Bank CIO Mary James on the importance of keeping IT people business-focused

FY Teng

Mary James Mary James CIO Alliance Bank Malaysia

CIO
Alliance Bank Malaysia

In the more than three years Mary James has been at Alliance Bank Malaysia, she has finished a great number of big projects, including the relocation of the bank's data centre, reengineering of its network and implementation of a new customer relationship management platform. At present, her team is busy working through completion the bank's Internet and mobile banking systems, along with a whole host of enterprisewide initiatives. We interviewed her recently when she was named one of the year's top information executives in Asia banking by IDC Financial Insights.

What are your business and ICT priorities now?
A major priority of ours is the execution of our channel distribution strategies. At the crux of it is the constant improvement of our channels. We've been having continuing initiatives to enhance our channels, particularly the critical ones, such as our self-service channels, Internet banking facilities and contact centre, as well as our physical branches.

For instance, we continually enhance our Internet banking solution both for corporate customers and consumers. We rolled out our Internet banking platform about two years ago, and it has been very well received. Now, we're just putting a lot of time and effort into making it better by the day, adding functionalities and more to the slew of products that we already offer through it. Again, these are for both businesses and consumers.

Our self-service terminals are constantly being enhanced, as is the operation of our contact centre, which is going beyond delivery of call centre services over the phone but also incorporating the use of social media, such as web chat capabilities. And one key highlight for our team in technology right now is the implementation of a mobile banking system.

Of course, we are also expending a lot of effort on initiatives around security, especially in the areas of DDOS, fraud management, and other areas around our Internet banking and soon to be launched mobile banking platform.

Tell us about your specific targets for the next year or so.
Within the next 12 to 24 months we will be launching our mobile banking platform. Round that period, we will also be launching our enhanced contact centres. Those are the two major initiatives we have under our channel distribution strategies.

What are you currently doing or doing more in the following areas: Cloud, security and mobility?
For the Cloud we have just completed two major projects: around human resource (HR) solutions where we use an Oracle solution, and around other company processes. It's a hybrid cloud that is integrated with our internal HR systems. The IP telephony system that we are in the process of implementing right now is also a Cloud-based solution that we are working with; the roll out of the system at our head office is just about done and we're extending it to our branches soon.

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