Meet the finance finalists in the 2022 iTnews Benchmark Awards

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It is said that consumers take their best experience in any context and apply it to every context. That’s a refrain all too familiar to the technology professionals in Australia’s banking sector charged with delivering the infrastructure and services to match those expectations.
Today, we announce the three financial services finalists in the 2022 iTnews Benchmark Awards:
  • Commonwealth Bank’s execution health score using machine learning to assess project health
  • Westpac delivering a banking-as-a-service platform
  • And Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s 30 for 30 developer-led cloud transformation
The projects are featured in the latest in our series of mini-documentaries about the 2022 iTnews Benchmark Awards finalists.
Commonwealth Bank
Governance is critical to the success of every major IT project.
According to Chris Connor, executive manager, emerging technology, Commonwealth Bank the project team built a machine learning model to underpin its execution health score initiative to identify the probability that a project would slip in the next 60 days.
According to Connor, “This was an important problem for the bank, because we wanted to move from a reactive model, reacting to projects slipping milestones, to being more proactive, and investigating indicators before they became real problems in our portfolio.”
With data crucial to the success of any machine learning project, several challenges needed to be overcome.
“Often teams would use the data in different ways. Sometimes there’d be issues with data quality,  or how a particular field was understood by various stakeholders.”
Connor said it was important to understand the context and significance of the data from a process and a portfolio management perspective.
The success of the project was based on bringing together subject matter expertise, portfolio management, excellence, and the statistical rigour of machine learning models, he said.
For Westpac bank, the decision to launch banking-as-a-service (BaaS), was taken as a strategic response to a set of emerging realities including disintermediation in financial services, and the trend toward embedded finance amongst non-bank corporates and fintechs. 
Nita Prakash, head of customer service and operations, and digital BaaS said the projects effectively required the teams to deliver a brand new fully integrated core banking platform within 18 months which she describes as an astonishing short timeframe. That was especially so in the context of a global pandemic and fully remote working. 
“The Baas platform is really critical in setting Westpac apart as Australia’s first purpose-built digital BaaS platform business. 
“And this differentiation is really brought to life by the plug and play API powered ecosystem built on cloud-based microservices architecture, which means the bank is able to remain future-ready. 
She said, “We were able to prove out the all-digital business model as well as testing and learning new technology in a greenfield environment, providing additional optionality for the Westpac Group.”
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank
The Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s 30 for 30 Rapid developer-led cloud transformation demonstrates the ability of technology groups to deliver even under the most trying circumstances.
With the pandemic disrupting normal work, and in the midst of a looming data centre change, the team built a catalogue of banking services using the cloud, as well as migrating the bank’s digital applications, customer-facing websites and open banking services to the cloud.
According to chief information officer Andrew Cresp, the project was important for two reasons.
“Number one, we actually had to get out of a data centre quite quickly. And there’s nothing like a data centre date to keep everyone focused.”
But secondly, and probably the more important, he said it also provided one of the first proof points in moving to more modern API and micro services, embracing cloud, “and putting devs at the heart of our transformation.”
The business impact was considerable. “We saw a 60 percent reduction in cloud usage costs, we saw a 20 percent improvement in performance, and we became 30 percent, more resilient.
Cresp said the work enabled the team to be more agile and productive, and provide better services to customers.
We thank every organisation that entered the financial services award category.
Watch the rest of the mini-documentaries about the 2022 iTnews Benchmark Awards finalists’ projects here this month.
On June 15, the award winners will be announced at a ceremony and dinner hosted by KPMG in Barangaroo, Sydney.
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