The Cloud refers to the internet. We explain how anyone can benefit from cloud computing and how we have leveraged it here.

Cloud Computing is nothing but moving the actual ‘processing’ work away from the client (user’s computer), over the internet, to a centralized location which will contain a group of powerful servers which will do all the actual work.

What kind of work, and how much processing the servers do, depends on the solution implemented. A cloud storage solution like Dropbox will just store all your files for you on a centralized location and allow you to access it from anywhere. A cloud solution like Microsoft Word Online, will allow you to create a Word document and execute all the computing on a central server managed by Microsoft. The actual work done by the client machine is only to transfer the input/output data, to/from the server, over the internet, and display the Graphical User Interface for Microsoft Word Online.

There are many benefits to using a cloud solution. The biggest benefit is reduced IT infrastructure costs. Let’s look at an example. If you have a medium sized organization with 600 employees, and you need to provide email solution, you have 2 options:

  1. On premise: Buy all the required mail servers, storage (NAS hard drives), networking equipment, and software licences. Set up the infrastructure, hire a team to manage it, and invest in making sure you provide close to 100% up-time for the email solution. If the company size increases, you probably need to buy additional servers and storage to manage higher requirements
  2. Cloud: You could pay a per-user per-month fee to a cloud email service provider. You won’t need a team to look after the servers and storage. You won’t need to worry about uptime, or catering to additional users. And because of the pay-as-you-go model, you only pay for the licenses you use, and the provider takes care of everything else.

Accessibility – your employees can access a cloud solution at any time from any network. The software provider hosts the software and makes it accessible over the internet. So all you need to access the software is an internet connection. Whereas, if you wanted to do that yourself, you would either have to specially configure your servers to allow internet access, or extend a separate connection (cable) to the end-point (computer) at which you want access.

Software updates are direct from the service provider and are immediately applied to your solution. In an on-premise solution, you usually buy a version of the software; you run an instance (individual copy) of it on your servers. The software provider makes updates to their own instance of the software, and releases it once ready. For you to update your instance, you need to use the new version and re-apply all changes/customizations which were done on your instance. With a cloud solution, the software provider keeps making changes which reflect when you use the software. Think of it like Windows OS vs. Facebook. To upgrade your Windows, you need to use a DVD and install it on your computer. It takes time to backup and restore all your settings/documents. Whereas, with Facebook, you may be using a particular version of the software on Wednesday, but on Thursday when you login you might see a new version of Facebook with a different set of features, and user interface – and you didn’t need to put in any effort to upgrade.

Cost is a major benefit of cloud services. It is not necessarily cheaper than an on-premise solution but it is cheaper for now. What this means is, with an on-premise solution, you need to spend all the money at one shot. If a year later, you need to scale up, you may need additional infrastructure, and if you need to scale down, you can’t really fully recover the investments made. In a cloud model, you pay only for what you use – so if you feel that a number of software licenses are no longer required, you can reduce your costs immediately. Also, you don’t have to spend the entire amount at once, as capital expenditure.

Customer Acquisition for Consumer Durables:

We are India’s largest users of SalesForce.com (SFDC). The base SFDC offering if modified to run our entire sales and underwriting process workflows. For enabling our 3 minute approval process for consumer durable loans we have deployed SFDC at over 14000 dealerships. Because we use a cloud solution like SFDC, dealers are free to use any computer with an internet connection to hook in to our Consumer Durable (CD) underwriting system.

While most of the CD underwriting is done on SFDC, the final leg of the in-store process is carried out on a system on our own servers. While this setup has served us very well until now, the volumes we process daily has grown exponentially. This is why we have recently hosted this final step on the Microsoft Azure platform. This has enabled us to tap into Microsoft’s vast server infrastructure to handle much larger volumes that we were capable of handling internally.

Customer Acquisition for SME Loans

We also use SFDC extensively for our SME Loan credit approval processes. The sales team logs in the file/case on SFDC. It is then passed on (physical file and SFDC case) to our credit operations team who process the file in order to approve/reject it. Once all the data entry is completed by the sales and credit operations team, SFDC, which has our credit policies embedded, responds with a approval/rejection message for that case.

Since it is accessible from anywhere, our sales team can access SFDC from their mobiles, or using their laptops on any internet connection (home, Bajaj Office, customer office etc.). This helps our credit process to be efficient as they don’t have to wait till they come to their main office location to action in particular case.

Employee Self Service

Our Employee Self Service software is cloud based. So an employee can access all his employee related information, transaction and service features from anywhere.

Email

We use Microsoft as our cloud email service, Sharepoint, and Office 365 provider. We get all the features listed here, by paying a per-user per-month fee. We do not need to invest in any hardware infrastructure or a team to run this. Microsoft handles everything.

The technology team at Bajaj Finserv are strong advocates of Frugal Engineering, and using cloud solutions play a very important role in enabling us to be frugal.

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