Industry Focus

5 in 5 series with industry leader Brenton Charnley on digital innovation

Published on April 28, 2021

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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.

We are in conversation with Brenton Charnley, Head of Australia at TrueLayer, who specialises in strategy and operations with experience in scaling global tech start-ups. TrueLayer, founded in 2016, is a global open banking platform enabling customers to easily integrate their financial data and next generation payments into any app. Brenton shares his thoughts on fintech innovation, the clear distinction between a digital-first approach and digitalisation, and how this can be the driving force of a successful start-up.

Here, Brenton shares his thoughts about the future of digitalisation in Australia, and a few dos and don’ts when unlocking digital opportunities for your business.

What are the key business drivers for digital opportunities in Australia?

The core customer is increasingly a digital native. Requiring information to be retrieved or shared manually is just not what customers expect. Additionally, when it comes to digital experience, customers will benchmark a business against the best digital experience they have in their daily life, not against that business’s direct peers.

Australia’s groundbreaking Consumer Data Right is driving huge opportunity to share and embed financial and other data across sectors such as telco and energy. The idea is that you can take your data with you anywhere you go across the whole economy. It is underpinned by legislation and is enabling many innovative changes such as approving a customer for a mortgage in minutes without anyone touching a piece of paper.

If you hear anyone talking about “open banking,” this is the type of financial innovation they mean.

TrueLayer expects there will be a whole lot more fintech innovation in Australia from 1 July 2021 as all the banks must now share data using secure APIs and this will open up the whole of finance. Open banking is just the first step towards open finance and then open data.

What are the business obstacles to unlock these digital opportunities?

Every business has its priorities and many businesses have a digital transformation plan. But that’s not necessarily the same as innovation. Innovation is hard!

There’s a saying in the start-up ecosystem that goes something like “disrupt or be disrupted”.

Twenty years ago, the home video mass market was only just shifting from VHS to DVD. Blockbuster couldn’t see what was coming in the form of Netflix because it is hard to imagine something that doesn’t already exist. Innovation teams often struggle to get the business case to stack up so they can get the budget, resource the team with the right people, execute swiftly and persuade the compliance team to sign off!

At some point the pace of change, fuelled by technology, data and social connectivity, reaches a tipping point. Sometimes legislation can provide a push to unlock these digital opportunities, for example, Australia’s Consumer Data Right.

What should leaders prioritise when it comes to the challenges of digitalisation?

First, tackle the overarching business strategy. Think big! What will make it successful? Leaders must also understand the difference between digital-first and digitalisation. The latter may see you spend a lot of time and money paying lip service to the digital agenda. Then execute on the plan with the right team. Moving internal people into new roles doesn’t often result in significant change, as digital requires new ways of thinking.

What are the critical factors for digital success and how should these be measured?

My top three success factors are:

  • Select products that are the right fit for a digital agenda.
  • Take the whole business on the journey — don’t put innovation into a silo, or a lab, or even worse an “innovation theatre”.
  • Ensure the business has adequate budget and realistic, shared KPIs for the digital agenda.

You can measure success by execution against plan and then market engagement with the new product. It is all about product/market fit. Too often the metric for innovation is the number of ideas or focus groups held. While these help provide insights into customer pain points and gain points, they don’t themselves result in the delivery of a new digital product.

What has been your own digital “aha” moment?

Doing digital well does not just mean taking an “offline” or manual process and putting it online.

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Brenton Charnley
Head of Australia, TrueLayer
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