Delivering a seamless, consistent and integrated customer experience is the hallmark of a digital enterprise. Organizations, while racing to catch up the rapid digital changes to facilitate better decisions and successful digital transformation, move in harmony with the customers enriching and making their experience worthwhile.

Image Source –Digital Transformation

Customers expect active management of their data and preferences as well as a seamless omni-channel experience so they can readily engage with companies, whether the interaction is via mobile, the web, social media or face-to-face communication. Top customer expectations that influence an organization’s digital transformation efforts include dramatically reduced response times and immediate real-time access to products and services.

Hence, the key to winning customer’s share of mind as well as a share of his wallet is by providing him with unified and personalized experiences.

According to International Data Corporation, a majority of businesses will have to overhaul their digital front doors to support 10,000 times as many customers and customer touchpoints over the next three to five years.

Enterprises face the uphill battle to quickly build digital service delivery models that are flexible, robust and future-proofed. Enabling business processes and practices that help an organization to compete effectively in an increasingly digital world is the best way to tackle digital transformation. However, the main challenge is being driven by the demands of the tech savvy consumers, who expects an interactive experience across all interaction channels, along with the further pressure to innovate with few resources and restricted budget.

Businesses must manage the shift from transactional systems of record where information is ingested, stored, and managed in static databases and warehouses to interactive systems of engagement where real-time data is combined, accessed, interpreted and used to digitally support multi-touchpoint, real-time customer journeys and communications.

Although the benefits are countless, but at the same time, challenges to this transformation are no less.

  • Speed – Organizations often needs to evolve their own approach and use of tools in order to be able to meet the pace of change required given the increase in customer’s expectations and restricted budget. This might, sometimes, outpace their ability to deliver.
  • Capacity gap – Projects fail to hit timescales and product quality expectations leading to unsatisfied internal and external stakeholders. This cannot be fixed by incremental improvements but requires a fundamental change in the operating model for the delivery of services.
  • Lack of human resources – Most organizations lack the digital talent required to deliver the necessary changes. Skills in new technologies such as IoT, AI, and Big data analytics are in short supply. Finding external help can be valuable but only up to a certain critical point.
  • Security Breach – Cyber-security is the top disruptor that organizations expect will influence their digital strategy in the coming years.
  • Legacy – Much IT infrastructure is fragile and difficult to change but requires changes in order to support both rapid innovation and scalability. Virtualization, mobility, automation and cloud-based services have opened up a plethora of opportunities, but this needs to be taken to new heights.

All in all, a well-planned, integrated strategy is essential to steering digital transformation in alignment with the customer journey and driving customer engagement; otherwise, this could quite easily turn to be house of cards.

About the Author

Aniruddha Guha Sarkar, Senior Vice President, Engineering heads the offshore software engineering delivery at InterraIT. Aniruddha has over 25 years of industry experience, the last decade of which has been in senior executive level leadership positions. Prior to joining InterraIT in early 2012, Aniruddha worked with the house of Siemens for more than 20 years. You can connect with Mr. Aniruddha here

At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years… if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies.

Digital transformation in its simplest form means the use of technology to radically improve performance & reach of enterprises. But it does not merely stop at that. As technology becomes a permanent fixture in everyday life, the best organizations combine digital technologies with strong leadership to bring about real transformation.

Image Source – Digital Evolution

Business and IT leaders are eager to fully utilize key digital technologies such as analytics, mobility, social media, IoT, Machine Learning and smart embedded devices to vitalize their customer relationships, internal processes and value propositions hence, bringing the much needed digital evolution.

Even though the digital transformation is a long journey with the gradual evolution of the organization, there are a few key elements which are to be taken care off while beginning the transformation endeavor. Implementing advanced digital technologies, improving customer experiences, transforming internal processes, re-evaluating and designing improved business models and bringing to the fore your key value propositions are some of the key elements of a digital transformation exercise.

Digital Evolution is more of a business evolution than a technology initiative. It has created a rapidly changing business environment and has compelled companies to rethink nearly everything they do. Pro-actionary approach along with quick adaptability and flexibility is required for an organization to stay on the leading edge of the digital landscape.

