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Technology Trends Driving Business Today

By Ed McLaughlin, CIO, MasterCard

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Ed McLaughlin, CIO, MasterCard

Think about how different your day is today, even from a few years ago. Today, you might wake up, grab for your mobile phone or tablet to check emails, read the latest business news and check out what your friends are up too in social media sites. Or, you might pay a few bills or send money to reimburse a friend for last night’s dinner)—all without ever leaving your house…or even your bed.

“Figuring out the “what”—the customized benefit for a specific customer’s distinct needs—is imperative”

Technology is what’s helping make this difference. Things that used to require a physical trip to complete now can be done with a few taps on your phone, tablet, or computer. And it’s raising the game for those of us who are delivering products and solutions to consumers, each and every day.

And we’re in unchartered territory. Customer expectations are different. They want more from you— and they will let you know that.

That’s ok. With their help, you can continue to innovate— and learn to anticipate—what they’ll want next. And be able to deliver it to them, course correct as needed. The payoff? A more loyal consumer, because you took the time to listen to his or her needs, and address them.

Digital payments are helping drive this change in more meaningful ways than ever before, yet delivering the same security and peace of mind you’ve had with a physical card.

It’s an important moment in time for those of us in payments. And for those of us driving technology decisions at our companies—it’s making sure we have the right technology in place to answer the evolving needs of the customer.

Figuring out the “what”—the customized benefit for a specific customer’s distinct needs—is imperative. That’s the absolute focus of everyone at MasterCard. We use the most advanced new technology while ensuring that it integrates quickly, flawlessly, and seamlessly with our customer’s systems, and into their customer’s lives. Everyone who benefits from all that we do—should feel personally empowered to share feedback on what’s working well, and how we can improve it.

When it comes to major trends in payments—each of us has to work in a way that makes it easy to be ready for what’s next.

Here’s what consumers are asking for—and what we have to deliver.

Understand the impact of the shift to digital. We believe the shift to digital is the profound story of our time. It is changing the way companies do business, and is a critical piece of how companies must move forward. For MasterCard itself as a company, digital transformation has been extraordinarily important and beneficial for our business. Re-platforming to digital is ongoing and universal. When every device can be a commerce device, it creates a huge and virtually limitless opportunity. That’s why we continue to relentlessly execute on the digitization of everything, every day.

Make the experience of working with you easy. How many of us can think of a recent experience with technology that was less than ideal? I’m sure it comes to mind quickly. The real risk in making any interaction too complicated is that once you’ve confused a customer, they aren’t likely to return. So allocate time and resources to making sure the consumer experience is everything it can be—including easy. Consumers will never say “that’s too easy”— but you’ll know you’ve made a difference with reduced calls to your call center, increased positive messages in social media, and perhaps, increased business—all because you took the time to think about what delights the consumer.

Offer a safe and secure experience. From initial design ideas to the final product, keep security at the forefront of all that you do. Customers are counting on companies to provide this. And, you can’t be content with what you do today to protect your consumers and their data— you have to stay vigilant in this space. Because guess what? So are the folks with less than honorable intentions. You have to stay ahead of them. For MasterCard, we’ve got a team of employees dedicated to delivering this. We are constantly enhancing what we do in the security space, taking it to the next level.

Listen to feedback. Social media makes this a much more interesting world than it was even 10 years ago. You can begin to see trends in consumer preferences and behavior much more rapidly than ever before. As technologists, we have to begin by listening to what your customers are telling you, and then continue to rapidly iterate on your offering. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a tweak to a product or solution—sometimes it means a wholesale change needs to be made. But be listening—and ready to action change when it’s needed.

Continue to Innovate. Although it may seem like a buzzword, innovation means more to the survival of your business than ever before. And I’m sure you have very smart people in your organization who can help drive this. But if we’ve learned anything from the concept of crowdsourcing, hackathons, open APIs and other idea-generating solutions readily available to your company, innovation can come from anywhere. While not everything will succeed, encouraging innovation is a risk worth taking. Companies have to continue to push the envelope—not straying away from what made them good to begin with—but working to continue to be relevant to their customer base as needs change.

We exist in a multi-brand, multi-technology, multi-device world. Change is fast and complex and endless. But we believe it’s important to recognize that while digital transformation is inevitable, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is immediate. Our customers have to know we will be ready to serve them as they shift their behaviors to digital. Transformation does not necessarily mean your core relationship is different—it can be more important to enhance and build on what already exists. Focus on what you do well, and delight your customers with that experience.

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