NAB shares the key ingredients to digital strategy success

Banking group details its project to adopt a new content management system at Adobe Digital Marketing Symposium and the organisational and people changes needed for success

Digital projects are not just about new delivering new technology capabilities, they also require a rethink around how people collaborate, assess risk and embrace change.

During this year’s Adobe Digital Marketing Symposium in Sydney, NAB’s head of digital content, digital and direct bank, Chris Ho, shared how the banking group has overhauled its digital strategy through new technology, and the project plan and organisational process adjustments needed to deliver on it.

Over the past 18 months, NAB has shifted to a new website content management platform. The decision was about being more responsive online, providing people with the right digital business tools, reducing ongoing costs, and creating digital options for the future, Ho said. The company chose Adobe Experience Manager, part of the Marketing Cloud suite of solutions.

“In the banking industry, we all need to replace our core banking platforms, so there is a very large narrative around digital. And underneath that narrative is a specific strategy for technology around what we should be adopting and we should be following a certain path to achieve the results we want to achieve,” he told attendees.

“To implement change, you have to have a reason for change.”

To emphasise the importance of digital in customer experiences, NAB established a digital advisory council to deal with what digital delivery looked like, and to solidify the company’s strategy. The team identified 10 enablers key to its success: Usability and design, find-ability, sales, service, safety and security, ecosystem, analytics, focus on content, digital innovation and multi-channel optimisation.

“We have to be able to tell a story, otherwise no one in the bank will realise how important this is,” Ho commented.

Related: Adobe details how it's transforming into a digital marketing led business

On the technology side, NAB also had to define the reasons for change, and that was the realisation that the current operating model wasn’t going to be adequate for dealing with customers digitally in two or three years’ time. This compelled the team to create a technological detour, Ho said.

Major focus areas included the why, usability and agility, the distinction between public content and customer data, a preference for open architecture, and an open API focus.

“The other thing my technology partners and I decided is to focus on optimising our delivery and the activity in digital, over the organisational structure around us,” Ho said.

One of Ho’s top pieces of advice was that any project to improve or change how a brand delivers digitally needs to involve the business-as-usual (BAU) teams, as well as multiple teams.

“You need dedicated project team people but you must also get the investment of other people too, otherwise the work you do is a very separate experience,” he said. “The BAU teams can learn from the mistakes and once it’s delivered, they’re the ones using it.”

In addition, NAB employed Agile methodology for the CMS project as a way of “hedging bets” and mitigating risks, Ho said. He stressed the importance of organisations providing allow room for “ambiguity” within projects, arguing that this is a key driver in getting the team to take risks.

“This ambiguity is part of the culture at NAB... if you become too prescriptive with what things people should do, everyone will simply do what you ask them to do,” Ho claimed. “This is about ensuring people are part of the solution to solving the problem. As a leader, you have to create a holding environment so people can bring their whole selves to the work.”

Ho’s third piece of advice is not being afraid to set high standards. The NAB team initially thought the proposed project timeframe of six months was way too short to achieve what they want to achieve, but the project was actually completed two weeks early.

NAB transitioned to Adobe Experience Manager last September. Prior to its implementation, the team also worked to cull 10,000 content page assets down to 2000.

As a result of their efforts, the banking group now can update website content in minutes, rather than hours or days, Ho said. Its delivery structure meant it was able to achieve this at 50 per cent of the cost of a typical project at the banking group, and with an 80 per cent reduction in content pages and 400 per cent reduction in page load times.

Overall, the changes have resulted in a 24 per cent sales uplift year-on-year. Ho said NAB didn’t initially set targets for sales uplift but had anticipated that its website renewal should help sales in the long term.

In parallel to rolling out Adobe Experience Manager, NAB moved its entire data centre of public content to the cloud, and worked with teams across the company to cement its commitment to change.

“Technology isn’t the whole answer,” Ho commented. “The commitment to change is about facing difficult organisational problems and looking at what you processes you can improve on and how to tell you story.”

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