Mike Mathews is the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Deluxe, a role he has held since May 2013. As the 2019 Twin Cities CIO of the Year Global Orbie winner, Mike’s applied use of technology enriches the lives of Deluxe customers and employees. Here he shares his story of technological transformation.
When the world changed in March of 2020, I found myself again turning to technology to solve a problem I never thought our company would face.
In 1915, W.R. Hotchkiss, founder of Deluxe, invented the checkbook, a product that fundamentally changed commerce and the payment landscape. Over the next 105 years, Deluxe remained a leader in the check and business form printing space, evolving and innovating alongside our customers to grow into a $2 billion publicly-traded company.
Our innovation included expansion into web hosting and development, payroll services, business incorporation, payment processing, promotional products, cloud services, and so much more. When COVID-19 impacted the world, Deluxe experienced one of our most profitable quarters to date and signed four of the top ten deals in our company’s history. With more than 4.5 million small business customers and over 4,000 financial institution customers, we felt poised for even greater growth.
Mitigate Risk with Technology Investment
To keep up with our growth trajectory, we improved our inbound call centers and acquired payment processing companies around the US and Canada. With 6,500 employees in more than 80 locations, we were a very office-based and physical plant-located company. However, when we needed to keep our staff safe and send people to work from home, our investment in technology paid off.
Within three-and-a-half weeks, we moved more than 1,100 workers previously designed to be in an office setting to work from home. We improved our server capacity and invested in secure systems to ensure we kept our client data safe. We instituted virtual training and, thanks to an earlier investment in Microsoft Teams, we had the bandwidth and capacity to conduct business as usual across our company. Now, as the economy begins to slowly rebound, more than two-thirds of our workforce can work from home, creating social distance space for our team members still at essential sites.
I look back now on what we accomplished, and none of it could have been done if we hadn’t already been deep into the technological transformation of Deluxe, as enabled by our President and CEO Barry McCarthy and the backing of our board of directors.
When McCarthy arrived in November 2018, he realized we needed one view of our customers and streamlined financial reporting. Our sales teams weren’t talking to each other, some of our customers didn’t know our full product base, and we were unable to cross-sell to our full ability. In the words of Barry McCarthy, “We needed to think and act like a tech company.”
To realize this transformation, we decided to invest nearly $120 million over two years to deliver enterprise platforms, modernize our technology stacks, and build platforms to support sales-driven, organic growth.
"We coined this body of work “6 Flags,” and it is the central theme of Deluxe’s technology strategy."
The Purpose of our “6 Flags” Technology Strategy
At Deluxe, our IT organization exists to serve our Chief Revenue Officer and our four division presidents – Payments, Cloud Solutions, Promotional Solutions, and Checks. With our technology, we create pathways for frictionless revenue, create scale and leverage for the enterprise, and continuously drive out costs creating savings and efficiencies that fuel future investment. We enable and drive innovation, collaboration, and differentiation in the solutions we offer and the markets we serve. It’s as simple as that.
Microsoft: Our Collaboration Engine
Workday: Our People Engine
Cloudera: Our Data Engine
Salesforce: Our Execution Engine
SAP S4/Hana: Our Financial Engine
Anaplan: Our Planning Engine
Each of these six platforms is at a different stage of implementation and plays a critical role in our transformation. As I mentioned earlier, Microsoft Teams has been an invaluable tool during this time, allowing seamless communication across the company and with clients and prospects. Salesforce has been a critical partner, giving Deluxe a single view of enterprise customers by moving more than six million data records to one platform.
These technologies are fundamental to our operations and touch nearly every area of Deluxe, including financial planning and reporting, inventory and resource management, customer management, and human resources. We added technology that provides enterprise-wide communication and collaboration capabilities non-existent to Deluxe previously. Most importantly, these new technologies ultimately provide us with capabilities to better know and understand our customer’s needs, allowing us to create products and solutions that leverage our data and resources through our new innovation labs.
Time and time again, technology has proven to be the answer to many challenges for Deluxe. While we may not always be able to predict what’s coming next, I’m confident our investment in technology will carry us through our next phase of growth and innovation.
Headquartered in Shoreview, Minnesota, Deluxe transformed from “the check company” into a partner that can deepen customer relationships through trusted, technology-enabled solutions. From web marketing to payroll services and logo design to remote deposit capture, Deluxe powers commerce.