Skip to main content
News Plus 7 Apr 2022 - 4 min read

‘I like a bit of mess’: Jenni Barnett ticks digital transformation at CBA, Telstra; now to Tabcorp and the wagering lad apps chomping the old racer’s brunch

By Paul McIntyre - Executive Editor
Jenni Barnett Tabcorp

Jenni Barnett: "It’s a broader C-suite remit. I wasn’t looking to be honest. I was happy at Telstra.”

Jenni Barnett’s appointment as Tabcorp’s Chief Customer Officer is a new benchmark for digital transformation roles - and CMOs. Barnett will have product, data and data science, omnichannel customer experience and personalisation, brand, marketing and sponsorship in her C-suite remit. And she’ll have charge of Tabcorp’s data ethics, a new capability rapidly emerging for blue chips, along with involvement in mergers and acquisitions. 

I like a bit of mess. That’s what I inherited at CBA and Telstra really. I love trying to move big incumbent Australian brands forward.

Jenni Barnett, incoming Chief Customer Officer, Tabcorp

In early May Jenni Barnett will start as Tabcorp’s Chief Customer Officer, a role central to rewiring an $11 billion analogue wagering machine facing pressure from snappier rivals tapping lucrative, rowdy younger segments.

By mid year Tabcorp is set to split in two – the cash cow Lotteries and Keno division will be listed in its own right with a market capitalisation expected of up to $10bn. The legacy wagering business, with TAB shopfronts and a network of 4,500 bar and clubs, could be worth $3.5bn -$4bn. It's also the problem child. 

Mess is good

“I like a bit of mess,” Barnett told Mi3 this week on her appointment. “That’s what I inherited at CBA and Telstra really. I love trying to move big incumbent Australian brands forward. I'm super excited joining the new TabCorp board, executive and broader team in the next phase of the company strategy.”

Part of the mess facing Barnett, aside from an entire reworking of tech and customer personalisation and CX, is that faster, leaner, tech savvy rivals are picking off the lucrative lads with apps and market communications that are noisy and land attention – and revenues. 

Barnett has to develop a counter in Tabcorp’s product suite and, interestingly, floated the idea of segmenting and talking to women in the same way as Tabcorp’s rivals do the boys - tonally different and relevant, clearly.       

“Tabcorp is an opportunity to transform a business affected by a lot of digital natives,” she said. “How do you energise and build a growth strategy around that?  The benefit Tabcorp has got, and it was almost the same at Telstra and CBA, is that omnichannel footprint. For me personally, it’s an opportunity to look at mergers and acquisitions. It’s a broader C-suite remit. I wasn’t looking to be honest. I was happy at Telstra.”

Barnett has now escaped north for a month – Friday past was her last as Telstra’s Digital Channels boss where she was in the core team that delivered outgoing CEO Andy Penn’s T22 transformation strategy.

She will join Tabcorp’s executive leadership next month as CCO in a far reaching remit that almost returns to a vintage marketing role with ownership of product, pricing, distribution and promotion. 

Barnett will have brand, marketing, sponsorship, customers, digital channels, product, data, customer experience and personalisation under her watch.

A benchmark role

It's a benchmark role for digital transformation programs adhering to the corporate and consulting mantras of customer-centricity and customer experience, or CX - and she’s been here before at Commbank and Telstra.  

Part of the T22 strategy at Telstra saw it mothball disparate and creaky legacy IT systems for new infrastructure that centralised customer data and enabled more streamlined interaction and analytics  across all the contact points that customers and prospects engaged – call centres, retail and online. 

Barnett led the charge to build a “personalisation tech stack” which ultimately saw Salesforce land much of the customer tech spending with Adobe playing a "core role for digital optimisation". 

Telstra also slashed the number of phone and data service plans from 1,800 to 20 and created a single view of individual customer contacts across all its channels – retail, call centres and digital.

Barnett’s replacement and outgoing Telstra CMO Jeremy Nicholas told Mi3 this week that Telstra’s digital channels accounted for 80 per cent of where the telco’s sales and service contacts begin.

“Overall there’s just a lot of opportunity to broaden the customer segments,” Barnett said.

“I haven’t started on this but how do you talk to females? If you think about SportsBet, the way they market is a very specific types of men. They are male-dominated but they talk to specific types of male segments. There is opportunity. The other thing I’m looking at is doing business very responsibly. The ethical use of data is really interesting.” 

The new data and customer race starts in May.   

Share your reaction (and see how others voted)

Leave a comment (you must be logged in)

Be the first to comment

Market Voice

Search Mi3 Articles

Make it personal

Join Mi3 to receive our weekly edition and personalise your experience