by Divina Paredes

CIO 100: Westpac New Zealand

Mar 24, 2016
Technology Industry

“WE ARE TEACHING ourselves to learn really quickly; but not necessarily at huge scale so we can test concepts and amplify them for the organisation on the back of short feedback loops.”

This is how Dawie Olivier, CIO at Westpac, describes working with the other departments across the enterprise, while operating in one of the most disrupted and competitive sectors today – banking and finance.

Olivier joined Westpac in April this year, coming from Standard Bank in South Africa, where he was Retail CIO and then executive head of The Group Technology Build Capability.

The role entails being involved in decision making across Westpac New Zealand, and ensuring a strong technology presence and focus at the bank’s executive level.

“We are focusing on automation across our stacks – on deployments, builds, and quality so that we can get to the point where those things are part of the stream of delivery and any technologies we put in will be buildable.”

He says working through these projects allowed him and his team to understand clearly the specific behaviours and cultures, and technical practices from the Lean/Agile disciplines that they can apply across the business.

“We are spending a lot of time creating and implementing and improving our engineering practices,” he says.

ICT projects that delivered the most benefits to the business in the past year include the data centre migration that was part of the five-year contract with IBM, which saw the bank migrate its business critical IT systems into IBM’s Auckland data centre.

Olivier cites other key projects in the products space the team worked on – ATM middleware, online card origination and Direct from Account payment, a market first.

The new ATM management middleware gives the bank complete f lexibility on how it manages ATMs across the country, and these include targeted campaigns and offers delivered through these units, on the back of local insights.

The payments space is another focus as exemplified by their work on the Direct from Account service, which allows customers to make a payment direct from their bank account on a (merchant’s) website in a secure manner.

Westpac worked with Air New Zealand on the self service online origination and fulfilment system for the Westpac Air New Zealand airports credit card. The online service was started for Airpoints customers transferring from other card issuers, and then expanded to existing Westpac customers and those signing up for the Airpoints Debit Mastercard. New customers can now sign up online for this card without the need to visit a branch and in a matter of minutes, says Olivier.

Some of the lessons he shares from working on these projects is the importance of having business owners involved in the product lifecycle and delivery process, and creating regular operating rhythm with support of key stakeholders, he adds.

For ICT, “Customer experience and associated design remain top of mind always, which means cross business teams are working towards a single, common prioritised goal at all stages.”

In 2016, he says Westpac’s major IT investments will be on big data and analytics, application modernisation, security/risk management technologies, collaboration and digital capabilities.