This is a time of Digital Darwinism – an era where technology and society are evolving faster than businesses can naturally adapt. Therefore, as companies look at moving business platforms and technologies, corporate leaders face an endless list of initiatives to consider, prioritize, evaluate, validate and implement. The challenge is to ensure that their priorities are aligned wisely. Without any strategic direction, every single attempt to evolve digitally can end up disjointed and ineffective.

Mr. Ashok K laha [Image Source]

It’s no surprise that digital evolution is an ongoing wave of new technologies and capabilities that are coming at us at an unprecedented pace. The major one being the data revolution which has emerged as a new weapon in the industry in the recent years. It is being generated, combined, recreated and consumed at significant levels which are facilitating changes within the organization.

But the question to be asked is Are companies investing in the right technology for their Big Data needs in addition to the training of marketing and IT personnel?

Given the speed of evolution and scope of impact, an organization needs to fully understand the opportunities to be gained and lost, spot important trends and identify its competitors in order to evolve along with the world and its gadgets.

Cyber security is another major concern when we talk about digital evolution. The world currently deals with approximately 2.5 million cyber security threats per second. Most of the business leaders are reluctant to innovate due to cyber risks. However, these risks are worth dealing given the plethora of opportunities that digitization offers. Else, sitting on the sidelines and not responding to the market conditions and threats will become the fastest way to extinction.

With the new Modi Government at the helm, we as a country are making great strides in digital transformation. Reforms like demonetization, GST, and Digital India will act as stepping stones in helping the country’s businesses and economy to digitally enable and transform them.

Digitization is a gift to the organizations though it takes investment, agility and relentless focus to stay ahead. The road to digital evolution is far from easy but it carries great incentives for businesses and customers alike. The digital industry could be an important vehicle for change and it could provide the opportunity for India to dramatically expand its role and influence in the global economy enabling it to become a powerhouse of digital innovation.

About the Author

Mr. Asoke K. Laha is the Founder, President & CEO of Interra Information Technologies. Interra Information Technologies has been a leader in the Information Technology Industry since its founding in 1996. Headquartered in California, the company’s operations and sales network spans across multiple countries. You can learn more about them at You can also connect with Interra Information Technologies on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

In an increasingly digitized world, we are all becoming extremely vulnerable to misuse of personal, professional and even national security data and what needs to be done. It is alarming yet not a surprise to see another mass scale ransomware attack just weeks after the havoc created by the Wannacry ransomware.

Image Source – Malware

To start with, the genesis of both these attacks appear similar. Both of them uses the Microsoft vulnerability called EternalBlue for which Microsoft had issued a patch. In both cases, they attacked institutional computer networks, which we unsecured – the NHS in UK and now the Ukrainian Government.

However, there is a slight but important difference. Usually in case of ransomware attacks, the demand is made from users and the email for communication is unique to each user. In this case it is observed that there is a single email ID that had been provided to all the affected users for communication. This email ID was since suspended by provider. This alludes to the fact that either the hackers were amateurs or more dangerously this attack is not a ransomware and was not unleashed with the intention of merely extracting money, but to destruct important data.

These new mutations of malware are increasingly getting more and more capable and complex in terms of the speed and reach. We are observing that the malwares are spreading automatically across interconnected networks more freely and with minimal or no human intervention. This, also is different from ransomware of earlier versions, which we more topical and pointed – say an individual hospital system. The free lowing nature of the current ransomware is particularly scary since we have limited control or predictive mechanism to guess which networks will be affected next.

As of now, the effects in India has been observed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust. This can be explained as one of the largest private enterprises to get effected is Maersk, the leading shipping and container corporation whose systems in all likely hood is interconnected with the networks of the JNPT. Having said that it is impossible to predict the next network where the ‘worm’ will sneak in. Also, the Petya ransomware is more fluid than Wannacry as the latter was linear and had one way to move from network to network. Petya has the capability to evaluate multiple options and can use another option of attacking if one fails. It is indeed quite petrifying to imagine a situation is it infects the national service such as the Defense, Police, Financial Institutions and UIDAI.

