The cloud and the silver lining for customers

We built the entire platform in the cloud in less than half the time it normally takes. We provided only a fraction of the processing power required for testing and used significantly better analysis tools. The great advantage of the cloud is that, depending on the success of the platform, we can quickly scale the amount of data and analytics, or simply switch off based on business needs.

“There is very little in a bank that doesn’t rely on the work of a team of engineers — from data scientists to complex networks — it all depends on some kind of software.”

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The trend of large companies migrating their technology platforms to the cloud is only accelerating. The ability to run the world’s best software on the largest computing surfaces is undeniably attractive.

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

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

We can delegate management of software patching to a cloud provider. We can streamline the amount of computing power we allocate to some applications and dedicate a lot more to value-adding applications like analytics.

As good as these technological advantages are for the bank, there are greater opportunities for our customers and our shareholders. The change isn’t always immediately apparent, but it becomes significant once you realize how much of ANZ’s banking offering is completely and irrevocably dependent on the cloud. And that’s good.

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The best software in the world

In order to implement ANZ’s strategy, we must provide our customers, bankers and employees with the best software. How our customers access banking, how our bankers compete and how all of our employees do their part to optimize and manage risk depend on the software we all use on a daily basis.

Almost every modern software product is increasingly only available in the cloud. Being cloud-centric means we can draw on it. With our recently launched ANZ Plus offering, our clients and bankers use the latest customer service tools in the form of Salesforce and modern communication tools like Twilio.

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Like many companies, we switched to video conferencing software during the pandemic and continue to have our entire workforce on this platform. Just last year we hosted an internal engineering conference with 8,000 participants in five countries and 98 speakers – something we could never have done without highly distributed cloud-based software.

We also use better tools from cloud providers to help our bankers move credit from proposal to funding.

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Exceptional data platforms

At ANZ, we rely on data and have a critical responsibility to protect it. Every day we screen millions of transactions to protect our customers from criminal activity.

We also manage the bank’s risk by convincing shareholders and regulators that we are operating within our risk appetite and delivering sustainable margins. These calculations require huge amounts of data and corresponding processing.

So why the cloud? Data growth is extraordinary and the demand to analyze it is escalating. Today we store more than 100 petabytes of data – that’s a 1 followed by 17 zeros. This is to be picked with traditional analytical skills difficult.

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We collect data from a number of sources: financial crime databases, government information, credit agencies, brokers who sell our home loans, logs from our websites, and data from our software partners. Traditionally, we cannot work with this data unless it is repatriated within the bank – at which point we bear all the costs and long-term responsibility for its safe storage.

Modern data platforms in the cloud make this easier. Parallel processing and almost limitless storage enable fundamentally different analysis profiles. Much of this additional data is already in the cloud, which allows us to use it more efficiently.

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engineering of the environment

At ANZ we have a huge number of engineers. There is very little in a bank that doesn’t rely on the work of a team of engineers – from data scientists to complex networks – it all depends on some type of software.

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

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In the cloud, you don’t have to wait for a request for a server, provision storage space, or set up a sandbox to test new software. Anything can happen almost at the speed of thought.

By providing our engineers with the best tools, we can deliver the best customer results. It also relieves systems, including manual handoffs and repetitive tasks. As we move to the cloud, we’re seeing less of this manual activity and more automation.

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This means advantages for our bankers and our customers. Our engineers can focus on the harder problems.

With the availability of on-demand infrastructure, the latest software, limitless data analysis and a modern engineering environment, the cloud is creating a seismic shift within ANZ. This includes improved fraud detection, voiceprint authentication, better customer experiences and improved tools for our bankers and employees.

Tim Hogarth is Chief Technology Officer at ANZ