“In our world, when the technology stops, the bank stops.”
In one sentence, ANZ Bank CIO Anne Weatherston describes the critical role ICT plays in the organisation.
Speaking at the Gartner Symposium in the Gold Coast, Weatherston describes how the bank is implementing is implementing its five-year technology strategy. She says the strategy is about connecting the customers. “Customers don’t want to do banking in silos,” she says. They want a joined up customer experience which allows them to transact across multiple channels. They want to be able start transaction on an iPhone, pick it up on the internet, or go to a branch.
“It is about designing banking services that are a bit more like the Amazon type of experience. That is what customers want, that is what we will give them.
“Exciting is an understatement,” says Weatherston, describing her past three year at ANZ, which has been expanding operations across the region.
In her first year, she addressed some basic technology concerns. “We had a lot of unstable technology that needed to be stabilised,” she says. This was important, she says, as she has to build trust and
confidence as CIO.
She also had to restructure the team to shift from being “domestically focused” to building technology for a “superbanking agenda”.
Weatherston says the two goals are to transform IT capability and the technology at ANZ. “We had to do the two in parallel,” she says. The change in technology function was massive as they had to identify all the technology staff, map them into new roles, understand their capabilities and than “start the aggressive programme of upskilling and developing capability”.
Through all these, security is paramount. “In the olden days banks had a safe with money in them. Not anymore, [today] it is data,” she says.
“What customers want from a bank is ease of use, a service that meets their customer expectations but they want security because it is all about trust.”
Weatherston joined ANZ Bank in 2010 from the Bank of Ireland where she was group CIO for four years. She is responsible for the development and maintenance of the infrastructure and technology systems that support ANZ globally.
She says the move to simpler, more standardised technologies has allowed ANZ to have a flat IT cost over the past two years despite massive growth. “We were able to do it on the back of a virtualisation programme.”
She says 40 percent of the bank infrastructure is now in the private cloud, and expects this to be 80 percent in the next two years at a cost of 70 percent less.
The technology and business strategy are intertwined, she says. The technology roadmap needed to be designed, built and architected as a global business.
The strategy was around determining enterprise capabilities were needed to build to connect customers globally and which business from IT and business perspective is okay to be designed and built from a local perspective.
Weatherston says the strategy is to have three core engines for the business – the Pacific, Asia and a single system for Australia and New Zealand.
She says the integration of ANZ New Zealand with the National Bank was completed two weeks ago “Without a hitch no interruption in customer services at all. Everything worked.”
As to how this was achieved, she says, it was down to having the right people, those who have global technology experience and who have worked in large-scale complex integration projects. “People make the different in technology if they bring the right experience.”
Weatherston says most of the people that conducted the work were incumbent NZ IT team members “but with the right leadership and confidence to make it happen.”
She says having the CEO Mike Smith directly sponsor the project “really brought the business to the table”.
As to being CIO of one of the largest banks in the region, she says,
“Technology, particularly in banking, is critical to be able to lead. You have to be able to have the conversations", and understand the implications of not investing in a particular technology.
Having a technology background is critical, she says, but she advises that you should make sure you get enough business exposure and leadership experience.
For aspiring CIOs, she highlights the importance of working across business and technology areas. “Be demanding in the experience you are getting.”
Weatherston says there is a worldwide shortage now on people who can bridge the gap between business and technology. “Having the experience in all the major functions of IT is a good thing to do,” she says. She made sure she worked across business and technology. This included running a development shop, an infrastructure shop and an architecture team.
“I also worked in the business IT interface,” she says. “I ran a major business change programme."
When she was working in retail, she made sure she had first hand experience in the stores once a week. “Working there made me understand how IT did and did not meet customer experience.”
“Understand the importance of technology to that business - ultimately it is all about the customer - the voice of the customer.”
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