Considering this, it is clear that prevention is the best form of attack. It should be the responsibility of all computer and internet users – institutional as well as individuals to be aware of the threat and also be prepared for a future attack. Through CERT-IN [Computer Emergency Response Team of India] the Government must issue a ‘what to do’ advisory on prevention tactics to enterprises and individuals. We observe that most of ransomware attacks use ‘end users’ as entry point. The end user might be an individual or a user in an institutional environment. In most cases there is nothing that user can do as these types of ransomware are typically executed through ‘drive-by downloads’ in which legitimate website and browsers are infected. Some of the key action points that can be followed are through basic IT housekeeping such as keeping antivirus software updated & having URL CHECKERS. Also it is recommended that individuals keep only those plug-in’s and add-on’s that are absolutely necessary and used regularly.

Finally, it is high time that system administrators within enterprises and government agencies should have updated defensive security skills. Institutions and governments need strong cyber security and cyber-defense strategies. Cyber-defense capabilities, particularly, is an important mandate as hacking becomes extremely easy and pervasive and IT administrators should know how to ‘defend’ their systems.

The growing demand for skilled professionals in IT sector has compelled many training institutes to adapt advance tech tools to keep their candidates aligned with the latest skills. Tech skills are more important than ever, as digital advancements have radically transformed the working world.

Image Source – Skills

Avinash Bharwani, Vice President–New Business, Jetking

Technology changes every month with new updates coming and going. If you work as a data analyst, the online tools you use don’t change quite so quickly, but you can surely update every few years. In coming years, the skills of the digital age will be linked very closely to SMAC i.e. Social-Mobile-Analytic and Cloud. If we look at 2016, it was a year when most of companies layed off their employees for not being equipped with the required skillset in the sector. Ecstasy of the previous year made the job market to make the correction.

Let’s look at the hottest, most in-demand skills around the world

Ethical Hacker

One of the most exciting skills on the list is that of ethical hacking. As the businesses are taking support of cloud share data, the businesses today are increasingly on the lookout for professionals with ethical hacking skills.

This is because they look to analyse the security of their private, public & hybrid cloud deployments. These ethical hackers combine a series of tools, to track hacking and penetration techniques in order to search for weaknesses in the entire systems.

Cloud Computing

Cloud and distributed computing has lingered in the No. 1 spot for the past couple of years. Subsequent statistical analysis and data mining remained in 2 positions last year and in first position in 2014.

These skills are in such high demand for the reason that they are at the cutting edge of technology. Employers need employees with cloud & distributed computing, statistical analysis and data mining skills to stay competitive.

Big data/Developer/Analytics

Boasting a strong information technology (IT) background is advantageous for a big data analyst. IT professionals are skilled at information handling and programming. This gives them a leg up on the competition. Data analysts and data scientists continue to be in great demand since they acquire unique skills in areas such as mathematics, statistics and management science, combined with associated IT skills. In conclusion becoming a big data analyst requires the mastery of the five essential skills.

  • Interpretation of Data
  • Programming skills
  • Quantitative
  • Multiple technologies
  • Better understanding of business outcome

Network and Information Security

The demand for skills in Network and information sector has increased by 13% since 2016. The increased demand for IT networking professionals is fuelled in virtualization and cloud computing programmes.

Hiring managers seek candidates with skills & experience in VMware, Citrix, etc to track, organize and manage their company’s virtualization strategy.

Digital Marketing

The need for digital marketers has never been higher, yet the digital skills gap has never been wider. This discrepancy can provide people with the perfect opportunity to express their value and capability.

One should just want to make sure that they have strengthened the right skills. If you want to set yourself apart from the competition and establish yourself as an in-demand marketing professional, then you need to know which capabilities count. One should refine digital marketing skills in the following sector:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Video Content Marketing
  • Community Management
  • Marketing Automation

If you have any of these skills in the year 2017 you will definitely make your career brighter. Even if you don’t have these skills, now is the perfect time to perceive it. Professional or fresher can explore opportunities in this field by up skilling themselves. Acquiring these skills will immensely help techies, making them more efficient in entire process. While some skills become void every couple of months, we strongly propose that tech skills will still be needed for years to come, in every industry. Now is a great time for professionals to acquire the skills they need to be more marketable.

