Carleigh Jaques, general manager for Cybersource and Authorize.Net, has three wishes for everyone as we emerge from the pandemic and start a new year. She shares them here, in”A Look Forward: What Executives Wish for America and the World in 2021.”
2020 was, without a doubt, the most challenging year ever; not only personally, but as a leader. As leaders, we are tuned to making data-based decisions and we always have unknowns, but we like the ratio between known/unknown to be the proverbial 80/20 or better. This year flipped all that on its head: 80 percent unknown/20 percent “sort of known.”
And the unknowns spanned the future of commerce, business model viability, social and economic access, equity issues and community health, among others. It was frustrating, maddening, emotionally draining and exhausting. But it also brought out incredible mobilization, creativity and generosity — which was the inspiring antidote we all have needed. Within payments, we saw tremendous agility, activation and creativity. We saw how vitally important going digital is to payments, commerce and life as a whole.
While we were already well on the path toward contactless payments and truly integrated digital commerce channels — where the lines between physical and digital would overlap, if not blur — the need for physical distancing, fewer physical touchpoints and online options greatly accelerated that path. Visa, Cybersource and a plethora of other technology providers are now speedily innovating to make sure that anyone, anywhere, can pay for anything digitally. And rather than providers or merchants having to “steer” consumers in this direction, consumers lead the way with profound demand and overnight behavioral shifts.
As we begin 2021, I have three wishes for everyone. One, that we continue to use technology to our advantage. Technology is powering our increasingly digital world to make life easier and more accessible to all.
Two, that we collaborate more within the payments industry and with others in the greater commerce ecosphere. If there’s one thing we have seen this year, it’s that collaboration is key to our survival. We saw monumental examples in the scientific community where researchers worked together to bring vaccine options to fruition in record time, and within the medical community where staff from some hospitals volunteered to help staff at other hospitals who had been hit harder. We also saw communities coming together to effect real change in response to the racial inequities that continue to be a problem and rally around our local small businesses who needed support now more than ever. It’s no secret that when people come together, great things happen. Really, flexible technology (going back to my first wish) helped enable much of that collaboration whether in science, medicine, community engagement or commerce.
And three, I hope we collectively never take for granted how many players there are in the global economy and how vital each one of them is — particularly our small businesses. They aren’t just commerce engines, they are the lifeblood of our communities. I think it means a lot to each of us to walk down the street with our friends and families and have real social engagement with our communities. Saying “hello” to the dry cleaner or “cheers” to the owner of the pizzeria, matters. And small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) provide a huge number of critical jobs. From the supply chains, to the delivery drivers, to the essential employees stocking shelves, fulfilling orders and ringing you up, everyone is equally necessary. We saw how the global shutdowns impacted inventories and scarcity. We saw how delivery drivers of all kinds — commercial and gig economy — kept the wheels turning even when they threatened to grind to a halt.
After this year, I hope we realize how essential everyone already was and that people are the key ingredient to our success. As the economy continues to bounce back and we look to the future of how business is done, I truly feel that it will take this healthy combination of people, inclusive collaboration, and technology to get back to where we were and beyond.