We give our customers easy access to things like telecommunications (NBN) and energy, to name a few, with great offers from our partners. While I believe we have already made great strides in expanding our proposals, more will come and, just as importantly, more will be made to create a cohesive and relevant proposal.
Now, to be able to do all of this, ultimately creating an ecosystem that goes beyond banking for the benefit of our customers requires a significant shift from a technology standpoint.
Two key changes in digital technology
Banks have a long tradition of using technology and are even at the forefront in many areas. For some banks, this has turned into a disadvantage in their digital transformation, as they have not been able to modernize over time and consolidate on more modern technology. But today I want to focus on two key shifts in requirements that digital transformation brings.
The first comes back to the customer experience and the use of data.
The banks were in a situation where we only used the amount of information needed to be able to update the general ledger. If you spent $50, the most important thing was that your balance was updated with that amount. We don’t care what type of purchase, where it is, similar things you may have done before, etc.
To be able to deliver an exceptional customer experience today, this type of data is crucial, but older generations of banking technology stacks were never designed to capture all of this. Today, and especially outside our traditional banking competitors, it is the differentiator and the reason many care about the bank. So the point is:
Our technology stacks must be designed to use data to deliver the value and experience customers expect today.
At Commonwealth Bank, we have invested heavily in recent years to achieve what is widely regarded as a world-leading global banking capability. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, so this is continuing at a steady pace.
The second then consists in combining our own products with those of our partners. Again, historically, banks were content to surface their own products in their own channels, and the tech stack often reflects this closed system.
Connecting quickly, securely and easily with others now places a whole new set of demands on our technology and the way we build software. To remedy this, we rely on APIs and microservices, and of course on the Cloud.
Here, however, I must issue a caveat, because all these terms are easy to use but difficult to understand. If you wanted to, you could call any integration an API, any service a microservice, then transport it to the cloud, and most likely be worse off than where you came from.
We are trying to move towards a clear 3-tier architecture with reusable, discoverable, layered and productized APIs and microservices with consistent patterns and capabilities, including things like recoverability. It’s a huge transformation in itself, and clearly not something you can accomplish overnight.
The foundation of the customer experience at CommBank: our people
So now I’ve talked a bit about how we’re obsessed with customer experience, how we’re leveraging partnerships to expand our offerings and improve that experience, and how that’s driving change in our technology. Of course, the basis of all this is our people and the way we have organized ourselves to achieve this.
I’ve already mentioned the focus on data and insights, and we’re investing heavily both in attracting some of the best and in developing our people in this area. We have fantastic cases of people moving from customer-facing roles in a branch office to leading the load in our data and analytics office.
We also strive to elevate our engineers and develop our engineering practices. We have added a large number of engineers to our workforce in Australia and India over the past two years, and we continually focus on training and developing all things engineering. .
As I mentioned before on cloud, APIs and microservices, good engineering is hard and bad engineering is disastrous, so we are completely dependent on the further development of an engineering workforce of first level.
Last but not least, we have moved towards enterprise agile ways of working, particularly trying to move towards persistent cross-functional teams that have a clear connection to the customer results they are trying to create. We seek to create an environment where teams are empowered to work on solving complex customer issues, instead of being order takers and implementing set solutions.
We have already seen that this generates greater motivation for the teams. It also helps expose a number of areas where we have a lot of work ahead of us to unlock the full potential of our people and our technology, the full extent of which we may not have previously understood.