Missing the mark – Bank 2012 Core Challenges and why they are not

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IT News reports that ANZ CIO mulls 2012 challenges, competitors but I’m puzzled that the “challenges” appear so routinely operational. In a world which is uniquely being buffeted by the major mega-trends of cloud, mobile, social enterprise, and unified communication, not to mention consumerization of IT, I would have thought that the challenges would have been far more substantial than just tickets to the game.

In a world where Facebook is better equiped to operate a secure, reliable bank than the Banks are, then a focus on the routine operational tasks – a focus which is predominately inward – is surely not going to deliver the future of banking.

According to the report ANZ CIO Anne Weatherston named “systems availability and security, costs, business alignment, change management” as the 2012 challenges. Really?

I’m puzzled by this report on a number of fronts. No doubt Bank CIOs have challenging jobs. But what really struck me about this list of “2012 challenges” is how operational they are.

THAT is the pot of big challenges? I’m struggling to see what are different in those to the last 20 years, and since they have been the same challenges for the last 20 years why aren’t they just a ticket to the game.

I’m not being bold enough to say why aren’t they solved, because they do remain a challenge as things evolve. But in another way it could be well expected that they are solved, in the sense that it is just the ongoing day to day management issues which should have processes to cope with new threats and challenges i.e. the risk management and governance should be well and truly solved, and hence these issues are just tickets to the game and not the actually game. Isn’t that a reasonable expectation?

I’m further confused about “business alignment”. I’ve seen so many articles in recent years saying that business alignment is all done, furthermore it is an insult to any IT department or CIO to even raise it at a meeting, breakfast or seminar because sure as night follows day they are fully integrated with the business and on top of this passe issue.

Even furthermore they say that even using the phrase implies that IT has been or is “outside” the business, and that is not the case among them. And some articles have expressed their anger at this topic still being on the speaker circuit and consultant agenda. I noticed this because I’m a little less convinced that business alignment is done and dusted. But never-the-less I’m surprised that it’s openly on the list of ANZ challenges for 2012. Perhaps I should be pleasantly surprised!

Finally, there’s no doubt about the game changing outsiders – the barbarians at the gate. We desperately need more competition, as the Chinese kindly pointed out yesterday.

But I’d be keeping my eye on Facebook far more than Google, and even Paypal. That why I wrote Facebook Credits – 5 things you should know. Additionally Facebook can keep it’s systems running and secure for 750 million, something, with the greatest respect, is beyond the ken of the Australian lead banks. This is not a cheap shot, it’s recognition of the fact that our Austalian banks are even struggling just to keep their systems operational let alone create new business.

Finally, I’m surprised that nothing of social business was mentioned. We’re right bang at a point where business and IT leaders are struggling to figure out specifically where social media functions belong, both in terms of 1) delivery platform as well as 2) organizational capability. And at this point, organizations are realizing they have to put some serious thought into making organization-wide sense of social media service delivery. This, to me, is a huge challenge and one relevant to bank CIOs and their core enterprise architecture. But this one went AWOL from the 2012 list?

What do you see as the greatest IT challenges for banks in 2012?

Walter @adamson

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