Innovation

How to come out thriving on the other side

June 25, 2020 | By Ken Moore

The impact of COVID-19 on the world today is only the beginning of a much bigger transformation that could fundamentally restructure the nature of business itself. In the next 12 months, we are likely to experience a decade’s worth of change, and a future-proof organization is about being ready for the world that awaits us on the other side. The COVID-19 reset is an opportunity to reinvent how we serve our customers and communities, rethink how we work, and reimagine our role and our business models.

Facing change has always been a constant. Since 2000, failure to respond to an evolving market has forced many Fortune 500 companies to close, sell or go bankrupt. Looking back across industries, the companies that failed were unable to redefine themselves for the world that was changing around them — in behavior, in technology, in regulations. Digital disruptors helped us see that there was a deeper and more complex reality where data, scale and machine intelligence mattered. By changing our patterns of life, COVID-19 has accelerated that path. In a coronavirus world, if you can’t do something online, you can’t do it at all. So what does disruption mean in a world already gone digital?

We now have an opportunity to bring the future forward. Here are five ways to future-proof your organization to both survive the 2020 pandemic and thrive on the other side.

01
Take stock of proprietary gifts and imagine how they can redesign your future

Kodak is often referenced as a brand blindsided by the future. But people don’t talk about Fuji. Fuji realized early on that they had a lot of capabilities from film that were relevant for the future. They understood collagen and nanotechnology because they are vital components of film. So they leveraged those core capabilities and R&D muscle to create some of the world’s most effective and scientifically engineered face creams, Astalift. They took that same approach and expanded into other categories like healthcare and data storage. Fuji is an exemplary brand that faced extinction but was able to rise to the challenge and redesign their future by taking stock of their current proprietary gifts.

02
The critical role of discovery and partnerships

The pandemic laid bare the gaps and insecurities of our global supply chains. We are at the dawn of an algorithmic age in which emerging technologies such as AI, 5G, IoT and quantum computing will unleash unimaginable new industrial advancements and business opportunities. The time for outside-in discovery, deepening knowledge and experimentation with industry 4.0 technologies is more critical than ever before. The integration of these technologies will deliver unprecedented interconnectivity and automation, creating smarter supply chains that will transform our lives, cities, retail spaces and homes. Learning how to apply these emerging technologies, finding use cases, and identifying and scaling them with innovative startup partners and technology leaders with deep R&D muscle is key to driving today’s required systems-level change.

03
Design algorithmic experiences for the next-next generation

Kids born in and growing up in a world dominated by smartphones and AI-driven experiences will never know any other world. Whether they’re listening to music or watching television, all of their experiences are highly individualized and personal based on data. Algorithms, automation and AI are establishing and setting their expectations. By 2030, they will become adults and expect a hyperconnected personal world. As we design for the future, we need to imagine the world a few steps ahead, rethink the way we do business from their perspective and design for the data-driven world of experiences they will come to expect.

04
Adopt companywide standards for privacy and security

Expedited adoption of user-controlled digital identity management and a new collaborative relationship between consumers, government and industry will emerge to manage user-controlled digital identities, not just because of better experiences but because of necessity. While the debate between centralized and decentralized ID solutions rages on, contact tracing, health app usage of biometrics, and privacy controls may become an everyday part of life in a contactless world changed by COVID-19. Adopting companywide standards for privacy and security will be critical in this new age.

05
Optimize for performance-driven talent and ambidextrous leaders


“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led and how much you get it.”

- STEVE JOBS

For enterprises to make it through this disruption, they must make profound, systemic changes to the capability and velocity of how their organizations lead and learn. Leaders need to adopt mindsets and systems of growth for a data-driven age. Our 21st-century survival depends on increasing the rate of intelligence absorption and high performance rather than process-driven talent.

There are clear paths that winners can take to seize this opportunity to transform themselves and drive fundamental change that will outlast any health crisis or market disruption. It’s time to “go on the offense” to build new resilient businesses. And we’re here to help — at Mastercard, we’ve leveraged our years of commerce experience, globality, technology know-how, lean tools and innovation capabilities to help us grow beyond our traditional beginnings. The pace of change has never been so great, but we are here to help you on your transformation journey to a digital-first world. The Great Reset begins now — not every business will make it, but those that do will never be the same.

Ken Moore, Executive Vice President, Head of Mastercard Labs