About the author

Avinash Bharwani is the Vice President–New Business, Jetking. Jetking is a Computer Hardware and Networking Training Institute, which trains technical and non-technical students. Jetking has 100 centers spread across India. You can view his profile here

Over the past few years, digital transformation has become a watchword for many businesses. In this new era defined by cloud computing, social media and mobile strategies, companies are pursuing new IT tools, and it is clear that the best use of tools require a disruption to operational procedures.

Image Source – Skills

As companies seek success with new products and new customers; there are many areas that must be addressed in order to become a truly digital service provider. One of the critical success factors for service organizations is to understand how technical support, the backbone of customer satisfaction as well as customer retention is evolving with regards to technology adaption and workforce skills.

The direct impact of technology on business outcomes gives modern IT a two pronged approach – first is to focus on strategic efforts and the second being a continuation with the current tactical work. The backbone of the service organization is to build an appropriate team structure with multi faceted competencies. The nature of work is changing. With this change, we cannot accurately estimate the overall impact on job numbers but, onething is certain: technical skills will be in high demand. Even though job titles look familiar, it is important to understand how roles are changing in an environmentdefined by cloud computing, digital technologies and mobile devices.

The Four Pillars of a Functional IT Framework

However, before we discuss the workforce skill trends, let us first understand how technical support is evolving at a dramatically fast pace. Afunctional IT frameworkdescribesfour primary IT disciplines – Infrastructure, Development, Security and Data.

Infrastructure – The Infrastructure pillar is the bedrock of IT operations. With a broad reach and a long history, Infrastructure contains many of theroles most often associated with IT. At the core of this function, system administration and network operations take care of the back-office tasksthat have been part of IT since the mainframe era. However, today’s setup requires physical server maintenance,virtual system administration, network configuration, and storage planning.

These tasks, which have traditionally centered on ‘on-prem’ components still establish the foundation for the rest of the IT architecture. Interestingly, we are observing a growing importance of application implementation. While Infrastructure pillar is not directly responsible for application development, they are accoujtable for installing applications and keeping them running. This activity is very relevant as it alludes to a definite connection point between Infrastructure and Development.

Development – While Infrastructure focuses on hardware, Development centers on software. It is important to note that companies building software for external customers have separate product development teams. However, in times to come, there will clearly be an overlap between the software product teams and infrastructure and these two pillars work seamlessly to provide the best application for the end user.

Security – As technology needs become more complex and the digital stakes get higher, security is perhaps the most important pillar of any organization. Security most often begins as an off-shoot of Infrastructure, since the traditional security approach has been heavily focused on technology. The need for further specialization is driven by new layers of technical tools, business processes that establish secure practices.

Traditionally organizations have used firewall and antivirus as the means for securing their infrastructureand endpoint devices. However for digital organizations, this security perimeter is not sufficient as applications and data regularly travel outside the walls of the firewall. New tools such as DLP [Data Loss Prevention], IAM [Identity and Access Management], and SIEM [Security Information and Event Management] must be layered into operations along with firewall and antivirus, and security professionals need to shift their mindset from preventing all attacks to detecting the inevitable breach and acting quickly and decisively.

Data – As Security is an offshoot of Infrastructure, Data is an off shoot of Development. The skills and thinking needed in Development translate well to Data, where there is an abstract component of dealing with bits and bytes. The recent growth in the amount, veracity, velocity and variety of data that a company can manage has brought focus to certain specialized skills, but there is a foundation that must be built beforemoving to more advanced applications.

New age technical support competencies

These four pillars and their overlap has created a complex environment which requires rethinking the strategic and tactical competency development of a technical service function.

To the extent that hardware is still involved at the core of technical services at the first level of technical support, the responsibilities have definitely evolved in the past few years. From a PC running on Windows most originations have started utilizing other operating systems and smartphones heavily. In many cases enterprise application are accessed over cloud by employees and customers. Pure hardware repair is a passé as companies explore BYOD and utilize warranty support, but familiarity across multiple operating systems is needed as a basic step inensuring productivity. Beyond devices the first line of defense is now interacting with a complex back end system comprised of many components.

The four pillars mentioned above clearly alludes to the fact that service desks must befamiliar with all these areas in order to route issues to theproper experts. Networking knowledge is still a priority as connectivity is the one most important aspect of modern computing. High-profile back end approaches such as virtualization and cloud computing drive front end skills for properly troubleshooting application problems.

