Over the past 2 years COVID has radically transformed nearly every aspect of our lives. However, even before we entered a global pandemic, we were seeing rapid change in housing, the workplace, and finance driven by a more pervasive, though less potent, catalyst, technology. In The Future of How We Live, Work, and Pay panel, I discussed this impact with three entrepreneurs whose companies are at the forefront of this transformation, Nora Apsel, Founder and CEO of Morty, Maria Colacurcio, CEO of Synd.io, and Ema Rouf, Co-Founder of Pave. Our conversation touched on the lessons of the past two years, with an eye to applying them successfully over the next two years.
The constraints of the past two years have driven digitalization forward in a powerful way. Consumers have become increasingly comfortable with working, shopping and investing online. The digital footprint created by this behavior, coupled with the willingness of more than 10 million Americans to share their data with providers they trust, is creating a paradigm shift in how goods and services are delivered.
Companies are acquiring more data than ever before, and the most successful ones are utilizing this data to offer a high level of personalization to consumers. According to Apsel, “Morty is using this data to discover the best mortgage rate and package for each of its customers, simplifying the home buying process”. Similarly, Pave is helping fintech companies make use of vast amounts of financial data to build personalized financial experiences. This data is also bringing to light critical societal challenges, including inequities in the workforce that Synd.io is addressing through its workplace equity platform.
Today, we are at a similar inflection point as in 2020, one characterized by uncertainty in the financial markets, geopolitical unrest, and societal adjustment to a post-COVID world. This pivotal moment presents challenges but also opportunities, as highlighted by all three panelists. According to the panelists, key themes for companies across sectors over the next few years will be personalization, transparency, and creating long-term value for both customers and employees.
Rouf views personalization as an ongoing theme for the next several years. “People want instantaneous processes. Things have to be digital, accessible through the phone and personalized. Consumer segments are becoming more and more niche but the next generation of Fintech companies will effectively utilize data to provide service in a way that traditional FSI’s have failed to do.”
Colacurcio emphasizes the growing importance of transparency across sectors, asserting that, “rather than employing a ‘last in, first out’ approach, successful companies will conduct data-driven analysis of employee value and performance.” Apsel and Rouf agree that increased transparency will have an outsized impact in the future of the housing and financial services industries respectively. Rouf goes so far as to predict that “the future of credit models will be open source, with communities of data scientists and developers creating transparency and democratizing [credit] evaluation.”
A final prediction made by all three panelists is growth in the importance of creating value for employees. Colacurcio embraces her own rhetoric at Synd.io, utilizing a structured and data-driven pay process. “Pay is just a proxy for opportunity,” according to Colacurcio and with new legislation requiring companies with more than 100 employees to post salary ranges on job requirements, she views pay equity as the first step toward greater workplace equity.
Pave is a remote-native company and Apsel offers Morty’s employees flexibility with a hybrid work environment. Both agree that, while distributed workforces are challenging, it is increasingly possible to manage given technological advances and the benefits to employees are worth the adjustment.
As the world emerges from isolation, a new technology-driven normal is emerging in multiple facets of life. To be successful over the next few years, companies will need to embrace the opportunities and face the challenges catalyzed by technology in how we live, work, and pay.