by George Nott

ANZ seeks partner to rethink architecture for agile

Aug 15, 2017
Business IntelligenceCIOCloud Computing

As ANZ begins to roll out ‘scaled agile’ across its Australian workforce, the bank is now considering how to architect its systems to complement this new way of working.

The bank yesterday announced it was starting a formal process to appoint a systems integration partner “to assist in the scoping and design of our technology architecture” to support its new organisation-wide agile approach.

The result will be a “continuously evolving” architecture, the bank’s group executive technology Gerard Florian told media at ANZ’s Dockside, Melbourne headquarters yesterday, “that’s reflective of the changing nature of the way technology today, applications in particular, are written versus the way they used to be done”.

“How do you take architecture which historically is one of the key functions, but it’s also worked with quite a direct line of control. In this new way of working you have a more distributed control…What is the best way to make sure we keep our architecture appropriately aligned but also flexible enough to evolve?” Florian said.

In May, ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott announced the bank would be implementing scaled agile to achieve a “much less hierarchical ANZ” built around “small, collaborative, self-directed teams focused on delivering continuous improvement”.

In keeping with the ‘shake-up’ of working style, the partnership signals a move from ‘big-bang’ projects to a model of continuous improvement, Florian says.

“We take that evolving view versus a big bang view, and we are looking to begin that approach to planning our architecture by going out to the market to find an innovative partner that we can work with to help us build some of those models, to get away from that huge project which will tie up a lot of resources and a lot of funds for a long period of time and historically may have delivered some results, if not raging success,” Florian said.

“But it’s different now. What we deal with today requires a different approach to architecture.”

Taking off the blinkers

Florian joined ANZ in November, as part of technology leadership overhaul which saw the departure of CIO Scott Collary.

According to Florian, there are three major pieces of work “that need to work in concert for us to deliver this great customer experience”.

The first is working in a more agile way (“The way of working is really important, however it can become the only topic,” Florian says), the second is moving the technology from “big projects to services, and those services continuously evolve” and the third is “thinking about our architecture in a different way”.

“Our architecture today: whilst the ledger, which was the traditional core system, is a very important part, the way in which we bundle our products; the way in which we price our products; the distribution channel; the role of our mobile services; these are all important as well. So to pick one area and say that is the only thing you need to be concerned about somewhat blinkers your view,” Florian said.

“I think the way in which software is being developed today, the way in which applications are working and the role of things like APIs means that having that monolithic single solution limits you a lot.”

Florian indicated ANZ would not be replacing its core banking system, which is based on CSC’sHogan. In July last year, then CIO Collary made the case for keeping the system, saying there was “no compelling business case” for overhauling it.

Westpac outlined plans in 2013 toupdate its operations to Celeriti, starting with St George. CBAcommitted in 2008to modernising its existing legacy systems, spending five years and a $1 billion on an SAP-based platform, while NABbegan its NextGen initiative with Oracle in 2007.

Let the ledger be the ledger

Along with the architecture, the role of cloud too will continue to evolve, said Florian, who joined the bank from Dimension Data where he was chief strategy officer for the global Cloud Business Unit.

“That will also shift backwards and forwards [between private and public cloud] as technology changes, as regulators adjust their position and customer sentiment changes,” he explained.

Once the core ledger is simplified, technologies like blockchain become more realistic, Florian added.

“The way in which many organisations’ product ledger has evolved, there are a lot of functions like pricing that have been stacked in there that has made that environment less flexible than we need today. So you take those functions and look and see what are the offerings in the market that do them in a different way. And then enable the ledger to be the ledger,” he said.

“Then in ten years, things like blockchain become more realistic once you’ve got to a point where you’ve simplified the basic systems. So there’s a role for that to play eventually. But you would not be able to do that if your product ledger had all these functionalities intermingled with it.”

George Nott flew to Melbourne as a guest of ANZ.