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3 min read

Search Leeds 2018 – The future doesn’t exist in silos – J Schwan

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

J Shwan is the Cheif Digital Officer at St Ives.


J started by talking about when he moved from Chicago. He discussed how he had to remake his entire life in the UK, including practical elements such as banks, doctors, grocery services etc. He says how he made it his own personal mission to do everything digitally.

However, this highlighted to him how fragmented the customer journey still is – everything still seemed so inefficient. Although he tried as much as he could to do everything digitally, he still had to go to the shops and call centres.

Barclays experience

The most disappointing was Barclays Bank, he said. He wanted to set up an international bank, and Barclays was present in both US and the UK. He searched for Barclays, which came up organically. He allowed cookies. He was given 9 different options for current account, he went through application process, and was eventually given a message saying “we’ll get back to you.”

He describes how then he got an email, it said – please book a branch appointment. He then had to sign paper documents, was sent things in the mail. Needless to say, his experience with Barclays was not great.

Monzo experience

In contrast, he has a more uplifting story. This is about Monzo. He was fascinated with it, downloaded the app, which then asked for just 7 pieces of information. He took a photo of his passport and a video of himself which took about 15 seconds. J said that he’s now Monzo’s biggest fan. The experience is amazing, he said.

Funny thing is, if you search for Monzo, no organic search results come up for the keyword ‘current account’

Barclays founded in 1690. Monzo started in 2015.

Whats going on, he asks? The difference is silos.

In Barclays, there’s tonnes of silos and they rarely talk to each other. Different divisions have different KPIs, have stoic hierarchical structures. Monzo does not have this problem. The silos make it hard for brands to capitalise on their digital experience. These hierarchical silos are harming these brands, and the customer is losing.

As digital marketers, we’re not immune to this system, J says. Often, we have many digital service providers within the industries. Even within agencies, we don’t talk to each others departments as much as we should, J claims. Who’s fault is this? If we, as service providers, are meant to be the experts – then it’s up to us to find an answer, he says.

The Connective

There is a better way, he says.

We need to start thinking more organically and fluid within our organisational models.

He’s trialling a new organisational models, that looks like the below.

It allows a full level of connection throughout the entire strategists journey, he says. It’s still a work in progress, he explains so he didn’t want to go into too much detail, but the results already have been unfounded, as each member of staff touches base from end to end throughout the entire search journey – which looks like this more practically:


In order for all this to work, there needs to be a shared value of belief of ‘connectedness’, he says. This is something we could all be doing better at. Creating silos within business takes away the ‘connectedness’ of an organisation and of people.