In an interaction with Shweta Papriwal, Editor,, Sachin Bakliwal - Head of Asset Management and AMO Technology and Analytics, Fidelity International said, “Fidelity launched a flexible Dynamic working policy to create more flexibility for the employees and help employees find the right balance.”

What are some technological initiatives (and their performance) within Fidelity International undertaken for seamless digital transition?

Digital has been a key area of focus for us for last few years. Our digital initiatives go across multiple areas like enhancing experience for our customers and customer service, reducing operational risks, increasing efficiency, enhancing our investment management process and enhancing employee experience and engagement and many more. I would like to mention that digital adoption has been hugely expedited due to pandemic, there has been a key shift in the customer behaviour after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Can you tell us about the current scenario of emerging technologies like AI and machine learning in India? Are companies and organisations booming despite the pandemic?

In the pandemic times, technology and digital adoption has become a priority for everyone. What would have normally been a multi-year adoption journey on digital and transformation now must be done in weeks, if not days. In some sense, this has been good for the tech community as this is pushing the demand. However, to deliver to these expectations, technology needs to scale up, and the key challenge is the availability of talent on some of the key skill areas such as digital, cloud, data, AI, etc. The community is pressed to simultaneously meet the rising expectation and reskill on these new technologies.

AI and Machine learning are great technologies with huge promise, and they are riding on the huge amount of data that has been generated with the digital and social revolution over last decade. In India you can see an increase on real adoption of AI & ML use cases over last year. I think there is a lot of potential and this still looks like the early years of AI and machine learning, and over next decade this will be hugely transforming almost all aspects of how technology effects our lives.

What are some of the challenges that the tech community is facing in the present scenario?

As, I mentioned earlier digital adoption which was a multi-year journey now needs to be done in days and weeks. This has created a huge demand on talent - ‘war for talent’ is real and seems more intensified specially around key skills like Data & Analytics, Cloud, Digital technologies, API, Cyber Risk and security etc. as they are central for firms given the shift towards digital. More broadly for the technology community and professional it will be critical they continue to upskill to adjust for this refocus in technologies.

The technology landscape is seeing multiple shifts - for instance, shift towards Cloud based infrastructure, this creates a huge need for upskilling on cloud-based technologies. There is not only need to learn new technologies but technologies like Cloud are redefining the entire ways of working and technology delivery and management process. So need to learn and adapt is high. Similarly, data and ability to create value from data is becoming central to business and technology. With the expedited rate of digital adoption cyber security has becomes another key are of focus for technology teams. So, need of the hour is for technology professions to upskill, learn and adopt fast.

What according to you are some important tools and techniques that one must know while working in fintech sector?

Good understanding of financial domain is very important in addition to technology mastery, this is critical for us to innovate and ideate of how technology can be applied to solve business problem and create value. From technology perspective some key themes are - data and analytics - the finance sector normally deals with large data sets and data is key for decision making. Additional to the standard themes in other industries like customer, product, sales etc. financial sector also has an increasing need for for data analytics in investment management process - functions like Quant and algorithm based investing are all based on a robust data and analytics backbone. In addition the others important themes are, shift towards Cloud based infrastructure, API based integration and data distribution, AI and Machine Learning, Blockchain.

Fidelity International recently announced Dynamic work policy, what role do you think technology will play to support this change in the organisation?

Fidelity launched a flexible Dynamic working policy to create more flexibility for the employees and help employees find the right balance. Technology plays a critical role in Dynamic working. Staff need to be able to work seamlessly between workplace and home, and ease of connectivity between people in the office and those working remotely for better collaboration.

Technology solution which are implemented or being implemented in FIL helps to improve the end user experience and drives the effective utilisation of our real estate and other resources. some of the tech examples are - virtual meeting/ webinar (Zoom/teams etc), Better collaboration tools (digital white boarding solutions), flexi seating - office/desk booking system, office in a box, and digital workplace application and support chatbots.

What are your key learnings from COVID-19 pandemic in the technology and innovation space?

This has been a testing period for individuals and businesses and there are multiple learnings and realisations. Reflecting back some of the most profound themes that have been central are – need to manage the speed of change and at the same time robustness and long-term orientation of the solutions is critical, striking a balance is the key.

Everybody needs to learn and upskill. The rate of change is ever increasing and need to reskill, unlearn and learn is very important for everyone. Adopting to new ways working in a hyper-distributed work environment. Remote working and connecting with colleagues only through digital medium have been a major change. One needs to more structured and plan engagement more effectively to ensure you make it inclusive for everyone in the team.

Remote working and the demand to manage work and home has impacted us all in various ways. And everyone has had their own adoption journey, challenges and context in adopting to this situation. Respecting the diversity and creating an inclusive environment is key for success.  As the saying goes, ‘out of adversity comes opportunity’, and the COVID-19 pandemic was no different. This phase has expedited the digital adoption journey and have made the us innovate and implement at a very fast rate.

This interview was originally published in India Infoline.