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IT investment of Rs 500 crore on Central Bank of India's 2010 agenda

Yuga Chaudhari, Principal Correspondent
Unveiling its plans for 2010, Central Bank of India–one of the largest public sector banks in India—plans to make whopping IT investments to the tune of Rs 500 crore. As part of this

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IT investment, the bank plans to computerize more than 2000 branches using a core banking system (CBS) by end 2010.  

Detailing the organization's IT investment plan for 2010, A K Mohanty, the head of IT for Central Bank of India says, "Currently, we have 3600 branches across India. Only 1400 branches were covered under CBS earlier, but we want to connect all our branches using CBS." Central Bank of India plans to complete the computerization of around 300 branches by December 2010. The core team behind this project consists of 25 technical experts spread across 16 zones in India and the technology partner is TCS.

Providing further details about the organization's planned IT investment, Onkar Nath, the chief, information security of Central Bank of India says, "We also have seven regional rural banks (RRB). As per Reserve Bank of India's guideline, implementing CBS is the sponsoring bank's responsibility. We have already floated the tender and completed technical evaluation. We are looking at commercial evaluation at present, and implementation will take place accordingly. There are 1800 branches, out of which 25 branches will be covered in the first phase. In all, we have a task of computerizing more than 4000 branches." Ernst & Young has been appointed as the consultant for this project, whereas the technology partner is yet to be decided.

Connecting to remote locations will be the biggest problem. Since 70% of our presence is in the rural area, we'll have to deal with problems like connectivity and power fluctuations.
A K Mohanty
head of ITCentral Bank of India
IT is the backbone for a banking company, and Indian public sector banks are fast accepting this reality. With immense competition from private players, there is a strong need to offer 24/7 services to customers. "The decision to make this IT investment did not take much time, as it is the need of the hour. All banks are moving towards 24/7 services. The competition is tough, and you don't have an alternative," says Nath.   

As far as challenges are concerned, Central Bank of India's IT team is well-prepared for issues that might come their way. Sighting a major concern with the proposed IT investments, Mohanty says, "Connecting to remote locations will be the biggest problem. Since 70% of our presence is in the rural area, we'll have to deal with problems like connectivity and power fluctuations." Regular training programs are being organized across 22 labs in India, in order to train Central Bank of India's employees on the CBS process.

Apart from this, a help desk will be created to resolve queries. "We have developed an operations manual for users, as well as released booklets and online solutions that cover common concerns," informs Nath.  

Other IT investments in pipeline include server virtualization (part of the bank's green IT initiative) and storage upgrades (to support CBS). Central Bank of India has a data center in Navi Mumbai and a disaster recovery site in Hyderabad. The bank also plans to invest on IT solutions like application lifecycle management and a human resource management system. "We are also moving towards e-learning, where we are asking people to come to the nearest e-learning center for IT related issues. This will save time and expenditure," says Nath.