ANZ refreshes IT strategy

Anne Weatherston, chief information officer (CIO) of the ANZ Bank, has today revealed a refreshed IT strategy to take the bank through to 2017.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor

Anne Weatherston, chief information officer (CIO) of the ANZ Bank, has today revealed a refreshed IT strategy to take the bank through to 2017.


Ann Weatherston (Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia )

The strategy involves building out new content delivery networks in the Asia-Pacific region, and realigning IT staff across the business, but not a rip and replace of its core banking systems.

Speaking at a press conference in Sydney today, Weatherston said that the new strategy would focus on four new pillars: improved customer connectivity, getting better information from its existing systems, standardising its back-end infrastructure and focusing on customer centricity.


Weatherston revealed that ANZ Bank has been working with SingTel to deploy a new, media-enabled network across the Asia-Pacific region geared for voice and video transmission. Weatherston said that this new network capability would be used to transmit data to and from customers, and will have the capability to prioritise business-critical traffic.

"In Asia, the infrastructure build has focussed on major acquisitions and leveraging the growing Asian customer base. In the last year, in partnership with SingTel, we have implemented a new network capacity across the whole of Asia, and this is key to one of our core business objectives of connectivity," she said.

Customer Centricity

One of the initiatives that ANZ Bank is pursuing will see it unify its regional customer information systems to make one, cross-regional information system called the single global customer registry.

"At the heart of the customer centric ambition lies the single global customer registry. This will take feeds from all of our customer systems in each of our countries and in our regions. It will match customer data to connect it to individuals and parties and systems," she said.

"This allows customer services to be provided ... cross-region. In addition, we're developing a new single portal proposition for our consumer and our corporate clients."


ANZ will also look to unify its finance, HR and risk systems across the region, Weatherston said.

Standardisation operations will see the bank gear its IT focus towards minimum required effort for new deployments while aggressively virtualising its desktop fleet.

"Within the datacentres, we've embarked on an aggressive virtualisation program, and this will continue. Our work has already commenced to roll-out a bank-wide, virtual desktop capability," Weatherston said, which may open the way for a bring-your-own device capability similar to that of tier-two bank Suncorp.

Weatherston said that while the bank is looking to roll-out a fleet of corporate iPads, the bank has discovered an unnamed legal sticking point that it will investigate before initiating a trial.

The push towards standardisation comes after Mike Smith, ANZ CEO, said at the bank's most recent quarterly results announcement that IT projects had been created in isolation within the business, and had led to an overly complex environment.

"We already believe we spend about the right amount on IT; we just haven't spent it in the right places.

"We spent an awful lot of money on getting very little intrinsic value from some of our systems," he said in May.

In a move to end the siloed IT environment, ANZ has built a "do-it-once" approach into its new strategy, meaning that it will be able to deploy IT faster and more efficiently for new projects in the region.

Towards a regional strategy

The strategy refresh, originally flagged by Phil Chronican in June, sees the bank focus on positioning itself as a "super-regional" bank for the Asia-Pacific region, as opposed to a purely Australian-based institution.

"We've now got a very good footprint across the [Asia-Pacific] region, and we're starting to see the benefits of that intra-Asia growth flowing through into our business, as well.

"With the strategy that we have got, ANZ's strategies or priorities are different to a domestic sector bank, both in the way we do our business and the support for our business, as well," Hodges said.

Progress on previous initiatives

Weatherston also provided a detailed update on how ANZ Bank had delivered on its existing technology strategy, which had an original due date of 2012, describing the plan as "on track".

ANZ has completed the build of a new cash management system in Australia and New Zealand called Transactive. The CIO said that Transactive will be rolled out to key Asian markets by the end of the year. It's already live in Australia and New Zealand.

The bank has also rolled out a single core banking system in Asia, while moving its New Zealand operations onto the FIS Systematics core banking platform. In addition, ANZ overhauled its online platform, which has facilitated the development of new mobile offerings, including its pay-anyone app for iPhone, goMoney. Weatherston said that within the next month, users would see the next iteration of goMoney released, which would add BPAY support and also bring the app to platforms other than the iPhone.

ANZ has also reshuffled its IT staffing capability to better support IT initiatives across the new regional strategy.

"We've realigned all of our technology staff into a completely new operating model for technology, to create a more universal, professional services-based capability. In simple language, this means from a customer perspective that we are regionally aligned, globally organised for execution and service provision.

"We now have a very ... in-depth understanding of all of our skills and capabilities," she added.

Weatherston said that ANZ Bank is happy with the vendors it's using to build its super regional bank, adding that it's committed to sticking with Oracle for its transactional platforms and with FundTech for high-value payments, for example. The CIO added that ANZ is currently in a proof-of-concept phase with Oracle to deploy a single security authentication layer.

Weatherston added, however, that the company had no plans to build additional datacentres in Australia or New Zealand, but will continue to revamp its recently acquired Asia site.

"To place our business on sound footing, we've invested heavily on new datacentre capability in New Zealand, where we have a new state-of-the-art datacentre, and also in Asia, where we are in the process of building out one of our previously acquired datacentres. In Australia, we are satisfied that all of our datacentres are fit for purpose."

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