Here Are 6 Things The Commbank CIO Is Working On Right Now

Commbank is moving ahead with its cloud policy and looking at standardising its back end processes as well as opening up its APIs to developers, company CIO David Whiteing says.

He’s only been in the job since late August but has a number of areas he’s focussing on.

“We are lining everything up behind a strategy of driving towards a much more platform thinking. We want to create platforms that become multi-use, multi-featured and that are simplified and have fewer platforms in our business and drive as many features out of those platforms as possible,” he said at Microsoft’s TechEd event in Sydney today.

Here’s what’s going on at Commbank’s tech department.

1. Finding and killing duplication.

Whiteing said one task the bank’s tech team is embarking on is removing duplicate functions from the business. Customer records is one example of where the simplification process may start.

“Everything we do on top of those platforms and in the business is simplified and standardised, and really being relentless about simplification and standardisation,” Whiteing said.

2. Cutting back on partnerships to create deeper relationships.

Working with fewer companies is also on the new tech boss’s list.

“We will look at simplifying our partner landscape so we have fewer partners that we work with so we have much deeper relationships so we start to co-develop and become much more aligned in our successes as we move forward,” he said.

3. Opening up some of the bank’s data.

Despite aiming to work with less partners, the bank is looking at opening up parts of its system to developers.

“Where we want to promote openness and maybe expose some of those APIs publicly we’re able to do that. We want to allow some of those APIs to start being used by other organisations to develop services and features which might be relevant to our customers and their customers,” he said.

4. Running a continuous development cycle.

Whiteing is ramping up his team to start running continuous dev-ops to ensure it can release features much quicker – even on a daily basis if necessary.

“If you’re in the customer engagement phase you want to be able to move regularly, you want to have continuous devops we want to be able to release features, if necessarily, daily, weekly, monthly,” he said.

5. Pushing more into the cloud.

Running across the bank’s tech strategy is forging ahead with cloud solutions.

“A big part of that for us is having a cloud strategy. The CBA has been on a cloud path for many years now so this is not new stuff for us,” he said.

“We operate in a business that has already got just under 40% of our processing workloads on standard platforms. We’ve leveraged a lot of cost benefits from the cloud and we’re able to reposition that saving into developing more features and applications for our partners as we work through the features.

“We will continue to push more into the cloud.

“Having a cloud services offering in Australia in our industry is a massive benefit. It’s a highly regulated industry. We have a number of regulations that we need to abide by,” he said, adding the bank has been working with the regulators to help them understand the risk profile of having a local cloud offering which he says gives the bank an edge.

6. Automating to create room for innovation.

Whiteing’s decisions are all based on ensuring the bank is equipped to move quicker and its employees are freed up so they may innovate.

“We want to be able to drive a much more standardised way of doing activities so we can move really, really quickly,” he said.

“As much as possible, everything we do is more and more automated.

“We recognise that there is a constraint and a crunch around talented individuals and that if we continue to remain people dependent in every activity that we perform that’s going to be an inhibitor to the pace at which we do stuff. We really want to free up our talented people to focus on solving the biggest problems we face in the future.

Whiteing says his strategy is about lining up a lot of small gains. The bank wants to simplify its myriad systems and squeeze more features out of fewer platforms. By integrating APIs it will also be able to benefit from the work of external developers and ideas.

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