CIO50 2018 #7: Gerard Florian, ANZ Bank

Most companies can be distilled down to their people (talent) and their use of technology (machines), says ANZ Bank’s group executive, technology, Gerard Florian.

It’s essential that the technology function is seen as a strategic business partner within ANZ as well as a provider of critical services, he says.

‘Oil tanker to speed boat’ and ‘teaching the giant to dance’ are two ways technologists have described the large bank’s technology transformation. Florian and his tech team are working inside the business to transform its operating model, moving to agile ways of working when it suits, blended with human-centred design and lean methodologies.

They are also shifting the bank’s business model from ‘build and run’ to delivering IT as a service. Finally, they are simplifying the bank’s business and technology architecture by engaging fewer vendors and developing deeper partnerships; reducing the number of systems, platforms and applications; and become more open and accessible.

“Our transformation is truly cultural,” says Florian. “The shift to increased adaptability and agility starts with people – their abilities and their belief systems. These don’t change easily or overnight. It has been a significant undertaking by my entire leadership team and we are proud of the ground we have covered and the scale we are executing on.”

The tech team, led Florian, has delivered several innovations over the past two years. In February, the bank launch the ANZ App, a mobile banking and payment offering that now has 1.4 million registered users (250,000 are new to the bank). More than 100,000 customers are using the tool’s voice ID capabilities.

ANZ has incorporated artificial intelligence and machine learning into the way it serves customers whether it’s sanctions for its trade and supply chain operations or developing its digital assistant ‘Jamie’ who answers customers’ questions, says Florian.

ANZ rolled out Splunk to monitor 150 applications and services on more than 2,500 servers to help diagnostic problems before they affect customers while also finding business uses such as analysing home loan flows.

The bank also established a new cloud policy to encourage and establish adoption where permitted by the regulator; and decommissioned 264 apps (a 35 per cent increase from the previous year).

Continuous delivery and automation

Agile, cross-functional teams have ‘trailblazed’ ANZ’s new operating model which enabled the bank to simplify its architecture by consolidating its goMoney mobile and Grow wealth apps into one app.

“The ANZ App dramatically improved the customer experience as the 4.7 AppStore rating and positive feedback we have received confirms. In New Zealand, teams have implemented continuous delivery for their systems and can now release on demand, by combining containerisation using OpenShift and automated release governance.

“This enables teams to commit code and release into production in less than 30 minutes. This allows us to do ten times more production releases while saving millions of dollars,” he says.

Meanwhile, identifying where automation is needed and developing the capabilities required has been key to making ‘speed to value’ for the customer possible, says Florian.

“For example, by using cloud and automation, test and pre-production environments are made available in minutes at the push of a button rather than weeks,” he says.

He says as the bank continues on its transformation, it is seeing cross-functional teams bridging the long-standing technology and business divide; self-service intelligent support for teams and better customer experiences; and strategic partnering (for example with Apple Pay) to bring knowledge and experience back into the bank.

The bank is also shifting from bespoke, non-reusable systems to scalable and automation services; and its technology department is moving from being an ‘order taker’ to establishing four strategically-driven platform capabilities: digitising documents, intelligent automation, digital assistants and APIs.

“An example of this platform approach is eConsent (electronic signature or acceptance) as a service. This allows customers to sign ‘on glass’ and removes paper documents,” says Florian.

“It started as an idea to prove we can provide eSignLive’s API as a service to upload documents and build additional services such as event notification, modifying the document package and downloading documents. We established the infrastructure for 7 environments and completed the production release in less than three-and-a-half months.”

Florian says ANZ Bank is in somewhat of a unique position with its blend of retail and institutional business.

“We feel we are a leader in areas such as payments for both retail and wholesale,” he says. “While we have had strong coverage around ‘pay the way you love’ with Apple, Android, Garmin and Fitbit [devices], less known is our early success with the new payments platform (NPP).”

“Both of these areas are marketing-leading. Our business in New Zealand is seen as a leader across a number of fronts when it comes to technology and while we do compare ourselves to local banks, the real focus is what does ‘good’ look like globally in banking or elsewhere and how can we learn from organisations that are setting the new standards?’

Just managing technology is not enough

Florian says while the letters may be changing – CIO, CDO or CTO – what is clear is that the role of technology in business continues to increase in importance.

“Managing technology is not enough to be a successful CIO,” he says. “Driving a genuine change agenda based on a deep understanding of the business strategy and how technology can accelerate this change requires skills over and above traditional technical and managerial skills.

“I believe that every successful organisation will have strong technology-savvy leaders in more than one role reporting to the CEO. It’s an exciting time to be in tech!”

Customer is queen (or king)

The phrase ‘walk a mile in the customers’ shoes’ is a daily mantra for Florian. He says spending time with internal and external customers gives him vital signals on what’s working well, what needs focus, what issues they have and how technology may be able to help.

One experience has never left him. Early in his career as a video conferencing specialist, he was assisting a government agency to assess the benefit of telemedicine (using video technology in the medical field.)

While many people were looking only at the technical benefits, Florian talked to practitioners in rural hospitals as well as policy makers.

“This gave me a range of perspectives from how people would use the technology, right through to issues of sustainable operations and healthcare legislation. While the usual project challenges existed, it was clear that success was going to be measured in adoption and sustainability not just deployment,” he says.

“The time spent understanding stakeholder needs helped me and the team design a practical solution and deliver relevant training for medical staff. This was a challenging two-year process, dealing with a complex set of stakeholders and required ongoing commitment to deliver sustainable outcomes by understanding the needs of the customer, creating a fit-for-purpose and affordable technical solution and then ensuring people could do their job more easily thanks to the technology. My lesson from this and other similar experiences: seek first to truly understand your customer and the problem we are trying to solve together.”

Byron Connolly

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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