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Interview with Khurram Agha (Head of Operations and IT, NIB Bank)

Techronicle: How is the role of IT evolving at NIB?

Khurram: The banking sector has become very competitive and the sustainability of business depends solely on the how you adapt and respond. NIB is also in the race for the latest technologies, which has become an ‘enabling resource’ in developing a more streamlined and flexible structure to quickly respond to the continuously changing market scenario.

Our technological initiatives have enabled us to develop more sophisticated products, better infrastructure, and implementation of reliable methods of control and risk reduction.

Techronicle: What role is IT performing to establish better consumer relationships?

Khurram: IT has enabled banks to reach out to the customers; it has brought us closer to them and them to us. Banking is being slowly simplified to something that can be done with a few key strokes or swipes on your smartphone. Customers can view accounts, statements, transfer funds, and even more just by a few clicks. IT has increased the role of banks in the consumer’s lives; they can pay bills, top up mobile connections, and make payments with almost zero hassle.

Techronicle: Many organizations are considering shifting IT from a cost center to a profit center. How practical is this concept and what is NIB doing about it?

Khurram: The notion of focusing on cost or profit centers gives you a myopia or tunnel vision; the main point should always be the value delivery, competitive advantage, and customer experience. We have been working to evolve with the market and be proactive to address the challenges of the dynamic market. We have made certain business decisions that have enabled us to gain an edge when it comes to delivering greater customer value.

Techronicle: Is IT responsible for innovation? How do you ensure innovation at NIB while also remaining operationally focused?

Khurram: IT has become from a back-office function to a key assistant in increasing and delivering the value given to the customers. Naturally, innovation has to be a part of the culture and IT is one of the driving forces of this innovation. Our IT decisions are taken with the intention of enhancing productivity, and encouraging innovation and creativity.

We employ different methodologies when designing new products and services such as “agile” and “design thinking” methodologies to make sure our products are user-friendly and fully comply with consumer requirements.

Techronicle: There seems to be a disconnect between the pace of technological change and new technology adoption within organizations? How do you keep NIB ahead of the industry?

Khurram: Organizations are complex entities consisting of factors like internal policies, external regulations, risk management, and compliance with privacy and security concerns, which means every leap or advancement in technology has to go through a rigorous acid test before it can be implemented.

Organizations can be faster in terms of adopting new technologies but there are a lot of factors to consider. In order to be faster, organizations must ensure they use open standards, have a strong insight of the market scenario, and be across their vendors’ roadmaps. In the end, it comes down to how you balance what is good for the business and what will enable you to do the best work for the consumers.

Techronicle: Which emerging technologies are you excited about personally and from NIB’s perspective?

Khurram: The most exciting and promising prospects of today are the domains of social media and mobile. These two areas will continue to grow in importance for the entire industry. Today we see people spending tremendous amounts of time on their mobile phones; they browse the internet on their phones, chat on their phones, send/receive emails on phones, and much more. Therefore, in order to get to the customer, we have to make full use of this medium. Smartphones also enable us to provide a one-to-one and customized channel of communication with our consumers. Adding this to the bank’s current alternate delivery channels, with the help of our partners, I see a very promising future ahead.

Techronicle: What do you think enterprise IT will look like five years from now? Which functions will be outsourced/offshored?

Khurram: Outsourcing isn’t a new term when it comes to business; it’s something that has been in and out throughout history. Outsourcing is basically done when you require something to be done in a better way, be it efficiency or effectiveness. Ultimately, it comes down to the needs of the business and its survival. We make a commitment to provide the best service to the customers and with that we commit to retain all customers facing operations and processing functions with the skilled human resource that drives them.

We value our vendors and IT partners highly who provide us with their global network of expertise, people, and facilities to support us. This, in turn, enables us to deliver the same world-class service to our customers. As long as the focus is on delivering the best service through teamwork and synergy, I am sure there will always be win-win for everyone.

Techronicle: What is the best example of IT’s new role at NIB?

Khurram: The best example would be how IT has enabled our customers to access their bank from anywhere. Banking-on-the-go has empowered the customers and has made their lives much easier. From phone banking to e-banking to ATM services, the customer has a range of options that facilitate them to satisfy their banking requirements anytime, anywhere. Our IT initiatives have enabled us to provide and deliver the best value without compromising on operational efficiency.


khurramAghaMr. Khurram Agha heads the Operations and Technology department at NIB Bank. Mr. Agha is a graduate of the State University of New York, Binghampton and has held various senior positions at UBL, Citibank, TCS, and First Data International. A seasoned veteran of the IT industry, Mr. Agha has over 19 years of experience in IT Operations, Product Management, Cash Management, Alternate Delivery Channels, Financial Institutions Management, and Home Remittances in Banking, Logistics, and IT industries.


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