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Downing Tomorrow's Data Devils

Downing Tomorrow's Data Devils

They say: if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

Wrong. At least Fidelity Business Services India thinks so.

Every 60 seconds, a Fidelity analyst somewhere in the world makes contact with a company to manage its funds. To support the organization's incredible need for data, IT created a data management system that met every challenge business threw its way. Fidelity could have decided not to mess with it, but that would have been the old Fidelity."

"Typically, IT initiated a project when something failed. That's being reactive. So, we thought to ourselves: this is where we're today, we know the business projections, what do we need to do today to make IT work tomorrow?" Amit Gupta, VP-IT Services, Fidelity Business Services India, remembers asking his team.

The problem was the logic behind his line of questioning clashed with a golden rule in IT that is also based firmly in logic: do not tinker with a system that works. Gupta was worried that Fidelity's perfectly functioning data management system wouldn't be able to meet the needs of the future. He knew that it was only a matter of time before the company's storage system gave way. "When we reviewed our storage, we realized that while it worked today, it may not tomorrow," recalls Gupta.

It was a good thought. And Gupta was prepared to do the shovel work required to re-structure an existing system. But whether he could persuade the business to get behind him was another issue. "The way it works here is that all IT infrastructure is owned by IT. If business needs something they come to us, we translate that requirement into an IT business case and they pay for it. We implement and support," says Gupta. This structure meant that Gupta would need to get multiple departments to be as visionary and convince them to invest the necessary time and US$1.16 million.

Today's Saint is Tomorrow's Satan

Fidelity is as big as it is old. Started about 40 years ago, the company operates in many markets around the world. The company and its subsidiaries -- one of which is Fidelity Business Services India -- managed around US$300 billion in 2007 for investors. But it was only in 2005 that Fidelity got a foothold in the Indian market. But within 24 months, Fidelity India introduced 10 funds and bumped up its client base many times over. Soon the company needed 7,000 employees across Bangalore, Gurgaon and Chennai to run its business.

All that new business brought plenty of reasons not to procrastinate.

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