Bajaj Finance has over 2,300 salespeople selling loans on the field. In 2012, it transitioned to Microsoft Office 365, the cloud-based service that provides employees with a familiar, secure and reliable platform. It keeps employees up-to-date. In fact, Yammer is a preferred mode of communication as it keeps them informed, and thus more efficient. The move integrates the entire business and boosts collaboration. In addition, it simplifies administration and rationalizes licensing costs.
Bajaj Finance Ltd is the lending and advisory arm of the financial services group Bajaj Finserv Ltd. The company is one of the leading non-banks in the country and is a pioneer in many innovative financial products. It is the country’s fastest personal loan giving agency and also the first to give 100 percent online business loans. In addition, the company is a market leader in consumer durables and lifestyle finance. As part of its ongoing strategy, it embraces modern technology. “We constantly look for ways to take advantage of technology to improve communications and collaboration,” says Rakesh Bhatt, Chief Operating Officer, Bajaj Finance.
In 2007, Bajaj Finance Ltd moved to the public cloud with Exchange Online for email services, including spam filtering and antivirus protection. Employees could now access the advanced email, calendaring, and contact the management and task management features of Exchange Online.
But as collaboration technologies became more robust, the field employees wanted more than just effective email to communicate with their teams, customers and partners. It was time to upgrade to the latest business productivity tools for its mobile workforce.
Anurag Chottani, Chief Information Officer, Bajaj Finance says, “There were plenty of reasons for moving to a social, collaborative and intuitive platform. Since we are a financial institution, we need to comply with a lot of norms in terms of archiving, storage of information and security.”
He continues, “We wanted modern, integrated collaboration and communication tools that employees could use on all their PCs and mobile devices. We knew the technology was available, but the question was which one was the best fit for our business goals.”
With this vision, Bajaj Finance Ltd looked at a range of solutions and came to realize that it needed an enterprise-class business productivity suite to drive maximum productivity regardless of location. It turned to Microsoft Office 365, the next generation of hosted services that combines Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online into one connected online solution. “We wanted to upgrade technology and needed a single platform that could offer us interoperable collaboration and business productivity tools,” says Anurag. “Office 365 E3 plan was the perfect fit.”
The email, collaboration, and web conferencing services, available through a flexible, per user, per month subscription, offered a cost-effective way to provide employees with the productivity tools they needed. “Moreover, as we were already using other Microsoft technologies, it was easier for the IT team to integrate Office 365 into our environment,” says Anurag. “Plus, it was easier for employees to use, as they were already familiar with the Office productivity tools.”
Office 365 was implemented in April 2013 and currently 2,700 users are using it. Office 365 supports more of the devices employees use and enables them to have a better productivity suite. More importantly, the company does not have to buy Office licenses all over again for every device. It is entitled to the latest version of the entire Office productivity suite.
Bajaj Finance took advantage of the flexibility provided by Office 365 in that Exchange Online and Lync Online were deployed on the cloud while SharePoint Online was an on-premises implementation. “Office 365 has tools that help us to interact and engage more. They bring our employees closer together, as a unified team. Anytime, anywhere, access to data improves efficiency and collaboration,” says Rakesh.
With Office 365, Bajaj Finance provides unified communications capabilities, such as presence, instant messaging, ad hoc collaboration, online meetings, and desktop and application sharing through Microsoft Lync Online. “Lync is introducing a completely new way of communicating,” says Rakesh. “We are using it extensively for internal communication as well as communication with people outside. It gives us added mobility, flexibility and messaging.”
SharePoint Online hosts the employee portal, Ulive, which is being used by all employees across the organization. It is the one-stop destination for teams for document collaboration and knowledge sharing. “My team no longer has to email and then follow up on regular policy updates with various stakeholders. After every risk policy update, an alert is triggered by Ulive to relevant stakeholders who can log on to it and check as well as share the same,” says Bharath Vasudevan, Chief Risk Officer, Bajaj Finance Ltd.
To share documents with employees across the organization, the company uses OneDrive for Business. By using OneDrive for Business, employees can save and access documents in the cloud. “Sales people based in stores such as Chroma or Vijay Sales have access to the latest schemes for mobile phones, air- conditioners or refrigerators the day we launch them on OneDrive for Business. They no longer need to check details or call their managers to find out the details,” says Amit Raghuvanshi, Business Head, Consumer Durable Loans.
Meeting Compliance Needs
As a financial services company, Bajaj Finance Ltd’s challenges were related to compliance and security regulations. Office 365 met all of the company’s security requirements in addition to its compliance needs.
The company wanted to enhance employee mobility and provide an additional layer of security for email. Office 365 provides this ability through Rights Management Service (RMS). Users have the flexibility to encrypt items as an additional security measure.
Another benefit of Office 365 is its rich functionality, including large mailboxes with auto archiving and greater mobility. One can archive data across Exchange, SharePoint and Lync. “The ability to retain and discover data across the organization is essential to ensure internal and regulatory compliance,” explains Anurag. “These compliance and security features are inbuilt into Office 365, which makes it the best solution for Bajaj Finance.”
Enterprise Social Networking
With Office 365, the company also provided social communications for employees so that they could share information with others. Using Office 365 and Yammer, the employees benefited from the huge knowledge base that the company has. Employees started online collaboration with posts, comments, discussion blogs, pictures, surveys, polls, and much more. This is helping users from remote branches especially to communicate with the central team and share field activities.
Yammer, the best-in-class enterprise social network, has given a platform to the company’s field employees to share and leverage information. Now, not only does information flow occur at a tremendous rate but team bonding is also happening effectively. The company is seeing tangible returns in areas like cross-functional collaboration and communication and increased business agility. “Let me share an example,” says Amit Raghuvanshi. “For the summer of 2014, our field salesforce was giving us feedback on Yammer on which consumer durable models are more popular. This gave us the ability to tweak our promos. Whereas last season, getting this feedback would take us 5–10 days after a campaign was launched,” he says.
“With Office 365, we meet our company requirements for security and compliance,” says Anurag. “The cloud-based business productivity software provides access to improved communications and collaboration tools. In addition, we see minimal IT administration, enhanced data security and business continuity. Additionally, we are using the Azure platform for directory synchronization with the on-premises directory service. This has enhanced user experience along with security.”
Reduces Management and Storage Needs
Exchange Online has allowed Bajaj Finance Ltd to significantly reduce the amount of time spent on IT management while also reducing storage requirements. “Earlier, we were using one of our group company’s resources for managing our IT infrastructure,” explains Anurag. “We no longer have to worry about it. Overall, we have simplified IT administration by keeping all our services on one platform.”
He continues, “Additionally, with 25 GB mailbox sizes there is no need for frequent back-ups. And we are also avoiding incremental mailbox storage costs.”
Improves Productivity while Driving Efficiency
“We have around 2,300 employees who work on field sites such as retailer stores or in remote rural locations,” says Anurag. “Now, as they have the ability to access information on their mobile devices, they can easily share documents, access contacts and connect with colleagues anywhere. With Office 365, users have become significantly more productive.”
Office 365 is offering new ways for employees to interact and work on projects. Its communications and collaboration capabilities help them to connect and share information quickly.
Ulive, the company intranet, for example, hosts the business review updates of major company projects, which allows multiple teams to map progress on the projects as well as update their assigned tasks.
Anurag Chottani, Chief Information Officer concludes, “This not only promotes an open culture but also allows cross- functional teams to come together to work on a unified project, without depending on long meetings for collaborative discussions.”
Sponsored Post Disclaimer: This article is a part of the Forbes India LeaderSpeak Digital Transformation series, in association with Microsoft