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New Generation of ICBC IT System to Lead the Way in the World
 
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When the bank giants in Europe and US are busy in raising funds to get over the most serious financial crisis since 1929, the biggest commercial bank in China -- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC) started up the building of the IT system of the fourth generation recently. The action shows, after ICBC became the bank with the most market value in the world in 2007 and the most profitable bank in the world in the first half of 2008, ICBC's eyes have fixed on the laurel of the pacemaker of global financial technology.

Persistent relay construction creates "super brain" and "brilliant star"

It is well known that, presently, IT technology has entered into the various operation and management activities of modern commercial banks in an all round way, become a key factor to determine the levels of the consumer services and operation management of the commercial banks and an important component of the core competence of the commercial banks. As a result, all of the big banks in the world are investing enormous manpower and physical resources in IT system building in order to lead the way in the industry and the ferociousness of the competition in the field is nothing less than the scramble for the business and the clients. However, "Rome was not built in a day", IT level of a bank is the same. The prominent achievement of ICBC in IT is obvious to the world. During 25 years after founding, through the endeavors of managements of several generations, ICBC has been taking the application of the advanced financial technologies as the goal all along and constantly innovating and developing so as to lay a firm foundation of information technology. Today, ICBC is not only leading the way in IT field in domestic banks, but also heading the list in successful global banks in operation capacity of information system, application of product innovation and many other fields.          

At the beginning of the founding, ICBC was poorly equipped, taking "foot" as its main force -- the most of business operations were handled by the counting frames with little "special weapon" -- just 7 small-scale computers and tens of micro computers. Starting from the low jumping-off point like that, ICBC has been advocating and carrying out the strategy of "Revitalizing Bank with Technology". During unremitting efforts of several generations, starting from the E-operation of network, from single micro computer to local network taking mid and small-scale computers as main bodies-through extension of the large-scale computer, ICBC has formed sub centers taking the branches in different provinces as units -- those sub centers are connecting with the two main data centers in Beijing and Shanghai -- and completed the integration. In this way, ICBC has finished the "triple jump" in 20 years and established an electronic network covering financial business and management field of all branches in the early of 21 century. 

Presently, the IT brain of ICBC -- the large-scale data center is very advanced in the world and its information system is leading the way in domestic banks in business handling capacity - 43000MIPS(1,000,000 orders/second), handling the business of 16,500 branches, 47,000 ATMs and self service banking equipments as well as 180,000 POS machines, storing and processing the data of about 0.6 billion accounts, and offering 24 hour/365 day per year persistent services for every client.

Meanwhile, ICBC has been insisting on the principle of the independent research and development, relying on its self capacity, it promoted three generations of core application systems in succession, completed the basic platform for centralized handling of various business developments throughout the bank and made the IT of ICBC leading in the domestic banks. The first generation of ICBC's application system was born in the middle period of the 1980s. Taking the account as its core, supporting the traditional counter service, the first generation accumulated the rich experience for the informationization building and laid the firm foundation of business and technology. After application, the business handling platform just as a "cement road" greatly enhanced the speed and accuracy ratio of ICBC's various business handlings for clients. Of course, ICBC obtained the benefit from the system and accumulated some experience. And then, ICBC began to plan and build the second generation of IT application system since 1996 and completed the promotion throughout the bank in 2002. The system was a creation from ICBC's epoch-making reform during the process from a specialized bank to commercial bank, realized comprehensive counter teller system, united account check, fund remittance, transfer and settlement as well as 24-hour business handling services. The system was equal to a modern "highway". Depending on the system, ICBC realized the shift from technological advantage to business competitive advantage, heading the list of successful domestic banks. Based on the success of the second generation of IT application system, fully using the advantage of the data centralization throughout the bank, through continual optimizations and updates, ICBC researched, developed and produced the third generation of full-function banking system in combination with business handling, operation management as well as analysis and decision-making –NOVA–the name means "brilliant star", and its effect and function are also outstanding because it was a solid network covering the land and the universal space. Consisting of 7 major function blocks, 19 sub systems, 202 application systems, nearly 50 thousands of database lists and over 150 thousands of programs, NOVA system covers all ICBC businesses at home and abroad, supports the implementations of various operations and managements within the bank, meets the ICBC's demands on business development and innovation after data centralization and becomes a integral part of ICBC's core competence.

Backed by IT advantage, offering all-round service for the economic development and clients

The update of the information system greatly enhances the service supply capacity of ICBC. Recently, with the rapid development of various business of ICBC, the business handling volume of the bank increased year by year. Presently, the information system of ICBC will handle about 82 millions of transactions every day, even 110 millions of transactions a day. Among those transactions, more than 30 millions of transactions are completed through Internet Banking, Telephone Banking, ATM and other electronic approaches, accounting for 40% of total transactions. It is unimaginable to get the handling efficiency like that without the support of a strong IT platform. With the rapid increase of the business handling volume, the whole usable ratio of ICBC's Information system maintains a high level -- 99.99% all along. No matter system handling capacity, or usable ratio, ICBC's information system has realized the international advanced level, fully showing the high performance, high efficiency and high stability.  
 
Depending on information technology of ICBC, each corporate client can become a "General", commanding a troop of millions of soldiers. For instance, those large-scale group companies can collect all funds decentralized in thousands of accounts distributed throughout the country in an account appointed by the headquarters in a moment; clients also can meet the fund demands anywhere. For instance, there are about 200 thousands of remittance transactions through ICBC Internet Banking system every day, involving RMB 4 billion; there are more than 7 millions of transactions on ICBC's ATM system every day; client can complete various payments like water fee, electricity fee, gas fee and mobile phone fee within several minutes at home instead of going to different banking outlets. All these fully show that the advanced information technology of ICBC brings the client the maximized convenience.        

