IT upgrades reduce severity of service outages: NAB

The bank is reaping the rewards of its IT investments, despite suffering a slight dip in cash profits this financial year.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor

The National Australia Bank (NAB) may have experienced a decline in profits this financial year, but its many IT investments have yielded tangible results, with the bank experiencing fewer technology incidents than before.

In its full-year financial announcement, the bank's cash profits were 0.5 percent lower than the previous corresponding year, dragged down by its overseas businesses.

But the bank talked up its big investments into IT, including its NextGen project, which was initiated in 2008 to replace its core banking infrastructure. NAB was recently revealed as an early adopter of Oracle's new banking platform, with deployment to wrap by 2014.

"Several key milestones were achieved against the technology-transformation program, including the launch of our new online trading platform, nabtrade, the migration of more than 300,000 UBank customers to the new NextGen banking platform, and the introduction of everyday settlements for the majority of merchants," NAB CEO Cameron Clyne said in a statement. "These initiatives will improve cost efficiency, and allow more flexibility to respond to customer needs."

But one of the more important benefits of the money that NAB spent on improving its technology was in reducing the bank's likelihood of inconveniencing customers through service outages.

"Key investments in reducing operational risk, including improvements in the robustness of NAB's overnight processing activities and IT security, have enhanced NAB's day-to-day service delivery," Clyne said. "The number of significant technology incidents experienced by the bank has decreased 28 percent year on year, reducing the effects of service outages on customers."

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has become increasingly concerned with the number of IT outages suffered by banks across Australia, and is looking for ways to deal with this.

There is still a fair way to go for NAB's NextGen transformation project, which will include introducing a single customer view for its information-management systems, as well as deploying new internal enterprise systems.

With the help of IBM, NAB is also in the process of building an internal private cloud in the bank's new datacentre in Melbourne. NAB will be able to pilot this by mid-2013.

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