Westpac increases IT spend as improvement project nears completion

Customers to be migrated to new online platform this financial year

Westpac Group’s IT costs rose over the past 12 months as the bank nears completion of a five-year program to improve the stability of its technology infrastructure, and enhance its front-end and product systems.

In its full year results announcement on Monday, Westpac said technology licensing and maintenance costs increased by 3 per cent or $58 million compared for FY12 due to its IT investment program. Software amortisation and hardware depreciation also increased by $60 million over the period, the bank said.

Since 2008, Westpac has been working on a $2 billion tech transformation initiative to better align with the changing needs of its customers. Under the first phase of the program, there are 15 strategic investment priorities around technology, infrastructure and operations.

Westpac CIO Clive Whincup told CIO recently that most of these had been completed with the remainder to be finished with the next 12-18 months.

Westpac on Monday said its new online platform – a common system to real-time payments, product knowledge and branch transaction enquiries – is being trialled by 4500 people and full customer migrations will begin this financial year.

The bank’s adoption of server virtualisation has also reduced average severity-1 incidents from 30 per month in 2008 to less than four per month in FY13.

Meanwhile, Westpac’s new call centre platform has reduced service time and the need to transfer calls in contact centres, and an integrated global payments platform is now processing more than $17 million in wholesale and international payments annually.

Customer data has been centralised and is flowing through systems 12 times faster, more insightful customer information is supporting “higher quality customer conversations.” The bank has also increased cross-sell opportunity and improved perimeter security to enhance data protection.

Westpac on Monday reported a cash profit of $7.1 billion for its year ending September 20, 2013, up 8 per cent on the previous year. Its net profit was $6.82 billion, up 14 per cent from FY12.

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