Cash for e-commerce

Barclays pours millions into re-engineering systems to keep ahead of e-commerce game

Barclays pours millions into re-engineering systems to keep ahead of e-commerce game

Bill Goodwin

Barclays Bank is forging ahead with a multi-million pound programme to re-engineer its IT systems to exploit electronic commerce.

The bank has already appointed a chief information officer (CIO) to drive through its ambitious three-year programme.

The creation of the CIO post demonstrates the challenges faced by banks and other large companies in co-ordinating the overlapping relationships between the IT director, his department and those of the e-commerce team.

Barclays, which has stolen a march on rival banks by its early adoption of Internet banking, aims to maintain its lead by exploiting the same technology to revamp the rest of its banking operations.

The four-pronged plan includes:

  • Building an IP network to link 3,000 branches to its head office systems

  • Replacing desktop PCs with thin client technology

  • Introducing WAP, TV and kiosk banking services

  • Offering electronic procurement service to business customers.

    Barclays plans to create what it calls an e-infrastructure by using Internet technology and Java middleware to link its legacy datawarehouse systems to its branch computer network, customer call centres, and new Wap and television-based services.

    The move will allow Barclays to offer customers highly personalised services such as special deals on financial products and services that match their financial circumstances, no matter what channel customers use.

    "We ought to be able to deliver the same information about all our customers across all outlets," said the newly-appointed CIO David Weymouth.

    He takes charge of a freshly formed 6,000-strong department, Barclays Service Provision, which, for the first time brings all of Barclays' IT operations together under a single high-level manager.

    Barclays unveiled the first step in its programme this week., which is backed by Andersen Consulting and Oracle, will offer business customers e-procurement services.

    The bank is expected to unveil plans to roll out thin client technology to 3,000 Barclays branches within the next few weeks. The group plans to replace older desktop systems, with thin client PCs supplied by Dell. The same technology will be rolled out to new Wap and television banking services.

    "The big attraction of thin client for us is the low cost of software distribution, the low cost of server maintenance, and ease of change, so we can make fast changes and distribute them very rapidly," said Weymouth.

    What Barclays plans to do

  • Thin client technology to be rolled out to 3,000 branches this year. Dell PCs will be used as dumb terminals, with a mixture of IBM, Sun, and HP servers.

  • Construction of an IP network to link branches with head office systems. BT and Cable & Wireless are bidding for the contract.

  • Java middleware, running on an IBM Websphere application server and Oracle database will allow Barclays to integetrate its existing legacy systems into the branch network, Internet banking and proposed Wap and television banking services.

  • Barclays will have no need to replace its existing legacy systems which include:IBM S/390 mainframes, running IMS and DB2 applications, and a 600 Gigabyte NCR Teradatawarehouse.

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