by Byron Connolly

CIO50 2016: #6: Scott Collary, ANZ

Nov 24, 2016

ANZ’s IT chief, Scott Collary, joined the bank in December 2014 and immediately discovered that the organisation felt that doing business with the IT group wasn’t always easy.

“When I first arrived, we did a Town Hall [meeting] and I talked to as many people as I possibly could – trying to get a gauge for what was going well and what wasn’t going so well,” Collary says.

The bank’s IT group, with its 4,700 staff members, operated in a siloed way and needed to change. Collary gathered partner feedback to identify areas where improvements needed to be made and created a new operating model which allows for a closer relationship with the business and clarifies daily accountabilities around delivery.

By doing this, Collary – who will leave ANZ at the end of November – has driven consistency in the way the IT group works with the business to deliver technology for customers and staff. He collaborated with executives to simplify frameworks, methods and governance to deliver smaller projects more frequently and increase the number of projects delivered using Agile methodologies.

“I looked at the operating model first to work out how we could make service delivery more streamlined. How do you get people understanding what they do every day? Is it important to the company as a whole? Once they understand that and engage, it’s a positive cycle,” he says.

So far, the results have been good. The new model saw divisional and enterprise technology teams set up to plan and deliver end-to-end solutions for ANZ. These teams engaged with the business to understand objectives and necessary constraints including funding, resourcing and timing.

This has brought technology closer to the business, with each of the team leads working as divisional CIOs and as part of their respective divisional leadership teams.

Collary has maintained staff engagement levels and said the group is up six points in its employee engagement in the last two years with a more dynamic and diverse workforce in IT.

“Women in management is up 3.5 per cent, we’ve got 20 to 30 per cent more change happening year-over-year at a higher quality with a lower incidence rate,” he says.

Since the new model has been in place, high priority IT incidents across the bank have reduced by 36.8 per cent (January recorded the lowest high priority incident volumes ever), and median time to restore high priority incidents has decreased by 16 per cent.

“There’s a lot of positive things – we’ve also taken months off our delivery cycle,” says Collary. “In a medium-sized project – $5 million and up is how we defined it – we took nine months off the delivery cycle. Part of that is just ‘time-boxing’, being really clear with expectations.”

All this has freed up time and resources to focus on what ANZ does very well and that’s innovate.

“There are very few industries that have done as much as fast as financial services,” Collary says. “What’s driving [innovation] today is that the barriers to entry are so cheap – technology is moving fast and you’ve got so many really smart people out there who have come up with a great idea.”

Today, ANZ is the only ‘big four’ bank to offer Apple Pay. Customers with an ANZ Visa debit card, Visa, or AMEX can use their iPhone or Apple Watch to make purchases.

Under Collary’s leadership, technology teams are also moving towards more Agile ways of working. ANZ’s Banker Desktop, an integrated platform that is used to facilitate and capture a ‘needs-based conversation’ about a customer’s financial situation, is built using an Agile methodology. This meant the project team committed to a build, test, learn and build again cycle.

Another innovation, Sysl, is a text-based programming language that ANZ developed internally and has now open-sourced. Modelling systems was previously a ‘weeks long’ mapping process for staff. The new language has cut that down to minutes.

Coders prescribe ANZ’s systems, the end points and the data modules through a text specification language and the Sysl tool produces all of the mapping, system specifications, end points descriptions and other descriptors of ANZ’s architecture into a format that developers can pick up and move. This has given ANZ a real speed advantage, Collary says.

“We have estimated that through the first release of Sysl that ANZ has been able to achieve around 15 per cent to 20 per cent productivity gain of our current development processes and we think we can increase that to 30 per cent with additional features planned,” he says.

Innovation at its heart

ANZ has also been working to increase process automation and straight-through processing rates for some time now. New software tools, including robotics, are allowing the bank to do more of that, says Collary.

“It is important that we increase the speed and quality of our transaction processing end-to-end and simplified and automated process design is one way to do that. We have approximately 300 robots deployed chiefly in our ‘hubs’ to augment human capabilities and free up people to do higher work,” he says.

The bank is also experimenting with several virtual reality (VR) technologies, including Samsung Gear VR, and similar headsets such as Google Cardboard, for training purposes.

In the consumer digital space, developers of the bank are experimenting with HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets with future designs to also look into Google’s daydream platform.

“We are looking at ways to take our teams, which are spread across many locations, and give them a much more immersive experience. While it won’t replace traditional classroom learning, it will allow them to visit environments and have experiences such as a customer interaction in a branch while being based in a classroom.”

Collary says the bank has embraced a startup mentality – in fact he says thinking this way is critical.

“You hear the term ‘fail fast’ – for a bank we can’t actually put something in production that is going to fail. We can test and prototype it with customers … and have them use it in their daily business and we just watch and see if the technology serves a purpose.

“Those type of things are important for us to keep nimble. As important as the research and development labs are, you can’t leave it there. Innovation has to be everybody’s job all day long.

“The best ideas come from people who are using the processes and talking to the customers. So we have to figure out how to unlock that. That’s a big part of my job, to figure out how we get those ideas right up through the organisation so we can address them,” he says.

Byron Connolly