The Internet bug seems to have bitten ICICI Limited. The company is reported to be considering moves aimed at either acquiring or setting up portals on the Internet for developing its business. The company has also stated that it will shortly unveil its business to business (B to B) e-commerce platform by the end of this month.
ICICI is India's second largest financial institution, with a major presence in almost all areas of financial services. The company has an asset base of Rs 585 bn.
ICICI Internet strategy seems to have been in the offing for some time. The company had earlier integrated all its infotech-related operations under ICICI Infotech. The recently set up e-commerce division is now working in close association with ICICI Infotech on developing and implementing new products. The e-commerce platform that is to be unveiled shortly by the company will service over 1,000 corporate clients.
ICICI's decision to leverage on the Internet to spread its wings, improve customer service and reduce costs is a step in the right direction. The company's approach has been proactive and this will ensure that it will get a head start over its domestic peers. The improvement in the level of customer services will help the company in attracting more clients. The reduction in operating costs will go a long way in improving margins and the competitiveness of the company.
On the other hand, ICICI should now be looking at international competition with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) increasingly pressing for more open markets. Also, there are vast opportunities in the international markets that can be tapped by the company. From this point of view, the Internet strategy is a necessity rather than an innovative business plan.
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