Supported by strong information system platform, ICBC also, constantly optimizes business process and management mode. Today, ICBC has realized the reformation towards modern management system of commercial bank. First, the comprehensive information network and strong information handling capacity make offering diversified products possible. During several years, ICBC has become a "store company" offering all-round financial service with the most strong innovation ability in China from a bank just offering traditional financial products such as deposit, loan and remittance in the past; in the intermediate business field that can reflect the product innovation ability of a commercial bank the most, ICBC can offer 10 main kinds of financial products including over 1300 varieties. The centralized handling of the business also greatly speeds up the research and development and production startup of the products. ICBC has completed research and development of 497 new application projects and nearly 500 thousands of function points as well as optimization of 300 existing projects just in 2007. In the aspect of enhancement of internal management and risk control, IT platform also plays an irreplaceable role. For instance, ICBC has reformed the old method of reporting and summing up level by level from bottom to top since manual operation time to a new statement mode from top to bottom generated by computer collectively. In December 2002, a comprehensive statement system of ICBC was successfully put into production and leading a revolution in statistics management of commercial banks. Through the method of directly collecting various data about operation and management throughout the bank in large-scale computers, ICBC has made the information collection timely, accurate and comprehensive to a large extent; now ICBC can automatically generate various operation statements throughout the bank at the second day and offer real-time and accurate gist for the decision-making of the headquarters.   

Brave in overcoming any obstacle in order to realize the best, ICBC started up the building of the fourth generation of system

As stated above, ICBC 's efforts in the information system building played a key role in its prominent performance in market in recent years. However, "He who does not advance falls backward". It is well known that presently ICBC is in progress. In the view of outside environment, on one hand, the world is seeing the changing IT revolution and developing financial industry and the scramble of commercial banks for IT commanding height is more ferocious; on another hand, the financial demand of the clients is increasing diversified and personalized and putting forward more higher requirement on the bank. From the inherent force deriving the development, ICBC is devoted to build a modern financial enterprise that is leading in the world and committed to become the most profitable, excellent and honored bank in the world. To realize the goal, ICBC must continually lift its core competence, speed up the product innovation, deeply carry out the internationalized and comprehensive development strategy and further enhance the levels in operation management, client service and risk management. Without the support of IT, ICBC can't realize all these goals. Thus, ICBC formally started up the building of the fourth generation of application system in October 2008. With a goal of leading the way in global banks, ICBC plans to complete the research and development and promotion of the fourth generation of application system within three years, consolidate and expand the leading advantage, meanwhile forge ICBC's information technology into the un-duplicated core competence.   

According to the sources, in the planning of the new generation application, ICBC will abide by the enterprise development strategy and structure formulated by the bank, take the strategy and structure as "blueprint" to build a structure of the new generation of IT system, and gradually conduct transformation building from the existing application system to the structure of the new generation of application system in accordance with the method of "enterprise structure + project derive" and in combination of business demand. The fourth generation of information system that is in research and development presently by ICBC will be innovated from 6 aspects so as to endow the future information system with more flexible and efficient innovation capacity and offer more stable and efficient system service. 

First, through the establishment of united client information system, ICBC integrates all client information decentralized in different application systems, realizes the united management of the client information throughout the bank and offers a centralized, complete and united client information view for different business systems. Based on it, ICBC will perfect the united analysis and management platform of client marketing and client relationship so as to realize the personalized services to various clients.  

Secondly, ICBC enhances the flexibility of the information system, improves the modularization and component level of the system and realizes the flexible support and rapid respond to the innovation of the business and products as well as the process rebuilding. Through implementing the separation of the product functions as well as internal check and handling, establishing independent core application level and weakening the impact of the rebuilding of the product handling process on the core calculation application level, ICBC supports the rapid realization of various business demands. Meanwhile, through establishing a platform for the product management and customization, ICBC realizes the united release and management of the products throughout the bank; through gradually carrying out the product reformations for the applications like credit and loan business, investment, credit card and E-banking, ICBC supports the flexible combination and rapid innovation of the products.     

Thirdly, ICBC makes the fourth generation of the application system adapting to the demand of the internationalization development, establishes and perfects a comprehensive business handling system (POVA) of integration overseas, meeting the requirements from multiply language, time zones, currencies and authorities, satisfying the demands of recombination and M & A on the system integration and comprehensively enhancing the business handling capacity and risk control level of the institutions overseas.

Fourthly, ICBC supports the expansion toward the new business field. For instance, ICBC is planning to build a integrated wealth management platform that is taking the clients' capital management as the core, and covering client marketing management, investment portfolio analysis, risk control and value-adding service so as to offer specialized, differentiated and high quality financial service to wealth clients of different levels.

Fifthly, ICBC realizes the high centralization of the management information in an all round way, promotes the shift from the data centralization to the centralizations of information and business management, perfects the basic database platform construction, enriches various system functions of operation and management like statistics analysis, and builds data analysis and exploration platform for the application of the business like risk management, marketing and performance assessment so as to offer faster, more accurate and more comprehensive support for the operation management and decision-making. 

Sixthly, ICBC supports the establishment of a comprehensive risk management system, construction and perfection of credit risk, market risk, operation risk and other risk management system.

According to experts, after the completion of the fourth generation of IT system, ICBC will overcome a financial problem facing the world-countless products of the commercial banks can operate in only one IT platform at same time. At that time, ICBC will become the first commercial bank in the world that will have gotten rid of the trouble of "a man with thousand faces", showing a new concept "one China, one ICBC", even "one world, one ICBC" in business handling level.


(2008-11-21)
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