Storage options must be well understood for questions about data handling. Even as cloud computing and mobility change the overall nature of infrastructure, the connection between the backend and the front end remains a vital link for supporting a tech-driven workforce.

Development is perhaps the least likely destination for a pure play technical support organization, but the momentum behind DevOps is creating more overlap than ever between Infrastructure and Development, so a transition from tech support to software coding is quite visible in near future.

For many organizations, security posture is primarily determined by the implementation of technology such as firewalls and antivirus. As such, level one support often has knowledge of security tools that ensure end users are properly protecting corporate assets. However, Security is growing to encompass processes suchas regulatory compliance or risk management along withend user education. As companies develop new procedures,service desk responsibilities will likely evolve to incorporatethe relevant steps in secure operations.

The final IT pillar, Data, represents another stretch area for technical support functions. The support function has traditionally been ‘interrupt-driven’ : a problem is logged and it gets resolved. As businesses recognize the value of analytics, there is significant potential for support technicians to collect & analyze data. The patterns they find could highlight widespread issues or suggest efficiency improvements.

Along with the technical skills that help the first line of defense respond to diverse issues, there is a growing need for knowledge in operational procedures and project management. Expertise in IT service management, using a framework like ITIL or COBIT, is usually a first step for support technicians. This knowledge is necessary to formalize processes for a growing number of requests and to ensure that thoserequests are properly cataloged. Beyond these, project management skills come into play with increasing man-power experiencewho start to analyze the collected information and attack any systemic problems.

Out of all the changes happening across IT, the support desk role may be undergoing the most dramatic change. The required technical skills cover a broad range of topics, policies and procedures which are needed to handle a large number of requests and customer service is more important than ever. Whether the first line of support is managed in-house or outsourced, there is a growing need for well-rounded technicians to support digital strategy.

The field of information technology now attracts an accentuated focus than ever before, and businesses are struggling to understand the best approach for this ever changing environment. With new trends seeming to pop up on an annual basis, there is a rush to understand the implications of new innovation and the path forward from legacy architecture. The technology industry has become incredibly dynamic and complex, and a tactical approach to technology support quickly needs to become strategic or else, service providers will lose the plot against their customers whose business needs force them to get rapidly digitalized.

About the author

Pradipto Chakrabarty is the Regional Director, CompTIA, the voice of the world’s information technology industry. CompTIA is dedicated to advancing industry growth through its educational programs, professional certifications and public policy advocacy. You can view his profile here

Millennipreneurs are basically the generation of young entrepreneurs that are born in the year 1980~1995.  According to the statistics, most of them came from a family with a background in business where they probably get their capital finance.  At least 78% of the Millennipreneurs have ‘baby boomer’ parents who run a successful venture.  This means that they basically grew up in the kind of environment that is designed for this industry. The success that most Millennipreneurs enjoy at their young age is undeniable. Based on the gross profit, the millennial entrepreneurs’ target is around 32.6% compared to the baby boomers that is just 27.5%.  This means that the millennials are now outperforming their parents.

How Business Loans Can Support the Millennipreneurs on the Business Venture

It may be true that more than 70% of the millennial entrepreneurs have background in the business.  But it does not instantly mean that they have a starting capital for start-up.  In addition, in order to support the growing demand and expansion of their business, they will also require additional funding. Most of them start in the SME industry that generates the average amount of profit.  In India, at least 12.5% of them are in the retail industry, 8.5% are offering their professional expertise and only 7.3% in the IT industry. To help them propel their business into new heights, MSME Loans can definitely help them.

When choosing a platform that can support the Millennipreneurs in expanding their reach, there are different companies in the industry that are offering business loans.  However, not all of them will provide you with a fair agreement, competitive bid, great loan structure, and fast approval.  These factors are all essential for the millennial entrepreneurs.  They love opening new businesses, and they want a platform that can support them quickly.  At least 60% of them decided to open new business since there are not enough jobs available.   Millennipreneurs who are looking for those desirable attributes may find Loan Frame as a worthy candidate.

