by Hamish Barwick

Q&A: ANZ Banking Group CIO, Anne Weatherston

Nov 15, 20125 mins
IT ManagementPrivacyRisk Management

Shifting ANZ Banking Group from an Australian and New Zealand centric bank to a super-regional Asia Pacific financial services entity while implementing new technology is Anne Weatherston’s top priority for the next five years.

She spoke to CIO Australia during Gartner’s annual Symposium/ITxpo about the bank’s technology roadmap, securing customer data and why she prefers to use a BlackBerry at work.

Private cloud `very important’ for ANZ Banking Group: CIO

ANZ outlines Toward 2017 strategy

ANZ Bank launches Transactive iOS app for corporate customers

What does your role at ANZ Banking Group involve?

It involves the provision of all technology services across ANZ which includes production, development and end user services. As CIO, I also have responsibility to define and implement the technology roadmap for ANZ’s future bank.

At an operational level, my role involves the management of 6500 APAC staff. We have the goal of becoming a recognised professional services technology capability for ANZ that is world class.

What are some of the challenges you face in the role of CIO?

For me, the single biggest challenge as CIO is engaging with the business. In a bank, they get that technology is very important but they don’t get the complexity of technology. Finding ways to influence the business to trust you and come with you on the journey is a challenge.

Finding the right people can also be a challenge because I think, at the heart, technology is a people business, so taking technologists who have been good at doing one thing and converting them into a professional is a major challenge.

Finding and assessing the right technologies for building the bank in the future is another challenge. Once you make those technology choices, is it going to be a lasting technology and are you backing the right horse? That’s often a difficult thing to do and it’s not a decision you make lightly.

What are some of the technology projects you have been working on?

With the Toward 2017 strategy, I’m doing two transformations. I’m transforming technology as a capability within ANZ and transforming the technology for the bank. Where my time gets split is on those two areas and day-to-day operational issues.

In the early days, some of that transformation was simply putting out the fires. When I walked in the door [of ANZ] we were having lots of incidents. I knew that my survival and credibility to get to the strategic place depended on putting out those fires.

We have now got to the point where service incidents are now running at 99.7 per cent availability across our major services which is equivalent to about an hour’s down time a year.

Transforming technology is a function because if we want to execute on the enterprise capability, we as technologists need to be able to step up to that.

The CISO of the bank also reports to me, so information security and IT security are a huge part of the agenda as well. Rolling out the security framework for the bank has been a major program for the past three years. We’ve got another year to go [with the security framework] and by the end we should be on par with most world-class global banks.

I also had to rebuild my management team. When I joined ANZ, most of the roles were vacant and a lot of the guys who were there were good but they had Australia-centric technology capability. I had to go out and recruit a new international team and bring in key technologists. For example, ANZ had got rid of all of its network capability so we had to bring in new heads of network.

In terms of costs, we have implemented a new unit cost structure so we can now provide on a monthly basis, starting this financial year, an invoice to each business unit which shows the services we provide. The beauty of the invoice is not just to say `this is how much we cost’ but we can evidence the benefit of the IT department running the central processing unit [CPU] for this much money.

What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?

The issue facing CIOs at this point in time is demonstrating value. I don’t just mean financial value; we do need to demonstrate that we are cost efficient. As a CIO, we should also demonstrate that the technology is adding value to the banking proposition.

We technologists need to work closely with our business colleagues to educate them how technology is transforming the customer expectation because not all bankers have understood that. I was presenting to the board recently and they were saying that they had heard about Internet threats for a long time but it hasn’t really happened.

I can guarantee that the next generation of 12 year olds are simply not going to do banking in the way that the ANZ board does. Twelve-year-olds brains are wired for a collaborative experience.

CIOs also need to have an eye for risk and control because with ANZ, we have 32 regulators and there is an increasing threat from cyber crime. The data sitting in our systems is now the new bank safe.

What is your favourite gadget?

I’m a bit of nerd and I still like my BlackBerry because for work purposes the BlackBerry has a good, robust battery and it’s fit for purpose.

Hamish Barwick travelled to Gartner Symposium on the Gold Coast as a guest of Good Technology

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick Follow CIO Australia on Twitter and Like us on Facebook… Twitter: @CIO_Australia, Facebook: CIO Australia, or take part in the CIO conversation on LinkedIn: CIO Australia