Cloud at the centre of ANZ's agile approach to customer-focused banking

The blue bank has touted breaking its ambitious customer-focused plans up into small pieces, leveraging Google Cloud to make that a reality.

ANZ bank has taken around 5,000 technical people, blended them into teams with a similar-sized number of business-minded folks, and transitioned them to an approach that ANZ technology group executive Gerard Florian said leverages scaled agile, human-centred design that is lean.

According to Florian, this is the key for the blue bank to provide value to its customers in a faster way -- one that also results in more engaged staff and takes out some of the "wrinkles" and friction that often appears in a large organisation.

Speaking at the Google Cloud Summit in Sydney on Wednesday, Florian said this thought process behind how its teams function has flowed into the bank's overall transformation.

"Traditionally in financial services, those transformation programs are usually multi-year and sometimes multi-billion-dollar programs. But by breaking it up into smaller pieces, by thinking about the customer before the system, and then trying to make sure that we are delivering value very quickly in small, incremental chunks and getting feedback on that, rather than perhaps waiting two to three years, it's certainly part of the way in which we're approaching our transformation," he said.

The bank revealed in May 2017 it would 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 improve efficiency within the bank.

"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," CEO Shayne Elliott said previously.

"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."

Bringing everything together, Florian said, is cloud.

"[Cloud] is a fundamental part of our story," Florian said. "As a financial organisation, with a heavy regulation that we face, and the community expectation being as it is, we have been taking a very clear, but I guess cautious, step towards cloud.

See also: Google Cloud Platform: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)  

"In the last 12-18 months, with help from Google, we've certainly accelerated that and when I think about how we are now looking at cloud, it is more of an industrialised factory rather than tactical projects."

According to Florian, who joined the bank in late-2016 when it stood up the brand new role, he is focused on one thing when building in the cloud: How developers can get their application into the cloud quickly, in a format that meets ANZ's requirements, the requirements of customers, and those of the regulators.

"When we think about the paved road, from a development point of view, that's making sure we can deal with things like container vulnerabilities, with the help of people like Twistlock; how do we make sure that we've got the standardised patterns in place, so that from a repeatability point of view we know that what's running in the cloud is doing so consistently, with help from people like Terraform; then also how do we wrap things like a cloud business office around that entire service, so my business partners can get their applications into the cloud," Florian said.

"Once we're there, though, we need to make sure that from a security point of view that our controls are consistent, there's not an appetite to have two sets of controls.

"Then I think about service management and operating this hybrid environment, and I want to use consistent tools, whether that's things like Splunk, or Apptio, or ServiceNow -- it doesn't matter, I want to make sure that we are managing the entire environment as one."

See also: NAB throws Google into multi-cloud mix

Florian said the Google Cloud Platform environment helps make this a reality.

"When I think about what we're doing within ANZ, whether it's enabling customers to receive notifications in real-time as they're in the channel; whether it's around our business customers getting more insight into what's happening in their world ... these are some of the solutions that we're already seeing come to fruition," he continued.

"And I'm certainly very excited about the potential that sits within the platform as we continue to do more and more with cloud, and with help from Google."

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