Eldon Richards, CTO at IDS, served as moderator for the event and was joined by panelists Tina Cartwright, SVP of IT & Operations at US Bank Equipment Finance; John Hurt, director at The Alta Group; Steve Siler, CTO at Stonebriar Commercial Finance; and Chris Thorpe, CTO at DLL.
Here are five valuable takeaways from the event:
As Chris Thorpe observed, shifting to the cloud enables technologists to start building capabilities with APIs or with other third-party companies. Adopting new processes around microservices allows nimbleness and speed to experiment. Standing up new ideas for three to four months creates an environment to measure success, learn something from a hypothesis perspective and move on if need be without committing years of time and planning to the implementation process, Thorpe explained.
“I think an organic combination of the cloud and some of these technologies is going to represent the biggest shift in our industry. And companies that can string together the best ecosystem of APIs and partnerships will take us to the next level,” Thorpe said.
Due to the diversity of the equipment finance industry, there is no one size fits all digital solution. Cloud-based experimentation enables companies to piece together technological ecosystems with the right API to meet their unique needs.
John Hurt agrees that companies will benefit from innovating incrementally with this “quick to fail” strategy. “There are a lot of providers with a broad range of ERP type solutions,” Hurt said. “And people have discovered value in the micro process and being able to bolt on best in breed pieces, because you can go out and evaluate 27 different digital signature solutions or workflow solutions and pick the one that matches your workflow best.”
Feed Your AI
Tina Cartwright believes that the industry will see a lot of movement in AI space in the coming months and years. Companies can begin utilizing basic data to better manage their organizations and eventually move it over to predicting and assisting customers as their needs and expectations continue to evolve, Cartwright explained.
Hurt notes a key challenge with AI is its need for immense quantities of data. “You’ve got to feed the machine. And so, you need to have enough historical information with outcomes to start to build those machine learning and AI results.”
Rethink the IT Role
The role of IT is evolving as more company leaders turn to technology professionals for digital strategies. Thorpe believes that senior leadership on the IT and business sides have a lot to gain from building strong relationships. “Everybody has a responsibility to be owners of the technology strategy now,” Thorpe said. “So getting the finance department to think in terms of creating value streams that are connected to digital outcomes, that’s changing the DNA of the company and changing the investment strategy.”
Steve Siler believes that making the finance IT environment more attractive to technologists in trendy tech and software startups would be a game changer for the industry. “You need to have the right technologists to leverage the technology and communicate with the businesspeople,” Siler said. “We should try and break down barriers. Bring in ideas from other industries that are maybe a bit further ahead of leasing, so they can spread that cultural gold dust across the rest of the organization,”
Adopting Technology Takes the Village
As Cartwright notes, any major change is a journey. Making technological implementation successful requires everyone to be engaged in the effort. This takes communication, socialization and forums allowing for those who are less comfortable with the change to work through it.
“Any time you have an opportunity, socialize or get in front of that change, give people time to digest it,” Cartwright said. “And be sure that you’ve got ambassadors or individuals that are becoming the experts or the catalyst for the grassroots buy-in of that change.”