Bank of England CIO: IT is holding us back


IT cannot keep up with the speed of digital innovation, according to the Bank of England's CIO.

John Finch said his own IT department struggles to match the pace of change at the institution, and he has established separate teams to experiment with technology rather than rely on the division.

Finch created a digital lab exploring new ways of working, and a data lab looking at analytics, to attract a new, younger wave of recruits who want more flexibility and better technology from their employer.

Speaking at Cloud World Forum in London today, Finch said: "the people we're recruiting into our enterprises right now expect to work differently, they do expect to apply their talent and skills very differently."

"The don't expect a long term contract but they want more back from their employers."

Finch believes the new influx of skills will help the Bank of England modernise to become an organisation comprising a more diverse workforce of different cultures, more women and new ideas.

One change has been introducing collaborative working, scrapping half a floor of desks to provide a collaboratve working space.

But IT is having trouble adjusting as Finch's digital and data labs explore new ways to transform the workforce's infrastructure, said Finch, saying the department is taking too long to support his chief data officer's requirements.

"His group wants to do things quickly, guess what? That creates a massive amount of stress in my CIO classic IT group. The people provisioning the network need a form, can't build servers quickly enough," said Finch, who said he wants such situations to pressure IT into changing how it works.

"It's deliberately creating a lot of tension so the IT folks have got to change how they operate," he explained.

The Bank of England is relying on its labs to test new technologies, trialling analytics and running pilots testing mobile devices.

"Coming from the public sector it's traditionally BlackBerry and we're very worried about that," said Finch.

"We're trialling lots of different technologies, working on lots of security technology, and we're building out a proof of concept for the digital social enterprise.

"That again is creating a lot of tension inside the IT group because they can't work at the speed the digital labs want to."

The digital social enterprise is Finch's project to modernise the bank, including moving from exploring structured data to unstructured data, but he is adamant the organisation is not moving to the cloud.

"At the very margins of what we're doing there's a little bit of cloud adoption but in and around no, and there's still no plans," he said.