blog Remember in May 2011, when we broke the news that Westpac confirmed it would finally shift off IBM’s troubled Lotus Notes/Domino platform, in favour of an organisation wide shift to a hosted version of Microsoft Outlook/Exchange? Well, it appears that shift isn’t going too well. iTNews reports today (we recommend you click here for the full article):
… the bank has decided to “defer the project until a later stage.” Sources told iTnews that Westpac CIO Clive Whincup and CTO Jeff Jacobs, both installed in late 2011, ultimately took the decision after a group-wide review of ICT priorities.
Presumably this means that the bank’s tens of thousands of staff will remain on Notes for the forseeable future — and that those working for the bank’s St George subsidiary will remain on Novell GroupWise. Fantastic.
Does it seem to anyone else that things have started to unravel in Westpac’s IT department since mid-2011? The bank’s superstar chief information officer Bob McKinnon steps back into a more limited role, the bank kicks off widespread offshoring initiatives that are hitting its Australian headcount, it confirms it’s still running Internet Explorer 6, chief technology officer Sarv Girn exits stage left and from our point of view the bank doesn’t have a long-term plan for dealing with its ageing core banking systems … a situation St George, for example, dealt with quite some time ago.
Furthermore, in this morning’s Financial Review, McKinnon’s replacement Clive Whincup is quoted as saying there is “little demand” from staff for the bank to implement so-called Bring Your Own Device computing policies, despite industry analysts flagging BYOD as one of the hottest trends in current enterprise IT thinking, and fellow financial services giant Suncorp going headlong down that path.
All of this is dramatically different from the road paved with gold vision which McKinnon was selling technology journalists in October 2010. At that point it looked like Westpac was poised to start challenging CommBank for the crown of Australia’s most technologically progressive financial services group. Today it is increasingly looking like that title might go, ironically, to NAB — historically one of the most conservative of Australia’s top banks. Ironic. From my point of view it looks like Westpac is now heading full steam ahead into cost-cutting mode when it comes to IT.
Westpac’s decision on its unified collaboration platform does also raise a number of questions about the bank’s capacity to deliver. This should not have been that complex a project in the grand scheme of things. It uses standardised software from the Microsoft stack, and was slated to be implemented with the help of several gold-class IT services firms — IBM and Fujitsu. It would have brought uncounted productivity benefits to the bank. If Westpac can’t get this kind of ‘basic hygiene’ IT infrastructure project off the ground, how will it go trying to implement the much more ambitious core banking overhaul projects which are going on at CommBank, Suncorp and NAB?