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Exclusive: Westpac reveals how they embraced digital transformation

FYI, this story is more than a year old

Recently IT Brief had the opportunity to sit down with Westpac senior manager of digital sales and strategy Tessa O'Rorke. 

We discussed how Westpac approaches digital transformation as well as why it’s essential for customer retention.

Can you tell me a bit more about how Westpac interacts with Adobe? 

We currently use Adobe’s Marketing Cloud solution, so we’ve got Adobe Campaign, Audience Manager, Analytics and Target in place. So really we interact with Adobe’s solutions daily.    

How do you believe technology, like machine learning, can be used to improve the customer experience?

Well, how long is a piece of string? There are so many ways it can be used to do that. It’s the availability of data and then being able to effectively ingest that data. It’s important to be able to look at the data and draw insight out of it and that’s where machine learning helps a lot.

When you think about it it’s doing this kind of mass processing that a group of human beings just wouldn’t be able to do at the same speed. So the possibilities of it are endless in my opinion. 

Big Data plays a fundamental role in understanding the customer, do you believe this is a valid statement, if so can you talk me through how Westpac approaches this?  

Big Data has become such a ubiquitous term, it’s almost like digital now. I think the challenge with data is how you get it into some sort of format where you can do something with it.

Arguably as a bank, we have more data than most. But there are a lot of challenges that come with that, for example, how do we get access to it if we are still using legacy systems.

So I think the main thing is as I said before having a system and team in place that helps you understand the data, however ‘big’ it may be.     

How does Westpac approach data in terms of customer privacy?

I think privacy is incredibly important, the Cambridge Analytica scandal and recent data breaches have highlighted a massive concern.

As a bank we have the highest level of security and risk aversion you can imagine, people expect us to keep their data and money safe and we take that very seriously.

In terms of using data for customer experience, we think of it as a sort of currency exchange. For instance, if I were to receive an ad based on a conversation I just had with a friend I’d find it very creepy, however, if I knew I was trading my data for something that would make my daily life a lot easier I’d be happy to do that. 

So I think it’s about that value exchange as well as making sure that everyone participating in the exchange is agreeing to it.

Another important aspect is giving consumers that constant control over how their data is used.

Would you say Westpac is actively embracing digital transformation? What are some of the biggest challenges of this journey? 

Between Australia and New Zealand we are a 200-year-old organisation, so we had a lot of legacy systems to overcome. So unpacking that was one of our biggest challenges. 

When you look at digitalisation it’s people and process. So there’s the tech and then there are the people. So it’s also about how we’re re-skilling our people. 

We hear about AI and automation and we know that jobs that exist now may not exist in 5 to 10 years time. So it’s important to re-skill where possible to ensure employees are prepared for the future.

Roles are changing and it’s important for employees to change with them. That’s perhaps the biggest challenge. 

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