Power Finance Corporation: Accelerating Digital Transformation Using Exponential Technologies

Power Finance Corporation Ltd. (PFC) is the financial backbone of the Indian Power Sector and the digitalisation of its processes and services was a critical step for them to ensure they are able to support the uninterrupted supply of power to the country

The COVID-19 crisis along with the advent of emerging technologies has already transformed the way organisations have been working and this holds true for public as well as private organisations. As organisations step into the future that may or may not contain COVID-19, a fine balance between what worked earlier and what needs to happen to succeed will be paramount.

Power Finance Corporation Ltd. (PFC) is an Indian financial institution. Established in 1986, it is the financial backbone of Indian Power Sector. PFC’s net worth as on 30 September 2018 is INR 383 billion. PFC is India’s largest NBFC and also India’s largest infrastructure finance company.

P S Sundaram, Chief General Manager IT & CIO at Power Finance Corporation Ltd. sheds some light on how the recent developments in technology and the COVID-19 outbreak have impacted, and in fact, accelerated their digital transformation initiatives. He shares, “The recent pandemic has had a great impact on our organisation. This was our year-end closing and to achieve the targets and financial results, it was very crucial for us to adopt technological advancements. It was a complete lockdown and we had to resort to working from home and had to enable all the technology. We are in the power sector and we are funding most of the power initiatives and even some private power projects. If the money does not reach the power utilities, there is a problem in generating, transmitting and distributing power which is going to have a greater impact on the power delivery system. So, it was crucial for us to adopt to whatever means of technical advancements available to us and at that particular point in time, we had to push through all those requirements. As a result, we were able to achieve all our targets and complete all financial disbursements.”

On the road to digitalisation

Further sharing some insights on the business objectives that they wanted to achieve with their digital transformation initiatives and some key pain points that they wanted to address, Sundaram says, “In terms of our digital transformation journey, we started somewhere in 1986 and in 2000, we had accounted for a complete refresh of all the applications. In the last 20 years, we had been using some legacy applications. Over the years, the business requirements and user requirements have evolved and we had almost everything on a distributed system. Our immediate business objective is to bring everything on a single platform and the purpose behind that is to achieve a single point of truth. Many times, we have been reconciling amongst the systems, where one information is available at multiple places and most of our users are spending a considerable amount of time in reconciling to find out which information is right and relevant. This process was causing a lot of pain points for our organisation. So, after 20 years of using the old applications, our effort now is to establish a single platform wherein we are going to establish a single point of truth. This is the priority right now.”

As per Power Finance Corporation Ltd.’s aim to become more digitised, they created a road map in 2019 and subsequently took it to the IT Strategy Committee. But towards the end of 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and all this caused a lot of problems for them to fulfil their digital transformation initiatives. “Actually, the complete IT transformation activity was planned. The IT roadmap, the digital specifications, the timelines, everything was in place and budgets were also allocated. We were about to start our transformation activity but the pandemic put a halt to it. We are now focusing on addressing the implications of COVID-19 and the requirements for this new normal, and how we can use technology to sail through these times,” he shares.

New-age technologies changing the game

Exponential technologies like hybrid cloud, digital workspaces, data center modernisation, cybersecurity, etc. have played a major role in the success of the digital initiatives of PFC and has helped them build a comprehensive services framework. According to Sundaram, all these things are already part of PFC’s IT roadmap. “We are going for a hybrid cloud model for Disaster Recovery and the procurement work is underway. Digital workspaces are also something we have adopted already. At PFC, we have been conducting IT awareness programs to encourage people to adopt more digital workspaces so that every data, whether it is structured or unstructured, will come to our IT platform so that it can be placed at some point in time to produce meaningful information and insights for the management to take any decisions. We have also almost computerised every process in our organisation. In terms of data centralisation, we have a plan to renovate our complete data centre and want to refresh the complete compute storage network security application, which is as per the documented roadmap that is already planned.”

Taking stock of the impact

While implementing digital initiatives is a critical step towards becoming a future-ready organisation, it is equally important to measure the impact of these interventions and hence, plan for the future accordingly. Talking about how PFC is measuring the impact of its digital initiatives, Sundaram shares that the number one of the biggest success metrics for them is building digital awareness in employees. “As a result of our digital transformation initiatives, we want to become tech savvy and whatever information that they can access logically, should be available to them. Whether it is normal business transactional information or analytical information that will help them in taking appropriate decisions, any information that they are looking for should be available to them in the flash of a second or on a press of a button. So, having access to any device, anywhere is what I consider a measure of success of any of our digital transformation initiatives.”