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The rural connection

Gunjan Trivedi | Feb. 18, 2009
Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services empowered its field force with handhelds, creating 3,000 mini-branches in nine months, and reaped new business benefits.

Next Step

Keeping in mind the impact mobility has created on the payment collection process at Mahindra Finance, Shanmugam is planning to address the business demand of introducing handhelds to the business initiation teams as well.

Executives who meet customers for the first time want to initiate them into the various programs of the company. This can range from applying for various financial products, seeking thumb impressions, scanning documents for collateral and taking pictures of the applicants. Mahindra Finance wants to enable its executives capture this data on their handhelds.

"Though we planned to make this move within this financial year itself, incorporating functionalities required to initiate business in the handhelds pose technological and cultural problems," points out Shanmugam.

Creating digital thumb impressions, for example, requires large memory on the devices. And lowering the resolution of the impressions makes it difficult for the systems to match and authenticate later on.

"Also, photography can be a tricky cultural issue. Since many rural superstitions scare people from being photographed, executives can't directly photograph an applicant," says Shanmugam.

Nevertheless, the IT team has already embarked on its testing and trial phase to figure out adequate solutions to various problems before introducing similar mobility infrastructure to generate business in rural India.

In the meanwhile, end-user experience has definitely improved. The organization is also keen on enhancing customer services by delivering new products quickly. "We are now looking to leverage mobile connectivity to better our return on investment," says Shanmugam.

"Our focus is on the future and we are implementing ideas for tomorrow. We consider IT as our tactical and strategic support as it will help the objective of achieving business growth in a smarter way," says Roy.

Not exactly what Thomas Carlyle prescribed, but just as smart.


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