On its surface it might seem unlikely that any lessons on managing the changing business payments landscape could be learned from the fantastic world of Westeros, but the two have much more in common than you’d think.

For one thing, security is a tremendous focus in both arenas.Whether the protection is given in the form of knights and dragons or predictive analytics and behavior monitoring, security is always of utmost concern. Change is another area of similarity between the universes, a perpetual wave of shifting priorities and demands that requires constant vigilance. “Winter” is indeed coming…

You don’t have to know the difference between the Dothraki and the Dornish to understand that change is never easy. It can feel like a battle under the best of circumstances, with opposing forces (each armed with their own agendas and priorities, but hopefully no dragons) all vying for dominance.

The business payments industry has seen seismic changes in the past several years with the increase in globalization, the push for automation and the emergence of open banking, just to name a few. The challenge of understanding these changes and finding ways to keep up are a constant battle, one that’s often lost in the need to simply manage the daily activities of running a business. Thankfully, the Game of Thrones is filled with tons of advice to help you survive the coming “winter” — and you don’t even need to know how Hodor got his name to put these tips to good use.

Managing the Changing Business Payments Landscape – Lessons from Game of Thrones:

  1. No one can do it on their own
    If there’s one thing that’s known throughout the seven kingdoms, it’s that you never wage war alone (unless you’re Arya Stark, maybe, but that’s a whole separate story.) The success of any battle is all about the support you rally around you. The same holds true in payments — your success in battling the status quo (like ridding King’s Landing of those rotten Lannisters once and for all) will be directly related to the strength of the people you involve from the beginning — your forces in the form of internal stakeholders. You also need to forge alliances with the right external partners if you’re going to have a fair shot at the throne. Ultimate victory means calling your banner men and partnering with trusted allies who understand your challenges and can help carry the load and provide guidance through the difficulties.
  2. Using the right tools makes all the difference
    In the land of the Iron Throne the tools to win a battle usually came in the form of giants, dire wolves or Wildlings. You probably won’t need to resort to such extremes, but the tools you implement will have a major deciding factor in your success. Whether you’re looking to accelerate towards more digital payments, harness data for actionable insights, or tackle the complexities of globalization, make sure to arm yourself with the right tools and technology to get the job done. They might not be as exciting as sword made of Valerian steel, but they will protect your organization against the onslaught of future change.
  3. Always plan for the future
    The strongholds of Westeros didn’t survive for hundreds of years because they were hastily thrown together. No, fortresses like Winterfell and Casterly Rock survived generations because they were designed to stand the test of time. That’s how you need to design your payment infrastructure, with thought for how they’ll manage future challenges and advancements. Just as the architects of House Arryn thought about how useful a Moon Door would be when they built the Eyrie, you also need to consider a few key questions about the structure of your payment systems. Will they be secure enough to defend against the next generation of fraud threats? Fast enough to handle the future speed of business? Flexible enough to accommodate potential new payment schemes? The time to consider these questions is now, before it’s too late.
  4. Keep an eye on the end goal
    For the Lannisters and Targaryens, the goal has always been the Iron Throne. Every thought, decision and effort was focused on being the sole family to control that center of power at the end of the war. Your goals are different, concentrated on making sure your organization is operating as effectively and efficiently as possible, but the principle is still the same. Understand from the beginning what you’re trying to achieve and stay focused. It may seem to be a bitter battle at times, but with persistence you can win your own Iron Throne in the form of payments that are simple, smart and secure.

Oh, and one last piece of advice? Never go into battle unprepared.

Seriously, don’t even try it. The Baratheons were famous for charging into battle armed with little else but their convictions and they were all summarily destroyed. Don’t let that happen to you — start arming yourself now with the information you need to be successful. This ebook is a good start “The Future of Business Payments.” Featuring the insights of industry leaders from Visa, TD Bank, Forbes and Cornerstone Advisors, it takes a look at what the future holds and dives into the opportunities and obstacles facing the digital transformation of B2B payments.

Posted by Emily Rodenhuis

Emily Rodenhuis is the Managing Editor of SmartPayments and a creative writer specializing in demand generation and social media. Her work has been featured by BankNews, InfoSecurity, AFP magazine and more.