AI and data
One other topic that featured in every conversation was generative artificial intelligence.
It is fair to say it has been a big year for AI, but it is now moving from hype to value. The three key areas are: improving knowledge (and access to knowledge), automation processes and (related) process efficiency.
Amid this movement ANZ has taken positive steps, including establishing our AI Centre for Experimentation, rolling out GitHub CoPilot to 1000 engineers and building and training our own version of Chat-GPT (called Z-GPT) which will be launched internally in 2024.
Data also came up in many of my conversations – but the aspects are changing rapidly. For example, what we call a data mesh is the “new black” for many of the companies I spoke to.
Data lakes - think massive, centralised data stores - may have been on everyone’s wish list a few years ago, but it’s all about data meshes now.
A data mesh allows a decentralised approach to data architecture, allowing different teams to manage and contribute data, which increases sharing and efficiency without compromising governance and security.
The curse of customisation
For those who haven’t yet heard the mantra: “Run it out of the box,” take note. I heard this again and again. But what does it mean?
There is a danger in thinking you’re special and you have to customise solutions. Increasingly, this choice will close companies off from innovation and agility as platforms grow and adapt. Worse still, companies will commit to expensive and low-value development, testing and deployment when they do want to implement change.
Speaking to SAP in San Francisco they told me (I’ll paraphrase): “We’re losing patience with folks not turning on the features we’re shipping”. The solution is simple, they’re going to be more assertive and ship updates with features on.
More and more our experience as consumers of these platform solutions will be akin to the experience of a smart phone user – waking up to some new features following an overnight update.
The right path
These kinds of study tours can either validate your thinking or give you a moment’s pause. While I gained many valuable insights and observations, there were no big surprises. I came away thinking ANZ’s technology strategy is sound, with no need for a rethink.
But there are larger points worth reflecting upon. At ANZ, our people are our differentiator. As the saying goes, culture eats strategy for breakfast and ANZ has worked hard to become a purpose-led organisation.
On numerous occasions that purpose has helped make clear which path to pursue. It also assists in attracting and developing people. In the end the calibre of our people and the solutions they design and deliver will set us apart.
Above all we value the curious, tenacious and adaptable. And a little humility and empathy doesn’t hurt. Big businesses must come together to share and exploit tech platforms in order to deliver powerful, valuable solutions at scale.
In this new world if we are to continue to transform large organisations - the different parts must work together more closely. And that is a world we are well prepared for.
Jo Hayes is Divisional CIO, Group Services, Technology at ANZ.