CIO50 2020 #11 Gerard Florian, ANZ Bank
ANZ’s group executive for technology, Gerard Florian was at the forefront of the bank’s pivot to remote working and operations when COVID-19 hit. Services like mobile banking had been available for some time, but the assumption was that physical corporate offices and branches were a necessary part of “the system” changed suddenly in March 2020.
“The problem statement was simple – find a way for customers, employees and partners to reliably and safely keep doing what they needed to do,” he tells CIO Australia.
Yet the scale of the actual challenge was formidable, in particular understanding the local status in all of ANZ’s 32 markets, and responding to the needs of 40,000 employees and millions of customers.
The restrictions of social distancing meant customers needed alternatives to visiting branches and for all staff to work from home.
This had to be done safely and securely while continuing to support hundreds of billions of dollars in daily payments and transactions, approving mortgages and loans and handling high volumes of customer inquiries.
The response of Florian and his team was three-fold: engineering safe, workable solutions quickly and at scale; making key leadership decisions and organising resources effectively and executing priority work in a way that was mindful of risk.
Since March, ANZ has mobilised 89 percent of contact centre staff to work from home, while implementing carrier solutions in places like Manila where reliable home internet is not a given.
At the same time, ANZ needed to ensure the over 90 percent of employees who could work from home had the technology tools to do so.
“In addition to system access, our people needed to collaborate virtually at an unprecedented scale,” Florian says.
Video traffic rose 40-times in March, demanding rapid assessment of available conferencing options and capacity.
Some external tools were popular but had security vulnerabilities, Florian tells. Ultimately, Microsoft Teams was rolled out and, by May 2020, it was playing a major role in employee collaboration and engagement.
The internal IT service desk was obviously in high demand. However, with Manila heading into lockdown, the team in Chengdu (Southern China) had to step up fast. Engineers there quickly retrained to respond to IT issues.
“Importantly, we had to do all of this safely and securely in an environment where cyber threats were increasing,” Florian says.
During this time ANZ received more than 500,000 COVID-related emails, with the number of malicious emails blocked doubling since October 2019.
Dealing with social distancing requirements meant rethinking the fundamental reasons for customers visiting actual branches. This gave rise to the development of two important new innovations: electronic signatures for contract signing (for loans, etc) and fully digitised onboarding, including identity verification for new accounts via ANZ’s mobile banking application.
Now supporting more than 3 million users, the ANZ app was recently awarded Money Magazine mobile banking app of the year.
“Our response to COVID required a technology leadership team that could understand business priorities, think differently, and operate in a genuinely agile way,” Florian says.
The team was reorganised to focus on essential services, working from home, new requests and risk management, working in two-week sprints, “swarming” around specific problems as they arose. This saw ANZ’s ‘New Ways of Working’ agile practises tested like never before.
With a real emphasis on agile, human-centred design and lean practices, the bank now reports that more than 12,000 employees from technology and business functions have a greater collaborative focus on addressing real customer needs.
Florian has also sought to create a culture of treating colleagues as customers.
“Through Yammer and other channels I listen and respond to the broader organisation’s feedback and encourage my teams to do the same. Over the past 24 months employee customer satisfaction with technology has improved from 47 to 75.”
Florian reports directly to the CEO, is part of the executive committee and has enterprise responsibility for technology and IT security.
“As a member of ExCo I influence through my involvement in strategic programs to drive digitisation, technology-related operational risk and business innovation,” he notes.
In this capacity, he works closely with the board on the Digital Business and Technology sub-committee and supports diversity, inclusion and early talent initiatives.
As the executive sponsor for accessibility at ANZ, Florian is committed to creating a more inclusive world for customers and employees by addressing accessibility needs, both for customers and staff.
ANZ’s ‘Early Talent’ program is a special source of pride, exploring ways to attract new people to the bank while still in the early stages of their careers.
“In addition to university graduates and interns, I’ve encouraged my team to partner with organisations such as Microsoft – we have TAFE students doing traineeships at ANZ while they study – and DXC Dandelion Program, we have people on the Autism spectrum in various tech roles. Most notably, our cyber security team is benefitting from the positive impact of supporting neurodiversity.”