ANZ began dismantling hierarchies in 2018 as part of a move to agile, a way of working which favours “stand-up” meetings and “sprints” rather than traditional methods of delivery and management structures. 

The practice is popular with tech giants and digital natives but ANZ was reportedly the first Australian bank to adopt agile.

 ANZ CIO, Gerard Florian, today said the move had been critical but the bank’s overall transformation is about more than a delivery model. There must be a vision and a culture to go with it, Florian says.

“As far as transformation, a lot of people want to focus on agile specifically but really, for us, it’s a way of working, and that is a cultural transformation.”

ANZ CIO, Gerard Florian.

The broader change, rather than moving to agile, requires senior leadership and a “consistent, clear narrative” of change. Florian says, the bank was able to distill the narrative into three main things.

“Number one was around getting speed to value as far as getting value in the hands of our customers,” Florian said during a presentation at Atlassian Open in Sydney.

“Number two was getting our staff closer to the people doing the work – closer to the customer. Seeing that value would result in better staff engagement. And then number three, having done those two, we believe that people would actually just work out easier ways to do stuff. So we remove the friction.”

When ANZ put faith in its staff to solve problems they began “naturally forming” teams to do so and often produced better outcomes than expected, Florian said.

Future of the CIO

Asked about the future role of a CIO with more systems moving to the cloud and/or being delivered as a service, Florian said the role will “absolutely” exist in 10 years but will evolve significantly.

“CIO, CDO, C-whatever, the role ultimately has got to evolve into that very tight coupling between the operational part of the business and the customer environment. 

“And I think in the past [the] job historically began many, many years ago very much behind the scenes. It’s slowly but surely getting closer to the customer [and] we’re going to keep pulling that. But connecting those two is a big part of that [CIO] role.”

Cloud future

Florian said “one day” ANZ may be operating almost entirely in the cloud but for the foreseeable future the bank would continue with a hybrid approach.

“We do firmly believe that the world will be hybrid, certainly for quite a while. And we’ve got a plan in the reasonable chunks of time here.”

For a large bank migrating to the cloud means dealing with the challenge of decades worth of legacy, on premise systems. 

“And so when we think about cloud, we think about how we’re going to accelerate our cloud native development, we think about the legacy migration, and what are we going to move,” Florian said.

The ANZ CIO explained the bank has a “cloud business office”, a team of people working with the business and providing tools for cloud migration including the regulatory considerations.

“If you’re in institutional banking, for example, if you’ve got an idea and you’d like to use the cloud, very early on ‘these are the design principles, you need to be thinking about it’, given our regulatory requirements.

“So it’s all about trying to accelerate that [process] rather than at the end of the process saying ‘oh, by the way, here’s a checkbox of things you should have thought about.”

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