By James Carroll, Senior Vice President, Digital Services / Digital Labs
"If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is in sight."
This quote from Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, perfectly summarizes the challenges facing businesses seeking to remain relevant in a rapidly evolving world.
However, wanting to change and doing so are two very different things, and an outside-in perspective—preferably from customers—is essential to help shake things up.
The obvious concern manifest in The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen is ”if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But tech history is littered with the bones of technology companies who did not react fast enough to changing market circumstances.
At Mastercard, we rely on Mastercard Digital Labs, our specialist global team of digital innovators within Mastercard Data & Services, to help our customers realize their most ambitious ideas. We build on lessons learned internally in driving innovation and digital transformations within Mastercard to help our customers also harness the power of Mastercard.
1000-plus engagements later, Digital Labs acts as a trusted collaborator that solicits pressing voice-of-the-customer problem statements and helps unlock the potential of our partners’ businesses. We do this by bringing together a team of experts to kick-start innovation, accelerate product development and help bring breakthrough products and platforms to market.
A digital transformation roadmap
The bigger the company, the harder it can be to inspire change because the change affects more people, and the risks are often more significant. Older businesses are often the hardest to change, especially if the leaders are resistant to trying something new. Before innovation can happen, companies must want to innovate.
Companies must be careful not to wait to innovate until disaster strikes and they have no other choices left. In the words of Samuel Johnson: “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."
But even if a company is ready, successful change is nearly impossible without a clear vision and strategy with senior management sponsorship. Companies making the most of the digital revolution understand what their customers need and have a clear path to reach that goal.
Developing this clear vision is a challenge for many companies, but with Digital Labs, organizations no longer have to make that journey on their own. Digital Labs has been helping companies with their product innovation and digital transformation challenges since its launch in 2015. Its clients span global issuers, acquirers, merchants and airlines.
By connecting businesses with experts in design, engineering, software development and videography, Mastercard Digital Labs can quickly help make new ideas a reality through the delivery of a unique range of offerings.
For companies that find it hard to innovate, Mastercard's experience, expertise and focus on trust can provide a transformation roadmap to help bring a new product to market that might otherwise languish in development. The cornerstone is listening to the voice of the customer, hearing their problems and needs, and then supporting their way forward with the best, most frictionless user experiences.
Procrastination can limit innovation. That observation led Mastercard to develop Launchpad, a rapid prototyping design sprint that takes customers from idea to prototype in just five days and includes a high-fidelity app, a board-grade pitch presentation and an agency-grade product / advertorial video.
A cross-functional team of experts with solution architecture expertise lets clients focus collaboratively on a single business challenge and dramatically improves the front-end development time it takes to bring a new product to market.
The project topics can span from digital payment solutions to various commerce applications, from loyalty apps to chatbot customer experience solutions, from data platform design to business intelligence frameworks, and from AR/VR immersive experiences in metaverse shopping experiences to other Web3.0 applications.
Digital Labs provides customers with inspiration and thought leadership, foresight and insight, and acts as agent provocateur to stimulate creative thinking focused on providing a force acceleration effect for customers innovating their growth strategies.
Using immersive thought leadership and inspiration programs, Digital Labs also offers a curated view of digital transformation globally. Participants explore best practices in leading-edge innovation and digital applications and examples of disruptive thinking from around the world.
Bringing a product idea to life is challenging. This two-day program develops and improves products and processes with best-in-class design thinking, ideation and Mastercard innovation technologies, and sets out a proposed tech/integration stack to ensure product mobilizes appropriately.
The results—ranging from interactive prototypes to architectural wireframes to project plans—can help advance the development lifecycle of a product and bring a new product to market faster.
Companies that may be slow to embrace change still have plenty of employees who think digital-first and have a wealth of untapped ideas for helping the businesses succeed.
With Innovation Express, companies capture, nurture and develop ideas crowd-sourced from employees and customers. This fosters teamwork and inclusivity while also making the most of talent investment.
Mastercard acts as the ”tip of the spear” for customers engaging with Mastercard products and services. We embody the axiom that when you get hit by the tip of the spear, it’s not the tip that delivers the result but the power behind it. When a longer, strategic collaboration is needed from the outset, Mastercard Digital Labs can partner with customers to implement innovation beyond a single engagement by acting as a quarterback to all assets and capabilities of Mastercard, pulling through on internal or external platforms, moving from prototype to pilot and on into commercialized scale in rapid time.
We also create Innovation Hubs, or Labs of the Future, with embedded teams. They complement and accelerate existing customer innovation efforts, where the Mastercard team can collaborate on different projects and foster a culture of innovation within the business. One such hub focuses on helping customers design and scale their ESG program and supports their drive toward sustainability through innovation.
Products & Ventures
The myriad opportunities that come with open banking, technology convergence, the metaverse, crypto and blockchain are staggering and exciting. What is the future of payments and commercial user experiences in a digital-first world? How can small businesses compete with digital capabilities? How do multinational organizations stay competitive and meet rapidly changing customer demands?
From platforms such as Banking as a Service, Livestreaming Commerce and Learning Labs, we are co-creating new avenues to market and platforms for customers by interconnecting partner services to enhance user experiences.
Mastercard Digital Labs is also creating new studio venture businesses alone and in partnership with customers and partners to ensure they can inject themselves into the center of a digital-first world and can co-innovate as markets and capabilities expand.
We can show you what the bank branch or retailer of the future looks like, how AR and VR can create new ways to do business, and how customers can operate in the metaverse and explore non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies. Our team’s capabilities, expertise, process tools and methodologies are taking the lead in developing these new markets for our customers by keeping them competitive and helping them differentiate themselves and capitalize on exciting new opportunities.
A proven path toward innovation
Customers around the world increasingly see Digital Labs as an extension of their own innovation strategies and product development / digital transformation programs. They lean on Mastercard's digital-first approach and its focus on innovation, invention and trust to help them future-proof their growth and give them a competitive edge.
Ready to learn more about firing up your company’s innovation with Mastercard Labs as a Service? Contact us.