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We’re Witnessing A Key Shift Towards Cloud & API-Based Architecture: Sachin Bakliwal, Fidelity International

We’re Witnessing A Key Shift Towards Cloud & API-Based Architecture: Sachin Bakliwal, Fidelity International

  • AI and machine learning are becoming key tools across the investment process to create value from the data available.

Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Sachin Bakliwal, Head of Asset Management and AMO Technology and Analytics, Fidelity International to understand how AI, big data and data analytics are playing an important role in transforming businesses in the new normal post the pandemic.

Bakliwal joined Fidelity International in 2011 in the Investment Management Technology team. In his current role, he shepherds the technology teams for Investment Management, Asset Management Operations and Enterprise Technology. He heads Fidelity’s Analytics function globally. He is also the lead for the AI Centre of Excellence. 

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AIM: Tell us about your role at Fidelity International 

Bakliwal: I lead the technology team in India for our ISS business – this includes the Technology for Investment Management, Operations and Distribution for Wholesale and Institutional business. Some of the core themes for us are data and analytics focusing on how to unlock the value in data and make it available to our businesses. The use of Analytics, AI and Machine Learning is rapidly increasing. 

In Investment Management, the industry is seeing increasing interest in Systematics & Quant — based investing. AI and machine learning are becoming key tools across the investment process to create value from the data available. The use of NLP techniques to assist our investment research process is increasing. The use of analytics has also increased in delivering better Customer Experience and delivering customisation at scale. On the Operations side, we are working on use cases to create efficiencies in our operational processes using AI techniques. 

We are witnessing a key shift towards Cloud and API-based architecture. These shifts not only encourage us to scale on new technologies but are also redefining the ways of working. Hence, we are focused on building talent that can help deliver this transformation for us.  

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AIM: How would you describe the journey of Fidelity International in India?

Bakliwal: We have been in India for around 20 years and over years we have scaled our operations in the country. Fidelity India office has not only grown in terms of functions and number of people but also with regard to the value proposition it delivers for the firm globally. Some of our key functions like Technology, Operations, Finance, Investment Research etc. have a key presence in our India office. 

AIM: What are the challenges the tech community is facing in the current scenario?

Bakliwal: Post pandemic, technology and digital adoption has seen a sudden spike. What would have normally been a multi-year adoption journey on digital and transformation now has to be done in weeks, if not days. There has been a key shift in customer expectation of getting the full spectrum of uninterrupted services delivered digitally in the comfort and safety of their homes. 

This is good for the tech community in the long term as it is pushing the demand. However, to deliver these expectations, technology needs to scale up and the key challenge is the availability of skill on some of the key trends like digital, cloud, data, AI, etc. The community is pressed to simultaneously meet the rising expectation and reskill on these new technologies.

AIM: What role do Big Data and Data Analytics play in transforming businesses in the new normal? 

Bakliwal: On a strategic basis, data analytics and AI are becoming a source of competitive advantage in key areas such as – 

  • Understanding customer and delivering personalised services at scale
  • Customer insights & personalisation through AI and machine learning
  • Deliver actionable, customised intelligence to staff across the enterprise – employee engagement and retention 
  • Provide enhanced security and access controls for enterprise systems
  • Transform e-commerce by enabling firms to blend the physical and the digital to provide for their customers through various omnichannel delivery methods. 

In the investment management industry, there is a big shift toward quantitative and systematics investing; AI/ML is becoming key to the investment process. AI/NLP is heavily deployed in the investment research process to help investment professionals. This is one area where Moravec’s paradox perfectly comes into play, and how a machine and human combine to create exponential value.

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AIM: What do you think the new normal will be for the tech industry in the future?

Bakliwal: Doesn’t look like the new normal will be a steady state. But in my view ‘new normal’ will be a continually changing and evolving world with an increasing rate of evolution. Personally, I feel that, of all emerging technologies, AI will have the most profound impact. One of the key outcomes of the digital and social wave is that it has created loads of digitised data which will be the fuel for the AI wave. While AI still seems in its infancy, it is the most exciting technology. 

With AI being at the centre, there will be demand on important key areas: Data and our ability to create connected, secure and easy to interpret data is the most initial phase of AI evolution. AI will need scaling up massively and technologies like Quantum computing will start becoming central. And, how we interface with machines. Touch revolutionised the use of the digital phase, but a deeper machine and human interfaces will redefine how we use technology.

AIM: What are the important tools and techniques in the fintech sector? 

Bakliwal: A lot of trends in Fintech are similar to other industries. However, I think the below will be key 

  • AI, Data and analytics – The finance sector normally deals with large data sets and data is key for decision making. AI / ML will be key to assist the financial sector
  • Blockchain 
  • Cybersecurity 

AIM: What’s your advice for deep tech startups?

Bakliwal: COVID has created a lot of challenges and hence a huge opportunity for Deep Tech companies to offer solutions as we learn to cope. Large enterprises and businesses around the world are pressed to transform at an extremely fast pace, and they will need help during this transformation journey. There is an opportunity for Deep tech firms to offer solutions at multiple points in the transformation and adoption phase. The pandemic has created the biggest push towards the digital world. 

While the change is mostly around digital and virtualisation of services and products, enterprises will need to rethink all their internal processes to deliver to high expectations of a digital customer. Also, at such times the businesses will need to become efficient to survive. This will again create a lot of opportunities for tech firms.

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