CommBank airs plans for wireless offices

Summary:Commonwealth Bank of Australia has flagged a move to a new, wireless workplace as an effort to bring together its three Sydney central business district offices.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia has flagged a move to a new, wireless workplace as an effort to bring together its three Sydney central business district (CBD) offices.

AIIA forum panel

AIIA mobility innovation in financial services forum panel (Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

In an Australian Information Industry Alliance (AIIA) discussion last week on mobility innovation in financial services, the bank's general manager for online banking Drew Unsworth said that Commonwealth Bank plans to move into a wireless workspace environment next year.

Telstra financial services general manager industry marketing Rocky Scopelliti said that financial institutions such as Macquarie Bank and ANZ were fitting out some of their premises with wireless connectivity. He asked the panel whether their companies were doing similar work.

"We're about to go into that type of workspace next year," Unsworth said. "I think that's actually a really exciting opportunity; I currently have people working in three different buildings around the CBD because that's physically where their desks are and where their facilities are. But under activity-based working for us, it means you can get those teams working together a lot more efficiently."

ZDNet Australia contacted the bank for more information regarding its plans for a wireless workplace, but the bank offered no additional comment at the time of publication.

Other members of the panel, speaking at the Telstra Experience Centre in Sydney, included Suncorp's Paul Cameron and National Australia Bank's Chris Smith, who weighed in on finding a balance between wired and wireless collaboration within a business.

Cameron, Suncorp's head of enterprise services, said that he prefers a mix of Wi-Fi and 3G offerings.

"We've tried Wi-Fi in a building and it's been OK, but my view is to leave it to the experts. We use [Telstra] and we've got great 3G coverage throughout our building and it comes down to price. If you negotiate the right price, it makes it very flexible and you get access to your network very quickly and it works pretty good. We've still got Wi-Fi in pockets but it means you can go outside the building and work and you get access to video-conferencing, instant messaging and all sorts of unified communications available to you wherever you are — on a wire or on 3G," Cameron said.

Cameron added that getting staff on board with the wireless office was about driving a cultural shift in the business.

"It comes from two angles. People who like to sit at their desks found it to be a bit of a change but it really comes from people using smartphones and using their computers from home. They just demand it. They've already been using it for some time and ask why they can't operate in a virtual environment. It's been quite effective."

Smith, NAB's general manager for Digital Services, said that the bank is looking past the office and into the branch to best deploy its wireless technology.

"I guess, more relevant to our business is the branches. Enabling them to have that discussion in an intimate way ... that's where we've been rolling it out," Smith said.

Topics: Telcos, Banking, Microsoft, Networking, Telstra

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A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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