Quick Approval

Most of the Millennipreneurs started at their young age.  They do not necessarily have the right amount of resources to support their start-up.  Though most of them grew up in the business environment, the only thing that they can expect would be business advice from their parents and other corporate professionals.  This generation is eager to start their venture, and they want a financing option that can provide them support in an instant.  With Loan Frame, they can check your eligibility in applying for business loans for as little as 60 seconds.  It also does not involve a lot of paper works.

A Loan Option That Focus on the Core of Your Business

Instead of managing their wealth, most of the Millennipreneurs in India are also focusing on the core of their business, and they also want a partner who looks at their business the same way they do.  According to the recent survey, at least 20% of their resources are being invested on the original core of their business.  Loan Frame will offer you business loans that will match the nature of your business and will provide you with a huge selection of loans that will match your business needs.

Millennipreneurs managed to crack the purchasing habit of the millennials. They hold a significant influence in this business.  To help them advance their business and conquer new heights, business loans offered by Loan Frame is designed to address their needs.

Further, given the general under-penetration of banking services in India, it is no surprise that Alternative Lending channels are making inroads. This has been further given push through various initiatives of the government increase financial inclusion and financial penetration.

The Indian landscape is ripe for Alternative Lending to thrive in all its forms including online NBFCs, Loan Marketplaces, P2P platforms, and others. Consider the numbers placed before Rajya Sabha, RBI had informed that gross outstanding credit for top ten corporate groups is Rs 5,73,682 crore as on March 2016. This compares with the total credit to the MSME segment of Rs 11,10,000 crores spread across 2.06 crore loan accounts as on March 2016.

This is all that formal banking channels have on offer for 5.1 crore enterprises providing employment to 11.71 crore persons and contributing 37.5% of India’s GDP! Moreover, the 4th All India survey of MSMEs states that close to 90% of MSMEs are dependent on informal sources, which are mostly in the form of unsecured loans and are at higher cost.

Following are a few benefits you reap by approaching an Alternative Lending source

The Loan Buffett vs. The Fixed Menu

Everyone is familiar with the plain vanilla loans available from banks viz business loans, loan against property, secured project loans. Banks also have a defined policy for calculating eligibility a well as setting the interest rates for the loans. With the advent of technology, , alternative lending options are also available for small business owners. This includes e-commerce Merchant Cash Advances, Unsecured Business Loans, Seasonal Working Capital Financing, Various Forms of Short-Term Funding, Equipment Loans and Business Line of Credit. Loan Frame, for example, has more than 50 products in its marketplace suite. This wide range also goes well beyond being just an eye-pleasing variety. A small business can choose the specific loan based on the desired utilization objective, thus increasing chances of approval and also giving an optimum rate of interest suiting the requirements.

Tailored Approach vs. Off-the-shelf Loans

Traditional banks follow strict & inflexible credit policies that are replicated across products and borrowers. More often than not, these are relevant for larger, more established borrowers and end up complicating the applications by smaller businesses. The SME owner comes across redundant documentation requirements, unreal covenant expectations and needless scrutiny that invariably leads to either rejection or a higher interest rate, both of which are indeed not desirable.

Alternative Lending is more customer-centric and focused on creating value for the borrowers.. Documentation and compliance requirements are adjusted based on the type of loan product.

Beyond Just Lending

Borrowers are used to approaching banks and picking from the 2-3 off-the-shelf products that come closest to meeting their requirements. Many Alternative Lending channels such as Loan Frame provide value added advice to the borrower as to which loan product will be more appropriate, leading to more efficient and effective borrowing. There is also significant assistance provided in drafting the loan application and ensuring complete documentation.

Debt Consolidation

Alternative Lending channels make it possible for a borrower with a variety of facilities across lenders to consolidate debt under one lender. This is facilitated by multiple factors such as a common platform, deep lender relationships, a variety of loan products and a better understanding of the borrower’s requirement.

Read how debt consolidation can help improve credit standing and lower borrowing costs.

The Sheer Convenience of It All

Alternative Lending channels save you a lot of time and effort. You get to be evaluated against various options online and can spend your energy with the best one rather than waste energy in approaching various banks. This helps you to focus more on what you are good at and interested in – running the business – rather than on just arranging finances for it.

