March 2020 was an unforgettable month for employees at the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE). As COVID-19 cases climbed across Asia, the Indian government announced total lockdown of its 1.3 billion citizens, giving less than 4 hours’ notice before the order took effect.
For the very first time, NSE employees had to experiment with working from home while daily trading volumes doubled to 4 billion orders per day.
As the world’s largest exchange in derivatives trading, all eyes were on NSE. Getting things right from the start has never been more critical.
Change Is the Name of the Game
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, NSE had already begun re-imagining business processes and modernizing applications.
“In less than 24 hours, we worked with VMware to roll out the Workspace ONE solution to all essential staff. In the next two weeks, all NSE staff had access to their virtual desktops,” shared Shiv Kumar Bhasin, chief technology and operations officer at NSE.
Looking back, Bhasin said the impact on productivity was powerful. He shared that NSE made critical changes that would’ve taken twice the amount of time in pre-COVID days. He attributes the speed of development to the exchange’s hybrid cloud. This model enabled seamless collaboration between agile teams working remotely.
Development tools were also made available through cloud. Now, developers can access resources at any time in an agile and secure manner. At any point, developers can connect up to five devices and choose to work on the most suitable device for the task at hand.
“Whenever we noticed a skills gap, we were able to crowdsource external talent from the best and brightest developers across the world and easily collaborate through the cloud. These cloud-native solutions were then moved to NSE’s on-prem data servers to ensure the exchange continued to fulfill stringent regulatory and data security requirements,” said Bhasin.
This level of collaboration would have been impossible if NSE’s hybrid cloud solutions did not fulfill security requirements. “As a capital markets leader and frontline market regulator, NSE relies on a cybersecurity-conscious critical infrastructure platform to meet the highest regulatory compliance,” said Bhasin.
For example, NSE needs to ensure data on Indian entities remain within the geographical limits of the country. This means it could only utilize secure servers based in India.
Benefits Beyond Workplace Productivity
Employees save precious time and headspace when they no longer need to commute to work in the fourth-most congested city in the world. In Mumbai, commuters previously spent an average of 209 hours a year stuck in traffic. Working from home also improved air quality. With fewer cars on the road, Mumbai recorded a 76% decline in particle matter and NO2 concentration levels, the steepest decline out of five major cities in India.
Without the burden of the commute, parents and primary caregivers now have more opportunities to participate in the workforce. They can bring their diverse talents and backgrounds to make the exchange more inclusive.
Turning to Customer Experiences
“We were focused on the core systems to ensure they could be taken into the next generation. But as soon as the pandemic happened, our priorities changed,” said Bhasin. “We have to first address various touchpoints we have with members. They are legacy channels and are not end-to-end digital in nature.”
Automating Business Processes
NSE learned that automating services and minimizing in-person human interaction catered to end-user needs. Whether it’s services for customers or employees, automation is now at the heart of delivering more meaningful customer engagements and employee experiences. NSE is also actively moving towards a self-service model for its IT needs.
Bhasin said, “Cloud technologies have enabled NSE’s digital transformation journey and created better collaboration for our distributed workforce.”