Keith Chan of the Philippine Business Bank: How to be a success as a bank CIO

FY Teng

Also, the bank acquired an internal treasury system in 2013 and was successful in interfacing a straight-through-process to send electronic payment messages from an internal application to the SWIFT on SaaS.

In the years the system has been running, how much has it contributed to your business?
The emerging technology we used for SWIFT on SaaS was a 51 percent upfront cheaper to install and cost about 42 percent lower in annual maintenance and operating cost as compared with the traditional set up. Technology should not be looked up as the singular source of contribution to business performance but it should be viewed as the machinery to deliver the services and products of the bank to its clients. Business still has to earn its keep. If a vendor comes to me and tells me that their system can help the bank increase revenues, I will ask them to state that in the contract as a deliverable.

What are you currently doing more of in the following areas-the Cloud, security and mobility?
The success of the SaaS paved the way for full virtualization of our data center in 2013.  The bank's core banking and some major applications have been migrated to the virtual data center. Virtualization is the foundation of the cloud, except we don't need self provisioning as IT is still the one provisioning for the business users and usage charging.

On the security front, we are doing the usual ongoing improvements that regulations and compliance require.

And we are working on mobility for internal operations and staff, and also exploring the extension of high potential customer touchpoints to mobile platforms. A new corporate Internet banking service will be launched later this year. Currently, we are providing mobile email for bank employees.

What emerging ICT trends are you currently watching closely?
As we have completed our virtualization, one observation we have is that an application still cannot span from a single box or server. Batch processing speed is still limited to the maximum resources of a single host server even though we have multiple host servers in the virtualized pool. So I am keeping an eye on HaLoop type of technology that enables a process to span and use multiple CPU resources highly effectively. This would greatly scale up the physical limits of the server.

What have been the greatest challenges you, as the paramount leader of ICT at the bank, have faced?
The role of a CIO is 90 percent that of a negotiator and mediator, rather than that of a technical resource person. As such, in this job one has to be able to communicate effectively with ease across the corporate levels.

What are the key attributes every successful technology leader should have?
Patience (lots of it) and prudence when making decisions. Also he or she should always have a good broad perspective on the purpose and real contribution of technologies to the business.

What would you like to be known for in the industry?
As a prudent decision-maker who can utilize emerging technologies to optimize IT operation and cost.

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