The ANZ Banking Group will not be introducing Cloud computing until the industry evolves and consistency of data placed in the Cloud can be assured, according to chief information officer, Anne Weatherston.
Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) event in Sydney, she said Cloud was relevant for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) but it was “not particularly relevant” for banks at this point of time due to the infancy of the Cloud industry.
“When I look at the Cloud I’m still a bit sceptical about how much you can commoditise your underlying business systems,” Weatherston said. “Enterprise resource planning [ERP] in a banking environment is such a critical source of data that unless you architect and orchestrate the design of that ERP you will not guarantee that you get consistent data.”
She is also not convinced that chief information officers will eventually be replaced by outsourcing IT services to the Cloud.
“There will always be a need for someone who is an interpreter between the architect of the business and the architect of the IT landscape,” she said.
However, Weatherston also indicated that Cloud could be mature enough in five years’ time for financial companies such as ANZ to start considering using it.
“In the infrastructure world, the facility provided by virtualization and grid computing should be exploited as a means to provide more computer power for less, and in the fullness of time, potentially Cloud will offer an equivalent opportunity for software services.”
Turning to the future of IT and banks, she warned that technologists in the financial industry needed to adapt and change.
“The traditional role of technology in banks to respond to orders has resulted in technologists who are more comfortable with year on year incremental change to existing systems,” she said.
“The technology platforms that enable core banking transformation will be largely supplied so the change is less about designing and building a technology solution, and much more about influencing the business design to conform to the platform requirements.”
According to Weatherston, the role of technologists in financial services would increasingly become the leadership and design of platform implementation to enable new business models and integration with other relevant applications.
In addition, business units within banks would also need to work more closely with IT staff on projects.
“Business people may face an uncomfortable learning curve as they are forced to adapt to new technologies and the re-engineering of products, services, processes and organisational structure,” she said.
“Financial services companies will need to prepare themselves to deal with all of these internal change management issues.
"Above all, they must make sure IT and business people are not given any opportunity to revert to a legacy IT system mindset, since this will undercut the bank’s ability to reinvent and respond to market forces.”
Weatherston also spoke about the recent IT restructure within ANZ, which has led to the creation of global, retail, commercial and wealth, institutional, and group functions in Australia and a number of new hires, including Derek Youdale who will join the bank as technology chief operating officer on 5 December. Weatherson said the restructure had put IT into “logical components” within the bank model.
“What we are seeking to do is build deep subject matter expertise in each of these groups who can work closely with the bank to assist in bringing together the business and IT architecture,” she said.
In July, Weatherston announced the bank's IT strategy, Toward 2017 — a combined business and technology plan based on several concepts including greater connectivity through the provision of cross-regional customer services, and greater customer-centricity through a 'joined-up' customer experience.
The strategy also included the concept of greater reliance on information — through the use of real time business analytics, for example — and greater integration and standardisation through developing systems and applications which can be scaled and used across the bank’s regional businesses
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