Western Union CIO: Getting Wired for the Future

Consumers know 160-year-old Western Union as the place to go when they need to send cash. But during the past decade, the company has expanded into a dizzying array of new products and services. I talked with CIO John Dick about how he and his team are helping to draw the roadmap for the 21st century.

Change Isn’t a Choice

Lots of people still use cash, but mobile devices are becoming more prevalent as a way to carry currency. For Western Union to remain relevant, the company has had to consider alternatives to distributing physical currency. “The information about our consumers, the information about the transaction itself, the device, all this is grounded in technology,” Dick said. “My role as a CIO has been in anticipating where our company is headed, ensuring that we put the skills and capabilities in place to support those needs.” One way IT is stepping up is by linking customer information across channels and products before business leaders ask them to.

Get Ideas from Everywhere

By tuning in to what’s happening in different markets, the company can apply what it learns in one place across the globe. A payment system that’s developed in Kenya might be repurposed in Brazil. “It’s all about developing at a different pace and anticipating what the business opportunities will be in which markets,” Dick said. “How you leverage that understanding of what’s going on in the world, I think is extremely valuable.”

Adapt Your Perspective

New business opportunities required IT to shift its focus from processing transactions to improving the customer experience. Dick responded in part by hiring staff “that understand information management — how you architect information, how you scale it, how you integrate it to provide a better customer experience.” But he wants to cultivate a “customer-inspired culture” throughout  IT, in order to foster better relationships with internal stakeholders and outside partners. “One of the ways we do that is placing our technologists much closer to the customer or the agent in the market,” Dick said.

Read the complete interview here.