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Thursday, 06 October 2011 17:13

Another five years for bank clouds: ANZ


Cloud vendors may be wildly spruiking their wares - but they need to evolve their offerings further according to ANZ chief information officer Anne Weatherston who does not believe cloud is likely to be relevant for banks for another five years.

Speaking at a CEDA event in Sydney, Ms Weatherston said that; 'Cloud is relevant to SMEs - it's not particularly relevant for large complex banks at this stage.' While ANZ had harnessed elements of virtualisation and grid computing, she did not expect cloud to become a real prospect for another five years.

She said that virtualisation and grid computing should be exploited in order to liberate computing efficiencies; 'and in the fullness of time potentially cloud will offer an equivalent opportunity for software services.'

Asked whether she believed that cloud computing would ever change the role of a CIO, making a CIO less of a technology initiator and more of a technology orchestrator Ms Weatherston said; 'I'll believe it when I see it.'

'I look at cloud and am still a bit sceptical. How much can you commoditise a bank?'

While Ms Weatherston seems sceptical about the cloud's contribution to banking, she's a social media convert, claiming that it was having a transforming effect on the big banks.

'It will not be good enough to provide static account data, bank customers will increasingly expect personalised banking pages that can be tailored to meet individual preferences and reflect personal changes including location and transaction histories,' she warned.

ANZ has already pioneered the mobile banking space with its goMoney application delivered last year for the iPhone, and which has attracted more than 425,000 active users.

Not all the bank's focus is on the front end however. Ms Weatherston said that the need to provide anytime anywhere banking offered through a variety of different channels - including the branch - was prompting a rethink in terms of information architectures in financial services.

'The ability for customers to move seamlessly across the channels will be an important feature and this will require a highly integrated approach to process and data design that allows a modular platform build where transactions are held separately from data and message and servicing layers,' she said.

Having this very granular information available was also critical in terms of meeting the increasingly onerous regulatory requirements facing banks.

She warned though that the greater information flows between customer and bank was reshaping enterprise thinking on information security. 'The traditional firewall approach to securing a network boundary will soon be history, increasingly information will flow between business organisations over shared third party networks so that ultimately the only reliable security will be to protect the information itself rather than the network.

Ms Weatherston said that in the post GFC world; 'Banks can only succeed '¦ by switching to new technology enabled business models designed to achieve greater levels of effectiveness, efficiency, combined with a ruthless focus on delivering exceptional customer services and experience.'

It would not be possible to overlay these new business approaches on legacy IT systems.

'While at the heart of all bank systems the core transaction system is still a necessity, new systems will be required to enable 21st century service propositions, real time data, including transactions and high levels of service and efficiency derived from end to end automation. The reality is that the cost of maintaining hard coded legacy applications with inflexible or non-existent process automation continues to rise while the ability to deliver agility declines,' she said.

Ms Weatherston joined the ANZ in early 2010 and has oversight of the bank's $1.5 billion technology programme.  In July she laid out a technology roadmap founded on the maintenance of three separate core systems - one in Australia, one in New Zealand and one to support ANZ operations in Asia.

Each of those is slightly different, although in Australia the bank uses CSC's Hogan core platform. Although the bank continues to update that system, it has yet to make a move to the Celeriti core banking platform which CSC touts as the next generation product (and to which Westpac has already committed itself).

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