Business Times

SL retail banking becoming more like hospitality

By Jagdish Hathiramani

Sri Lanka's retail banking segment is becoming more like its hospitality sector, in that quality of service is the reason customers choose banks, according to Amit Malik, Vice President for India - East and SAARC and the new head of the Sri Lankan office for US-based US$ 40 billion revenue communications and networking technology company Cisco Systems.

The company’s banking, financial services and insurance, or BFSI, clients have been indicated as being one of its "biggest drivers" locally. As such, technology is a key differentiator, especially in the local market which is one of the most advanced in the region with regards to banking technology.

Mr. Malik also reveals in an interview with the Business Times that "huge potential" exists domestically in the public sector in data centre storage for the police and postal services, as well as other opportunities in areas such as safety and surveillance. Aside from these are healthcare and education where video conferencing products enable specialists and teachers to offer their services even in the rural setting. "Cisco can contribute towards building of Sri Lanka as a connected nation.

This would be the first step to building a knowledge-based society as planned by the current government driving economic success towards a better way of life," says Mr. MaliAs for Cisco's plans for the overall Sri Lankan market, where it only sells its products through 40 channel partners, Mr. Malik suggests that immediate efforts will centre on upgrading partner skills as well as making sure that local price points are right for the local market, especially in growing segments such as small and medium business (SMB) area where Cisco was targeting globally. Says Mr. Malik; "SMB segment which is also the fastest growing segment for us. In the we have created a complete eco system to address the needs of SMB Customers. An SMB customer today is looking for affordable and easy to use and maintain products .

We have spent over 3 billion USD on R&D to develop such SMB class products. We have even created a special certification for our partners which enables them to address the needs of an SMB customer."
He also adds: "We have also launched special incentives for partners around emerging technologies which encourages them to go for specialisation on new technologies. In fact in Colombo we have specialised partners to address almost all emerging technologies like Data center, Safety and Security, Video, Digital media etc."

Additionally, Mr. Malik also indicates his mandate for Sri Lanka is to "build a new business plan with a 3 year horizon which enables faster growth across all segments." And, as such, was "keen to partner with the government and has already invested in a dedicated resource to work in the Public Sector domain." He also intimates there is a "need to create awareness around Cisco’s Public sector solutions around e governance, healthcare, connected education etc. and part of the plan is to invest marketing dollars in creating forums for showcasing these solutions to the key stakeholders in the Public sector." Further, he reveals that Cisco has "already invested in building a team of 10 resources based out of Colombo with a mix of technical and sales."

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