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CEC & Oceans Group Breakfast Event: Digital integration with traditional business models

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The Customer Experience Company (CEC) and The Oceans Group co-hosted a breakfast networking event last Friday morning (30 May) on the topic of digital transformation.

We were fortunate enough to have a panel of four industry leaders from some of Australia’s largest organisations:

  • Chris Smith, Head of Online, Optus Consumer Division, Optus.
  • Kalpana Gee, Head of Business Digital, Australian Financial Services, The Westpac Group.
  • Les Wigan, Director of Operations and Digital at Fox Sports.
  • Peter Dennis, Head of Product Innovation, IAG Direct Insurance.

CEC’s Head of Service Design, Laurence Crew led the panel discussion; here’s an overview of the key insights that emerged.

speakers-from-back-of-room 1

It’s not a digital experience; it is just the experience

There was a clear consensus that having siloed channels (online, mobile, contact centre, etc.) is not the right way to manage customer experiences. Customers often use more than one channel in a purchase or service journey, and they expect to undertake any part of a process using whatever channel or device that suits them.

All panel members agreed that siloed channels and legacy product-centric IT systems are a major barrier to sales and service development. Kalpana Gee expressed a strong opinion that experience design should be used across the whole project life, not just the design phase.

“Experience design is something you do all the way through – not just at the front. Would you sack the project manager once the initial project plan was documented?” - Kalpana Gee.

Chris Smith added, “Time, Scope or Cost. You can only fix two out of three, but don’t de-scope the customer!”

Customers are driving the change, and we need to move fast to keep up

We have seen organisations move from product-driven change that is pushed outwards from the organisation to the customer, to customer-driven change that is pushed inwards from the customer to the organisation. This change is happening quickly and businesses are manoeuvring to meet increasing customer expectations. Personalisation is evolving, with content and services created and rendered real-time based on customer context, history, profile and analytics. Gathering the data is not a challenge, it’s leveraging it to enhance your customers experiences that’s tricky.

“We’ve seen a shift in the balance of power from the underwriters to the customers” - Peter Dennis.

“We can’t get change out fast enough” - Kalpana Gee.

Leaders need autonomy so that approval isn't a barrier to speed and innovation

In this brave new customer-driven world, it is critical to your success that your leaders are empowered to respond to market changes as rapidly as they can. Chris Smith suggested that the key to this is establishing trust between you and your Executive team so that the lengthy process to make decisions is avoided and confidently deferred to the leader accountable to deliver the initiative. This is the only way to enable speed and innovation.

“You want to get ahead of something that is coming, for instance Google Glass, [even though] the current view is that not many people are using it at the moment. Then in six months when it has become widespread, you’re already behind.” – Peter Dennis.


‘Kill some cattle’

We’ve all heard that innovation is about rapid iteration, celebrating failure, and other management mantras, but Chris Smith took the idea one step further by bringing in a metaphor from Gary Hamel’s book What Matters Now. Hamel writes that businesses should be run like cattle ranches, running cattle from one area to another as the landscape changes. The cattle that can’t make the journey get shot. The same approach should be taken to parts of your business as the market moves on.

“Too many businesses are run like farms and eventually the soil becomes less fertile, the yield falls and the farm fails. We need to keep moving and be a bit more brutal about the health of our various interests.” – Chris Smith.


Disruption is coming, but we need to disrupt within our own organisation to survive

The final challenge discussed is how you mitigate and embrace, disruption. Though it was universally agreed that genuine disruption from within an organisation is very difficult, each panellist gave different examples of how their organisations have approached it:

  • Address the tendency of radical thinkers and entrepreneurs to leave a successful start-up when it is bought by a big corporate – Les Wigan.
  • Encourage disruption from outside by investing in an externally developed capability - Kalpana Gee, on Westpac’s $50M Reinventure program
  • Your business runs on established norms in order to exist day-to-day therefore the conditions for disruption can only be possible outside of this thinking. The key is to isolate your disruptive innovation work from your normal business structures – Chris Smith.

“How do you disrupt your own business?” - Chris Smith.


In summary

We’d like to thank all those that attended especially our panellists Chris, Kalpana, Les and Peter. Digital integration with traditional business models is here and the customer is pivotal. Please contact us to discuss further.

Laurence Crew
Head of Service Design
0411 664 084
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Chris Severn
Head of Omni Channel Transformation
0422 003 259
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Jeni Oye
Head of Digital & Mobility
0404 421 448
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0 #1 Fiona Nicol 2014-06-05 08:37
I wasn't able to attend but very much appreciated the synopsis. Thank you

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Raj Mendes

"Customer experience is the most important revolution in business today"