How ANZ is shaping the banking experience by focusing on community

By Shannon Lewis

ANZ Bank is one of the largest companies in Australia and New Zealand. With headquarters in Melbourne, where it began as the Bank of Australasia in the 1830s, it has grown to become one of the top 100 banks in the world. Nearly one in two New Zealanders have a banking relationship with the business;  today, 30% of all New Zealand home loans are financed by ANZ Bank and 20% of all New Zealand employees working in the finance and insurance sector are employed by  the firm . “Our purpose as a group,” Burke says, “is to help shape a world in which people and communities thrive.”

Sarah Burke first joined ANZ Bank in 2013. Originally a program portfolio manager for the payments area, she moved through different technology-geared business roles, until taking on her current title in 2017. By then, she says, “technology was a fair way down the agile path, but we still had that traditional structure of delivery and operations as separate organisations.” Burke has spent the last two years transforming to a DevOps model that integrates these areas. “I'm responsible for the teams who provide those end-to-end technology services across all of New Zealand's platforms, from core banking right through to our digital channels, delivery and support.”

ANZ Bank’s focus on customer support has seen  the company tackle complex social issues through its business strategy. For instance, it created an interest-free home insulation top up loan in response to the current housing market  in New Zealand, for which it received a Canstar Innovation Excellence Award. Innovation has been central to the bank’s strategy and as a result, the firm has strived to attract new talent , partnering with multiple universities and polytechs as well as working to increase the number of women in the technology sector.             

For Burke, one of the ultimate goals of ANZ Bank’s digital transformation is to make the customer journey more seamless.

“I think in the last five years there’s been a real focus on simplification.For ANZ Bank, digital transformation is about allowing our customers to interact with us easily, without friction… we look to be a digital bank with a human touch.” ANZ Bank goes about this in two ways: through the services it provides and its investment in technology such as data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, cloud services, and machine learning. To improve app architecture, ANZ Bank introduced microservices and application programme interface (API), which allows the company to be more flexible and deliver quickly on incremental change. “To support the speed and agility customers expect, we can’t continue to deliver big, massive projects that take years to come to fruition. We need to break it down and deliver small increments of change,” she explains. Automation and continuous  change allows ANZ Bank to update weekly, even daily, during business hours, which ensures they receive quick feedback. With the advent of developing technology, customers have come to expect speed, both in changes and in response to feedback. By introducing new technology, ANZ Bank can more effectively respond to customer expectations. “I think it deepens our relationships with customers,” she says.

Among the technology ANZ Bank has introduced in the last year is Jamie, a robot advisor created through a partnership with local AI company Soul Machines. Jamie allows for quick responses to questions received in ANZ Bank’s contact centre; its programmed to both answer the top 30 questions customers ask and to learn new types of questions customers are asking to streamline future answers. “We’re also looking at how we can improve our data, our digital, the automation of our marketing and our digital marketing,” says Burke. ANZ Bank developed Delta, a data and insights tool targeted at its institutional business. ANZ Bank was also the first New Zealand bank to implement Apple Pay on iPhones as well as a system for Androids. The company’s foray into developing voice authentication technology means customers can also authenticate themselves when calling the contact centre through voice alone, without having to remember their PIN numbers.

Communities of practice, such as the DevOps community, are a great driver of change , according to Burke. The greatest challenge in adapting ANZ Bank for the future, she says, is “changing our organisational mindset from one of projects to continuous delivery… there is a learning curve, but it’s been less difficult than helping people learn the skills that you need to break work down.” These changes are targeted to make processes better for both consumers and ANZ Bank employees. The technology field, Burke says, attracts people who enjoy that technology is constantly changing, who “embraced the opportunity to work on new and exciting technology.”

Looking towards the future, ANZ Bank’s digitisation looks to remove friction between customers and the bank via personalisation, from electronic Know Your Customer (KYC), to using data analytics to understand daily interactions. Looking ahead, Burke predicts that  ANZ Bank will have  a decreased physical footprint with regards to infrastructure, with greater use of scalable cloud capacity and machine learning. The API framework, Burke assures, is going to be made available to both internal and external partners. Its active use will allow a greater scope of innovative products and solutions. “I think,” Burke concludes, “ANZ Bank will steadily become a  digital bank with the human touch.”


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