IT transformation challenges still ahead for NAB: Slater

National Australia Bank group executive Gavin Slater tells OpenWorld 2012 delegates that not everything will proceed smoothly as per the original plans.

While National Australia Bank (NAB) is a third of the way through its IT transformation, cost and complexity challenges still lie ahead for the bank, according to one of its executives.

Speaking at Oracle’s OpenWorld 2012 conference in San Francisco, NAB group executive Gavin Slater told delegates that the bank’s strategy was like converting a 747 to an A380 airplane while in full flight.

“Some components are able to be built on the ground while others need to be delivered while still open for business,” he said in a statement.

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“They require sustained commitment and an acceptance that not everything will proceed smoothly as per the original plans.”

According to Slater, as new information becomes available, plans and deliverables will need to be modified. However, he added that it was important to maintain focus on the end game and not become “overly distracted” by obstacles along the way.

The story so far

Slater outlined to delegates the bank’s progress with the multi-year transformation program since October 2011.

“We are close to bringing online a new state-of-the-art data centre [in Melbourne] and in the background, resilience and stability of our systems is constantly improved due to multiple teams across the organisation,” he said.

In September 2012, the bank migrated its dedicated online bank — Ubank — onto NAB’s Next-Generation Banking IT Platform (NGP).

According to Slater, UBank’s 300,000 customers are now “experiencing the difference” through the new portal while UBank staff were using new tools.

“We’ve also simplified nine old call centre systems into one Virtual Call Centre platform that allows greater levels of serve and shorter wait times,” he said.

According to Slater, the software can turn any bank computer into a call centre station as demand requires and it integrates with the bank’s new platform.

“We also respond to our customers and the technology they are using, with our first Windows Phone app developed in August 2012 due to requests from NAB’s social media community,” Slater said.

Turning to the future, he said that while the bank has experienced a softening of economic conditions in Australia, there were no plans to scale back the IT investment.

“We know that ultimately the economy will find its balance and we don’t want to find ourselves behind the eight ball,” Slater said.

Once the multi-year transformation is complete, Slater said the bank will be an “orchestrator of services” rather than a builder of systems while managing end-to-end processes across internal and external partners.

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