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Microsoft Poised to Transform Financial Services in Sri Lanka

Microsoft has firmly established its credentials in the global arena - from an ambitious ground-breaker in the realm of IT, to its current position as the leading designer, marketer and supplier of software in the global market place. Today, Microsoft is one of the largest IT companies worldwide, forging strong bonds with some of the world’s best loved brands by partnering its growth through industry specific solutions that are unparalleled for their precision and effectiveness.

Microsoft’s visionary approach to finding industry solutions that helps its customers leverage their presence is legendary. Following in the same footsteps, these solutions are now transforming the global financial services industry as well. More significantly, as Sri Lanka’s financial services industry consolidates itself through greater infusion of investment as well as adoption of advanced IT systems and processes, the industry is ideally poised to benefit from Microsoft’s expertise.

In this milieu, Microsoft Sri Lanka is a key player in terms of the transformation of the country’s IT landscape. Having established a formal presence in Sri Lanka in 2004 through a country office, Microsoft has since propelled itself to deliver on its corporate mission: "To enable people and businesses to realise their full potential." The company also possesses a strong partner ecosystem that will enable it to better cater to the financial services industry in Sri Lanka.

The Microsoft Financial Services Industry Day is an annual event that is held in most of its subsidiaries worldwide. This event was held recently for the first time in Sri Lanka under the auspices of Microsoft and is slated to become an annual fixture in the country’s business calendar, ushering in new insights into the local financial services industry. Several Microsoft partners both local and regional presented their capabilities on this occasion to a gathering of the country’s leading financial service representatives.

Ryan Tan, Industry Manager - FSI, Microsoft, said: “Microsoft provides the software to make businesses truly ’people-ready’. This implies that financial firms can leverage technology to amplify the impact their people have on developing more profitable customer relationships, improving operations and reducing cost, creating innovative products and services, and building connections to partners and suppliers. Microsoft is strongly committed to building deeper customer connections with Financial Services Institutions in Sri Lanka. At Microsoft, we feel the FSI Day in Sri Lanka is the ideal forum for Microsoft to establish fruitful relationships with Banks and other Financial Services Institutions, to understand their business better and to share global best practices, or how Microsoft can help them empower their employees to better connect to their customers and deliver results to power their business.”

Commenting on the benefits his company has derived from its relationship with Microsoft on the occasion, Conrad Dias, Group CIO, Lanka Orix Leasing Company (LOLC) and CEO/MD Lanka Orix Information Technology Ltd, said: “The purpose of the LOLC Group leveraging on Microsoft’s expertise was to simplify technology to improve productivity and user experience, and standardize systems to reduce complexities and bring down cost of operations in the long term. Microsoft solutions deployed at LOLC have helped us achieve this objective and much more beyond. Microsoft’s solutions customized to suit our business has enabled us to leverage on our business expansion plans while supporting strategic business changes earmarked for the future. We expect to reap rich harvests of our strategic agreement with Microsoft by ushering in world class service and using the Microsoft technology as a launching pad for breakthrough applications to benefit our customers in the long term.”

The Microsoft Sri Lanka team installed the Active Directory Services at LOLC, which is the primary infrastructure needed to manage identities and relationships in the organization. Apart from imparting numerous benefits for IT administrators such as service improvements, increased security and business effectiveness, the LOLC management can count on the benefits of effective resource utilization and lower cost of managing the distributed infrastructure.

Under close supervision by Microsoft personnel, the LOLC Group portal was launched in May 2006 with SharePoint Services 2.0 on Windows 2003 the main objective of this project being to optimize IT investment and fast track user experience. The advantages of Microsoft’s SharePoint Services are tremendous, because it proves to be a launching pad for other applications; serves as a repository for policies, procedures and documents; and functions as a tool for communication and collaboration within the LOLC Group, amongst other benefits.

To put it simply, why Microsoft is the ideal partner for the financial services industry is because of the ease of use of its solutions and the adaptability of its platform to grow with the business. Microsoft’s solutions for LOLC will facilitate the business expansion and enable strategic business change. LOLC will now be able to manage business processes through workflow and approvals while affording streamlined intra office benefits, apart from delivering simple business analysis capabilities to end-users, thereby enhancing its position in the industry.

