Industry Focus

5 in 5 series with industry leader Jayson Smith on digital innovation

Published on July 15, 2022

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Experteq values digital innovation, technology advancement and digital leadership. In our “5 in 5” series, we spend five minutes with inspiring leaders who are making a difference to achieve digital innovation, by asking five critical questions of the now.

When COVID-19 first hit, large and small companies alike buckled down and tried to ride out the turbulence that rocked nations and sent shockwaves through markets worldwide, with the hope that the disruption would be short-term and minimal.

As the pandemic dragged on though, many smaller organisations, lacking the deeper reserves of larger businesses, struggled to find a way to survive and thrive.

Today, with two years of the pandemic under our belts and with more change waiting in the wings as Australia opens up to the rest of the world, Jayson Smith, Chief Operations Officer at South West Slopes Credit Union (SWSCU), reflects on what he’s learnt helping to lead SWSCU – as a relatively small bank – through those difficult times, and shares what he thinks the future might hold for SWSCU and other smaller businesses.

What are the most significant digital opportunities for businesses in 2022?

Going digital on the back of COVID-19 has really amplified everything for us. We have seen a big shift with our customers moving online. This means the biggest, most significant digital opportunity for us will be really engaging with our membership or our customers in a digital way, in contrast to the face-to-face that we used to do.

There’s obviously a high demand for that going forward, and I think this will be true for a while.

We’ve concentrated on getting rid of what we call pain points for our customers. In other words, working out the areas that they find clunky and hard to use, and really invest in improving the overall customer experience. It’s tricky though because customer demands vary depending on the individuals.

There’s a lot of talk about hyper-personalisation of banking apps recently; this will probably generalise across other businesses, and I think it will be something that people will want when they’re engaging with you digitally.

They’re going to want to do it in the way they want it, and have it look and feel the way they want it. So how we handle that, will be very interesting going forward.

How can businesses unlock these opportunities?

Ultimately for smaller organisations like us it’ll be through third parties. When you look at the magnitude of change that needs to happen, there is a real lack of skill set out there in general. So, leveraging third parties, i.e. not reinventing the wheel, will be the biggest thing for a number of organisations. This will also help to reduce some of the costs. To some degree you can outsource IT and have them handle the complexities.

What should leaders prioritise when it comes to overcoming any obstacles in their digital journey?

Leaders need to really look at things with an open mind and be flexible. Be open to change and to new ideas. Don’t discredit something early on; don’t sell things short just because it looks different or difficult in the early part. I think you really need to explore all the options and seek a lot of feedback and look at other people – what has worked for others?

What are the key critical factors for digital success?

Buy-in. You’ll want good buy-in from your team and your staff, and you want good buy-in from your customers or your membership.

Don’t get left behind – you won’t be able to do everything on Day 1, but at least aim to be a fast follower. Especially for smaller organisations, being able to keep pace is critical.

What has been your biggest digital “aha” moment so far?

I think it was the COVID pandemic and the shift from face-to-face to digital channels; the speed at which that shift happened. The volume of people that shifted to interacting with us digitally was mind-blowing, and I think that would be across all industries. The speed of change was astounding.

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Jayson Smith
Chief Operations Officer
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