Leaving behind legacy: the need for business transformation

Many businesses that had been taking their time with transformation projects learnt very quickly in 2020 it was time to act. The COVID-19 pandemic showed very clearly the need for businesses of all shapes and sizes – banks, cafes, gyms and more – to lean into their digital offerings.

According to Chairman of the MIT Center for Information Systems Research Dr Peter Weill, successful business transformation will improve both the customer experience and operational efficiency.

“In the [transformation] process, businesses will probably uncover some new business models,” Dr Weill explained to me recently over video conference. “In banking this is a huge opportunity. At the same time, I think it will improve the employee experience as well,” he said.

"Inertia born by success is a very difficult thing to overcome.” – Dr Peter Weill

According to Dr Weill, there is a lot of upside involved in business transformation but the most important part of the process is being willing to change - not always an easy task.

“So why is it so hard? It’s just one word: inertia,” he says. “Inertia born by success is a very difficult thing to overcome. Large, successful companies often have legacy processes, legacy systems, legacy habits - how they look, how they do meetings - legacy mindsets.

“One of things we've learnt about digital is that some of the good we keep but we have to get rid of some of the legacy issues.”

Dr Weill explains sometimes large companies bound by legacy have to “blow up” the old ways of doing things to truly change. “You need to change who makes the key decisions if you want to have a different outcome,” he says. “It sounds so logical but organisations are partly politics and partly contests.”

He also points to new ways of working as an avenue for successful transformation – something we have been working on at ANZ for a number of years.

But what exactly does success look like? Dr Weill says this is the question he is asked by many boards and executives who are keen to nail down particular metrics. However, he says sharing common goals, focusing on culture and making everything transparent and easily accessible is most important.

“One of the powerful things you could do in the process is to say: what are three or four bullets that describe our culture and describe how to live this culture.”

In the end, Dr Weill says collaborating and sharing value across industries is important because industry barriers will slowly fade away to make way for economic transformation.

“Companies have an opportunity to lead the transformation of the whole economy. I think that's the best of digital.”

You can hear more of our conversation by listening to the podcast above.

Shayne Elliott is CEO at ANZ

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

19 Jan 2021

Aussie banks doing digital

Laure Jouan | Principal Financial Institutions Practice, BCG

Australia’s banks must accelerate digital transformations to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

14 Jan 2021

Smart money and financial services

Stanislas de Roys & Marie-Caroline Baerd | MD Financial Services & Executive VP AI, Capgemini Invent

AI can boost the customer experience, creating opportunity for financial services to take an even more customer-centric approach.