Reaping technology benefits
As a CEO he needs to make sure that
everyone understands how technology can benefit, and
get cost-effective and appropriate solutions. by Minu
Aditya Puri was
given a mandate to set up a 'world-class Indian bank', from scratch. The responsibility,
seemingly impossible, was taken up as a challenge by him when he joined HDFC
Bank Ltd., as Managing Director in September 1994. Since then his bank has been
successful to earn the reputation of a true 'world-class bank' in India.
He has been named by Business Week (one of the leading international publications),
as one of "The Stars of Asia" - leaders at the "forefront of
change" in the June, 1999 issue. And he was listed in the August 1999 issue
of 'Institutional Investor' magazine as one of Asia's most influential bankers.
Puri, a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in
India (ICAI) with over 19 years of experience in both local and international
banking says that in today's financial services environment technology is not
an option but a necessity. Technology is viewed as a vital 'enabler' of business,
and not as an adjunct.
"Many of the products offered by the bank today would have been impossible
without technology and software. But it is important to note that, there is
an interesting array of available solutions in the market. In such a scenario
it is imperative that one makes the right choices everytime. In that sense,
IT is a critical business entity," he explained.
The bank prioritized its engagement in technology and the Internet as one of
it's key goals and has already made significant progress in Web-enabling its
In each of its businesses, the bank has succeeded in leveraging its market position,
expertise, and technology to create a competitive advantage and build market
Your role and IT
As the head of the company he believes in involving himself in key investment
decisions regarding technology.
"However, my role is not to understand technology. I need to make sure
that everyone understands how technology can benefit them. I also need to make
sure that we get cost-effective and appropriate solutions. But since IT is a
critical business function, I involve myself in key investment decisions regarding
technology," he says.
The bank's business intelligence project involving a data warehouse taught the
CEO many things about the customers and how they were using the bank's products
and services. It also told the business heads which products and customers were
"With the use of technology we were able to allow a lot of our corporate
customers to transact with us on the Internet. This saved them time and money,
and gave them the convenience of using their ERP systems and run their businesses
The CIO and the business
The role of a CIO needs to change from a technologist to that of a business
strategist, where the CIO plays a significant role in steering business strategy
"We have been using technology as a strategic tool in our business and
it has been possible only because we ensured that our IT team transcended the
narrow requirements of a technology function and imbibed the role of a strategic
enabler of business," explains Puri.
The CIOs Transition
He feels that the CIO needs
to adopt a number of skills in order to make a transition from a technology
person to a business strategist. And on the way he/she must also understand
a lot about the business processes to make the transition?
"A CIO needs to understand technology and the business parameters. He needs
to be able to bridge the gap between the business person's understanding of
technology and their actual requirements and convert that into business-friendly
Aditya was a student of Bishops School, Pune and has a B.Com
Degree from Punjab University, Chandigarh. He is married
with a son and daughter.
Minu Sirsalewala can be reached at