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Engineering a new generation of technology

Today in banking every single part of our business is linked in some way to technology.

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Technology is enormously empowering, its role critical, especially when the business priorities are changing so significantly and the technology landscape continues to rapidly evolve.

"Having effective teams comes from having the right type of engineers, the right type of leaders, the right management style and the right objectivesupdate content here."

Getting technical implementation right can make a massive financial difference and requires the Group Technology function to work more closely with the business to help understand the long-term direction of our technology and how to balance both immediate and emerging business needs. We’ve got to get things done quickly and cleverly.

My focus is helping ANZ make prudent decisions on our overall technology landscape, embracing both emerging and tried and true technologies to meet changing business priorities.

Getting the right decision involves bringing all stakeholders together, deeply understanding the business problem we have to solve and then working out the most efficient technology strategy. Execution teams then come together to make this happen – and our engineers are particularly pivotal.

It might surprise you but we have more than 5,000 engineers spread across the 32 markets in which we operate. They’re predominantly in three main hubs of Melbourne, Wellington and Bengaluru and they are helping us modernise the bank everywhere from infrastructure to user experience.

We've added engineers to our payments team who’ve built a world-class payments platform. We've added many in New Zealand to help us modernise while delivering  BS11 regulatory compliance ahead of the timeline asked for by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

Effective teams

Open banking and artificial intelligence are other areas of focus, as is our work to help us manage risk and to help us modernise financial crime prevention. And of course we've added lots of engineers to our ANZx team as we prepare for the launch of our new ANZ Plus digital offering.

Total numbers are less important than what we achieve and the effectiveness of our teams. Effective teams come from having the right type of engineers, the right type of leaders, the right management style and the right objectives.

Distributed teams are common at ANZ, as in all in large organisations. Lots of different groups working for individual excellence and focussing on building out their crafts in different areas delivers all sorts of benefits. Of course, this difference can lead to inefficiencies and unacceptable inconsistencies creeping in.

We developed common sense standards and principles to give everyone clarity about what we want to achieve as an engineering function. We have an obligation to adhere to strong standards that don’t just make us safer but also deliver greater efficiency and economies of scale across the group.

I believe standards are less about sweating the small stuff and more about focussing on the big anchor points for engineering teams - pillars or strategic goals, if you will.

One goal we have is our engineers must embrace the future. That sounds obvious but we need to favour newer technologies - but only when they offer us a material advantage. New tech isn’t about shiny toys but new commercial opportunities.

It’s also important to respect the past. Engineering teams can chase new technologies at the expense of ignoring good historical decisions that still deliver enduring value. Many smart lessons can always be learnt from the past.

Importance of diversity

It’s important ANZ engineers are empowered to exploit technology but accept the responsibility that confers. I want every engineer to use the technology that delivers best value – and to incur the responsibility of making that technology secure, safe and reliable.

Adopting a diversity of technologies is also important. We won’t use every tech but a diverse set of technologies and a diverse set of experiences and a diverse set of people makes the entire organisation more flexible and resilient.

One last thing is that we must be continually learning. We need to learn as individuals, learn as teams and learn as an organisation. Why? The technology industry never stands still – which I kind of love because every year you get to learn something new.

Learning is also crucial in Group Technology because we have the responsibility to evolve ANZ’s technology every single year. Learning helps us build out talent inside the bank, bolstering our teams and ensuring we’ve a rich vein of engineering talent to meet ever-increasing demand. More learning = better engineers = more opportunities to solve hard business problems.

Engineering is only growing in importance in financial services and in ANZ. I am lucky to draw upon some incredibly talented and experienced engineers who help shape the core thinking that informs our engineering values.

We have a meritocracy of engineers with a range of seniority which is vital to both prioritise the big challenges we need to address and galvanise our engineering community. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by some of the best engineers in the region.

Tim Hogarth is Chief Technology Officer at ANZ

 

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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