Westpac has issued hundreds of iPads to staff under a tablet trial that could shape its end-user computing strategy.
The bank last year suspended a $20 million end-user computing transformation program aimed at delivering a consistent desktop experience across the group, due to funding difficulties.
Chief information officer Clive Whincup told iTnews this week that a new iPad pilot would likely affect its plans.
“What we’re actually doing at the moment is reviewing the whole mobility strategy internally, in terms of integration of these types of devices with internal systems,” he said.
“We’re running a fairly big pilot at the moment with iPads with internal staff and seeing how they’re actually using them. So we’re moving the focus a little bit, in terms of where that’s going to go.”
The pilot involved a fleet of iPads that numbered “in the high hundreds” and were deployed across the Westpac Group, including head offices, branches and corporate centres.
Whincup said Westpac had developed a dozen internal iPad applications to determine employees’ usage habits and technology requirements.
The bank was also rolling out its ‘Tabula’ document viewing application to more internal meetings after launching the app for board members earlier this year.
“We’ve probably developed about a dozen [internal] apps altogether, but again, the approach we’re taking is to put an app out there and see how it’s used,” Whincup said this week.
“You can’t really know that until people actually start doing it. Often we find that when customers and staff start using an app, they’ll actually be using it in a different way than we anticipated.”
Online banking and 'gesturality'
Westpac this week unveiled its first iPad-specific online banking app, allowing customers to perform limited functions — including transferring funds to known accounts and checking account balances — through a simple interface and user-friendly gestures.
The app was built to operate natively on the iPad, with Whincup noting a desire for “far more gesturality than just point-and-click”.
“We don’t think we can get the full user experience unless we actually take advantage of the full native capabilities of each [device],” he told iTnews.
“In some cases, we might actually use HTML5 because we can actually get what we need out of that interface. But ... if we don’t get the customer feedback that they like it, then we will develop more native apps.”
Whincup has previously credited an in-house team of 50 developers and an agile, ‘incubator’-style application development process for improving Westpac’s speed to market with mobile offerings.
He told iTnews in May that the bank tended to “[cast] the net fairly broadly”, with business and technology teams working closely together to explore and prototype solutions iteratively.
The iPad app was built over the course of six months by a team of four business people and three technical staff, and downloaded more than 14,000 times within the first week of its release.
It complements Westpac’s online and mobile banking platforms, which the bank said accounted for 487 million banking sessions and 445 million transactions worth almost $3 trillion in the past 12 months.
Westpac expected to introduce additional features, including the ability to add new billers and payees, and authorising business banking payments, in future releases.