How NAB is turning disruption into opportunity

Changing customer expectations as a result of digital disruption is an opportunity for the banking sector to disrupt itself and it’s a task NAB is enthusiastically embracing, according to the lender’s chief information officer, David Boyle.

Speaking as part of the AB+F Randstad Leaders Lecture Series breakfast event in Melbourne this week, NAB’s technology chief said McKinsey & Company had best framed the issue facing the sector: “Banks aren’t being disrupted by fintech technology, they’re being disrupted by customer expectations.”

“These customer expectations are now instantaneous, and at NAB we are doing a lot in the technology space to turn this disruption into an opportunity to deliver what our customers want, and better yet, so we can stay ahead of their expectations, in order to deliver what our customers want before they know they want it,” Boyle (pictured) told delegates.

“We want to be known for delivering a customer experience enabled by technology that engages our customers at key moments when they need our support most to make these processes easier, so that we’re constantly communicating with our customers throughout their life stage with us.”

Specifically this process has teams at NAB analysing customer journeys and what the key actions and pain points are in their banking activity – whether it’s everyday banking activity, or major events like applying for a home loan.

Fail fast

To support this delivery model, technology teams are part of a scaled agile delivery model - where cross-functional, multi-disciplinary teams work together on improving customer journeys.

“This way of working allows our technology teams to help implement change and deliver new outcomes to customers, faster, in a way that is not high-cost,” said Boyle. “This means that if we fail it’s ok, we can fail fast and learn from it – because we haven’t bet the farm on it.

“We are aligning our change agenda across multiple sprints - every customer journey sprint cycle is aligned with the technology sprint cycles and cadence. We’re focused on fortnightly sprints, which is enough to deliver the majority of our change. As a result, we’re delivering something new into the hands of our customers every 90 days.”

This approach means customers are getting continuous streams of innovation and more frequent updates through more regular drops. And SME clients are also benefiting after NAB improved the process of opening a business transaction account online – an ordeal that used to involve several branch visits, consultations with different bankers and four to six days before the account was ready to use.

“The end result is that instead of taking 4-6 days, sole traders and single-director companies can now open a business transaction account online in under 10 minutes. We’ll soon expand this capability out for more and more businesses,” Boyle said.

“Typically, an initiation of similar size and complexity would have taken a number of months to implement – and as I said, we achieved this change to make it easier for our customers to apply for business accounts online in just five weeks.”

Innovation, simplification

Boyle added that NAB was reshaping its business to perform through simplification and on-platform innovation.

“Simplification and investing in our platforms is helping us to build our technology muscle to be agile, to deliver with speed, to provide stable and reliable services – all with a customer-first approach,” he said.

“Through on-platform innovation and simplification, we are working progressively over time to simplify and operate off only a few agile platforms.

"We aim to scale down our technology architecture to reduce 3,500 applications to 1000 applications and our target is to reduce our platforms from 1000 to down to around 150. This is a bold target, but necessary.”

For full coverage of Boyle’s address as part of the AB+F Randstad Leader's Lecture series, see the October issue of AB+F Magazine.

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