When ANZ decided to sell its internally developed e-learning tools on the external market, the bank bravely stepped outside the comfort zone of its core business. A year and a half later, ANZ has a solidly profitable business line that's attracting big-name clients from several industries.
At first blush, in an era where "focus on your core business" has become not so much a mantra as an article of faith, it might seem difficult to know what to make of a bank that tries to put on the clothing of a learning provider.
But in response to popular demand the ANZ bank has effectively been hawking the online training know-how it has acquired over recent times to other organizations, having recognized a unique opportunity to build a business. Scott Mahoney, head of product for ANZ Online Learning Services, says it is the value-based approach born out of its risk management expertise - and the marketability of that expertise itself - that has helped the bank to make its new business line a solid success.
"As a financial institution, risk management is at the core of everything we do," Mahoney says. "My background is in start-up companies and working for this organization you can understand that financial heritage they are trying to preserve. And one of the biggest areas where we've developed a lot of expertise is around that whole risk profiling, risk management approach, which meant we would not have implemented online learning if we thought it was going to fail. In fact the bank has moved a lot of its risk-based training online, which is where our team comes in: helping others with their risk and compliance regimes."
As ANZ employees around the globe work to transform the organization from a traditional banking business into "the e-bank with a human face", its corporate strategy stands on three sturdy legs: specialization, e-transformation and growth. Underlying all three is the bank's "breakout" program, which encourages people to embrace change and seeks to overturn deep-held beliefs about the role of employees, senior management and the operation of major corporations. As part of that new thinking, employees are encouraged to get products and services out into the marketplace and then learn from the experience.
However, although that might appear like the bank is giving its people a blank cheque to unleash untried products on the market at will, the bank actually takes a values-based approach to everything it rolls out to the marketplace, and it relies on an extremely sophisticated approach to risk management to help it assess that value. This is why the ANZ was able to do something extremely unusual for a bank - take its internally developed e-learning capabilities to the external marketplace as a new commercial product - with a high degree of confidence.
And since it was the risk profile it developed as part of a risk management approach that convinced the organization it could implement online learning without much chance of failure, what could be more natural than to move its risk-based training online, in order to help other organizations with their risk and compliance regimes?
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