required to think beyond technology and understand the business aspect to deliver value to the organisation by leveraging the right technology and evaluate and invest in emerging trends to enable business growth.



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