National Australia Bank's UBank and direct banking business engagement partner Susan Kidd today debated on the benefits of Agile methodology with Bankwest CIO Andy Weir; Kidd believed Agile was only suitable to be used in some parts of the business while Weir claimed it should be implemented across the board.
Speaking on a panel at the FST Media Future of Banking and Financial Services forum in Sydney this morning, Kidd said that while the Agile method of accelerating the development of IT projects by partnering IT and business was great for customer-facing aspects of banking, it wouldn't work in all areas.
"It's fair to say Agile isn't the answer to everything. You've got your top layer which is your web; Agile works extremely well there, but I don't think you'll ever get Agile into core banking, hard transaction processing or batch processing," she said. "Well you might, but I won't be around to see it.
"You've got to understand where you can get the benefits from it and its not a be all and end for an entire bank development."
Weir, who has long been a supporter of the methodology, said it was necessary to put Agile in the parts of the business where it didn't fit well in order to drive cultural change.
"It's very easy to apply Agile methodologies to certain components of the IT world, and certainly in the online space is an obvious one, but if you truly want to drive cultural change and drive the whole of IT to the business customer and the delivery of the strategy you do have to push it into those areas where you don't think there is a natural fit," he said. "Because if you don't do that, you're really not going to drive the cultural outcomes that I think are absolutely critical for the modern technology environment."
Bankwest has been on the road to Agile since 2008.
Kidd said Agile was working very well for NAB, but that it was a culture shift for the company.
"It certainly blends that hard line we used to have between our business and our technology," she said.
Standard Chartered Singapore's group head of remote banking Aman Narain, who was also on the panel, said that his organisation was about three months into an Agile project, and echoed the sentiment that it came down to cultural change.
"People are used to having a nice wall where there's business on one side and development on the other and it's quite easy to say 'oh business got it wrong, oh development got it wrong'," he said. "Agile brings a lot more accountability and that's not always easy."
The Twitter effect
Twitter also weighed heavily on the minds of the panellists, with discussion turning to how best to use social media in a banking environment.
Kidd said that UBank viewed itself as an internet company that happened to be a bank, and said that social media was a part of that model.
"[Banking is] actually about having a relationship rather than a transactional engagement. Social media is very important to our strategic future," she said.
Standard Chartered's Narain said there was a danger in banks not having a social media presence, but fellow panellist Peter Dalton, group general manager for innovation at ANZ, said that banks must be realistic about the social aspect of social media.
"We have to take it in balance for what it is. There's a lot of people who will follow Justin Bieber on Twitter, but they're not going to really follow one of the panellists up here quite as enthusiastically," he said.