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Consider digital transformation in “context” or risk failure 

By Paul Wilson

Bankwest may have been around from more than 120 years but its next iteration could be its most significant as it prepares for the digital economy and undergoes a digital transformation. The bank has already been through a number of transformations throughout its history, including being state-owned, foreign-owned, a WA-only business, then a national one is therefore no stranger to change. 

When considering the future, Chief Information Officer Andy Weir says it’s important to consider the generational components in the context of what the organisation does, how they do it and where. 

“We’re operating in a very volatile, complex and ambiguous world and that is only going to intensify and become more acute,” he told a CEDA Future of work business lunch. 

He drew on the failed Borders bookstore as an example of what happens when you neglect changing customer dynamics and preferences and the technology changes that were occurring outside the bookstore’s own environment.  

“Perhaps the greatest irony is that they outsourced their online capabilities to a company called Amazon, and we all know how that worked out,” he said. 

Kodak, which was at the forefront of technology and even invented the digital camera failed because it continued to employ old logic – that customers would continue to print photographs while the generational shift was towards sharing media.  

“When we think about that from a future of work context, how many of us as organisations have got enough representation internally to be applying the new logic that is required to the changing circumstances externally?”   

“Certainly, in the case of Kodak, they were applying old logic and not considering that in the context of those forces that were changing.” 

Here’s what Bankwest considers as its what, how and where:  

1. The what 

In the financial services sector, customers are looking for a ‘frictionless’ interaction such as Amazon stores where you walk in, choose your items and walk out without physically making a payment.  

“Our very own Bankwest Halo ring effectively allows you to pay for products and services with the swipe of your hand,” Weir said.  

“These are the frictionless experiences customers are demanding as a bare minimum. If you understand the preferences and changes that are happening externally you can translate those into the types of experiences you are actually developing for your customers.”  

2. The how 

Digitally native organisations have pioneered new business models that “break down traditional silos, foster collaboration and speed to market”. 

Weir said Bankwest had a digital native model and used it to leverage diversity of its workforce. 

“It is no good saying okay, we’re a new future, let’s get more diversity, let’s bring in a greater age range so we’ve got the full range covered but then deploying people into a traditional business model,” he said.  

“It doesn’t make sense and you have students coming through, whether they are generation Z or generation alpha, who are actually learning and being educated in this way, so why would you put them into an outdated operational model?  

“It is really important that coming into the workforce you are providing an environment where they are going to collaborate and deliver those amazing frictionless customer experiences. That really really matters.”  

3. The where 

Weir said Bankwest provides a collaborative and engaging workspace with 76 per cent of his colleagues choosing to work flexibly in the last 12 months.  

“If you are thinking about what it is you do and how you might organise work in the future, you also have to think about the physical environment. What is the type of environment you need to provide to represent those generational shifts? 

“With people coming into your workforce, do not dictate where they work and how they actually work. You have to provide that flexibility to be able to leverage the significant diversity of thought that you get from a widespan of ages within your organisation.”  

Automation: an opportunity  

While automation may be a threat to some roles within organisations – including removing many from Bankwest – it is also creating opportunities.  

Bankwest has employed people in 10 roles that did not exist in 2012 including an app developer, big data scientist, customer outcome owner, robotics and process automation manager, cloud technology architect, cloud platform leader, digital marketer, social media manager, InApp messaging consultant and a strategic partnership manager. 

Bankwest may have been around from more than 120 years but its next iteration could be its most significant as it prepares for the digital economy and undergoes a digital transformation. 

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