ACI Exchange 2019 took place last week in Washington DC. The event is ACI Worldwide’s annual user group conference that brings together many leading banks and payment processors from across the globe. Paragon had not been at the show for a few years and it was great to catch up with some of the old hands that I have known for a long (long) time and meet some of the newer (younger) folks who are just getting started in payments. As I have reported many times before, events like ACI Exchange are an important part of the payment industry fabric. They bring people together face-to-face in order to build relationships, communicate ideas and foster collaboration.
The theme for the event this year was “Creating What’s Next” and the program was focused mostly on how to deal with the rapid pace of change taking place within the payment industry. Not only how to effectively deal with change driven by others, e.g. legal and regulatory compliance, card scheme mandates, etc., but also how to innovate and change from within.
There were a lot of great sessions and speakers, including several client case study presentations. Without naming names, here are some of the noteworthy quotes that I took away from the event:
- “2019 has not been a boring year so far.”
- “Anything that we build can go in any direction.”
- “We are trying to do everything at once.”
- “Consumers are driving the bus as to what they want and when they want it.”
- “The only thing that you can plan for is your speed of response.”
- “We can’t be late. We need to be more collaborative and proactively invest in what’s next.”
- “We need to simplify payments, simplify our processes.”
- “Done means fully tested.”
- “Automate everything.”
- “Innovation requires integration.”
- “We are living in times of extraordinary change.”
- “Testing is now a competitive differentiator.”
The one thing that surprised me about the program was the amount of discussion on testing and operational efficiency. To highlight this point, ACI now has a DevOps user group specifically focused on these issues. And the session where ACI announced details of their new Developer Portal, it was standing room only. And, to me, all this was great to hear. As you may have read here on many occasions, Paragon believes that testing automation, integration and collaboration are critical success factors for payment processors who want to survive and thrive in our complex and highly competitive industry.
Innovation + Strategy + Execution
The team from ING, Netherlands provided a great example of the difference this can make. They delivered a very detailed case study about the need for organizational agility and the importance of innovation to their corporate strategy. This group has recently implemented a CI/CD pipeline process that has reduced the time it takes them to implement a software release from months to days, while also reducing the cost of deploying the release significantly. The ING speakers gave several corporate attributes/performance metrics that are making it possible for their organization to drive change, rather than be driven by it. For instance:
- Management fosters a culture of innovation
- Faster time to market provides a competitive advantage
- Every project is an opportunity to improve
- Repetitive tasks should be automated
- Organizational collaboration means improved efficiency and productivity
- Customer feedback is important and should be gathered as early as possible
- Success requires a modern and well-maintained set of tools
I appreciate that all companies are different and will have different responses to change and innovation. However, the ING presentation did provide some compelling evidence that an aggressive and proactive approach is better than the alternative. None of this is rocket science. Much has been written about the benefits of Agile, DevOps and CI/CD, along with instructions and roadmaps on how to move forward on this path. Tools and solutions from testing specialists like Paragon are also readily available, delivering proven results and returns.
One other thing that surprised me during the conference was the lack of discussion about the Windows 10 migration process for ATMs. Many of the organizations in attendance do drive ATMs, but it seems that several have not really started their migration projects. The clock is most certainly ticking down on this exercise and it looks like there will be some folks who will go into overtime. Given all the transformation taking place across the industry, I am not sure going into debt on this one is a good idea. If you do need help and would like to discuss how Paragon can assist, please feel free to let us know.
We are clearly living in times of extraordinary change. Creating what’s next will require extraordinary testing.