The cloud and the silver lining for customers

Last year ANZ built a new application in our Institutional business that helps analysts evaluate market signals. While this was a typical business enhancement in many ways, how we did it was novel. 

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We built the entire platform in the cloud in less than half the time we normally take. We only provisioned a fraction of the computing power required to test it and used dramatically better analytical tools. The great benefit of the cloud is that, depending on the platform’s success, we can rapidly scale up the amount of data and analytics or just turn it off depending on business demand.

“There’s very little in a bank that doesn’t rely on the work of an engineering team – from data scientists to complex networking - everything relies on some kind of software.”

The trend of major companies migrating their technology platforms to the cloud is only accelerating. The opportunity to use the world’s best software atop of the largest computing footprints is undeniably appealing.

All the newest technology and the most exciting changes in the industry are happening on or near cloud. At ANZ, we have made significant progress on our multi-year move to cloud – a transition delivering significant benefits to cost structures, efficiency, time-to-market improvements and shifts in vendor accountability.

Moving to the cloud means moving to better infrastructure and it means changes to our operating model. For example, we can provision capacity on demand rather than buying lots of spare servers -just in case.

We can delegate the management of software patching to a cloud provider. We can rationalise the amount of computing we allocate to some applications and provision far more for value-add applications like analytics.  

As good as these technology benefits are for the bank, there are greater opportunities for our customers and our shareholders. The change is not always immediately obvious but becomes significant once you realise how much of ANZ’s banking proposition depends utterly and irrevocably on cloud. And that’s a good thing.

World’s best software

To deliver ANZ’s strategy we must make the best software available for our customers, bankers and employees. How our customers access banking, how our bankers compete and how all our employees play their part in optimisation and risk management depends on the software we all use every day.

Virtually every modern software product is increasingly only available on cloud. Being cloud-centric means we can tap into that. With our recently launched ANZ Plus proposition, our customers and bankers are using the latest customer service tools in the form of Salesforce and modern communication tools like Twilio.

Like many companies, we moved to video conferencing software during the pandemic and we continue to have our entire workforce on this platform. Just last year we ran an internal engineering conference with 8,000 attendees across five countries with 98 presenters – something we’d never have been able to do without highly distributed cloud-based software.

We’re also using better tools from cloud providers to help our bankers progress loans from offer to funding.

Extraordinary data platforms

At ANZ we are dependent on data and we have a critical responsibility to safeguard it. Every day we sift through millions of transactions protecting our customers against criminal activity.

We also manage the bank’s risk, satisfying shareholders and regulators that we’re operating within our risk appetite and delivering sustainable margins. These calculations need vast amounts of data and equivalent processing.

So why the cloud? Data growth is extraordinary and the demand to parse it is escalating. Today we hold more than 100 petabytes of data – that’s a 1 followed by 17 zeros. Picking through that with traditional analytical capabilities is hard.

We ingest data from a range of sources: financial crime databases, government information, credit agencies, brokers who sell our home loans, logs from our web sites and data from our software partners. Traditionally we can’t work with this data unless it’s repatriated inside the bank – carrying all the cost and long term responsibility of storing it safely.

Modern data platforms on the cloud make this easier. Parallel processing and almost limitless storage allow fundamentally different analytical profiles. Much of this additional data already resides in the cloud, making it more efficient for us to consume.

Engineering the environment

At ANZ we have a huge number of engineers. There’s very little in a bank that doesn’t rely on the work of an engineering team – from data scientists to complex networking – everything relies on some kind of software.

Engineers want access to the best software but the cloud goes further than that. It brings a range of automated solutions, allowing engineers to spend less time setting up an environment and more time writing code.

In the cloud there’s no waiting for a requisition for a server or to provision some storage or set up a sandbox to test a new piece of software. Everything can happen almost at the speed of thought.

Giving our engineers the best tools helps us deliver the best customer outcomes. It also removes toil from the systems, including manual handoffs and repetitive tasks. As we move to the cloud we’re seeing less of those manual activities and more automation.

This means benefits for our bankers and our customers. Our engineers are freed up to focus on the harder problems.

With the availability of on-demand infrastructure, the most recent software, limitless data analytics and a modern engineering environment, cloud is delivering a seismic shift inside ANZ. This includes improved fraud detection, voiceprint authentication, better customer experiences and enhanced tooling for our bankers and staff. 

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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