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 Which Irish Bank has the best technology?

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PostSubject: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:45 am

The key to any bank take-over will be scalability and how they can integrate the acquisition's systems. Who has the best set-up as things stand? This isn't speculative as to shares as any bank could buy the bank with the good technology.

Anybody have any clue as to what the technology set-up is and what the implications are?
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:52 am

Great question though I haven't a clue. I think BOI have/had IBM AS400s as did AIB. A legacy machine with legacy systems - not easily customisable at all if they still have them. Cyberianpan on p.ie had a different view on p.ie once as to the size of the machine but I think it was still IBM.

If you look at their services though - who has what? I always thought it was funny that the AIB never had a Laser card - what the hell were they doing with all their two billions of profit every year? Tacking functionality to legacy systems requires a heap of time and money and a re-fit might be the better option if they haven't already done it. Someone else told me that a lot of banking services had migrated overseas - to India ?

And BOI don't pay Ryanair their little bit of tax either so you can't book a Ryanair flight with a Laser card. None of them do Debit VISAs as far as I'm aware.

A lot of things will change soon though.
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 12:33 pm

banco santander's expansion policy is to target banks with outdated systems so to create value and synergies by upgrading them.

as far as i know, boi are completing a costs overhaul that involves upgrading IT. and having Hewlett Packard as their technology outsourced provider might convey a technological advantage over the other banks.

not entirely sure about AIB but think they implemented a new payments system recently and would be astonished if they had the same GL as last time i was there. in fact, prob 95% certain that they would have implemented a new system when SOx project was underway.
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 12:48 pm

Zakalwe, did you ever get workstation 2075 upgraded ? Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 1:12 pm

EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
Zakalwe, did you ever get workstation 2075 upgraded ? Smile

yep. that used to be my desk number in my previous job. a soulless desk with the bare minimum functionality.

now i overlook D4 gardens and have tonnes of technology and storage about my self. i'm currently looking at a beautiful horse chestnut thats changed in the past few weeks to a lovely russet and brown. i love autumn! Very Happy

god, workstation 2075, that brings back some bad memories!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 1:17 pm

Isn't the biggest thing to have an up to date software system that legacy systems datA can be transferred into or which can interface with legacy systems? Is SAP such a technology?
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:24 pm

I would nearly ask which bank has skimped on IT in the name of "cost saving"?
All senior management are terrified senseless of IT overspends, as it would be fatal to their further upward mobility, even if this means maintaining legacy systems with rubber banks and paperclips instead.
I would wonder which bank is saying the most "Hail Marys" that their systems do not go wallop? cyclops
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:30 pm

The Lighthouse Keeper wrote:
I would nearly ask which bank has skimped on IT in the name of "cost saving"?
All senior management are terrified senseless of IT overspends, as it would be fatal to their further upward mobility, even if this means maintaining legacy systems with rubber banks and paperclips instead.
I would wonder which bank is saying the most "Hail Marys" that their systems do not go wallop? cyclops


The Credit Unions has a 1990s IT disaster that cost them dear, but I think they're over it now.
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:17 pm

I've worked in a few places where the systems were custom-written originally for ten years in the 70s or even late sixties. Some of the programs must be antiques although I'd say a lot of IT people would love to see the back of them, replaced by SAP, Oracle, Movex or whatever they use in the financial world.

Some systems are monolithic things built around one or two files yet millions of customers. The only thing keeping them going is cheap and plentiful memory. The scope for further customization is extremely limited with the systems wit the cobwebs. Whole teams of people have to figure out the implications of changing a single line of code for a bug fix or a mod Shocked - I swear. I used to work in a team of 60 people and this was the kind of thing we did. It was actually very interesting. One project manager wanted to wipe it all away, rewrite it and so on. Massive project because no one knows fully how it works - many of those who originally wrote it are dead perhaps or in a hippy commune somewhere in Africa. Even if they are still around, there have been so many modifications made and other systems tacked on that it really becomes an enormous project. 3 or 4 million lines of code for the central program ... half of them "gotos" . An operating system would be easier to maintain nearly.

But yeah, for some reason the management don't want to spend the money on an overhaul at all. Is it because of the fear that some customer accounts could get wiped out/hacked/lost/upgraded by several orders or magnitude?

Relational databases came too late for some of these systems and I wouldn't at all be surprised if both BOI and AIB had chunks of the monolithic ones still in their bowels.
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:58 pm

Do banks need modern technology in all areas of the business though? I presume they have modern technology in the areas where complex computations are done but simple deposit accounts hardly need much.

Looking at solicitors for example, most of them have ancient old systems because they pretty much just use it for Word Processing, E-mails and research on the net.
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:01 pm

A cousin of mine is a Systems Engineer and deals with a lot of the country's big customers. The worst? The banks. By a country mile. Dithering management and uneducated user groups. Yet insufferably arrogant. The best? Department of Social Welfare. Highly educated user groups who are allowed by management to take responsibility for the relationship with the IT provider. Constant communication and feedback to the IT provider. Always seeking improvements and working with IT provider to that end.

