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How agile platforms drive innovation

Competitive. Innovative. Fast-to-market. No business today can be these things without a winning payments platform behind it. Here we discuss why agility above all else is critical—and what factors you need to consider to ensure you have a platform that underpins success.

In our previous article in this series, we discussed the five pillars of a winning payments platform. One of the key reasons that platform technology can be so effective is its agility. A central element of this is the speed with which the system can be improved. You can’t take months to update your tech. But when you’re working with siloed product developments, this long lead time is the reality you face. With an agile platform, you can make dozens of upgrades and enhancements a month. This platform agility is the foundation on which companies can innovate. A constantly evolving platform is the bedrock of competitive products and services, as well as being an enabler of great customer experiences—the goal of every business. But the environment has to be right to make this happen.

The right architecture

The best outcomes are achieved by designing your platform so that it’s agile from day one. And the core platform is the place to start. A composable architecture allows changes to be made quickly, which drives the continuous improvement that’s so vital in a platform. We’ve discussed the pivotal role of APIs in our previous post. In the payments architecture, they lend flexibility to systems management, enable you to decouple components of an application, and provide scalability and speed. In short, they support the speedy, streamlined development that’s necessary to get to market fast.

Abstraction in your payments platform is also critical. Especially in relation to more traditional businesses such as banks, it removes complexity around specific use cases and ensures that complex requirements are managed outside the platform. In this scenario, the difficulty of a given task doesn’t impede progress or affect overall delivery.

From a business perspective, an abstracted continuously evolving processing platform delivers numerous benefits. It accelerates responses to market changes, can scale with demand, is always up-to-date with security and compliance, and ensures uptime and consistency of services. In the end, the consumer wins from gaining a better digital experience, and the business succeeds in building a reputation for innovation that creates loyalty in its customer base.

The right tooling 

Reducing time to innovation relies on having the right capabilities and partnerships. In the modern marketplace, you can’t expect to be competitive by getting from concept to execution in weeks and months (never mind years). You need to bring new ideas and features to fruition quickly.

A fast-tracked product development cycle must be supported by an agile platform backed by software, tools, and partnerships that add value. Integration is key. It gives you the ability to connect and collaborate seamlessly with third parties and other providers within an open ecosystem. This brings competitive advantage because you can choose partners that complement and extend your offering, and unlock new markets and opportunities.

Another aspect of your tooling strategy to consider is opening up platform capabilities more widely across your organization. Abstracted self-service workflows allow product and technology teams alike to easily access pre-approved templates, increasing both efficiency and innovation.

To accelerate your build-test-deploy cycle, make updates and improvements fluidly, and provide your teams with access to capabilities that drive service delivery, you need to assess your partnerships, workflows, and tools. They’re a key factor in determining the agility of your platform.

The right culture 

Brilliant teams build great platforms. So assembling, motivating, and developing your talent is crucial.

A common mistake is not sharing the larger vision for your platform by thinking this type of insight is only required at management level. Everyone needs to be onboard. This means sharing responsibility, understanding the goal, and developing a culture of trust.

One of the key challenges faced by mature organizations is codifying behavior to preserve culture and initiate cultural change. It’s the element that more than any other defines businesses’ success, but it’s also the hardest to get right. A coordinated effort is required:

1. Clear definition of goals and the attributes that personify the culture

2. Active design and implementation of hacks in collaboration with the wider organization, enriching teams with a combination of external coaches and high-impact hires

3. Continuous measurement and revision of objectives as the organization’s needs evolve

Whether developer or tester, project manager, UX designer, or business analyst—or CTO—each person has a role to play in driving the platform forward. And as people hone their skills and grow their knowledge base, they’re able to refine, scale, and enhance the platform. Creating an environment in which the entire team understands the importance of their work and shares a commitment to make things happen is at the heart of every competitive, futureproofed payments platform.

Platform agility speeds time to innovation

It’s the aim of all organizations to innovate at speed. While there are many elements that play a part in determining success or failure in this, the platform is certainly one of the key ones. Agile payments platforms are an intrinsic part of today’s competitive businesses. They’re the difference between stagnant development cycles and sluggish updates on the one hand, and continuous improvement, fast fixes, and constant new features and functionality on the other. And as such they enable the development of products that deliver greater customer satisfaction and loyalty. But making that happen, as we’ve seen, means getting the mix right.