Larry Kiernan, CTO/CIO, Bank of Ireland Group

Larry Kiernan is chief technology/information officer with the Bank of Ireland Group. Bank of Ireland (BoI) is a diversified Financial Services Group established in 1783 by a royal charter. In early 2010, Kiernan joined the bank and, as he defines, he is responsible for enabling technology strategy, developing technology delivery, and infrastructure and application service initiatives. Last year, BoI was in the headlines when under his leadership the bank chose IBM for a 5-year deal. As per this deal, IBM will manage the banks entire IT infrastructure, which includes systems, servers, mainframes, local area networks, etc, apart from bringing innovation into the computer infrastructure to make it more scalable. Before joining BoI, Kiernan worked with Dell at various levels including as global VP for application, infrastructure, security, and services; global VP for technology engineering; CIO for EMEA; and CIO for APAC. In an interview with Dataquest Kiernan talks about challenges, new technologies, innovative changes in banks, etc.


Since joining Bank of Ireland in 2008, what has been your agenda?

In 2008, in the middle of the financial crisis, I joined the bank. Although it was a difficult time to join, especially a bank, but also exciting as the bank was looking to change in a new world. The key message conveyed from the headquarters, which became the priority pointer, was first understanding the cost agenda in technology rationalization and ensuring that the right thing was deployed at the right time to bring the maximum benefit.

Since the bank has been around for 200 years, hence the primary goal was all about spreading the legacy both globally and universally in new forms. Also, we were looking at using multiple resources systems and turning them into components for building up the entire stack of enterprise architecture.


Taking that agenda ahead, where have you reached so far? What are the major initiatives you are looking at?

A few things that we looked at were transforming a federated IT organization into a holistic IT organization, which served the bank and its vision. And it worked really well, as we were setting the priority from the IT perspective right across the bank. The world around is changing, we see a significant amount of changes in regulatory aspect in financial transactions.

Currently, in the middle of these large transformational programs related to business payment and payment processing, we are also building a brand new online channel for transactions and businesses.

Similarly, we are building channels of support to enhance the customer experience, since a customer talks to a bank through multiple channelsa branch, mobile, online banking, or a customer service center.

Can you elaborate on how you are building and enhancing these channels?

Last year, we developed a consumer online banking channel and we witnessed high-traffic growth. Recently, we saw it growing not just in volume but also with time bringing in good customer experience.

We will be soon entering into the mobile channel space, which will be built upon an existing functionality that we put out there. We will explore the benefits and capabilities of NFC-enabled mobile devices, as and when NFC gains more acceptance in the market.


You recently spoke at Nasscom Leadership Forum 2012, on what are customers looking for? An outside in perspective. What are your thoughts on the change with consumerism of IT?

In my presentation I mentioned, while in the era of 1700s banking was about bank offices, today the services have moved and is available through Web, ATM, branch networks etc, and soon the banks will be in our pockets. With consumerism of IT, banks need to maintain 3 layers of IT internally. The bottom layers consisting of banking applications, ERP and the payment and transaction application; themiddle layer of big data analysis and the layer of integrating channels (like mobile devices, tablets, web, kiosks) on the top of it.

Unlike the European markets, the Indian market is very strict and regulation-driven. How do you make your IT scalable and agile in such a market?[image_library_tag 233/3233, alt=”larry1″ border=”0″ border=”0″ border=”0″ class=”right” title=”larry1″ width=”120″ height=”194″ ,default]

Yes, we follow a lot of regulations that help in defining the processes both internally and externally. For instance, regulatory changes around protection of customer data and European currency payment standards will change the present structure and introduce a standard way of doing business and recognizing customer value.


We are not only building new channels, but also integrating more channels with legacy systems.


What are your views about new technologies like cloud, mobility, big data, etc?

Like every other organization, we are also looking at cloud. But it is probably not applicable in totality to the bank because of heavy regulations, the need for data protection, and security. From a private cloud perspective, cloud is not where you can put your core data; and a public cloud is out of the question.

Going forward, big data would be the key agenda for us, because more and more people are now realizing the value of business intelligence and information that can help customers better.

We need to consider data, unstructured or structured, coming from structure legacy data and the core systems, social media, and electronics that form major part of the business intelligence picture. This step will ensure better business.


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