When success depends on digital transformation
European regulators were forcing a UK-based financial services firm to carve out its payments processing business. Two private equity firms purchased a majority share of the business and set out to transform it into a stand-alone entity. The PE owners had invested in executives and advisors to help them build out key functions for the company, including the HR and IT departments, and a basic back office. But they couldn’t find the right team to lead the business side of the platform transformation.
The carve-out was complete in legal terms. But there was much work to do on the operational front before the payments processor could successfully run as a separate business. Most important, the new owners wanted to build a sophisticated digital payments-processing platform unlike anything else in the payment industry. This wouldn’t be easy because the company’s IT organization was not mature, which led to major challenges in moving forward the critical work that needed to be done on the platform. Recognizing the huge scale and complexity of the transformation program—not to mention the high stakes involved—the PE owners decided to bring in AlixPartners.
A first-of-its-kind digital platform paves the way forward
The owners asked AlixPartners to assign someone on our team to serve as Chief Transformation Officer (CoT). The CoT and his team were responsible for ensuring the business fully participated in defining the new platform’s capabilities and in transforming itself. Working closely with the business’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), we took steps to define the business priorities, change frameworks and governance. But amid all this activity, the CTO left the company. The PE owners asked our CoT to fill the vacated role temporarily while still leading the overall transformation program in a new role of Interim Chief Information Officer (CIO).
We then spent more than a year rebuilding the company’s IT organization, stability, and security until a permanent CIO was brought on board. We then turned to completing the new digital platform. We designed a platform where all of the business’s operational data could be aggregated and made available to the new enterprise data platform. The platform is unique in that it operates in real time to reflect today’s “always-on” world of commerce.
When it really matters
The platform went live in 2016, marking a key milestone in the evolution of the company and the industry. The company is now preparing to migrate existing customers onto it. Although the migration work continues, the business has already begun to see many of the benefits they envisioned at the outset. Application-development times on the new platform are 10 to 100 times faster than on the old platform, and that’s just one example of tangible improvement. More broadly, this business initially resembled the older generation of fintech firms, which were typically spun out of banks. But it is now transforming into something that looks more like a next-generation fintech firm that was born digital—with no legacy IT systems holding it back.