The Need for Legacy Work Culture Transformation?

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5 July 2010
It has been quite some time since the core banking trend hit the Indian banking industry. Almost all the top banks in India have implemented the core banking makeover in their systems and moved towards “Anytime, Anywhere” banking. But, the obvious question arises. Have the banks really moved, in spite of their marketing campaigns saying so? I recollect an incident where my colleague wanted to apply for the online banking service from the bank in which he was maintaining his salary account. Despite being one of the largest banks in India and one of the first banks in India to start the core banking transformations, he was informed that he can apply only in the branch in which he had opened the account! If the bank was indeed centralized and had implemented the “Anywhere” banking concept as advertised, why would the specific branch matter?

The culprit is not in the IT systems implemented in the bank but among the people using it. IT transformation has been the buzzword in the banking industry in India. But, the transformation of the bank is not brought about by IT alone. Business processes, policies and more importantly the work culture of the bank matters the most. I remember reading an interview of a CEO of one of the banks in India, where he mentions that a major challenge that the bank is facing is in changing the work culture of the bank. The current work culture has been inherited from decades of protectionist regime that the nationalized banks have enjoyed. The systems and processes are indeed very bureaucratic. Performance-based work culture has yet to find its place within the nationalized banks.

Fortunately for the banking industry, the liberalization and the emergence of private and foreign banks have started changing the outlook of the bank employees. With even nationalized banks gearing for major rebranding exercises, maybe it is time for them to look into their internal policies and instill corporate culture as well. The true transformation happens only when the legacy processes and policies are changed along with legacy IT systems.

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Asia-Pacific