Interestingly, he said that the SocWel guys are highly aware of the fact that their "customer base" are very dependent on them to do their job right and they act accordingly to a highly professional standard.
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:10 pm

The Revenue seem to have their IT house in order too.

I use PTSB and BOI online services and I find them about the same. No idea how good the IT is behind them though.
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:15 pm

I use AIB Online and it always works fine. My girlfriend uses BOI but I think it is not as good, purely from a user point of view, not IT. For instance, I can transfer to any bank account I want by putting in the sort code etc. She has to register the account in a favourites list and can only transfer to certain banks - takes so much time to set it up it is almost easier to go to the branch.
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:18 pm

johnfás wrote:
Do banks need modern technology in all areas of the business though? I presume they have modern technology in the areas where complex computations are done but simple deposit accounts hardly need much.

Looking at solicitors for example, most of them have ancient old systems because they pretty much just use it for Word Processing, E-mails and research on the net.

The legal profession is pretty bad when it comes to IT. A lot of the older legal practitioners would choose quill and parchment over a laptop anyday.
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:23 pm

They don't exactly need IT though. Whilst a digital signature is now recognised in Irish law (I think it was the Electronic Commerce Act) it is very rarely used and everything has to be filed in paper down at the Four Courts etc, anything that needs to be served needs to be served in person not be e-mail. Thus they only use it really for Word Processing and backing up those files.

The main piece of software they use, Opsis, is just a programme that links Word, Excel and E-mail together as well as allowing for the working out of fees.

My Mum's doctors surgey just got a new system installed, Socrates, looks like fairly good fun. Has my Mum driven demented though.
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:32 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
I've worked in a few places where the systems were custom-written originally for ten years in the 70s or even late sixties. Some of the programs must be antiques although I'd say a lot of IT people would love to see the back of them, replaced by SAP, Oracle, Movex or whatever they use in the financial world.

Some systems are monolithic things built around one or two files yet millions of customers. The only thing keeping them going is cheap and plentiful memory. The scope for further customization is extremely limited with the systems wit the cobwebs. Whole teams of people have to figure out the implications of changing a single line of code for a bug fix or a mod Shocked - I swear. I used to work in a team of 60 people and this was the kind of thing we did. It was actually very interesting. One project manager wanted to wipe it all away, rewrite it and so on. Massive project because no one knows fully how it works - many of those who originally wrote it are dead perhaps or in a hippy commune somewhere in Africa. Even if they are still around, there have been so many modifications made and other systems tacked on that it really becomes an enormous project. 3 or 4 million lines of code for the central program ... half of them "gotos" . An operating system would be easier to maintain nearly.

But yeah, for some reason the management don't want to spend the money on an overhaul at all. Is it because of the fear that some customer accounts could get wiped out/hacked/lost/upgraded by several orders or magnitude?

Relational databases came too late for some of these systems and I wouldn't at all be surprised if both BOI and AIB had chunks of the monolithic ones still in their bowels.

Change, as we've seen with the Gardai, evotingmachines and the Health payroll project, is a high risk business. Computers are only a means to an end - an abacus and a quill pen and parchment in a plastic box. Any change means retraining and taking staff out of productive work. Change, like the latest effing versions of Adobe Read and Microsoft Office, often involved paying, learning new stuff, then finding it is so crap that you change it back again.

I am convinced that IT /computerisation is one of the reasons we are in an economic crisis now. Apart from the fact that without computers the kind of sleight of hand that has been going on with Hedge Funds and CDSs and naked shorting and so on, IT is a cost on production. The more our offices have had to tool up over the years, the more it has squeezed our profit margins.
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:36 pm

I'd mostly agree with you there but I don't know anything about the second paragraph so wouldn't personally comment.

But yea, aside from certain industries which involve complex computations and that, or improved accountancy software most businesses don't actually need the latest technology. Solicitors being a prime example as I highlighted above.
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:34 pm

Slim Buddha wrote:
A cousin of mine is a Systems Engineer and deals with a lot of the country's big customers. The worst? The banks. By a country mile. Dithering management and uneducated user groups. Yet insufferably arrogant. The best? Department of Social Welfare. Highly educated user groups who are allowed by management to take responsibility for the relationship with the IT provider. Constant communication and feedback to the IT provider. Always seeking improvements and working with IT provider to that end.

Interestingly, he said that the SocWel guys are highly aware of the fact that their "customer base" are very dependent on them to do their job right and they act accordingly to a highly professional standard.
That's a good example - the end user of the system - in this case the guy or lass who gives you your dole if you're so lucky, are vital in the development process and are too often overlooked in many organisations as sources of feedback There are all sorts of exceptions to deal with and it's great if a system can be modified easily to accomodate change. So if you get a part-time job or some temporary/contract work then you go to the dole office and hopefully they will have a button there to do everything fairly quickly; if they haven't then there must be a system whereby they can percolate that feedback back up the chain. Often the end-user will work directly with the IT analyst which is good.

