Fidelity National Information Services Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida, celebrated its 50-year anniversary this month. But Chairman, President and CEO Gary Norcross has an eye to the future and the daunting task of continuing the company’s success for another 50 years.
Global financial technology giant FIS was founded in Little Rock as Systematics in 1968 by Jack Stephens and Walter Smiley. Later, it became Alltel Information Services, then FIS, when it was sold to Fidelity National Financial in 2003.
“As a technology company, our success and the reason why we’ve been so successful over the last 50 years is we’ve been willing to drive the innovation and disruption necessary to keep ahead of industry trends,” Norcross told Arkansas Business last week. “Where we are today, we’re honestly at probably the single biggest transformation and modernization of financial services we’ve all seen in our lifetime.”
Norcross said FIS has always been ahead of trends in the industry because it invests in startups; has invested in the Fintech Accelerator for startups that is run by the Venture Center in Little Rock; conducts a lot of research and development; and listens to its clients’ needs.
He added that not everything FIS produces is successful, but that the company likes to try things. And it prefers that things that are going to fail do so quickly.
The company also seeks key acquisitions. Its most recent: the $9 billion purchase of Sungard, completed in 2015. Norcross said the deal added capital markets — equity trading platforms, asset managers, private equity firms — to FIS’ business.
Norcross explained that the fourth generation of financial services deployment is occurring now. And this generation isn’t following logical, predictable patterns, like others have, he said.
So FIS is moving into a digital-first and cloud-native world, and looking more at services than products, Norcross said.
One step it’s taking is building a private cloud. More than 80 percent of the work the company does will be done in that cloud by 2020, he said.
The other big push FIS is making is into omni-channel deployment, Norcross said. “Omni-channel” refers to when a consumer can move from an unassisted experience (like using their phone) to an assisted experience (at a bank branch) and his or her experience doesn’t change. Half of what the consumer does is accomplished on a smartphone while the other half is accomplished at a branch, and he or she doesn’t have to restart whatever they are doing, he said. The company’s omnichannel product is called Digital One, and it launched this month.
While automation is reducing jobs in some industries, Norcross said FIS will need people to drive automation. It already employs 52,000 globally — including 1,300 in Little Rock — and is continuing to grow the workforce. More than half of the company’s employees are millennials, he added.
“There is a war on talent. There’s no doubt about it,” Norcross said. “I talk about it all the time. I think being the largest [financial technology] provider in the world today certainly gives us a marked advantage on recruitment. Given our global deployment, given our distributive workforce, all of these are positives, not only for us recruiting but retaining talent.”