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Portal Power

A new Web infrastructure helps David Boyles steer ANZ Banking Group toward universal accessibility.

A new Web infrastructure helps David Boyles steer ANZ Banking Group toward universal accessibility

For the driver's sake, an automobile's speedometer, fuel tank indicator and brake light are located on the dashboard rather than in the trunk. The same logic applies to Internet access to financial services: What's the point of gathering data if it isn't made accessible to those who need it most?

However, the information produced by a business-accounting data, information warehouse data, customer information, customer relationship data-is far more complex than that produced by an automobile. The challenge for both bankers and portal providers is one of getting technologists out of the data reporting business and handing that responsibility to the end users.

David Boyles, chief operating officer at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., has accepted that challenge. His technology group at ANZ supports the entire bank, including each line of business and enterprise-wide functional group, as well as the company's top brass.

Given the breadth of his responsibility at the $100 billion bank, Boyles' ultimate goal for ANZ was to "move as much manipulation of information into the hands of business people, administrators, finance people and so on, rather than to keep it in the hands of IT people," he said.

The solution was switching to a Web infrastructure. ANZ reengineered its systems starting with the infrastructure base, including hardware, IP networks, operating systems and application-program interfaces. "You have to have that first," said Boyles. "If you start with trying to deliver the end products first, it doesn't work so well."

ANZ has moved from point solutions, accessible only by certain teams through dedicated terminals, to Web solutions accessible to anyone, from anywhere. The Web components were built using standard Microsoft Web servers, application servers and single sign-on using ActiveDirectory. Other layers of the new architecture include S2 Systems' OpeN/2 for the ATM network and Fundtech's Global PAYplus for payments processing. "Almost everything we do today is accessed via someone's standard desktop," said Boyles.

For Bankers, By Bankers
The company intranet, dubbed MAX, supports the entire range of responsibilities for each employee, including those for executive positions such as COO. "Starting at a high level, I have access to a business summary from my shop: a one-page presentation of the key result areas for my organization, and then drill-down capability below that," said Boyles. "If I find something there that looks interesting, I can drill down to the next level, to whatever level the information's available."

Another feature of MAX is "project-in-a-box," which allows users to examine all of the active projects in the organization pertaining to them. "You can go in and look at all projects, you can look at your own projects, you can drill down into the budget, the estimated time to complete, the estimated cost to complete," said Boyles. "That's all up on MAX in pretty great detail."

The contents of each employee's dashboard depends on what his or her business unit decides to add. "We decided early on that we would never have enough money to develop all the pages, all the applications and so forth that all the businesses wanted," said Boyles. "So instead of trying to do that, we actually created a tool that we give to the businesses."

It doesn't take much to lessen a business unit's dependence on the IT department. "They decide who they want to be their Webmaster, and we take that person through about a day of training," said Boyles. "Most of that is around privacy and the like."

Using these tools, each business unit becomes its own Web publisher, creating, compiling and disseminating information for employees and customers. Since customers rarely remain within a single business unit, ANZ's infrastructure also includes tools that make it easy to hand off a customer issue from one employee to another. "This automatically moves the work to whomever needs to complete it for the customer," said Boyles. "We've put that out, company-wide, so that people don't have to go out and start looking for workflow solutions."

The executive dashboard displays key financial measures along with other drivers of success, such as employee satisfaction. Indeed, employee satisfaction at ANZ has never been better. "Our employee satisfaction is at an all-time high," said Boyles. "Starting down around the 50th percentile of people being happy working at ANZ four years ago, it's up in about the 80th percentile now."

The MAX portal includes links to a PeopleSoft ERP system, with modules for general ledger, human resources, procurement, accounts payable and accounts receivable. Employees can access typical HR functions, along with internal job postings and information on how to maintain work-life balance. By eliminating the drudgery involved with paperwork at the workplace, MAX has been a productivity-booster and a morale-booster at the same time.

Yet it's not just banks that are developing portals for their customers and employees. Financial technology companies are getting into the act as well. For example, Fiserv, Brookfield, Wis. , developed its Cleartouch portal to provide bankers with integrated access to its various offerings. "We become the central point for other Fiserv products and other B2B-type applications that come into the customer's world," said John Macaluso, chief technology officer at Fiserv Vision. "We have a very robust middleware infrastructure that allows us to communicate with other businesses, credit organizations and third-party services."

The XML-based Fiserv interchange format transfers information between applications more easily than can traditional systems, such as a credit application. "You're trying to bring together information from various outside sources and credit bureaus," said Macaluso. "What the portal does is take the functionality out of the back room and puts it at everybody's fingertips."

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