Leveraging Technology

The traditional lending process involves lots of paperwork and physical visits, which lead to delays in the approval and funding process. On the other hand, Alternative Lending channels leverage technology to save on both time and effort. Firstly, proprietary algorithms check for your loan eligibility within few seconds even as they incorporate many aspects beyond just the credit score. These include financials, business profile, promoter’s credit history and other business-specific data. In short, you have a more detailed assessment done in a shorter time leading to faster credit approvals and swift credit disbursal. It’s no wonder that the rise of the tech-based Alternative Lending channel has coincided with the widespread adoption of initiatives such as eKYC, Aadhaar, and UPI.

In this way, Alternative Lending helps solve not just the funding availability problem but also addresses the vexing problem of unduly high-interest rates for small businesses. As Narayana Murthy says,

If you cultivate inexpensive habits, you will not become a victim of money in later years. And, you will not fall into the trap of greed which leads you to do things that you will later regret.

This applies in equal measure to personal habits and business expenses, including what you pay on your borrowings. A better credit appraisal leads to a more appropriate interest rate for your business loan.

Some of the NPA-laden and capital-starved banks are either unable or unwilling to step in and plug the big funding gap that exists for MSME borrowers. Alternative Lending is a viable alternative for such borrowers. Furthermore, loan marketplaces like Loan Frame have several banks on their platform, therefore effectively serving as a bridge between the traditional and the alternative lending options.

About the author

This article is contributed by Neha Nayyar who works with Loan Frame. Loan Frame is one of the leading players in SME finance space and is backed by marquee investors.

Jeet Suri does not own a credit card. He does, however own an apartment in Bangalore. It is almost bare, save for his furnished bedroom and modular kitchen. Considering the hefty furniture costs, he knows that he will need to avail of a personal loan to get his apartment fully furnished. But this is easier said than done! As a 24-year-old IT professional in a medium-sized IT firm, he has been denied personal loans twice in the past for not having the requisite Credit [or CIBIL] Score.

Image Source – Alternate Lending

Jeet has now made the decision to apply for a loan from one of the new Fintech startups that specialize in giving quick personal loans to salaried people. He applies, gets his approval within 2 hours and funds reach his account in 48 hours! Jeet himself is surprised at the smooth and quick process. And this is exactly what attracted numerous alternative lenders in the country to start online lending platforms, albeit at somewhat higher interest rates.

The Indian Banking Sector has quite a history of bad loans and non-performing properties that has made lenders [particularly public sector ones] more cautious and conventional. There are more than 1.5 million companies in the country, but banks tend to focus on lending to only to those salaried applicants working for less than 50,000 companies which are listed in their target databases. So where do the rest go for loans? This explains the rise of close to 100 alternate lenders in India in the last two years alone [India has the 3rd largest number of personal lending startups in the world, after China and the USA!].

This new breed of lenders can be broadly categorized as follows

Aggregators or Lead-Generators

Aggregators are solely responsible for generating a lead and passing it on to one, or more, banks. This is a commission-based task and they earn a fee per lead, regardless of whether the loan is approved [and eventually funded] or not. The decision to lend lies with the bank or the non-bank lender, who makes the final credit decision on the case. BankBazaar and PaisaBazaar are two notable names in this niche.

Direct Selling Agents [or DSAs]

DSAs do everything the aggregators do and some more. Aside from lead generation, they take care of the entire documentation process too, hereby assisting you in ensuring that your loan is approved. Here, too, the credit decision lies with the ultimate lender [a bank or a non-bank lender]. DSAs charge a fee to the lender, which typically ranges from ranging from 1.5 to 3 percent of the loan amount.  Finance Buddha and Finwizz are two notable names.

Infographic Courtesy – Qbera

Consumer Durable Financing Marketplaces

Increased income, soaring consumer aspirations and easy cash access have prompted a sturdy growth in big-ticket purchases like electronics goods and furniture. Of the numerous schemes that have developed to fund these acquisitions, zero-interest EMIs and cardless EMIs are the most common. Astonishingly, in India, more than half of such purchases are made possible using small ticket loans from non-bank lenders! Here too, the lenders make the ultimate decision on the customer, and the platforms typically earn a commission or some sort of revenue share.

