Standard Chartered expands India tech team, to reduce outsourcing

Standard Chartered Bank will look to reduce outsourcing to technology vendors as it scales up its own centres in India to build products and applications to support its global operations.

On Tuesday, the British bank opened the Bengaluru operations of Standard Chartered Global Business Services (SCGBS), where it plans to scale its team to over 6,000 from 3,300 currently. Over two thirds of the 19,300 people employed by SCGBS globally work in India, with its main centres located in Chennai.

Currently, nearly half of the technology services is outsourced to global vendors which include Tata Consultancy Services. The bank buys software services through two key models - workforce extension by augmenting employees of IT companies on its own projects and software maintenance contract through service level agreements.

As it scales its own operations, helping build applications and assist in technology transformation in over 68 countries, Standard Chartered is increasingly looking inward.

"The staff augmentation is only a temporary measure to fill the gaps in capacity. So when we go into longer term developments and we see that is a stable, sustainable development in specific areas of the software then we typically hire takes time until you get acquainted with your assisting environment and how internal processes work, so every churn is actually a loss of productivity. Therefore the ability to keep the employees as part of the bank is actually very important to us," said Michael Gorriz, group chief information officer, Standard Chartered in an interview.

This also is in line with a growing trend among global firms to expand their centres in countries such as India as they grapple with shifts in technology towards digital where consumers expect banking applications to be accessible on smartphones with the experience similar to a Facebook app.

To meet this challenge, global companies are experimenting with captive or in-house than outsourcing with their vendors, who traditionally have managed their backend applications and IT infrastructure.

Indian GICs would play a more active role in driving top-of-mind investment priorities of global C-level executives at Fortune 1000 companies in the next three to five years, a Nasscom and Bain & Co study had said in April.

"Today, digital disruption is impacting every industry and changing global CXO priorities - organizations are now spending 45 per cent of their IT budgets on growing their business, compared with only 20 per cent previously - this together with other technology changes is creating a unique window of opportunity for GICs," added the study.

Gorriz says that the shift towards digital is also the reason why the firm is expanding in India.

"If we talk about the digital space, user experience and user interface is one area we are expanding...we have a couple of hundred people who are doing user interface and software design. Then software developers who are writing codes in an agile development methodology, testing specialists, automatic testing specialists, who can test software, people who can work in DevOps environment, so people who have the true ability to bring software into production," he said.

Standard Chartered bank, which is seeing 29 per cent growth in online active customer base year on year, has been taking its software solutions developed in India units to other markets, said Zarin Daruwala, chief executive officer, Standard Chartered India.

The Bengaluru facility will specialise on data analytics, software development, anti-money laundering surveillance, financial crime surveillance amongst other technology support.

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