VirtusaPolaris: Transforming the Way We Bank through AI & Deep Machine Learning

Samir Dhir,President(BFSI)

Samir Dhir


When Sandra Patrick entered her bank, she was greeted by a whole new experience. Instead of her usual routine of waiting in a queue to meet the teller, she now was able to quickly access a self-service terminal powered by an artificial intelligence (AI) robot that could assist her with her banking needs.

The complementary strengths that Polaris brings in core banking and capital markets augment Virtusa’s strengths in retail banking and regulatory & compliance

Sandra wanted to transfer money to a friend and the AI robot quickly helped her find the correct resources and helped her get it done in a jiffy. The next day, Sandra texted her bank's Chabot to check her spending on retail stores. The bot texted back telling her that she had spent $216.99 this month on retail stores and after asking a few more questions about her shopping needs, the Chabot was able to recommend to Sandra a specific set of shopping patterns and discount stores to use that would help her save some money. If you think that this is a scene out of a Sci-Fi Hollywood movie like Star Trek, then let me tell you that this is no movie. You are probably still experiencing old school banking services if you are not greeted by a robot at your bank. Massachusetts-based VirtusaPolaris, an IT Consulting, Outsourcing and Agile Software Development Company, is helping banks digitally transform their business operations and deliver compelling consumer banking experiences.

When you think of large BFSI organizations, the traditional service providers to the sector have been performing the business process outsourcing (BPO) work with them. We are advising these banks and helping them get this work done through automation and robotics. And that is why the whole AI and deep machine learning becomes important. Software robots that can learn the work done by human operator today can significantly improve speed of service delivery reduce errors and deliver a better experience to banking customers. With deep machine learning, the robot is learning to become better at what it does over a period of time,says Samir Dhir, President “ BFSI, VirtusaPolaris. The company helps you understand how to deploy robotics in a meaningful way and to automate manual processes effectively to improve operational effectiveness. Whether it is automation, robotics or IT simplification, VirtusaPolaris has built solutions for banks around these services, including regional specific requirements that are mandated by the local regulators.

Delivering business value a notch higher
Feeding on the mantra of mess for less, traditional outsourcing providers had been growing for years by delivering low-end services built on a cost-arbitrage model. Using a consultative approach, and differentiated approaches like software platforming, VirtusaPolaris delivers innovative solutions to its clients that accelerate business outcomes, thus providing greater business value compared to its peers. The company works closely with the business, IT and strategy teams within client banks to understand their business challenges. Using this insight and its skills in software engineering, coupled with deep domain expertise and an optimized global development model, VirtusaPolaris builds targeted solutions that allow banks to accelerate time to market, improve customer experience, increase operating efficiencies, and lower total cost of ownership of IT operations. Samir adds, One of the key reasons we have grown faster than our industry peers is our approach to the market which has been different.Today, the emergence of a millennial population of consumers with very demanding requirements of how, when and where they want to access products & services has created new challenges for banks in supporting their customer needs. However, new developments in areas like digital, mobility, analytics and big data now allow banks to deliver highly differentiated solutions to cater to this new demand. In essence, what this means is that the traditional banks now have to digitally transform their business to remain competitive, or just get left behind. In response to this
market challenge, banks are spending huge amounts of money on innovation. According to the 8th annual innovation report by the Retail Banking Group, banks are spending 74 per cent of their IT budget innovation in 2016, compared to the 37 per cent they spent on innovation in 2009. VirtusaPolaris has built a Digital Transformation Framework that allows banks to assess the digital readiness of their business, identify specific functional areas for transformation, create a model of the future state and develop the appropriate technology solutions to help them get there. Digitally transforming the business is not just about building a clever front-end user interface for a mobile phone or a tablet, it is about ensuring that the front-end consumer experience is useful, usable, and desirable, and transforming the back-end IT systems to be able to handle the additional business requirements created by these new products and services. It is about making sure that the bank's end-to-end IT systems are simplified and re-platformed to handle digital business requirements, are providing the business with the agility and nimbleness to stay competitive in aggressive market conditions, and are capable of delivering distinctive millennial consumer experiences.For years, we have been focused on building platform for the consumers, and building the new-gen technology,adds Samir.

This is how the company has been growing for past 20 years and in the past decade, its CAGR has been 23 percent. This NASDAQ listed company earns its 3/4th revenue from the US market. Another 20 percent comes from the UK and continental Europe, while the remaining is from the APAC and ASEAN belts.

The Digital Banking Lab “ A Blessing in Disguise
To provide innovative technology solutions to its banking clients, VirtusaPolaris has invested in a unique initiative called FinTech Lab. The FinTech Lab is an innovation ecosystem that brings together VirtusaPolaris traditional banking clients, FinTechs (innovative financial technology startups), and the company's own technology capabilities within a single environment to accelerate the pace of innovation and development of really cool solutions to current and emerging problems in the banking world. We are entering an era of exponential technology growth in the areas of API (Application Programming Interface), AI, IoT (Internet of Things), Blockchain and others. FinTechs are leveraging these new technologies to deliver powerful & immersive customer experience as well as operate at efficiency levels which are orders of magnitude higher than that of the banks. The purpose of VirtusaPolaris FinTech lab is help its BFS clients to create a test and learn environment to convert ideas into Commercially Viable Propositions (CVPs) in shortest possible time.

