Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Imbibing Intelligent Technology

Dr. Malcolm Athaide, CEO at Agrim Housing Finance, reveals his personal tango with AI & ML, and how it shapes business transformation:

Ravi Lalwani: Which technologies have you chosen to dive deeper into, which are beyond your role as a CEO of your kind of organization?

Malcolm Athaide: I think in my role as CEO, I have always been working with artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. This has been my focus right from my PhD days where I wrote my thesis using machine learning, mostly gradient boosting and random forest models.

Having said that, in the role, I work with besides the CEO, I spend substantial time in ensuring that the technology that we use in our operations and our lending is tuned to a manner that is designed for customer understanding, a 360-degree view of customer understanding and also a fair clarity on the confidence level in which we can lend for the use case. These areas extend beyond my traditional role but are crucial for the strategic growth and innovation of our company.

Is that deep dive driven by curiosity or opportunity or difficulty or something else?

I think my decision to delve into AI and ML is primarily driven by curiosity and the opportunity. Both of them come together because the opportunity is immense and the curiosity is what makes it so interesting. I believe that a deeper understanding of these technologies from other products and services in the financial services industry would enable us to empower customers, empower organizations to leverage these technologies responsibly, and use them as an innovation tool to build a customer value proposition and stay ahead of the industry trends.

Briefly describe a business or technology decision that you have altered or fine-tuned based on your deeper understanding of technology. What benefits do you expect?

The first missus from a business decision that we have decided as a company is we are digital first and when we are digitally first it means that all decisions are data-driven and we use technology as a platform rather than an enabler rather than a decision platform.

The decision is made by the data and then we have a human touch we call a digital model where we validate the information from which the data is presented and the data has made certain decisions. We validate if this decision is still in our risk appetite or in the understanding that we have as humans to make a much more informed decision. So that is one.

The second is that when we take the type of business decisions, we make the second business decision which we are more of a data company and we use data to make the right decisions in housing finance and then that gets validated by the full digital model that we work with. Having said that, the understanding is that the benefits accrue because we are not prone to errors which typically come with a manual process or semi-automated processes. We use these technologies to fine-tune our product roadmap by driving in features that can use AI-ML or certain technologies like video analytics or OCR reading that enable a better user experience and also enable better operational efficiencies.

Due to this, most of our branches break even in 6 months as against the industry average of 18 months, and it has made a significant impact on our profitability by boosting it much better than what we had. There are also benefits in terms of customer satisfaction because the customer gets to know whether he’s getting a loan, or a home loan in 10 minutes. He can find a home in 10 minutes, get a home loan in 10 minutes, and get a title.

Digital title search in 10 minutes can be validated for his trust factor in another 10 minutes. So these expected benefits give us a significant competitive edge at the current stage and we will be investing in technologies and data analytics to remain competitive in the years ahead.

Over the next 1-2 years, do you intend to deep dive into a variety of technologies or restrict yourself to a few? Which ones?

I think over the next few years we have already started deep diving into a few technologies that can enable our ecosystem, our digital ecosystem, one of which is the drone technologies, which can be used to visit our properties and take photographs and also measure the development of the structure and the construction percentage of these properties. So, we are also looking at drones.

We may also use drone technologies for mapping certain areas so that they are suitable for us. We are also looking at cybersecurity as a key item to ensure that we can ward off intrusions and the Internet of Things. If these are quite cheap, we can use them also to understand the business drivers and the activity chart that happens in a customer place. So these are the technologies that we are diving in and we will spend a significant amount of time over the next year on fuel and later to ensure that we are benefiting from the opportunities that come from them.

Like technologies, do you also deep dive into select technology vendors, or do you leave that to the experts in your team?

I think we actively participate in our discussions with technology vendors and we meet a lot of companies, startups, tech companies, and fintech in various states because we are part of the Cordonel Group, Stanford Group, and the Maharashtra Startup Group as well as part of Startup India Group. Plus we also work with various associations in fintech and data analytics. We see, we hear and we try to leverage technologies that we are best suited for and which have a high degree of success.

Are you expanding, consolidating, or maintaining the number of technology partners in your organization?

We are expanding the number of technology partners because given that the industry is quite dynamic and new technologies keep on coming in. We are looking for partners who are curious and implement the latest technologies, who are adaptable and resilient, and who are innovative.

Briefly describe the expansion and transformation of your technology team in the last 2 years.

So I think over the last 2 years, we have significantly invested in the technology team to accommodate the demands of our tech projects. We have people in QA, project management, and tech architecture. We are hiring specialists to keep us at the forefront of innovation, and we are also upskilling our teams to ensure that the existing team members are also equipped to handle the evolving technological landscape.

[email protected]

PR Newswire

Copyright © Glocal Infomart Pvt Ltd. All rights reserved. Usage of content from website is subject to Terms and Conditions.