HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world. Its international network comprises around 10,000 offices in 82 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa and is listed on the London, Hong Kong, New York, Paris and Bermuda stock exchanges. In March, the group announced a five per cent rise in pre-tax profits for 2006, rising $1.1 billion to $22.1bn, in spite of a sharp rise in bad debt provisions because of problems in its US mortgage business.HSBC is keenly aware of its corporate social responsibility and believes that IT can help it achieve its green ambitions. The company is introducing measures to help reduce the amount of power it consumes, from its datacentres, employees and customers.

Ken Harvey, HSBC CIO, recently said that he was assessing how a virtual call centre could be used at the bank. Harvey believes there is no reason why someone working from home cannot take customer calls just as well as someone who drives every day to a call centre. He believes this would benefit not only the environment, but also customer service and the employees’ work/life balance.

The company has been using green PCs for some time and is now using the powerful, energy efficient Sun T2000 servers. HSBC customers are also being encouraged to help the bank become greener by taking up the option of having monthly electronic statements.

Again in March, HSBC announced that it was to standardise its Linux deployment on Novell’s SuSE platform, seeking to exploit the relationship between Novell and Microsoft. This relationship is supposed to improve the interoperability of the operating systems of these two former rivals. HSBC hopes that by standardising on SuSE it will be able to cut costs and improve integration with its existing Windows-based systems.

One technology being introduced this year aimed at improving customer service and staff efficiency is Matchmaker. Matchmaker is a customer enquiry system that aims to match the customer at a branch with the member of staff best able to deal with their query. HSBC expects this to help it reduce waiting times by up to 20 per cent in around 100 of its busiest branches.