FinTech lab is fully hosted on cloud and hence is accessible anywhere anytime. It features pre-built sandboxes for Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Blockchain, and API Banking to help banks adopt these technologies faster. The FinTech Lab boasts more than 25 digital accelerators across Retail Banking, Wealth Management, Trade Finance, Payment/Cards & GRC that can turbo start banks digital innovation journeys, and an ecosystem of FinTech partners across the globe. More importantly, through the FinTech Lab, VirtusaPolaris help its clients to focus on trends/ideas that can create long term value than wasting time on short-term hypes. “While the Digital Banking Lab helps you invest for future, we will help you run better by driving more platforming of your existing system, to learn better, and take cost out of your large platforms and invest back using our lab,asserts Samir.

Building applications is one thing. Creating experiences that are truly engaging is something entirely different. Perceiving this, VirtusaPolaris has developed user experience journeys that are based on observing end-users in their natural working environment, resulting in applications that users love to have. Baked in the FinTech Lab, the company arms BFSI organizations not only with core digital technologies such as Analytics, Big Data, Mobility and Cloud services, but also with newer technologies paradigms including API Banking, AI, Wearable Technologies, IoT, Blockchain & Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs).

The company's Blockchain and DLTs enable banks to considerably reduce the international transaction process time from 3-5 days to a few hours.For instance, explains Samir,if someone wants to sell the stocks in the U.S. and receive money in an Indian account, normally it takes almost a week.VirtusaPolaris Blockchain and DLTs enabled solutions facilitate this transaction
within 24 hours.When it comes to IoT, the company has even bigger plans. Imagine a bank's customer, who has deployed an IoT device in his car, meeting with an accident. The IoT device will immediately inform the bank and insurance provider that an accident has occurred. This allows the bank to become aware of the immediate finance requirement of the customer, and in turn help the customer real time. Also, the insurance provider can settle the claim immediately, trusting the technology.

Being VirtusaPolaris
VirtusaPolaris is the market facing brand of Virtusa Corporation and Polaris Consulting & Services Ltd. VirtusaPolaris came into existence as a single entity in March 2016 when Virtusa Corporation acquired a majority interest in Polaris.

While BFSI is one of the largest spenders on IT services, it contributed only about one fifth of Virtus revenues about two years ago. While the company had a very strong client base and was delivering significant value to these clients, it felt that it was also missing the opportunity to tap into a significant portion of the market. While the company was looking at avenues to increase its revenues and coverage in the BFS market, they got into conversation with Polaris for an acquisition and saw an opportunity to be able to significantly strengthen its BFS capabilities and build a dominant position in the market.

According to the company, the acquisition of Polaris delivers value across several levers. The complementary strengths that Polaris brings in core banking and capital markets augments Virtus strengths in retail banking and regulatory & compliance, creating a single organization that can effectively support the end-to-end IT services requirements of the largest global banks. The other interesting aspect of this deal was the way our clients lined up. There were very few clients that were common to us, and even within these clients, we were not supporting the same lines of businesses. So this immediately opened up a tremendous opportunity for us to expand our account relationships with new offerings and services. Thirdly, combining with Polaris gives us the scale to go after larger transformation programs and also gives us footprint in markets that we were looking to invest in, including Japan, Australia & New Zealand, continental Europe and the Middle East.On their own, both companies were missing a part of the action, but the combination now provides deep technology expertise of Virtusa and deep domain expertise of Polaris. A combination that is second to none in the BFSI industry and provide exceptional experience to our clients. Secondly the geographic spread that we had was very different to that of Polaris. The acquisition gave us the world to ride on, adds Samir.

VirtusaPolaris currently accommodates 17000 people strong workforce globally in its 50 offices. The company takes pride in strong internal values that it has built over a period of time. The four pillars“ Passion, Innovation, Respect and Leadership (PIRL), have helped the company maintain an active workforce which is highly committed towards the organization. VirtusaPolaris is all set to host $800-900 billion turnover by end of this financial year. The company plans to continue on the same growth trajectory by manifesting its matchless technology capabilities and adding more banking solutions to its basket of offerings.We have built this company with lot of passion and a culture of innovation. The reason we won against generation one companies is our technology innovations are much ahead of our competitors. We also look forward to provide tremendous opportunities to our team members so that they can continue to grow with us, unlike anyone else in the industry,concludes Samir.

Key Management:
Kris Canekeratne, Chairman & CEO
Kris plays a key role in defining the company strategy and using technology & innovation continuously to maintain its leadership in the industry.

Samir Dhir, President, BFSI
Responsible for developing and executing VirtusaPolaris' growth strategy for the BFSI industry worldwide, Samir is also a key member of NASSCOM's IT Services Council.

Raj Rajgopal, President, Enterprise Technology & Solutions
Joined Virtusa Corporation in 2005, Raj is responsible for developing and executing VirtusaPolaris growth strategy for the Enterprise Technology & Solutions group worldwide.

Offices:U.S. (Headquarter), Canada, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Hungary, UAE, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.