Business Correspondents

Business Correspondents take ownership of the entire life-cycle of the loan, from acquiring the customer, underwriting the loan, documentation, verification and ensuring the final loan is disbursed. The loans are funded by one of more lending partners and, uniquely, the platform plays a role in making the credit decision. They are not middleman, as they usually share risk [as well as revenues] with the bank or non-bank lending partner. Qbera is one such startup that is operating on this model

Summing it up

The online lending landscape in India is evolving rapidly. New-age online lenders are giving the incumbents a run for their money, as they partner with a variety of capital providers to test segments which have previously been untapped.  Added to this, they provide a superior customer experience, which includes more transparency, a better approval rate, a convenient process and lower turn-around times. However, time will tell how many of these new-age lenders will be able to target new, profitable segments, whilst scaling their businesses with low(er)-cost capital, and do all this while maintaining the quality of their portfolio.

About the author

Nidaa Chakkittammal is a Proud feminist, former journalist, certified mountaineer and currently Content Manager at Qbera. She believes self-discovery is an eternal journey. When she isn’t drafting finance articles and blogs by the dozen for Qbera & other similar platforms, she is busy reading romantic poetry and fiction, rollerskating, participating in marathons, cycling, chilling with friends and trekking. You can find more about her on her LinkedIn profile page.

The battle between traditional and digital marketing has been going on for over 20 years. Two decades ago, we didn’t have the technological tools we have today to conduct a productive campaign in the online environment. With the advent of the internet, the marketing industry is changing. People use social media and smart devices to buy things and hire services. Very few still do it with the help of a newspaper. That being said, it’s only natural to believe that traditional marketing is dead. However, the average client can be attracted to a product or service with a conventional method, such as direct mail for example. The best approach is to consider a mix of strategies in an attempt to create a seamless experience.

Traditional marketing is here to stay

Why do people still market their products offline? The answer is quite simple: we still need conventional marketing because prospects need to be convinced with physical samples. Let’s assume that you’ve just a beauty brand. You’ve made the website, linked to social media, and so on. But in order to compel people to buy your latest wrinkle cream, you have to let the people try your product. This is traditional marketing. You set up a campaign and invite prospects to test it.

Then you give them samples in the hopes that they’ll share their opinions with friends and family. Last but not least, they’ll check you out online and probably give you a review. As you see, the model we’ve presented is not merely dependent on traditional marketing. It’s a seamless blend of tactics that combines both online and offline advertising.

Digital marketing – an industry that grows little by little with every year that goes by

Digital marketing is an industry that has taken the internet by storm. Twenty years ago we didn’t have websites to recommend us products or Facebook pages from where you can shop with just a click of a button. In the online environment, the goal of a company is to raise awareness and broaden its audience. Offline, the goal is to compel the people and wait for them to share the amazing experience they had with you with their loved ones.

Sadly, these days if you’re not active online you’re almost invisible offline too. What’s the point of a huge billboard in the heart of a city with hundreds of thousands of people, if nobody can find the product you’re selling anywhere online?

Digital marketing vs. traditional marketing

Today’s savviest marketers know that a complete advertising campaign needs both traditional and digital marketing. Most people use smart devices to buy things they haven’t had the chance to see in real life. However, there are prospects that don’t believe that what they see is what they get. This means you need brick and mortar stores and samples to prove that your product is of the highest quality. Back in the day we used newspapers to look for products. But all ads had physical addresses at the end, as well as an invite to come check out those products. There are online stores that don’t advertise offline. The internet is packed with stores that only sell via a website. Can you afford to take that risk?

A core drawback of traditional marketing is the lack of utensils to balance results. In the online environment we have metrics and analytics programs that we can use to help us measure results and check whether our campaign appeals to the people or not. Thanks to review websites and social media platforms, marketers can interact with their prospects, assess the feedback received, and make modifications in an attempt to correct glitches. Offline, if you made a mistake and the wrong message got out; there was nothing that you could do to fix things.

Why should we choose between digital and traditional marketing when we can use both to compose a brilliant campaign? Blending social media, direct mail London, email marketing, and conventional advertising helps people understand a brand a lot better. Offering prospects is a seamless experience when introducing them to a product is the best way to prove them that what we advertise is exactly what they get when they hit the “Buy” button.

This is a guest article by Denny Averill