Andy Weir, CIO and Executive GM, Enterprise Services, Bankwest
Innovation’ is a term that’s thrown around by most organisations and it can mean different things to different people. It can be used to describe a cool new piece of technology, a person, improved systems or processes, even an entire organisation. For me, it’s more valuable for organisations to consider a number of key themes around innovation.
Firstly, that innovation requires a positive organisational culture of creativity and idea generation. Secondly, innovation is a process and for great ideas to become a reality, organisations must also have the skills and capabilities to develop, evaluate and implement those ideas. Finally, organisations should remember that innovation should create value for customers, colleagues and/or the organisation (preferably, all three!).
In financial services, like most industries, these concepts are even more important in the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment in which we find ourselves. In this ever more challenging environment, customer’s rapid adoption of technology is defining the organisational agenda.
If we take a step back in time, say 15 years or so, customer interactions were largely infrequent and usually in a physical location. Compare that with today where customers are in constant touch with their financial services provider through their smartphone or other devices. Customers are also demanding higher levels of customer experience brought about by the high bar set by successful digital providers in other industries. Amazon Go is the latest example of how technology is being leveraged to deliver a ‘frictionless’ payment experience.
These shifts bring both challenges and opportunities. Transforming systems and processes that were originally designed to support infrequent customer interactions in physical premises is costly and complex. Competing with others to find people with the skills and capabilities to deliver differentiated customer experiences can be challenging.
Innovation is a process and for great ideas to become a reality, organisations must also have the skills and capabilities to develop, evaluate and implement those ideas
At the same time, the opportunities created through engaging more frequently with customers are vast. Particularly when you consider the explosion in Fintech innovation which provides opportunities for banks to partner with new organisations to deliver amazing experiences for customers far beyond their traditional boundaries. For example, integrating with others businesses to provide a seamless entire ‘end to end’ home buying experience, rather than simply selling a mortgage. Remember, people buy houses not mortgages! So, how do organisations respond to these challenges and opportunities and become more innovative? We passionately believe that creating a truly innovative organisation to deliver sustainable future success begins by having the right organisational culture. As Peter Drucker once said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. I recently heard that this had been extended to “plus products for lunch and technology for dinner”!
This starts by creating a clear vision and purpose for colleagues which instils a passion within them. This has to be centred around your customers (whoever they may be) and focused on delivering what truly matters to them and their lives. It’s also crucial to develop an authentic set of organisational values that respect the DNA of your business.
At Bankwest, our core values were developed by our colleagues and not the Executive team, which has ensured they truly capture the heart and soul of our organisation. It has also directly benefitted our customers (who are at the heart of everything we do – one of our core values) because our people consistently reflect on or refer to these values when working with customers, developing products and services, or making key decisions that may impact the entire organisation.
Also fundamental to culture is the way you do things and we’ve continued to drive greater agility in our delivery practices. We’ve learnt valuable lessons about how to deliver value for our customers more quickly, through our regular Hack Days, which allow our people to tackle challenging customer experience situations over an intense 24-hour period.
We’ve also delivered some of our most valued and innovative customer experiences in this way, including our award-winning Bankwest Easy Alerts service which sends a message to your smartphone when you perform a transaction or need a reminder about a payment. It has also enabled us to bring our Android Pay to market ahead of many of our competitors.
It’s only by establishing a strong cultural foundation that will allow your organisation to fully benefit from investments in modern technology capabilities and facilitate easier integration with like-minded customer experience orientated partners.
Founded in 1895, Bankwest is a financial institution based in Perth, Australia. The company holds the vision to make banking easier and holds an extensive network of retail stores and business centres across the country.