Mark Sidlauskas (ThoughtFocus) moderates the panel discussion with Troy Bradley (NCR), Kim Sullivan (NCR), Naga Jagadeesh (ThoughtFocus) and Raja Pabba (EY)

ThoughtFocus’ strategic partnership with NCR, a global leader in payment solutions, led to an initiative to benefit Greater Dallas / Fort Worth business executives.

The event marked an important milestone in the relationship between the two companies, coinciding with the opening of the ThoughtFocus office in Hyderabad collocated with NCR.  ThoughtFocus provides NCR a range of services from product development to EMV certifications.

ThoughtFocus is expanding its Payments & Loyalty Solutions business in the US while NCR is moving aggressively to expand its payments capabilities and enter new markets.  NCR is also looking to ThoughtFocus to help its customers with custom development and integration work.

A limited invitation to industry leaders attracted a cross section of business executives to a reception and panel discussion at the Four Seasons Resort, Las Colinas. The Gallery room housed 35 attendees from industries ranging from Hospitality to Oil & Gas.

ThoughtFocus hosted this exclusive event earlier in December with NCR Payment Solutions around the theme of trends impacting the Payments industry and partnering for success.

A cocktail hour with crafted appetizers and networking hour was followed by the feature presentation. NCR CTO/CIO Troy Bradley, NCR VP Product Management Kim Sullivan joined Raja Pabba, Digital Transformation executive from EY and Naga Jagadeesh, VP Payments at ThoughtFocus for a panel discussion.

Guests were invited to ask questions and a lively round of discussion ensued on the differentiating value of strategic partnerships and consumer behaviors driving innovation. The evening ended on a high note with a variety of desserts and new relationships.

Key takeaways from the discussion follow:

1. Consumers seek a frictionless payments experience and mobile is taking off
Consumers are looking for a frictionless experience and merchants will need to understand how to operationalize around preferences while being open to new ways of transacting.

2. Consumer behavior will drive innovations that differentiate
Troy suggested a shift in behavior towards instant purchases anytime, anywhere.  Rewards and loyalty also drive behaviors.  Expect to see more merchants incentivizing consumers with discounts or vouchers and using their preferred technology to drive differentiation.

3. Organizations are becoming more agile in identifying potential disruptions and business value
The time for an innovation to become mainstream has been compressed from years to months and even days. Working with a partner can accelerate the process and get the company to market fast. Companies are looking to take advantage of partnerships to bring in talent, especially those with a working knowledge of the company’s culture, who can hit the ground running and deliver the value quickly.

4. NCR’s model for identifying innovations is built for speed, not perfect knowledge
Troy described the NCR model to identify disruptive innovation and business value of emerging technology using a small team.  “I do not want them to design anything, I don’t want them to give me the perfect architecture. I want them to tell me – does this thing deliver the business value that it professes to… I told them I want you to crack 7 to 10 disruptive tech working models, proof of concepts, tell us the value and move on to the next”.

5. NCR will exploit its positioning between the giant generalists and small specialists
Giant payment generalists are challenged to create a differentiated experience. Small specialist offerings are too narrow. NCR is driving down on the middle lane, providing access to innovative solutions that can scale as companies grow.

6. NCR’s “cloud first, API first” philosophy will drive the next wave of innovation
NCR is taking steps to harness the power of the cloud and adopt a “cloud first, API first” model. The ability to drive ML and AI about the data in a very near real time manner, NCR believes this will create a significant differentiator. The challenge is learning how to work in a cloud and sort of keep data protected in cloud.

7. Successful partnerships in Payments require unique attributes
Successful partnering requires four critical factors: 1) business viability, 2) having the right technology stack 3) the right people with the right skills, and 4) a partner who understands the business to help execute. 

Three areas to evaluate in determining the potential strength of a potential partner in the Payments industry:  1) an understanding of the customer experience and how behaviors are evolving, 2) technology innovation to support consumers’ desired digital experiences, and 3) focus and depth on compliance and regulation.

8. The ThoughtFocus partnership enables NCR to pivot on its strategy In characterizing the ThoughtFocus partnership, Troy said “It is not just talent from a technical perspective but the domain expertise and SMEs ThoughtFocus brings to the table that’s incredibly valuable”. The NCR / ThoughtFocus relationship has evolved rapidly and Troy reports “we just worked hand in glove through that pivot. To me, that’s an unspoken and hidden value with the partnership”.

9. ThoughtFocus’ alignment with NCR at multiple levels is the secret to success
In describing the NCR relationship, Naga says, “For us, the biggest task is to create that synergy and operational alignment between what we bring to the table and what NCR’s business are looking at”.  There are 3 things we consider: 1) cultural alignment, making sure the team operates in the same way 2) technical alignment, bringing the right skillsets and domain expertise and 3) evolving with nimbleness.  “As NCR grows, they’re going to pivot. It is a requirement of progress and we need to adapt to enable that growth”.

ThoughtFocus Payments & Loyalty Solutions Group

The ThoughtFocus Payment solution division operates out of Dallas, TX.  VP Payments, Naga Jagadeesh, has staffed his business with innovative and entrepreneurial-minded software developers. He considers these personality traits a necessity in this city’s burgeoning business ecosystem.

Naga himself has led complex and successful global projects for leading banks in Indonesia, and South America. A deep understanding of the client’s business needs and the ability to deliver the highest quality in a competitive arena was the basis of that success.