An Interview with Dave Curran


Westpac’s Group CIO speaks to FST Media about how Westpac’s investment in big data will help strengthen customer engagement.

FST Media: What are your IT priorities for the next 12 to 18 months? 

Curran: I have three priorities. First and foremost, everything I do in technology is linked to the business strategy. At Westpac, we are looking for a step up and a key focus is how we can ensure our strategy is properly defined to meet that step up and what the business plans to do. Secondly, it is about the people. You need to have the best people and the best team. My plan is to put together the best team in the industry in a short period of time, taking the team that I already have, which is very good, and enhancing it through training and augmentation. My third priority is architecture. You have to have a road map for what you are doing and architecture sits first and foremost in my mind. 

FST Media: What is your strategy to ensure that Westpac continues to disrupt itself?

Curran: The key for me is urgency. We are living in a new digital age and I think over time, banks have been historically reasonably complacent to early change. We have to be urgent. We have to come at it from a customer’s perspective.

FST Media: How will Westpac’s investment in big data strengthen customer engagement? 

Curran: Data is one of the greatest assets within a bank. As our management became more sophisticated, we started using data better, followed by regulation, as required. What we are realising more and more is that data is an asset that we can use to better serve our customers. We are no longer product-selling companies, we are customer serving companies, and the proper use of analytics to better serve our customers is key to our success. 

FST Media: How will Westpac’s mobile and online platform migration deliver a seamless customer experience? 

Curran: We launched Westpac Live back in June, 2014, and already we have 2.7 million customers on it. We have done over 55 million log-ons. By building these new capabilities and architecting them appropriately, you are able to have a seamless customer experience which we are doing across our brands. It is fundamental to what we need to do, so you will see more of that over time, as we continue to innovate, always from the customer point of view, and integrate this technology across our full range of services.

FST Media: What are your views on cloud adoption? 

Curran: Cloud is no longer something that is coming, cloud is here. We have traditionally thought about cloud as something we can use to make things cheaper. I think it is so much more. It is about how can we use that to better serve our customers and what new [innovations] we can quickly bring to our customers. A key question is how we keep up with the rate of change. In banks, we have always been caught out with this issue – we need to do it, but it will take too long, because of the other priorities we have. By using cloud, it can speed up our rate of adoption of change [to keep up] with the world we live in today. 

FST Media: Every leader has a legacy they wish to be remembered for. What is yours? 

Curran: I personally believe that banking is a genuinely honourable business. We are part of the fabric that helps communities grow. Over time, we have over-complicated it, particularly in the technology space. If my legacy is that I helped simplify banking, transformed it to a customer service industry in a manner that is continuing to grow the community and serve the people that are our customers, then that is a legacy I would be very proud of.