How ING Avoids Customization Nightmares

ING CIO says the bank's new operations model is helping centralize more IT work, while still letting leaders react to local market needs around the globe. The ultimate goal: Make IT faster.

Chris Murphy, Editor, InformationWeek

January 23, 2012

1 Min Read

Most anywhere in the world, people with bank accounts will want to transfer money from savings to checking. So shouldn't a global bank have one software system that supports that kind of transfer, rather than have a different one in each of more than 25 countries in which it operates?

The simple answer is yes, but the complicated question is: how? Balancing the cost savings of scale against the need for customization to meet local market and regulatory conditions is one of the thorniest problems of global IT. ING's solution to that problem is the subject of an in-depth paper by ING executives Saul van Beurden, CIO of retail banking direct and international, and Ron van Kemenade, CIO of retail banking Benelux, along with consultants from the Boston Consulting Group. (Download the full paper, "Between Anarchy and Dictatorship," here.) I spoke with van Beurden, who's also head of enterprise architecture and IT strategy for ING, about the global IT operating model the financial services company created to deal with such issues.

ING has moved into new markets in an entrepreneurial way: It hired strong leaders and gave them a mission, budget, and some good people to build the business. But that approach has a downside. "By doing that you get all different types of banks in terms of an IT footprint," van Beurden says. So for ING to come out of the recent banking crisis stronger than it had been going in, the company needed to create a new IT operating model.

That operating model puts every IT choice into one of four modes:

About the Author(s)

Chris Murphy

Editor, InformationWeek

Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in Hungary; and a daily newspaper reporter in Michigan, where he covered everything from crime to the car industry. Murphy studied economics and journalism at Michigan State University, has an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia, and has passed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams.

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