ANZ is quietly building a brand new banking platform

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ANZ is quietly building a brand new banking platform

Exclusive: Chases tenfold improvement in speed and capability.

ANZ Banking Group has started an ambitious new transformation program called ‘ANZx’ that will see it build a whole new banking platform and drive a tenfold improvement in its ability to serve customers.

The bank is five months into the transformation, which is anticipated to run over the next two-to-five years.

The technology side of the ANZx project is being led by Chris Venter, the former head of its New Ways of Working agile technology transformation; Peter Dalton, the bank's managing director for customer experience and digital channels, is a co-lead on the project.

It is one of several transformation initiatives underway at the bank.

Speaking at Salesforce’s Dreamforce 19 conference in San Francisco, Venter said the ‘x’ in ANZx was a reference to the Roman numeral for 10.

“Our whole view is if we’re going to do this it has to be ten times better than what we have, otherwise there’s not much point in getting started,” he said.

“We’re about five months into our program … building a connected banking platform. 

“It’s all about a platform differentiating us.”

Venter told iTnews that ANZx is “effectively building a new banking platform” comprising multiple components.

Two of the components were confirmed at the event: Salesforce and MuleSoft.

Venter said the new platform would be “cloud-native [and] API-first”. 

In addition to Salesforce tools, some of the cloud components will come from ANZ’s equally nascent Enterprise Cloud Portfolio, a central capability within ANZ that is taking responsibility for cloud services.

“We’re leveraging a lot of the capabilities that the Enterprise Cloud Portfolio are building,” Venter said.

“Our goal is to build a new banking platform on cloud-native technology, and [the Portfolio] team is building the underlying capabilities that we’re leveraging to sit this platform on top of.”

Venter said the intention is for the new banking platform to “eventually form part of our standard bank technology”.

“That’s going to require us to integrate into some of our existing systems within the organisation,” he said.

“It’s greenfields, [but] coexisting with some existing components of the organisation. So we’re building some new capability but we’re integrating in [to the existing environment].”

Where the new platform would need to connect with ANZ’s legacy environment is still being worked through, but any linkages would be via APIs.

“We’ve got a whole program that’s going to run over the next two to five years,” Venter said.

“We have a team spun up now looking at the customer migration and how we make that seamless, so we’re going through the process right now of working out how we best do that to make the experience completely seamless for our customers and do it in a way that gives them the opportunity to have better capability within the organisation, but do it very securely.”

Being API-driven will also enable ANZ to bring third-party components into the platform as needed.

Last week, it was revealed that ANZ has set up another centralised function called ‘ANZi’ which is investing in fintechs and chasing non-financial services revenue.

The capabilities that ANZx are building could allow ANZ to more easily integrate these kinds of technologies into its own core systems.

“More and more we’re partnering with third parties, with fintechs, with the ecosystem world out there,” Venter said.

“A connected experience for a customer is sharing their data wherever their data lies, so we’ve got to be able to give them that information in a place at a time that suits them, and hence the connected experience through APIs.”

Starting with Salesforce

As one of the first components of the new platform, Salesforce will be used to bring customer data together into a single place.

It is also being used for a compliance use case stemming from the recommendations of the banking royal commission.

“How you handle and address customers’ complaints in a timely manner is one of the areas for remediation that came up as something we needed to do a much better job at,” Venter said.

“We’d already selected the Salesforce ecosystem, so leveraging the complaints capability within that is giving us a leg-up to achieve what are very aggressive timelines from our regulators to meet the compliance need. 

“The reason we’re using [Salesforce] is because effectively we have a central place to manage all complaints within the bank, but not only that, use some of the capabilities in the platform around SLAs for completion, and using the capability to assign [complaints] to the right person with the right skill to follow up if things aren’t done on time.”

Venter said that using Salesforce also meant a fast start to the program of work.

“We’re starting small, and then building out [the new platform] iteratively and rapidly,” he said.

“That’s why we chose things like Salesforce because we could really make a quick start with the functionality, not worry about all the engineering behind that, and get value to our customers quickly.”

Baking automation and compliance checks in

Venter also said that ANZx is baking compliance and automation into the new technology platform from day one.

“It’s not an afterthought - we have security, regulatory and compliance people embedded in our dev squads and we’ve got a whole value stream building automated compliance,” he said.

“We’re automating everything - not just regulatory compliance but compliance to security standards, policies and coding standards.

“We’re surfacing up what we call the digital dashboard and everything is being instrumented and monitored and then put into that so we can see right from the start: Are we exceeding SLAs? Have we got everything secure? When was the last breach we had? 

“Everything is now being automated as much as possible.”

Customer at the core

Venter said the needs of ANZ’s customers would drive the way the new banking platform - and therefore ANZx’s work - evolved.

“We’re putting the customer first and thinking about what their needs are,” he said. 

“It’s just phenomenal what the customer is expecting [today]. 

“Our philosophy now is always [looking at] what is the customer going to want, how are they going to expect us to operate, and then building everything backwards from there.”

Whereas in the past, ANZ - like other institutions - had sought gains from simplification programs, Venter noted these kinds of initiatives could only go so far, especially when targeted at the bank’s more complex processes.

“When you’ve got a process that’s so complex, can you really simplify it?” he said.

“We’ve got a mortgage process that today in the existing bank is 480 steps to complete a mortgage. 

“We’ve redesigned that now to 38 process steps, [but] you can’t do that by chipping away [at it]. 

“I look at the adage of ‘if you want to make a car engine 10 percent faster, you might be able to tweak it. If you want to make it ten times faster, you’ve got to redesign the whole engine.’ 

“So that’s what we’re doing. We have to rethink it from the start. 

“It’s the only way to really truly change it.”

Ry Crozier attended Salesforce’s Dreamforce 19 conference in San Francisco as a guest of Salesforce. 

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