I had the privilege to speak at Commercial Payments International Mid Market America’s conference on September 18, 2013. The theme of my presentation was Expand Your Product Range: Practical Implications and Leading Practices for Developing New Mid Market Products. We explored the idea that mid-market customers demanding sophistication formerly reserved for very large customers, and the increasing sophistication of “Lego Blocks” of innovation, which have matured from capitalizing on core processing capability to “Lego Blocks 2.0” which redefines product innovation to focus on the front-end cardholder experience, where they are consuming payments “on the go” in the context of their mobile apps, or the accounts receivable processes. I cited Concur ConTgo and American Express, which bundle their commercial card offerings with mobile apps to help the business traveler using location based services. The open question for bank issuers is, what is “Lego Blocks 3.0” going to hinge on, given middle market customer need for simplified, secure control of money?
The highlight of the conference was Doug Farren from the National Center for Middle Market, giving insights into US trends. These companies comprise a third of US GDP and a third of our jobs! Eighty percent are privately held, and as a result often take a longer-term view vs publicly held companies. For example, the middle market added jobs during the financial crisis while the Fortune 1000 was firing people. Middle market “champions” who invest in innovation, globalization, social media, talent management and operational excellence, are growing two and a half times faster than their peers.