ANZ CTO: Digital disruption is fundamental change accelerated

Looking to imitate today's Internet and digital players, such as Airbnb and Facebook, won't cut it if you're hoping to really embrace digital transformation, ANZ's Patrick Maes claims

Digital disruption equals accelerated change and requires organisations to fundamentally transform their capabilities and corporate values, ANZ’s chief technology officer claims.

Speaking at the inaugural Chief Digital Office Forum in Sydney, Patrick Maes, noted three key elements that make today’s digital transformation so significant: Firstly, that change is constant; secondly, that it’s profound; and thirdly, that it’s fundamental.

“The transformation we’re seeing now is a normal pattern of change, but the speed of change is increasing,” he told attendees.

To illustrate the profound nature of digital, Maes pointed to the difference between the baby boomer generation, which accepted things that were good enough, and today’s millennials, which act in the contextual moment.

“If you look at millennials, the experience starts with discovery and then it’s excellent or demonised. There is no place anymore for organisations that are average; either you’re very good at what you do, or you don’t exist,” he said.

The meaning of corporate success is also being redefined, Maes said.

“Going forward, the value you contribute to society and community in which you’re operating will be equally important to corporate success or net profit activity,” he claimed. “We’re seeing branding evolving and the value element becomes very important.”

The transformation occurring is also fundamentally changing industries, Maes said. He pointed to the rise of Bitcoin and alternative financial systems and currencies as examples of the shake-up of the finance sector.

“These technologies allow us to create completely new ecosystems in B2B, B2C and create markets that we can’t imagine today,” he said.

“When people talk about disruption, they look at the current digital players – Uber, Airbnb – and the previous generation of Internet companies – Facebook, Google – as the reference point. But this is wrong. We are closer to 2030 than we are to 2000, and by then, most of the companies we talk about today will be antiquated.”

To help its own organisation and executives address digital transformation, Maes said ANZ has partnered with MIT on building a digital transformation course, using research around what digital mastery looks like. The research was based on studying 450 organisations globally.

“What we found out is that it’s not about technology. Technology is only a small element of this, it’s about leadership capability and transformational capability,” he said. The research also showed organisations in the ‘digital mastery’ group saw both better productivity and higher profit (up to 26 per cent) than others in that industry.

“So it’s not only about the convenience of your customers or your NPS or score, it’s fundamental to the growth and profitability of your organisation and requires an enterprise approach,” Maes said. “Not only is it about creating distinct functions like the chief digital officer, but mobilising the whole organisation around the digital transformation of the company.”

To do this, ANZ is moving from a product-oriented model to a customer-oriented one by repositioning its business model around “life stage” banking, Maes explained.

“We believe in the future that the bank won’t just sell products, it will help customers succeed in those important events,” he said. ANZ has worked on identifying these life stages for both consumers and corporate organisations, then looked at how it adds value at each one.

“One of the events we are working on is home ownership,” Maes said. “Often, you are coming out of renting a property or moving from an existing property. That creates a lot of stress and work to orchestrate all the legs of your move. We can play not only by selling you a mortgage, but by helping you with the sell and buy, and even getting the removalist in.

“That requires deep understanding of these life stages and it also requires an open collaboration platform.”

Achieving this requires building an ecosystem of partners and collaborators specialised in these events that can add to the end-to-end proposition, Maes said.

Having an ecosystem of partners is also vital in tackling the wide challenges of digital capability and bringing fresh thinking into organisations. As well as university partners, ANZ’s ecosystem includes innovators, industry bodies, incubators, research bodies, internal and strategic vendors.

A recent way ANZ has strived to tackle fundamental problems using digital is by working with IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence offering plus RMIT on a hackathon, Maes added. The event saw 23,000 people in development working to come up with better solutions in the financial space.

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