Digital Payment Transformations Drive Business Growth for CFOs

Digital is no longer a strategy but a whole way of doing business. 

And many companies need to figure out what’s next.

This, as Yum! Brands, the owner of quick-service restaurant franchises KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut told investors on its most recent earnings call that it wants to have “100% of sales powered by digital,” meaning that at least one part of every transaction should have an electronic component. 

The company’s digital mix currently stands at more than 45%, up nearly 20% from pre-pandemic levels. 

Yum! Brands’ China operations are largely ahead of other countries on the adoption of digital sales. 

Yum! Brands Chief Financial Officer Chris Turner has repeatedly emphasized that one of the most critical responsibilities of his role is to help coordinate between Yum! Brands’ finance and technology teams to “help set the strategic vision” and ensure that the broader organization is getting an attractive ROI (return on investment) from its digital investments. 

That’s because investing in digital not only makes the finance team’s life easier, but also drives business growth. 

A digital-centric model is becoming increasingly inevitable, and many insiders are telling PYMNTS that right now is the best time to invest and modernize. 

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Research in the report “Digital Payments: Expanding the Payments Palette,” a PYMNTS and Corcentric collaboration, found that there has been a growing recognition of the benefits of digitization, with process modernizations increasingly giving CFOs a holistic view of cash flow, too.

Having the right innovations in place  or putting them there  can help firms future-proof against competitive challenges and foster a greater sense of loyalty among core customer audiences whose behavioral expectations are increasingly centered around convenience and personalization. 

“We always say that business innovation follows consumer expectations. If you put the client at the center of things and develop innovation around them, well, it becomes a beautiful marriage,” Eileen Dignen, global head of payments for Corporate Client Banking at J.P. Morgan, told PYMNTS, emphasizing that modernizing legacy processes is a “strategy that creates value and keeps the competition at bay.”

Echoing that sentiment, Fredrick “Fritz” Smith, chief revenue officer at Corcentric, told PYMNTS, “The world is changing very fast relative to the way in which digital payment strategies can be incorporated and their ROI realized.”

However, many businesses find themselves unable to keep up with these changes due to operational and technological bottlenecks. After all, new processes take a while to develop and gain internal traction, while firms are typically comfortable in the everyday habits of how they already do business. 

But identifying and integrating the right-choice innovations can also open new growth avenues. 

“As consumers, so much has changed around the purchase experience … But for businesses, that same experience is often stuck in the same manual processes as 20, 30 years ago. There’s going to be a tipping point where either you have a progressive modern customer experience, or you don’t, and I think those that choose to act sooner are going to be the ones that tend to win customers, delight customers and keep them. Those that don’t will steadily watch their businesses erode,” Scott Simpson, senior vice president at Capital One Trade Credit, told PYMNTS. 

Data and Details Determine Digital’s Downstream Utility

As today’s CFOs find themselves increasingly in the driver’s seat when it comes to determining a go-forward strategy for evolving outdated processes, the approach finance teams take to overcoming inertia is just as important as recognizing the existence of that inertia in the first place. 

“You don’t want to boil the ocean and try to solve for everything at once,” new Corcentric CEO Matt Clark told PYMNTS. “Firms need to look at [transforming their existing processes] as a kind of crawl-walk-run mentality to get to where they need to go.”

Because while complacency is the enemy of progress, so are inefficiently adopted process modifications and rushed modernizations. 

Against that backdrop, artificial intelligence (AI) has moved to the foreground as a CFOs best friend and valuable tool. 

Finance leaders are tapping into the relevancies that AI can drive as they relate to understanding their buyers’ behaviors and providing the insight needed to shift a business model to react to new developments.

And that’s beyond the low-hanging fruit of improving treasury operations by reducing manual processes.

PYMNTS has long been tracking how today’s B2B tech innovations, which are inherently meant to organize information and better structure previously unorganized relationships, are now allowing firms involved to capture easy-win efficiencies that have historically been lost among legacy inefficiencies and manually reliant procedural gaps.

Particularly within the B2B space, where firms are amassing vast amounts of data from various touchpoints, harnessing this data can unlock profound insights and create a holistic, personalized experience for commercial partners. 

After all, as Todd Manning, head of commercial strategy, M&A and alliances at American Express told PYMNTS in July, “small businesses, midsize businesses, large corporate customers are [now] expecting an experience more similar to what they get in the consumer part of their life, with intuitive use cases and a streamlined process. It’s important to meet customers where they’re doing business.” 

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