Australia and New Zealand Banking Group is working to shorten the time taken to build information systems to support its new banking operations in Asia. The bank has already gone live with new technology platforms in Laos and is now focused on Indonesia as it works through a three-year roll-out of computer and communications software and hardware to its Asian businesses.
ANZ's Asia Pacific Technology general manager Brian Clark said it was also carefully selecting telecommunications partners to ensure as much consistency as possible across its operations in a region where communications infrastructure varied dramatically.
"Our simple strategy is what I like to call build once, deploy many," Mr Clark said.
"We're certain that as we build the regional capability we'll be able to deploy [systems] more quickly to countries. In our internal program plan each country implementation gets shorter and shorter as we go." Mr Clark said that ANZ opted to install its new information systems in Laos first because while the bank had only one branch in the country, it required nearly the full set of products and services ANZ wants to market in Asia.
Indonesia also requires most of ANZ's regional products and gives the bank's technology staff a taste of completing similar projects in different cultural settings.
Mr Clark said ANZ would tweak its platforms to allow for local conditions in its Asian markets. The bank wanted about 80 per cent of products and services to be similar. Increasing trade flows between the countries created a need to have cross-border capabilities, which spilled into computer architecture.
That need for underlying technical consistency in part led to the decision to install a common Finacle, core-banking system, that would be rolled out to Asian operations over the next three years.
Experience gained would also feed into ANZ's Australian core-banking system upgrade, for which Finacle maker Infosys was considered a front-runner.
"We had a decision to make early on, which . . . was do we let each country [in Asia] do its own thing or do we do one standard regional platform and tweak it around the edges for country needs," Mr Clark said. "We decided to standardise that regional platform primarily to leverage the scale but also to give us a consistent operation across the board. Finacle is a foundational part of that."
Regional partnerships with telecommunications carriers were needed to bring consistency to its operations, he said.
"Telecommunications infrastructure is something that is quite different from country to country. So having local, in-country knowledge is critical to our business and IT strategy.
"We have to have a model that supports the appropriate amount of variation to allow for just what's capable in the countries . . . and it's why we look for strong partners who also have a similar challenge to solve."
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