10 C-Suite Execs Share Their Recipe for Sustainable Success

There are as many ways to do business as there are businesses themselves.

And each of those organizations has their own “One Thing” that they consider to be all-important in driving success forward. 

That’s why PYMNTS spoke to ten C-suite executives to get their take on what matters most in navigating today’s evolving landscape. The senior leaders shared with us with a range of responses that spoke to three key areas of innovation and investment: customer acquisition, core competencies and critical infrastructure modernizations.

Underlying each kernel of truth was the fundamental question of value — namely, what each solution brings to the business and how it productively, and proactively, impacts an enterprise’s go-forward strategy.

Accelerating Customer Acquisition in a Fast-Paced Landscape 

Having the right innovations in place can help firms foster a greater sense of loyalty among core customer audiences while insulating them against competition. 

Business innovation typically follows customer expectations, and Connatix Chief Financial Officer Joseph Pergola told PYMNTS that today’s CFOs should act as “Customer-Focused Officers,” with the finance team prioritizing digital investments that deliver customer-focused returns and build profitable, long-term relationships.

The behavioral expectations of core customer audiences are increasingly centered around convenience and personalization. 

“Consumers expect more,” Thomas Marks, senior vice president of growth at sticky.io, told PYMNTS. “One of the things that really plays into that is using data and AI (artificial intelligence) to analyze consumer behavior and make smart recommendations…consumer-friendly capabilities are going to be the name of the game for successful [organizations] going forward.”

As PYMNTS has reported, digital is no longer just a strategy but an entirely new way of doing business, one that is increasingly built on top of the three F’s of flexibility, features and functionality.

By leveraging those attributes, organizations can level up their operations and level up to the stage of what’s next in payments.

Driving a Customized Approach Atop Core Competencies 

“The one big thing we are talking about with our clients, both lenders and merchants, is what exactly they should be doing — what are the products and solutions that will be the differentiator to help drive their business, grow sales, take care of customers, and bring people back again for other additional purchases at a later date,” Ed O’Donnell, CEO at Versatile Credit, told PYMNTS. “Just having the old-fashioned retail private label credit card out there is not enough to win business and, more importantly, keep the business after you’ve won it.”

“Payments is experiencing kind of a second renaissance, if you will, with the rise of alternative payment options such as buy now, pay later, wallets, and bank payments…Businesses are spending a huge amount of time and money on UX [user experience] improvement, figuring out how they can improve the customer experience,” Andrew Gleiser, CRO at FinTech platform Aeropay, told PYMNTS.

Relevancy is a critical consideration as brands jockey for a share of consumer attention, particularly in today’s ecosystem where consumers have more options than ever when it comes to where, and how, they spend their money.

“Customized, contextual card-linked offers can improve the returns on investment and profitability in all manner of traditional metrics, from cost per customer acquisition to perception of a brand’s relevancy,” Eric Dean, head of platform partnerships at Banyan, told PYMNTS. 

Investing in Infrastructure Modernization to Support Innovation 

PYMNTS has been tracking how today’s CFOs find themselves increasingly in the driver’s seat when it comes to determining a go-forward strategy for digitizing outdated workflows, and the approach an organization takes to overcoming its own inertia is just as important as recognizing the existence of that inertia in the first place.

“If you’re going to compete not only today, but in the future — and continuous innovation is an important part of that — then underlying technology that is modern, flexible and open is something you need,” Ron Bergamesca, general manager of banking and FinTech solutions at Paymentus, told PYMNTS.

“By definition, you can’t provide a great user experience …with outdated technology,” Bergamesca added, noting the inflexibility and expense of updating legacy platforms. “It’s time-consuming, and integrations are hyper-inefficient.”

Justin Benson, CEO at payments orchestration platform Spreedly, agreed, telling PYMNTS that with outdated workflows, “there’s a lot of busy work that goes into ensuring the plumbing works.” 

“In most cases, if [organizations] haven’t moved toward automation, [their payment programs are] getting done in a really inefficient, insecure, fraud-ridden kind of way,” Bill Fox, chief commercial officer at smart B2B payments network Finexio, told PYMNTS.

After all, solutions and innovations that have a transformative effect on the finance department are likely to positively impact the business at large.

“There are very few [organizations] that don’t have a program already in effect or are planning to increase investment in their payments environment in 2024,” said Dave Scola, CEO-U.S. at Form3.

The successful payment offerings of tomorrow will have three key attributes. They will be comprehensive, easy to use and fast. It will require investment today for firms to keep up with the demands of tomorrow’s rapidly evolving payments landscape.

“It’s very difficult for any single [firm] to make the investment required to achieve [the needed] levels of speed and processing power on their own premises…which is why the cloud makes a lot of sense,” Scola explained.

Milan Parikh, chief financial officer at Syndio, told PYMNTS that the human side of infrastructure can’t be overlooked by firms hoping to drive competitive differentiation and ongoing success.

“If you’re retaining well, if you’re hiring well, if your employees are happy and content, then that typically translates into a more optimized business environment,” Parikh said.