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

FY Teng

On the security front, the implementation we're running to counter DDOS attacks started about a year ago, and we are in the midst of completing it.

And as for mobility, we've been working on enterprise mobility for the last two years, during which we have had to put in a lot of infrastructure. We had to implement application virtualization, we had to put in place a strong mobile device management solution, and we had to wireless-enable our buildings. We've completed most of the infrastructure and now we're working towards solutions for sandboxing and mobile device management refinements, and also looking more closely at bring your own device (BYOD) and how users can enable their own mobile devices to work within our enterprise framework. I think we'll be done and live within this year with those.

Are there any other emerging ICT trends that you are currently exploring?
There are a couple. Everyone talks about Big Data. I'm not ready yet. But I'm looking very closely at that space because I think it's extremely interesting. With our dabbling into social media, which we've been quite successful at so far, I believe that in about a year from now, we will have to look at how we can feed all that information into our data warehouse, and then leverage Big Data solutions for analytics.

The other thing I'm looking at is biometric security for our customer to make it easier for them to access either our Internet or mobile banking services. Our soft tokens are pretty easy to use, but I want to make it even more convenient for them to bank with us. So far, though, I haven't seen anything that appeals to me with respect to how well integrated it can be within our current infrastructure.

In your capacity as the paramount leader of technology of a financial house, what have been your greatest challenges?
I have found that the executive relationships I've had to maintain within the various organizations that I've worked in to be not difficult at all. I think one of the fundamental reasons for that is because I consider myself a business person before I consider myself a technologist. I am a banker. I understand the banking needs. I put myself into the place of customers first before I put myself in the position of CIO. So for me to build executive relationships has never been difficult because I always make every effort possible to truly understand the business.

One of my key challenges is that of changing the mindset of my staff, and getting them to look at their jobs in the context of the bank the same way I do. That is, to not look at what they're working on from a technology viewpoint but rather in terms of how it impacts the customers' experience.

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