Originally NEFA Webinar sponsored by Solifi
Speaker: Eldon Richards,
Panelists: Ray Wizbowski, Scott Nelson, Dan Feeney
The world before the pandemic was already changing at a rapid pace, the pandemic only served to push that rate of change higher. Everything from the economy to the housing market is changing at an accelerating pace. Technology is the key to futureproofing your organization.
So, how should organizations prepare themselves for the future?
This was the question posed in the 'Futureproofing Finance though Technology' webinar hosted by Solifi and NEFA. The panel discussion led by Solifi's Ray Wizbowski included Solifi's Eldon Richards Scott Nelson, CDO Tamarack Technology, and Dan Feeney, Executive VP of North Star Leasing.
A core element of the discussion was Eldon Richard's recommendations for Five Ways to Futureproof your Organization:
- Go Digital — Find ways to take your workflow and make it happen digitally. While most organizations have already made this transition in big ways because of the pandemic, look for more ways that you can go digital to improve your processes.
- Stick with Standards — Customization is great, but it slows your processes. Instead, use a standard interface that allows for near real-time updates on data and the platform itself.
- Adopt Evergreen IT — This is all about having continually updated and current technology. As Richards put it “If we're not current then we have new impediments to dealing with changes”.
- Move to the Cloud — Moving things over to the cloud not only improves efficiency but is also usually less expensive.
- Harness Data — The best way to guard your future is by taking advantage of data. Richards used the example of Solifi's Portfolio Risk Visualizer. This product provided visualization to identify and manage dynamic risks in the early phases of the pandemic. This data allowed companies to navigate and protect themselves when things were drastically changing.
After Richards set the stage with his recommendations, Ray Wizbowski asked the panelists about the biggest challenges they believed lessors will face in the coming years and how they should start preparing for them.
Scott Nelson believes uncertainty is the biggest challenge we'll all face over the next few years. According to Nelson, “When it comes to risk, you have math and data you can evaluate. But uncertainty leaves you at the mercy of the changing environment. The only way to handle uncertainty is preparing yourself to quickly learn from the data available to you, develop an understanding of how it will affect your organization, and then adapt quickly to survive.”
Dan Feeney added that without data you can believe whatever you want. “No matter what size your portfolio or company is, you must know the facts and data in order to support growth,” said Feeney. He shared that at North Star Leasing, they were previously updating data on a monthly basis, now they have combined products in a way that has enabled them to update data every two hours. This change has not only allowed them to have everything in one place but also to better engage with their customers.
“Data documents behavior and allows us to predict customer habits”
- Dan Feeney
Both Nelson and Feeney shared the importance for managers to understand the data that is available to them. Not only for their own benefit but also for everyone else in the organization. Once managers understand the data, they can find ways to help others find value in it. The data you have can be used across all departments.
The second question Wizbowsi asked the panel focused on what architectures or capabilities would you expect to see in organizations that excel over the next five years, and which would you encourage lenders to prioritize most? The panelists agreed that machine learning and open interfaces should be at the forefront of every organization's mind going forward.
Open interfaces allow you to not only adapt to innovation but also to adopt it. With an open interface, you are able to easily integrate a new service or microservice. Nelson added that “If you're not a part of an open infrastructure, you're going to struggle to keep up.”
Machine learning is going to be another component of success. Organizations that adopt it early and learn to use it will excel, and those that don't will get disrupted. Machine learning eliminates the need to understand everything about the interactions of all those inputs in your model. It simplifies everything when you're trying to reach an outcome.
“Channel your curiosity — data doesn't have value unless you ask it questions”
- Scott Nelson
Eldon Richards summarized the situation. “With or without the pandemic we're already in a fast-changing world — it sped up with the pandemic. In addition to being agile, we're also dealing with a level of complexity that goes beyond human abilities which is why we need machine learning.”
Harness the data you have and make sure you are utilizing the technology that exists. That's the key to 'Futureproofing Finance through Technology'.