Sheik Mohammad Fuad, Head of ICT, LankaBangla Finance Limited

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Behind the backdrop of economic instabilities, financial institutions like LankaBangla have contributed much to the development of the tertiary sector in Bangladesh. In its twenty years of operations so far it has managed to make a significant impact in the financial sector of the country.
The financial institution, with its immensely efficient Information and Communication Technology department, plans to elevate the level of customer service in the country with the use various technological tools that are currently easing out ways worldwide. An interview with the ICT Head and one of the Vice Presidents of the company, Sheik Mohammad Fuad, revealed some valuable insight about the IT operations of the firm.

As the Head of Information and Communication Technology, what are your most essential duties at Lanka Bangla Finance Limited?
In this tech savvy generation, ICT has a major role in any business nowadays. As an IT Head, my role mostly revolves around strategic direction, budgeting and planning, meeting regularitory compliances, and maintaining a secure ICT infrastructure. Also corresponding with vendors to enhance the application as per business requirements. The monitoring of running projects also takes up part of my time.

“WE HAVE A USER FRIENDLY, SECURED WORK ENVIRONMENT WHERE PEOPLE LOVE TO USE ALL TECHNOLOGICAL TOOLS TO MAXIMIZE BENEFITS. WE ARE PRACTICING MEETINGS, APPROVALS, DECISIONS, INSTRUCTIONS AND ETC. ALL OVER EMAIL AND VIDEO CONFERENCES TO SAVE TIME AND CREATE A PAPERLESS ENVIRONMENT.”

What are your thoughts on the state of IT infrastructure at major financial institutions in our country?
I feel like the ICT infrastructure in many major institutions is yet to be developed and maintained properly. It is not always about creating an infrastructural support but also about nurturing it. We should focus on service stability where customer service is at the core of everything. The ICT infrastructure needs to be implemented on a planned duration and updated on a regular basis to maintain a healthy relationship with the consumers. Customers need to be kept updated on the service we provide and also consider customer feedback for further improvement.
What sets the systems being used at Lanka Bangla apart from those at other financial institutions?
Well, there is a list of things that do set our systems apart, comparatively. Firstly, the operating systems in all the computers used in our organization are licensed for the prevention of security threats and also to be compliant. Secondly, our Core Banking Solution software implemented in the year 2012, gives us an edge when it comes to the delivery of customer services in this competitive era. LankaBangla have its own Credit Card Management Switching software from the very beginning. We understand the value of time and have thus adapted to the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to automate the manual functions of our human resource and reduce both process and lead time to deliver our services faster. We are also the first one amongst other NBFIs to come up with the idea of building a contact center. Since 2014, we have a single-digit contact number 16325 taken from BTRC which is used by more than twenty five agents to respond to consumer queries 24X7. We also have implemented Disaster Site (Phase I) located outside Dhaka to run operation on unavailability of D.C. Moreover, we were amongst the first ones to launch a mobile app ‘FinSmart’ to help connect with our consumers in a better way. Also, we plan to roll out the concept of a digital branch, website and social media itself will perform as a branch responding to customer needs. Lastly, we have also put into use the Microsoft Exchange server for communication. All these as a whole differentiates us from the other major financial institutions.

What kind of IT related culture have you set up at Lanka Bangla? What are some of the possible negative consequences of failing to develop, implement and nurture such a culture?
As LankaBangla’s human resources are very young and energetic and happy to adopt all technological tools to enhance effeciancy, minimize process time and increase productivity. We have a user friendly, secured work environment where people love to use all technological tools to maximize benefits. We are practicing meetings, approvals, decisions, instructions and etc. all over email and video conferences to save time and create a paperless environment.
There is a major role for users as they have to follow procedures properly with dedication. Failing to do so may increase TAT, miscomiunication, decrease internal efficiency and interrupt customer services, thus will impact the overall business.

What preventive measures have you taken to safeguard your company from cyber security threats?
At LankaBangla, we prevent any cyber threats from hampering our systems using three ways. The network level is protected by access lists and the application level is protected using password policies, disallow scripting language with remote execution. Our third level, known as the host level, keeps the OS updated and is protected by a centralized anti-virus.
We also need to be concerend about internal threats which are exposed either, intentionally or unintentionally. Hence, we always try to spread awareness amongst our employees regarding new threats and other such matters via awareness programs that take place on a regular basis.

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