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Tuesday, 08 June 2010 14:36

Big bank bags better business management


One of Australia's four big banks - believed to be the Commonwealth - will turn on a suite of software next Tuesday aimed at allowing continuous business improvement by providing real time analysis of the millions of events that affect the bank, which can then be used to tweak operations.

According to Derek Brand, vice president of Progress Software in Australia and New Zealand, which launched its Responsive Process Management Suite (RPMS) in March, in the past information overload made it hard for organisations to sift and make sense of data. 'The general manager of the bank told me they were running the business blind in terms of real time analysis of information,' said Brand.

Although the bank had exception based reporting to identify anomalies, it did not have real time analysis of events. He said the system was going live on June 15.

Although Brand refused to name the bank, he did say it was one of the four majors and had developed a service oriented architecture 'which has hundreds of service levels.' This suggests the Commonwealth Bank as the most likely candidate as it is probably furthest along the track toward developing a comprehensive SOA as part of its core systems overhaul.

The CBA has also been a user of Progress' Apama complex event processing platform, last year installing the system in the bank's equities and trading division. Apama is one element of the suite of software which makes up Progress' RPMS. The ANZ is the other local major bank using Apama.

At time of writing CBA CIO Michael Harte has not responded to a request for information. This story will be updated if he does.

Dr John Bates is a co founder of Apama, who subsequently sold the company to Progress, and is now its chief technology officer. On a visit to Australia this week Bates acknowledged that one of the alternative systems to Apama was the Australian developed SMARTS system, which has recently been selected by ASIC as the foundation for its share market monitoring role which it takes over from the ASX later this year.

However he claimed that; 'To develop a new strategy in SMARTS takes six months. One of the challenges they face is that the market is moving faster than changing every six months and they are going to struggle.'

Bates claimed that fast moving businesses needed fast moving analysis. 'Business intelligence is highly useful for planning. But companies want to use information to change what they are doing now.' This was particularly the case in sectors such as financial services, logistics, airlines and telecommunications.

Local customers for Progress' analysis tools include CBA, ANZ and Telstra, while overseas organisations such as London based regulator the Financial Services Authority is also a user of Progress systems and about to roll out a new version.

Progress Software's RPMS suite has been sewn together by the company using home grown software and also following a series of acquisitions including Apama, and more recently, Savvion, which provided the business process management smarts for the suite.

The challenge that the company faces Brand acknowledged was actually selling the computing system. While Progress 'Is focussing on large companies who've got clear issues with the visibility of business processes' it was not always possible to sell directly to the CIO or IT department.

'This is framework technology but I don't think the IT guys are up to this yet,' he said. Instead the company had to first sell the idea to business managers with oversight of the real time complexities affecting organisations such as airlines, utilities or financial services firms. 'Business folks get it immediately,' said Brand.

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