Leading bank adopts a companywide, holistic transformation to support its mortgage broker community; aims to maximise shareholder value by avoiding the traditional, “Frankenstein” like consultancy path


Brisbane, Australia – June 10, 2021: Auswide, (ASX: ABA) Australia’s 10th largest publicly listed bank, is working with Ko-Lab8 to supercharge its digital transformation, to accelerate its customer acquisition nationally, by supporting its growing mortgage broker community.

Based in central and South-East Queensland, Auswide is heading towards $4 billion in assets under management. Established more than 50 years ago, the bank has been expanding its presence nationally in recent years, mostly through its ecosystem of mortgage brokers.

To continue that growth and accelerate the range of services available to its customer base, particularly in younger demographics across the Eastern seaboard, the company recently reviewed the digital transformation consultancy market.  Its goal was to select a partner which could help accelerate the modernisation of its technology infrastructure but do so nimbly, in an agile manner, and take a holistic, all of business approach – rather than the traditionally siloed, single focus on the IT department.

Auswide has selected Brisbane based digital transformation company, Ko-Lab8, to collaborate on its three-year, companywide transformation. The bank’s senior management saw cultural alignment to Ko-Lab8’s holistic approach of strategy, people, process and technology.

Martin Barrett, Managing Director, Auswide Bank, said; “The right guidance and expertise, supporting us as we continue expanding our digital banking capability, makes good sense. At Auswide Bank we recognise the exciting opportunities enhanced digital capability brings but we also recognise the risks. Our track record of growth will be enhanced working with a capable partner such as Ko-Lab8.”

Rebecca Stephens, Chief Transformation Officer at Auswide, said the company wants to avoid the pitfalls of traditional outsourcing of digital transformation projects, which have historically had a failure rate of up to 70 per cent.

“We see technology as an enabler of success, not as an end in itself, or a project only for the IT department. The design thinking led, empathetic approach taken by Ko-Lab8, delivered in a nimble, agile manner, is compelling, for customers and shareholders.  Working with an agile, vendor agnostic, boutique Australian consultancy like Ko-Lab8 will also ensure we truly collaborate and don’t end up in a situation where the consultancy imposes its views on our strategy or create a Frankenstein’s monster, where different business units each embark on uncoordinated projects.”

Ko-Lab8 was established in late 2020 by Shannon Nixon, the firm’s CEO. Ko-Lab8’s team has more than a century of global experience in creating digital transformation strategies for some of Australia’s highest profile and ASX listed companies and public sector organisations – including advising on the deployment of AI, Cloud, IoT, and other industry 4.0 technologies.

Shannon Nixon said; “We established Ko-Lab8 because we knew Australian organisations, such as Auswide, wanted to take advantage of technologies which would enable them to more effectively serve their customers – from migrating to Cloud from on premise, or using data more efficiently, to providing applications-based services to their customers. But we also focus on ensuring we take a holistic view of their needs. Too many digital transformation projects stall, or go over budget, or simply fail because there is too much focus on technology without bringing in the wider business and the staff.

“One of the key benefits of working with Ko-Lab8 is that we can achieve some quick wins, whilst maintaining a long term, sustainable change approach. We won’t be putting 50 expensive staff on site to dig deep and for six months, for example.”

A bank wide, holistic approach

Ko-Lab8’s ecosystem methodology is based on determining a taxonomy in the organisation, ensuring alignment at the senior management level around the goals of digital transformation. Based in design thinking principles, Ko-Lab8’s lean and nimble approach will lay the groundwork for a more in depth, series of workshops with the business units across all the company.

This includes all business unit leaders at the client participating initially in an intensive two week ‘sprint’ consultation to lay the groundwork for a “strategy, people, process and technology” solution – avoiding the traditional trap of digital transformation being seen by the organisation as only related to the IT department.

The second phase of the engagement would be focused on the development of a more intensive, strategic level of advisory, including the building of a technology and strategy architecture. This would include creating a customer aligned communications plan, which will also take into account change management principles of risk assessment, an important element as the bank is regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulations Authority.