by Georgina Swan

Westpac delays core banking integration to focus on customer facing technologies

Oct 08, 2010
IT ManagementOutsourcing

Westpac’s group executive for technology, Bob McKinnon, has outlined the bank’s technology strategy during the groups IT and productivity update, including the decision to delay the integration of its core systems with St George Bank’s Hogan platform until 2014.

Instead, the bank will focus on customer facing technologies, McKinnon said.

“In the interests of delivering better customer service, we see better value in integrating our customer management systems and this has been moved up in priorities.”

McKinnon summarised the work down by the bank since its merger with St George, including upgrading the infrastructure that supports major customer-facing systems, such as online banking and payments.

“In last two years, there has been a 33 per cent reduction in unsuccessful customer visits to our online banking platform. This translates to more than 250,000 happy customer experiences during the last year alone,” he said.

The responsibility the health of the environment and overseeing change sits with the newly-created national operations centre, which also acts as an incident response team.

“The bottom line is this substantial improvement in systems availability has provided more uptime for serving customers and allowed me to direct more resources into developing the future rather than fighting fires,” McKinnon said.

He also made special mention of supplier, IBM.

Westpac has moved its focus to developing and prioritising the investment programs that would deliver its technology strategy and roadmap. Key to this is a portfolio of programs known internally as strategic investment priorities, or ‘SIPs’. The portfolio covers 15 programs, with priorities are guided by four strategic themes, according to McKinnon.

  • Simplified, innovative customer touch-points
  • Enterprise-wide shared services and capability reuse
  • Agile and efficient product systems
  • Simplified and robust infrastructure
  • “It should be no surprise that we have given priority to programs that provide the greatest benefits to our customers,” he said, adding that during the first 12 months following the merger, much of technology team’s efforts have focussed on connecting existing enterprise systems, people and infrastructure, such as common ledger and HR systems.

    Core banking

    Almost half the SIP programs are related to core banking platforms. Making a veiled reference to comparisons with banks such as the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) and the National Australia Bank (NAB), which are also undertaking significant core banking updates, McKinnon said the differences in timing and approached reflected different business strategies within the organisations. Westpac’s multi-brand strategy requires a different approach to those of his competitors, he said.

    Westpac will standardise of St George’s Hogan platform, a strategy that is expected to cost about $250 million.

    “We’ve completed preliminary planning and some of the design necessary for this move, spending around $25 million to date. But we are not expecting to begin migration until 2014 so the remaining $225 million is outside the current investment plan.

    “We had originally intended to comment the migration earlier but in the interests of delivering better customer service, we see better value in integrating our customer management systems and this has been moved up in priorities.”