'Legacy architecture wasn't fit for purpose' explains CFO Joanna Fielding
Day two of Oracle OpenWorld 2016 in San Francisco saw HSBC bank take to the stage to big up Oracle's Fusion ERP platform.
Oracle CEO Mark Hurd described the bank's decision to speak at this summit as "the first time [HSBC has] really come out in public", which was explained by Joanna Fielding, CFO of HSBC Global Services.
"Moving to the cloud was essentially part of our new technology strategy," said Fielding, explaining how the idea of investing in cloud was a new idea for the bank.
"Historically, HSBC has, to be frank, largely built its own, or we've bought and customised to the extent that actually keeping our technology current was incredibly expensive and just difficult to do.
"So our new strategy is to lease, and the programme I'm running is actually the first cloud implementation across HSBC, and others are starting to follow."
Named Velocity, the project began two years ago, shortly after Fielding joined HSBC. Its aim is to gradually replace the back-office systems and legacy infrastructure, which are no longer fit for purpose.
The bank brought in Deloitte to help identify what solutions were available in the marketplace that could be implemented across HSBC. Oracle Fusion became the front-runner ahead of another large vendor during the tender.
"We signed off in May last year, and we're implementing ERP and EDM for the whole of HSBC global services, which is essentially half the banks, but we're also looking at building out the same platform across the entire HSBC group," said Fielding.
"It's all about increasing control, reducing costs, improving transparency around the cost base so businesses understand their drivers, and can make better commercial decisions."
Hurd asked Fielding directly why Oracle was picked, and she explained that the company "rolled out the A Team" during the selection process.
"You demonstrated that you really wanted to work with us," she said, adding that Oracle was keen to address security - a huge concern for any bank.
"It was the commitment of Oracle to really make this work, and very much in a three-way partnership between HSBC, Deloitte and Oracle," said Fielding.
"And I felt that Oracle as an organisation was the right one for HSBC to work with, that the product would land better with our users, and that proved to be the case."
HSBC went live with Oracle with a pilot VPN implementation in the UK in March, following up with a full rollout in July.
With 240,000 employees globally and 50,000 in the UK, Fielding explained that this first UK rollout was challenging because of the "very aggressive implementation schedule". Nevertheless, it has already proved its worth in helping HSBC to be more responsive.
"While it started as a programme to increase control and transparency around our costs, it's also enabled us to respond to change in the regulatory environment."
HSBC Global Services was set up to respond to the new banking regulations in the UK.
"Global Services will house all of the back office and function within HSBC, and provide services to both ring-fenced and non-ring-fenced banking," Fielding explained.
"We couldn't have responded to that regulation as quickly as we've been able to do if we'd gone with an on-premise solution," she concluded.