Westpac NZ’s new central internet banking system will go live in September this year, following internal and select customer testing and modification.
“The system is part of our strategy to be a digitally-led, people-backed bank. We are already 15 months into the strategy, where we have already made significant improvements in engaging with and delivering services to customers on the devices they want to use, when they want to use it,” said Simon Pomeroy, chief digital officer at Westpac NZ. He was speaking at the IBM Connect conference taking place in Auckland today.
Describing Westpac’s work in digitsation, Pomeroy stated that the bank followed a three-pillared strategy comprising of programme symphony, which looked at using existing data differently and the gamut of customer communication and management, a central internet banking platform that is designed to enable 100 per cent banking service provision to customers regardless of device, and true personalisation that allowed customer communication at points of relevance.
According to him, as customers become more mobile, banks have to adapt and shift to aligning themselves to customer behaviour, without forgetting that relationships are the key even in a digital world.
“Digital is not about replacing people. People do business with people, and they still want to deal with people, and feel that they are looking after them and their financial needs. It is about relationships and digitisation should get right or you will lose that relationship,” said Pomeroy.
Pomeroy was preceded on stage at the event by Glenn Wightwick, research director at IBM A/NZ, who spoke at length about the mega-trends that are changing industries in Australia and New Zealand, and connected it to the work that IBM was doing internally.
“We want to explore ideas in novel ways and in keeping with that we shifted gears recently and re-organised how we think of research into four different areas. The first is industries and solutions, where we focus on continuing to have the deepest expertise across industries, and science and technology where we are working at the nanometer level,” said Wightwick.
He also spoke about IBM’s focus on compute-as-a-service, and provided examples of work done by the company in the area of disaster management, where it is providing services to relevant agencies to predict events, like the path of a wild fire, allowing them to plan better evacuation procedures and placement of shelters in the surrounding area.
“The other area of focus is cognitive computing. There is the example of Watson winning at Jeopardy. That involved the work of complex algorithms on the top of data sets to enable machines that can learn. We will continue to build machines that can learn, and for that we need lots of data on which analysis can be performed and information can be gathered,” he said.
Wightwick also spoke about the work he was doing along with his team in his labs in Melbourne in enabling Watson to look through medical images and become as good as a radiologist in identifying anomalies.
“We are building those machines now, and over time, we want to build one that is as good or better than what humans can achieve in complex decision making,” he said.
IBM’s Connect in Auckland is part of the firm's global set of events that brings together the company’s partners and customers and highlights some of the work being done by the company in the region, in co-relation to its global work.