In banking there are all sorts of complications with loans and loan insurance for example. So a loan just doesn't have an entry in a database but might require connection to an external insurer for example. Thus functionality might need to be plugged into this type of edifice to cater for changes or updates which might occur in the external insurer's system.

Then there's DIRT. I heard that the Revenue also have a fine system and they educated a lot of people at the time who later worked in the private sphere or who started up their own companies. More of this kind of thing from the Civil Service please.

Then when you think about it there is all sorts of functionality that needs to be inbuilt in the banking software - means of payment from all sorts of sources - cash, credit card, other cards, direct debits, international payments etc. And what about valuable customer companies who need quick overdrafts or approval or means of payment or means of shifting credit around? The more fluidity and versatility there is the more competitive the bank can be. I really can't understand why AIB doesn't have a Laser Card and neither it or BOI have Debit Visas?

Despite the lack of functionality the Credit Unions all seem to be doing well though. I suppose people might like the option of going for low-tech as well. How bad?
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:39 pm

lack of understanding of IT systems potential is also widespread.

i was auditing the SOx controls of an american fortune 500 company. they had sophisticated controls built into their systems but because the control wording mentioned signatures and dates, every single report had to be printed out and dated and backup attached and filed away. in one fell swoop the sarbannes oxely act rendered all IT controls irrelevant.

it still is a bloody disaster for the rainforests!
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PostSubject: Re: Which Irish Bank has the best technology?   Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:52 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
Slim Buddha wrote:
A cousin of mine is a Systems Engineer and deals with a lot of the country's big customers. The worst? The banks. By a country mile. Dithering management and uneducated user groups. Yet insufferably arrogant. The best? Department of Social Welfare. Highly educated user groups who are allowed by management to take responsibility for the relationship with the IT provider. Constant communication and feedback to the IT provider. Always seeking improvements and working with IT provider to that end.

Interestingly, he said that the SocWel guys are highly aware of the fact that their "customer base" are very dependent on them to do their job right and they act accordingly to a highly professional standard.
That's a good example - the end user of the system - in this case the guy or lass who gives you your dole if you're so lucky, are vital in the development process and are too often overlooked in many organisations as sources of feedback There are all sorts of exceptions to deal with and it's great if a system can be modified easily to accomodate change. So if you get a part-time job or some temporary/contract work then you go to the dole office and hopefully they will have a button there to do everything fairly quickly; if they haven't then there must be a system whereby they can percolate that feedback back up the chain. Often the end-user will work directly with the IT analyst which is good.

In banking there are all sorts of complications with loans and loan insurance for example. So a loan just doesn't have an entry in a database but might require connection to an external insurer for example. Thus functionality might need to be plugged into this type of edifice to cater for changes or updates which might occur in the external insurer's system.

Then there's DIRT. I heard that the Revenue also have a fine system and they educated a lot of people at the time who later worked in the private sphere or who started up their own companies. More of this kind of thing from the Civil Service please.

Then when you think about it there is all sorts of functionality that needs to be inbuilt in the banking software - means of payment from all sorts of sources - cash, credit card, other cards, direct debits, international payments etc. And what about valuable customer companies who need quick overdrafts or approval or means of payment or means of shifting credit around? The more fluidity and versatility there is the more competitive the bank can be. I really can't understand why AIB doesn't have a Laser Card and neither it or BOI have Debit Visas?

Despite the lack of functionality the Credit Unions all seem to be doing well though. I suppose people might like the option of going for low-tech as well. How bad?

from hard won auditing experience with different systems i noticed that payroll systems rarely have problems. if they did, every friday there'd be a line of people outside the manager's door demanding more money. as a result i was able to place more reliance on payroll systems than on financial reporting or stock control systems.

i'd say you can apply that across the board i.e. social welfare and revenue systems are good because there'd be war if they weren't. PULSE or PPARS on the other hand are systems where the public sector got it wrong.

in the banking world, i'd say that the retail systems (with customer accounts) are almost 100% perfect but the other systems (such as treasury systems) probably have glitches every other week. certainly when i audited banks, every year we found exceptions to treasury systems, usually interest calculated incorrectly or mismapping interfaces between systems (such as interest income on one system interfacing into the fees line on another) etc. again this is becuase if a retail (say the ATMs) were wrong (by debiting wrong amounts) then the lines to joe duffy would be sizzling and it would be front page headline stuff. if a treasury system goes wrong, and it does frequently!, there are angry exchanges across trading rooms and usually the culprit takes the hit. all done very neatly and no one is the wiser.

SAP is the toyata of accounting systems. its german made and the programing is very simple and literal. i find it reliable but difficult if something goes wrong. in all instances i've seen where SAP is wrong, its always human error. its not a forgiving system!
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