Westpac timetables huge IT revamp

Summary:Westpac today outlined huge IT transformation goals, detailing plans for a new online banking system, new call centre platforms, datacentre upgrades and updating the market on its core-banking upgrade project.

Westpac today outlined huge IT transformation goals, detailing plans for a new online banking system, new call centre platforms, datacentre upgrades and updating the market on its core-banking upgrade project.

Bob McKinnon, Westpac's group executive for Technology, informed investors and journalists today via webcast of the bank's huge IT goals over the next three years, with the endgame being to lift the bank's productivity, improve system reliability and enhance customer experience.

Within the next six months, Westpac is looking to implement a new IP telephony system in all its bank branches; upgrade two datacentres and decommission another; migrate 5 million paper signatures into a new, faster digital system; and install a new collections case-handling system for retail and business banking customers.

By financial year 2012, the bank will roll-out a new online banking platform for retail, business and corporate customers.

The online banking platform is set to be a faster, more secure environment with a focus on mobile accessibility.

"The platform will support our 2 million-plus active online customers in Westpac ... and will put the customer in control. It will allow them to do their banking, how and when they want, be it on a PC, mobile phone or other mobile device like an iPad, or for that matter, any other mobile technology that emerges in the future," McKinnon said.

At the same time as the online banking revamp, Westpac intends to roll-out a new customer service platform for its front- and back-of-house staff.

The bank will upgrade the St George call centre platform from the "Unity" system, and the Westpac teller platform will be upgraded to St George's "Spider" system.

Yesterday, Westpac confirmed it had delayed its migration to the Hogan core banking platform.

McKinnon today told investors and journalists that Westpac doesn't plan to start the migration for at least four years, instead, choosing to tackle more customer-centric systems.

"We are not expecting to begin the migration until 2014," McKinnon said.

"We had originally intended to commence the migration earlier; however, in the interest of delivering better customer services, we see greater value in integrating our customer information management systems, and this has been moved up in our priorities."

The strategy also involves greater sharing of IT infrastructure between Westpac and its recently acquired subsidiary, St George.

Before the end of the financial year, the bank aims to host St George card services, a high value payment hub and a new online trade finance facility on Westpac infrastructure.

The bank is also aiming for a quicker time to market by using Six Sigma and Lean methodologies, with Westpac retraining its staff to focus on cutting unnecessary processes and wastage out of project development.

Westpac has already identified 250 project re-engineering opportunities to cut the fat from its day-to-day business and is nearing completion of 20 projects by the end of the financial year.

"In summary, we've come a long way in our technology journey over the last two years, we've strengthened the team, significantly improved the reliability of our systems, strengthened governance, enhanced relationships with our suppliers, completed our initial merger-related work and are now well on the way to delivery of the [strategic investment projects]. We have much to be proud of, albeit plenty more to do," McKinnon said.

Topics: IBM, Banking, Oracle, Software, Telcos, 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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