Siri-style search wins CBA code comp

Siri-style search wins CBA code comp

Summary: Commonwealth Bank (CBA) customers may soon be able to use natural language to search through their transactions, after the bank held its first internal code competition to find the company's top techie.

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Commonwealth Bank (CBA) customers may soon be able to use natural language to search through their transactions, after the bank held its first internal code competition to find the company's top techie.

The bank's IT staff was invited to take part in a new initiative spearheaded by chief technology officer Mok Choe, called "Top Coder".

The winning entry of the 48-hour competition was a new feature that would let NetBank customers browse through their transactions using natural-language search, capitalising on the success of voice assistants, like Apple's Siri.

Phrases such as "shopping on Friday", "food bought on weekends since 2010" and "withdrawals greater than $75 in 2011" would all work on the new search function. The search, at this stage, is still text only, however.

Another innovation that came out of Top Coder is a social game that incentivises savings and puts friends head-to-head by using charts, leader boards and activity feeds.

Over 200 staff from the bank's enterprise-services division came together to submit 39 different entries.

Choe told ZDNet Australia that the bank is now exploring how to get these winning ideas out to the bank's customers, while continuing to encourage innovation within the bank.

"There's a tradition of these sort of coding competitions among many of the world's most innovative technology companies, for example Google and its code jams. I've run coding contests for many years, going back to my days at DoubleClick. Given the same culture of creativity and innovation exists at CBA, it made sense to run a competition like this here," Choe said, adding that the competition may even open up to the bank's customers one day.

"We'll certainly run 'Top Coder' again, and hope to eventually expand it to include participants from across the entire bank, as well as from our technology partners, university students and potentially even members of the public."

Choe said that he hopes to run the competition three times per year. Judges for this competition included Choe and several other senior technologists and enterprise architects.

The chief technologist went on to add that good ideas need not be limited to 48-hour coding competitions. A new rapid-solutions services capability has been implemented for staff to submit new ideas, with a view to deploying them to customers quickly.

Top Coder continues the bank's focus on new, innovative ideas for services. Several months ago, the bank's chief marketing officer, Andy Lark, opened up an online ideas-sharing platform that encouraged customers to open up about new features that they wanted in their bank.

Topics: Software Development, Banking

Luke Hopewell

About Luke Hopewell

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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