The secret to being innovative (is getting obsessed with customers)

The disruption race will be won by those that get the customer experience right the fastest. Being customer obsessed is what will help companies deliver innovative customer experiences and win business.

The world’s most successful innovative organisations – like Google or Apple - are very pragmatic about what products and services they work on, as well as the partners they work with. The one constant is they are obsessive about their customers – a trait visible in everything they do.

" The disruption race will be won by those that get the customer experience right the fastest."
Maile Carnegie, Group Executive, Digital Banking, ANZ

In 2016 ANZ found success with its decision to offer Apple Pay to its customers. The decision came as a result of listening to customers who wanted it.

The success of that rollout demonstrated how businesses can get the balance right when it comes to innovation and disruption.


It’s important to be careful when describing innovation, as what is exciting for some is frightening for others.  Many everyday Australians hear the word ‘innovation’ and assume it means will mean their jobs are on the way out.

But right now, less than 1 per cent of Australian firms meet the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) definition of a high-growth company.

Without high-growth companies - which by their very nature pursue innovation - Australia is not creating the jobs it needs for the future.

Australia is very good at what I call knowledge creation, which is about coming up with great ideas through research and analysis. But we are behind the world in knowledge application – where ideas are tested to address a particular need - and knowledge transfer, which is picking the best ideas and passing on the existing knowledge that we have.

At the end of the day Australia’s large companies aren’t innovative enough. Worse there aren’t enough local start-ups to fill the gap.

There is an opportunity to step in and fill that gap for the benefit of the nation and ourselves.


Still, we should be careful about rushing in to innovation. At Google being innovative isn’t all about foosball tables and bean bags and would be incorrect to try and blindly replicate that culture.

As innovation program that looks at the execution of companies like Google and says ‘I’m just going to reapply that’ is not smart.  

Smart innovation is figuring out how to apply innovation strategies in an intelligent way – and that’s a challenge facing companies everywhere.

Maile Carnegie is Group Executive, Digital Banking at ANZ

This story is an edited version of comments made to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

editor's picks

20 Feb 2017

NZ ahead of the curve on payments

Andrew Kershaw & David Tyrer | Former General Manager Product Management, Institutional & Director Digital Channels NZ, ANZ

The decline of cheques, the move to a cashless society and the increasing use of smartphones are just some of the trends sweeping the payments world –and on a global scale, New Zealand is ahead of the curve.

16 Feb 2017

Will demonetisation become de rigueur?

Steve Worthington | Professor at Swinburne University

The world is going cold on cash. Successive moves by global governments to consider or act on a reduction of banknotes in a bid to, among other things, clamp down on illicit purchases. Digital payment methods are of course the beneficiaries.

02 Feb 2017

LONGREAD: how the virtual workplace will actually work

Ben Thompson | CEO, Employment Hero

I apologise if this sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie but in a few years time your office receptionist is almost certainly going to be a robot.