​Commonwealth Bank leveraging data to better its customer experience

The bank has been mining its process data to streamline and improve the customer experience and increase process performance.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

When it comes to driving out efficiencies from within an organisation, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has placed a heavy emphasis on the value of data.

According to CBA chief process officer Dan O'Neill, there are three layers an organisation should be looking at when embarking on a transformational journey that starts with people and then processes, before touching the technology element.

18 months ago, CBA created the chief process officer role in a bid to streamline the seemingly disparate processes that the bank had ended up with as a result of growth and over 105 years in operation.

In the chief's position, O'Neill heads up the bank's process mining initiative, monitoring the flow of data throughout the entire organisation.

As a banking environment is still a heavily manual one where paperwork is still performed out of a regulatory requirement on a daily basis, O'Neill explained that jumping straight to a technology implementation is not necessarily the best practice.

The bank's Business Process Team takes all of the bank's captured data, then washes it and analyses it to identify opportunities for technologies that simplify and streamline CBA's processes, such as automation.

"We identify where those opportunities are, we work with our innovation and technical architectural partners within the business, and then agree on what's best and where to make the right investment that's going to drive best customer experience, increase process performance and efficiency, and reduce risk," O'Neill explained.

"Mining has allowed us to follow how staff and customers are getting to the desired outcomes and this now allows us to educate, train, redesign, and update our tech and our front end to actually be the efficient process going forward.

"There isn't a bank -- nor do I expect there to be a bank -- that is truly digital end-to-end.

"Our industry is incredibly complex where you need individuals to interpret the customer needs and ensure that we provide them with the right solution. That involves hundreds, if not thousands, of different ways of doing things."

O'Neill said the direction CBA has taken in streamlining its processes is a key differentiator, as technology is not just employed for technology's sake.

"[It's about] how do we provide the best customer experience? This is the link that then says if we understand the customer experience, what's the most efficient, standardised, and simplified process to deliver that," he said.

"Then that allows the IT architects to design, create, and deliver these groundbreaking and wonderful tools that we give to our customers at the front end and then across the organisation.

"We truly believe given the investment we've made in technology in the past and where we've really focused on customer experience, that this new type of skillset, particularly as we move to more and more digital, is going to be critical to identify new ways of doing things and improved ways of doing things faster in the future."

CBA and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) announced an industry partnership this week that is expected to create new opportunities for students, academics, and employees all centred on business process management.

O'Neill said the partnership will see both parties work together on education, process mining, and research, which includes a 12-week corporate education course for CBA employees, designed by QUT.

According to O'Neill, working with QUT helps the bank identify where there are opportunities for the use of artificial intelligence, for example, that could be implemented to improve efficiency even further.

The partnership will also see the bank fund two PhD scholarships for QUT students focusing on big data analytics, with QUT one of the only universities in the world to offer a dedicated master's course in business process management.

"It is important for students to get experience in real life business roles," O'Neill said. "Helping them move away from just the academia to actually seeing where you could put that in practice and what it means in the context of a large and complex business like this.

"Some of the tools and techniques that they have are groundbreaking and so it's a great way for us to bring it to life."

O'Neill is very passionate about the direction CBA has taken and said that he is "incredibly excited" by what is going to be driven out of the bank as a result over the next five to 10 years.

"The goal is that from a customer's point of view, if they're on boarding with a product or they're changing an address that it will become exactly the same no matter what part of the bank you're touching," he concluded.

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