Bankwest’s Nimble Approach to Disruption

Bankwest’s Andy Weir discussed how financial services can succeed in a changing digital environment.

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According to Bankwest’s Chief Information Officer, Andy Weir, it is time for businesses to start initiating long-term plans rather than focussing on the short-term.

Weir stated that in such a volatile market, organisations need to predict their customer’s future desires and provide the services they don’t know they want yet.

To illuminate this during his keynote presentation at CxO Disrupt Perth, he referred to Henry Ford’s famous quote: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” and compared this to how customers were unaware that they wanted technological advances such as smartphones and iPads.

Bankwest, a financial service giant in Western Australia, has witnessed many changes in the customer market.

“Customer preferences are changing phenomenally from where they’ve been previously. For Bankwest, in terms of when, where and how they want to consume financial services,” Weir said.

“There have also been massive demographic shifts…and we can’t forget the advancements we’re seeing in technology that make this extremely volatile and uncertain environment.”

Weir proposed that the key to staying ahead of disruption is to have a flexible business culture that’s ready and willing to change.

He continued by suggesting disruption is not a new concept, but has existed for a long time, as proven by the multiple companies that have dissolved even in the absence of competitors.

“Disruption’s not actually anything new. Because organisations have disappeared over a large amount of time and that’s before new forces have come into play.”

“Disruption’s not actually anything new. Because organisations have disappeared over a large amount of time and that’s before new forces have come into play.” – Andy Weir

An example of a company that was rigid and reluctant to adapt to the digital environment that Weir showcased was the bookstore, Borders. A billion-dollar company with executives that refused to change and thought digital was just a phase, were unprepared when the technological world developed.

Under the assumption that a landmark bookstore would never fail, the company continued with business-as-usual. Then four years after reaching their billion-dollar peak, they collapsed. Weir cites reports which suggest that Borders’ mistakes were a “failure in leadership and culture” as they neglected digital platforms.

Weir reckons the Borders’ crash illustrates that executives have much to learn when it comes to adapting to innovative technology.

Weir emphasised that the key to a flexible business is not only the business culture but also changing business systems so that they improve the customer experience.

He concluded that customer experience is where the priority should lie. As proven by the success of businesses like Uber and Amazon who have leveraged a customer-centric approach to disrupt their industries. For example, they harnessed technology to create innovative, behind-the-scenes payment systems for customers.

Weir’s presentation confirmed that the key to succeeding in a changing environment ultimately comes down to two fundamental concepts: a flexible business culture and prioritising the customer experience.