Client: VISA International
In 1997 VISA, the credit card transaction processing company,
was aggressively exploring new technologies and new avenues within
its markets including smart cards, online banking, and electronic
bill presentment. VISA convened a program under the direction
of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) known as VISA 21 to consider
the strategy for VISA into the 21st-century, the role of new technologies,
and the skills and opinions of the employees across the organization.
As an advisor to VISA's electronic banking unit, VISA Interactive,
Lighthouse Consulting was asked to represent VISA Interactive's
perspective and position as VISA developed its strategy for the
Representing VISA Interactive on the VISA 21 project offered
unique challenges, which included the following:
- Managing the tension between old and new ways and opportunities
- Representing the minority position in the conversation
- Helping to evolve and shape VISA Interactive's strategy while
arguing for its place - and perhaps leadership - in VISA's overall
- The dual challenge of convincing the "parent" company
to back the future-oriented strategy of VISA Interactive, and
assuring the "child" that it was welcome and wanted
in the parent's business.
- Finding a balance between being a representative of VISA Interactive,
while seeking the best strategy for the VISA organization overall,
while developing a partnership with the consulting group leading
the project, yet maintaining Lighthouse's responsibility to
provide what it felt was the best advice possible to its client.
Lighthouse demonstrated the skill and professionalism that it
has consistently delivered to its clients in rising to the challenges.
Key actions included:
- , independent
of but in order to contribute more effectively to VISA's strategic
- and engaged in the
strategic progress of the parent company across the country.
valued by earning a respected role on the team for VISA Interactive
and the right and respect to be heard.
- developed by BCG for the parent
company as part of VISA 21 to fit the unique circumstances of
VISA Interactive and thereby better represent VISA Interactive's
- Beyond offering strategic and business insight, Lighthouse
also remained keenly aware of the politics that overshadowed
the entire VISA 21 process, and effectively managed these factors
so they did not overshadow the key business considerations for
As a result of Lighthouse's efforts in VISA 21, clear benefits
- A more refined and appropriate strategy for VISA Interactive.
- Clarity for the client on its parent company's strategy, thought
process, and function that allowed VISA Interactive to more
effectively manage its relationship with VISA.
- A clear role and voice for VISA Interactive within VISA, even
as differences of opinion remained.
- Better positioning of VISA Interactive with customers and
ultimately with a future acquirer as a direct result of its
more focused business path.
- A strong base of trust in Lighthouse as a facilitator and
intermediary on the part of both VISA Interactive and VISA.
Lighthouse filled this intermediary role for VISA Interactive
and its acquirer Integrion many times following the completion
of the VISA 21 project.