IN THE BUSINESS WORLD, TECHNOLOGY MATTERS - EVEN IF SOME HIGHLY INFLUENTIAL THOUGHT LEADERS MIGHT SAY, OR WRITE, OTHERWISE.
Since its inception in 2002, San Francisco-based Pay By Touch has demonstrated a commitment to integrating new technologies to help its customers. The company provides "biometric authentication, loyalty, membership, and payment solutions."
When enrolled consumers check out at a Pay By Touch customer's grocery store, they simply slide their finger into a small device that scans their unique print, enter their access code and then select their payment mode (electronic check or a full range of credit and debit cards) from the "electronic wallet" on the screen in front of them.
Many of the grocery stores link the customer's purchasing history to their loyalty programs through another Pay By Touch offering called personalized marketing.
"We think that this will be a $100 billion market-cap company," says Bill Townsend, Pay By Touch executive vice president and a graduate of the Hankamer School of Business.
"It will be just like a Visa or MasterCard, and people will just expect that when you walk into a store, you put your finger down to access your account."
It's a bold claim, but, so far, a legitimate sounding one: customers have embraced the technology, and the company's venture funding is off the charts.
Pay By Touch is approaching the market with a global view. They have already launched in both the U.K. and partnered with Citibank in the Pacific Rim, first in Singapore, with more Pacific Rim territories planned in the near future.
But Townsend also understands that technology is a double-edged sword for companies that sell technology. Townsend was part of the founding management team at Internet search engine Lycos, Inc., and has launched and managed several companies including YouthStream Media Networks (now Alloy), GeoCities (now Yahoo!), NewsAlert (now MarketWatch), Deja News (now Google and eBay), and voice-over Internet Protocol (VOIP) pioneer Really Easy Internet (now Hey, Inc.).
"A mentor once told me that you do not solve problems with computers," Moore recalls. "You use people to solve the problems and computers to help you do it. A common mistake businesses make is that we think by putting in a system it's going to solve our problem."
What truly solves problems, he adds, involves a more comprehensive change-management effort: putting best practices in place, implementing technology to support those processes, training employees to properly execute the new processes and technology and then establishing internal controls and quality controls to ensure that the people, processes and technology are performing as designed.
Adapting the company's processes, people and technology is vital, particularly in today's fast-paced marketplace and global business climate.
"You may have a wonderful idea for a business that is highly dependent on what is happening in the marketplace today," Townsend explains. "But if you don't build a culture that can adapt to the changing marketplace, you'll just be another 'dot.bomb.'"
To avoid that fate, Pay By Touch has invested in proven technology, a strong intellectual property (IP) portfolio and talented employees.
"And we have adapted the business model and the product offering almost on a quarterly basis while still maintaining our vision of making Pay By Touch the most trusted, secure way to pay for goods and also to be a trusted intermediary of a consumer's personal information," he says.
Technology matters, but it matters most when it is embraced by people to support and strengthen business processes.