An Interview with Jason Millett


FST Media speaks with Westpac New Zealand’s Jason Millett about how Westpac is harnessing the power of social media to engage with the modern day banking customer.

FST Media: What are your IT priorities for the next 12 to 18 months?

Millett: Our priorities for the next 12 months are about continuing to lay the foundations of stability and reliability to build our “service revolution” and allow us to know our customers better. We want to empower our customers and amaze them. To achieve this, we are executing a number of critical initiatives as a result of refreshing our Telecom contract and extending our outsourcing agreement with IBM. Specifically we are fitting out a new data centre, establishing a private modular cloud to support our dev-ops environment, as well as exploiting our big data analytics capability through the implementation of our Watson Explorer solution. I will continue to drive excellence in execution as we focus relentlessly on enabling our businesses to win in the market.

FST Media: What is your strategy for Westpac to become New Zealand’s leading digital bank?

Millett: Delivering the enabling capabilities that support an “always on, always available” value proposition is our main objective. Driving data analytics capabilities and digitising process flows to simplify and improve the customer experience through an omni-channel transformation are also key strategies for us in becoming New Zealand’s leading digital bank.

FST Media: How will Westpac’s migration of several critical systems to private cloud benefit the bank and how will you address data security concerns?

Millett: In the first instance, we are only focusing on dev-ops, which have an immediate benefit to capital and operating expense management. In addition to this, we are upgrading our security capabilities, but as this is a private modular hybrid cloud solution – not a public cloud service – it makes the security less complex, but nonetheless still critical. The underlying flexibility that private modular cloud technology will provide us mitigates the risk, but these data security concerns will need to be managed carefully moving forward.

FST Media: What have been the results of Westpac New Zealand’s Augmented Reality application, and what plans are in place to further develop this app?

Millett: The initial customer feedback has been fantastic and the Augmented Reality app has formed a critical part of our stable of innovative customer-centric components for our digital experience. We will continue to enhance this app and add features and functions that ensure it remains fresh, but this will be done in conjunction with the ongoing improvements to Westpac One, including the enhancement of Moven and other innovations that are accessible through this platform.

FST Media: How does Westpac’s global mobile app challenge deliver value to the business?

Millett: The mobile app challenge made us think outside of the jurisdictional and geographical paradigms that normally constrain organisations. These can sometimes operate in isolation to broader global innovation. It allowed our business leaders to be exposed to some amazing new ways of thinking which means we are able to create value for our customers and is critical to our business moving forward.

FST Media: How are Westpac’s trials progressing for wearable technology such as iBeacon and Google Glass and what are your plans to extend these in the next 12 to 18 months?

Millett: We continue to trial and experiment with these new technologies to help our customers use our services more comprehensively, and to help our staff better service our customers. We want to deliver on our promises of a “service revolution”, and iBeacon in particular allows us to identify when customers are in the branch and proactively meet their needs. We still have some work to do with Google Glass but that is more from an adoption perspective, rather than how we harness the full capabilities of the platform itself.

FST Media: How is Westpac New Zealand harnessing the power of social media to engage with the modern day banking customer?

Millett: We are on social media 24/7 with active monitoring, analysis and operational response strategies to ensure we are across how our customers are feeling about Westpac New Zealand. We love the feedback from our customers across Twitter and Facebook and we are learning a lot about making sure we deliver the service revolution for them.

FST Media: What advice would you give to aspiring technology chiefs?

Millett: My key word of advice is: be inspired and inspiring! You have the best job in the world at the most extraordinary time in history where change, innovation, disruption and technology are moving at light speed. Look forward and learn from the past, and do not lose your passion. It is essential that you remain current and even become a futurist – you are the eyes and ears for your business colleagues, and if you are caught in the past, they will not be able to prepare for the future. Walk a thousand miles in the shoes of your customers and if you cannot see issues and opportunities from their perspective then you are a liability. 

FST Media: How do you sustain your level of motivation in a high pressure environment?

Millett: You have to be positive, passionate and energetic in a high pressure environment. We live in an amazing time and the ability we have to influence and drive transformational change is phenomenal. My team look to me to be highly motivated under pressure and that just means that is what I have to do. It is expected of me and it is part of my commitment to the team.

FST Media: Every leader has a legacy they wish to be remembered for, what is yours?

Millett: My legacy will be how I reshaped the technology function from being an order-taker to an innovator, helping our business to succeed in a sustainable manner. I also hope that I change negative attitudes to positive thinking and moving from being a provider of computing to becoming a broker of services that ultimately drive value and capability into the business.