Commonwealth Bank to roll out simplified platform strategy

Using its existing cloud-based and revamped core banking infrastructure, the Commonwealth Bank plans take a platform approached to its IT strategy in an aim to remove duplication.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The company may have just completed the transformation of its core banking infrastructure, but for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), there's still more to do.

Speaking at TechEd in Sydney on Monday, CBA's recently appointed chief information officer David Whiteing said the company's ongoing strategy is much like training for a big sporting event, and it will use what it has already achieved as momentum to "push on and to do more".

According to Whiteing, the next step for the bank is to drive a platform-based strategy that will help further simplify existing processes, reduce any replication, and eliminate any "unrewarded complexities".

"We want to create platforms that are multi-use and multi-featured, so that we have fewer platforms and can drive as many features out of those platforms as possible," he said.

"We're trying to remove duplication of functions from other parts of the business and put in consistency in place."

The creation of a single customer record database and reducing the number of partners so it can have "deeper relationships" with existing ones are goals that CBA hopes to achieve as part of this simplification process, Whiteing said.

He added that by creating simplified, API-driven platforms, it will allow the bank to be flexible and relevant to specific services.

"For example, if you're in the customer engagement space, we want to be able to move regularly, we want to have continuous DevOps, we want to be able to release features, if necessary daily, weekly, and monthly.

"With other platforms, it might have a slightly different profile and it's designed to move slightly slowly. This light, less-complicated integration architecture integration platform will allow the organisation to move at an appropriate speed across the organisations," Whiteing said.

Whiteing said the other added benefit about this simplification process is that the bank will have the opportunity to expose some of its APIs publicly so that other organisations will be able to use it to develop services and features that could be relevant for CBA customers.

Underpinning the simplification strategy is the company's existing cloud platform, a move that was first introduced to the bank by Whiteing's predecessor, Michael Harte, who recently finished up with CBA to join Barclays Bank in London. Whiteing said cloud adoption continues to be a core focus, where the cloud currently hosts just fewer than 40 percent of the company's processing workload

"We really want as much as possible for our infrastructure and services to be on demand. We want to be able to drive a much more of a pay-as-you-go model compared to what we historically had. We want to be able to drive a much more standardised way in doing activities so we can move really, really quickly."

He added that moving more compute into the cloud will help free up "talented individuals" to focus on solving problems for the future and not perform activities that should be standardised and automated.

"We recognise there's a constraint and crunch around talented individuals, and if we continue to remain people dependent in every activity we perform, that's going to be an inhibitor in the way we do things," he said.

Whiteing concluded that Microsoft's launch of Azure Geo in Australia will be most beneficial for the bank.

"We'll continue to push more into the cloud, and obviously having a cloud service offering in Australia is a massive benefit. It's a highly regulated industry, we have a number of regulations we need to abide by and will continue abide by, and working with our regulators to help them understand a local cloud offering will be massive for us," he said.

CBA has also launched a temporary lock feature that allows credit card customers to lock a misplaced credit card while they look for it using their CommBank app or via NetBank, and unlock it again if they find it. Additionally, if the card is lost permanently it can be cancelled and reordered via the app or NetBank, too.

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