​ANZ bank to adopt Google-like 'Agile' approach to customer experience

The bank has flipped through the tech giant's play book, announcing the implementation of a Scaled Agile approach to organising and delivering work.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has announced it will be adopting the methods used by tech giants Google and Spotify in a bid to quickly respond to changing customer expectations, engage and empower staff, and to improve efficiency within the bank.

The Scaled Agile approach to organising and delivering work has been touted by ANZ as a proven approach for running businesses based on small, autonomous, multi-disciplinary teams.

According to the bank, it already uses agile to deliver around 20 percent of its tech-related projects including initiatives such as Apple Pay, which ANZ launched in April last year.

"In the digital age, customer expectations are being redefined by their experiences with businesses like Amazon and Apple. We need to break with some of the traditional 20th century approaches to organising and working to ensure we are more responsive to 21st century customer expectations," ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The use of agile will mean a much less hierarchical ANZ, one built around small, collaborative, self-directed teams focused on delivering continuous improvement in the customer experience."

The announcement comes on the same day as ANZ released its results for the first half of the 2017 financial year.

For the six-months ended March 31, 2017, ANZ recorded a 6 percent year on year increase in after-tax profit to AU$2.9 billion.

"These results show we are creating a very different bank, one that is consistently producing better outcomes for customers and for shareholders. These are still early days and I am pleased with the significant momentum we have now established in the business," the CEO added.

"Our intention is now to accelerate our transformation through wider implementation of Scaled Agile throughout ANZ.

"This is a completely different approach to running our business based on a proven model that will allow us to respond much faster to changing customer expectations, engage our staff and attract new talent, and reduce waste and bureaucracy."

According to Elliott, ANZ has already been heading in this direction, with around 20 percent of technology and digital projects currently delivered using the Agile approach within the bank.

The bank's agile-based transformation will initially be focused on the Australia division for its pilot projects, with plans to launch it at scale within the business in early 2018.

Kath Bray, currently the managing director for products who was responsible for the delivery of Apple Pay at ANZ, has been appointed to oversee the "agile transformation".

As the bank focuses on competing in the digital age, ANZ general manager of data Darren Abbruzzese revealed in February ANZ was embarking on a project to create an enterprise-wide data lake in a bid to capitalise on the most strategic asset the bank believes it has.

According to Abbruzzese, as the bank realised the value of its data, it captured everything it could. However, as a result, little "ponds" of data popped up in different departments throughout the organisation, and the information inside remained valuable and accessible only to those working on a particular project.

As a result, ANZ is aggregating its data into a single Hadoop-based data lake, which will also see the bank move away from the concept of data warehouses.

Abbruzzese expects the process to take a number of years, and the bank will start with transitioning over its high-priority data assets and work backwards from there. In addition, Abbruzzese wants to see the lake top up in real time.

"It is a challenge, as we've got a lot of legacy technology. We've still got some mainframes running, got huge batch processes -- but it's something we're really keen to prosecute because we think improving the flow of data through our organisation will really help drive an advantage for us," he explained.

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