Digital Transformation Post-Covid

The pandemic shifted priorities—and timing—for IT departments, says FleetCor Technologies CIO Scott duFour.
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Scott duFour has had a core goal since becoming CIO of FleetCor Technologies in 2019: digital transformation. But where to focus and the speed of change shifted dramatically during the pandemic for the company, which provides business payment solutions, including e-payables and payment cards for automated accounts payable and in-the-field employee expenses.

We talked with duFour about FleetCor’s priorities since Covid hit, how he’s dealing with growing cybersecurity threats and where he’s putting his focus today.

You were working on digital transformation before Covid hit. How did the pandemic impact your plans?

Digital transformation has been and continues to be a top priority for me and the entire leadership team at FleetCor. When I joined the team in 2019, I was tapped by our CEO to compile my observations on the company’s existing digital strategy and present recommendations alongside an improvement plan within my first 90 days.

Central to this digital strategy was evaluating and enhancing the customer experience across all lines of business, including corporate payments, fuel, tolls and lodging. Optimizing our web and mobile apps was the initial focus. Communicating the business value of these enhancements and other elements of the digital strategy to our CEO and board was not overly complicated—they were already open to implementing the necessary changes for improved digital capabilities, customer experience and revenue growth.

With leadership on board, I began building my team and we began pushing the digital agenda forward. Then, like a lightning bolt, Covid-19 struck and accelerated everything. Digital transformation was no longer a nice-to-have, it became essential to business continuity for us and our customers.

What did that look like?

In the early stages of the pandemic, our IT leadership helped the business—which includes more than 8,000 employees globally—adopt a remote work model. Our performance and the productivity of our business partners dispelled any misgivings about the model and opened the door for new ways to sell to current and prospective customers, and recruit and retain employees.

We also looked at how to better digitize traditional processes for our customers. For example, whether with lodging, fuel or T&E cards, our team continues thinking of ways to eliminate manual steps and friction when issuing a physical card and how to better leverage digital wallets. Inherently, our other workforce payment products from Comdata and Fintwist and services like AP automation from Cambridge and Nvoicepay were set up to meet the demands of this new normal.

As a financial services company that must protect customers’ personally identifiable information—not to mention their financial assets—how do you handle cybersecurity and other risk management issues?

We look at cybersecurity from two different lenses: protecting our products and customers, as well as protecting our workforce from fraud.

Fraud protection is one of our core offerings. In the most basic terms, we make it easy for our customers to control where money is going. From establishing spending limits and managing authorizations, to setting approved vendors, we help our customers eliminate fraud risk.

Recently, we have started to partner with telematics companies, which enables us to use phone and GPS technology to identify possible fraudulent behavior for customers. For example, we can see if someone is using their fuel card to fill up their work truck or fill up a friend. If the latter, an alert goes to the office manager to stop the transaction in real time.

And internally?

Looking at what we’re doing to protect the FleetCor workforce, we’re taking many different measures, the strongest of which is employee education. The more organizations can communicate with employees and provide guidance to identify and safely flag issues, the better equipped they will be against fraud like business email compromise attacks and other social engineering tactics. Ahead of Covid-19, our security team prepared our employees against creative phishing attacks and other ploys for sensitive data.

We also focused on employee privacy, leveraging our technologies to create virtual call centers and implement soft phones so no personal phone numbers were visible externally to customers while working remote.

Compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is another key priority. Although it’s normally not an issue when your call center teams are working in the same secure physical location, transitioning to remote work can present challenges. We had to address things from a technology and process perspective to remain compliant.

Lastly, the pandemic really propelled us to look closer at our third-party vendors and evaluate in greater detail the security practices they have in place. While vendor contracts outline security measures, we’re holding them accountable to those required guidelines.

We met with vendors to understand how they enabled their business continuity plans to ensure we were not only comfortable with general security aspects, but also PCI aspects. In some cases, we transitioned certain functions back in-house because we weren’t completely comfortable and did not want to incur unnecessary risk down the road.

How has your IT team supported FleetCor’s business objectives during the pandemic?

Innovation is core to growing our corporate payments, fuel, tolls and lodging businesses. A great example of IT-led innovation in action is our Sem Parar team’s work in Brazil to launch a new contactless toll payment solution that works on a phone versus RFID tag. Despite a global pandemic, sales for this line of business hit a record high in 2020. Implementing a touchless solution met the safety needs of people traveling through tolls.

We’re now working with this line of business to determine additional ways we can digitize processes in potential growth areas for the region like parking garages and fast-food dining.

Aside from product innovation, we are helping our lines of business transition how they sell. When you look at our CLC Lodging business, historically our sales team would conduct in-person meetings and sell face-to-face. We would hire field salespeople in strategic locations to facilitate this.

Now this team has pivoted to selling through digital mediums. My team has worked with them to navigate this change and they are selling seamlessly through Zoom. This opens the door to recruiting and broadens their talent acquisition pool beyond certain locations.

Another way IT furthers business objectives is through supporting transition plans for acquired companies, of which FleetCor has made five since I joined in 2019.

Our most recent acquisition of Roger, now Corpay One, extends our accounts payable solutions more broadly to small businesses. In IT, we are looking at ways to integrate new functionality with our existing products and are analyzing the behaviors and usage of our existing customer base to determine how we might cross-sell.

Our team is helping reinforce that FleetCor isn’t just a fuel card company—we streamline complex supplier and employee expense payments for customers. Yes, fuel cards are one of our solutions, but we also provide a bill pay solution for SMBs, offer T&E cards, companion cards and offer additional credit for small business owners.

How is your work changing as the pandemic subsides?

Now that we have made great strides in digital transformation for our customers and the customer experience, IT can concentrate more closely on FleetCor’s behind-the-scenes transformation and continue to innovate our core transactional systems.

We are taking a more incremental approach to this type of transformation, using API microservices to migrate critical functions of our core systems, like pricing, billing and authorization to become more cloud-enabled. This approach shelters our customers from change management, limits our risk and accelerates our pathway to financial and operational benefits.

We’re modernizing to stay a step ahead and stay agile, which advances FleetCor’s vision for making every payment digital, every purchase controlled and every decision informed.

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