The Sharepoint Portal solution developed by Lanka Orix Information Technology (LOIT) has now been extended to the ORIX Group worldwide, enabling collaboration and information sharing within ORIX Group companies globally. This has enabled LOIT to expand its scope and offer both consultancy and implementation services to the ORIX Group worldwide apart from servicing the local market. The sophistication of this solution has been commended by the Orix Group’s worldwide companies that have experienced the multiple advantages of adopting the Sharepoint Portal solution.

Microsoft’s Financial Services Group focuses on three core industry sectors: Banking, Capital Markets and Insurance. The company is responding to the rapid evolution in these sectors with the development of its Financial Services initiative. The initiative is a solutions framework designed to guide financial services companies to think in new ways and thereby deliver the right solutions. The framework does this by aligning its platform, industry partners and people so that financial services customers can maximise their investment in technology, reduce their operational costs and compete more effectively in the marketplace. When customers take advantage of these capabilities, the experience created, yields tremendous differentiation in the marketplace; and they can fundamentally change the customer, employee and operations experience.

Financial institutions globally have identified some key strategic focal points where substantial investments will be mandatory on an ongoing basis such as improved customer satisfaction, increased customer retention, the ability to extend current relationships through cross-selling and improved cost management. Microsoft’s global expertise coupled with innovative solutions will allow financial services institutions in Sri Lanka to maximise these strategic areas. Moreover, financial organisations need to respond quickly to the burgeoning needs of their customers, and to effect this, they need quick access to all relevant customer information to assist with sales, marketing and servicing their customers. By leveraging their systems on a Microsoft platform, organisations can offer valued customers world class product and service standards.

Microsoft combines its technology expertise with industry expertise, and solutions and services from partners to offer customised solutions that gear personnel in these sectors for greater efficiency and productivity. The capital markets and securities industry is looking for an adaptable infrastructure that can support the business needs of today while providing the agility to meet unpredictable and unforeseen requirements in the future.

Channa de Silva, Enterprise Leader - Microsoft Sri Lanka, explained: “Microsoft can help financial services drive new opportunities for business success by empowering the people within companies to develop more profitable relationships, create innovative products and services, improve operations, reduce costs and build connections with partners. By giving people the right tools, businesses can boost capabilities while optimizing their infrastructure.”

Furthermore, Microsoft unveiled a whole new work culture to Sri Lanka’s corporates by introducing Windows Vista, Microsoft office 2007 and Windows Exchange Server 2007. The launch marked a significant chapter for Sri Lanka, introducing specially designed genuine Microsoft software with local language capability.  The Sinhala language capability built-in to the operating system in Microsoft Windows Vista marked a new chapter in bridging the digital divide and increasing Sri Lanka’s PC penetration, empowering Sri Lankans to interact with the world’s latest technologies in their own language. Microsoft Sri Lanka is presently involved in introducing Vista Starter, which is purpose-built for emerging markets.

Microsoft Sri Lanka has, over the last couple of years, entered into enterprise agreements with a growing list of top corporate entities in the country. The Microsoft Enterprise customer base now includes state and private sector giants such as Brandix, MAS Holdings, Hirdaramani, Hayleys, SLT, Dialog Telekom, Mobitel, Seylan Bank, Bank of Ceylon and Sri Lankan Airlines, to name a few, who have vested their IT advancements in the safe hands of Microsoft. The company has been able to instil truly global standards into the Sri Lankan IT landscape in its bid to propel the country to the next level of technological development.

Microsoft is committed to becoming the catalyst that makes technology accessible to all Sri Lankans and dedicates its resources and expertise to overhaul the IT landscape of Sri Lanka by promoting a new culture of knowledge sharing, professionalism, research and development. The company’s role is fashioned on the premise of supporting and promoting innovation by providing the right platforms to the latent talent in Sri Lanka, thus, helping people discover their fullest potential so that they become efficient and empowered contributors to Sri Lanka’s global competitiveness.