Most Effective IT Services Partnership


• Most Effective IT Services Partnership
• Most Effective Use of IT in Financial Services 

Winner: ING Direct

Project: Mortgage Launch Project

Business goal: To break into the UK mortgage market with a fully automated offering that ensures applicants speed, simplicity and transparency

Project partner: Capgemini UK

Award sponsor: FNZ

The UK’s mortgage market is among the most competitive and sophisticated in the world. So when Dutch savings bank, ING Direct, undertook to break into the sector, it knew it would have to come up with something pretty compelling to offer discerning customers.

Working with IT services partner Capgemini, it set out to provide mortgage applicants with a simpler and faster experience, in keeping with the company’s whole philosophy of  ‘no-catches’ products served directly to the customer without the overhead of branches.

To achieve this, ING needed to rapidly put in place a comprehensive IT infrastructure. As well as having to support all the business processes associated with the new product – receiving applications by phone or online, processing them, ongoing management of data and records, amendments, remortgaging and customer service – the new system would also need to interface in real-time with ING Direct’s existing systems, including financials and CRM. Furthermore, the system would also demand real-time interfaces with a host of external business partners for processes such as land registration, conveyancing, valuations, credit scoring, fraud detection, credit/debit card and automated bank payments.

Finally, the architecture selected would have to be highly scalable and be capable of guaranteeing 24×7 availability without compromising user security.

As a central pillar of that vision ING Direct and Capgemini devised a service-orientated architecture (SOA), establishing a modular applications platform into which it could ‘plug’ interfaces and which could scale and respond rapidly to changing demands.

The whole system – the largest implementation by any business unit within ING Direct anywhere in the world – uses a web services approach to expose the Unix-based mortgage applications to the front end, fetching and carrying user information back and forth, with the code itself based on Java and XML.

To minimise timescales and maximise cost-effectiveness, the project made use of some existing components that had already been
successfully deployed at ING Direct in Canada. It also incorporated Omiga mortgage origination software from Vertex.

As the main technology partner, Capgemini was responsible for systems integration, building the interfaces with ING Direct’s UK accounting, banking, website and call centre systems, and with external systems at credit agencies and solicitors.

To speed delivery and keep costs in check, the IT services company exploited its global outsourcing capability, involving software engineers and skilled consultants from Capgemini India, some working in the UK alongside ING Direct’s technology partners and others delivering services remotely from Mumbai.

The two year project – which at its peak included a team of 65 from Capgemini, 30 from Vertex and 20 from ING Direct – culminated in October 2006 with the launch of the mortgage service. With mortgage business already running significantly ahead of plan, it is apparent that the ROI achieved will be ahead of the ambitious targets set by the bank. Indeed, by the end of March 2007, ING Direct had achieved 50% of the mortgages business volumes planned for the full year 2007.

From a customer perspective, the results have been equally as good. The traditionally slow pace of most mortgage applications, which typically involve numerous manual processes and paper-based interfaces, has been largely automated, with the ING Direct system coordinating underwriting, valuations, land conveyance and payments through real-time messaging with ING Direct’s commercial partners. In fact, the only manual intervention required is verification of an applicant payslip.

That has meant that ING is able to get customers through the mortgage pipeline in as little as six days, compared with an industry average 21 days. The upshot is a customer satisfaction rating of 86% for the whole process.

Its success as the first major new mass market entrant on the UK mortgages market in many years also impressed the Effective IT judges – who gave it both the award for Most Effective Use of IT in Financial Services and the trophy for Most Effective IT Services Partnership.

They saw it as a complex project, “innovative”, “business transformational” and of “real benefit to real people”. The very first of those ‘real people’ was in fact ING Direct’s IT director Peter Knight. He became the inaugural customer when he decided to remortgage his house via an online application. His verdict: “The end result fully matches our high expectations.”

Highly Commended

DSG International

DSG International, formerly known as Dixons, needed to dramatically improve the efficiency of its invoice-to-pay cycle. Many of its thousands of suppliers across Europe still submitted hard copy invoices, creating a processing burden that was costing DSG £2 to £20 per invoice. Through the implementation of an invoice package from OB10, smaller suppliers can now easily submit invoices electronically, and DSG is now able to electronically process 500-600 invoices a week.

Glasgow City Council

Until 18 months ago, procurement at Glasgow City Council was a devolved activity that used diverse business processes and multiple legacy systems handling a million invoices generated by 20,000 suppliers. The council’s Procurement Transformation Programme, undertaken with partner Capgemini, has brought consistent processes to that £650 million spend, taking £15 million out of costs. Over 2,500 employees can now access the e-procurement system.

Highly Commended

Standard Life

In less than a year, Standard Life was able to create a holistic financial planning tool for its independent financial advisors (IFAs) known as a wrap platform. Drawing on a service-oriented architecture platform and the expertise and technology of FNZ (First NZ Capital), the Wrap has raised the quality and flexibility of IFA planning sessions with clients, supporting a major change in the IFA business model – from one in which reward is based on winning new business to one in which reward is based on growing funds under management.

Credit Suisse

When investment bank Credit Suisse wanted to move a complex risk calculation application onto its shared services grid computing platform, it realised that it would not be able to take the strain. However, there was not the time or the budget to provision all fresh hardware. So the bank decided to tie unused desktop resources into a ‘desktop grid’ of over 5,000 units that can perform calculations at a rate that was previously unimaginable. (Winner of the Most Effective Use of IT to Manage IT.)


Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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