I joined the Equipment Finance industry five years ago.  In my relatively short time, I have enjoyed the journey of transformation that this industry (and all of us) are on.  Our transformation involves the technology we leverage, the business systems we evolve, and the way we work together – all to grow our businesses and maximize our customers’ experiences.   These themes played out at this year’s Operations and Technology Conference, sponsored by the ELFA.  As I think back on the event, where else can you dialogue with BOTH operations and technology professionals on topics including agile, PMSI, digital, emerging technology, security, AND move cheese and make toast – all in just 48 hours!

It’s been an honor to be a part of the amazing group of technology and operations leaders who create and drive this event.  And if you can’t tell already, the Operations and Technology conference is my favorite of the year – both for its content and connections.

So, what stood out to me about our transformation journey, in my 48 hours at Ops & Tech?

#1 – Driving Transformational Change:  Whether it is discovering use cases for robotic process automation, managing the customer experience, or re-tooling to meet a regulatory change…when operations and technology work together to understand the business problems to solve and discuss the expected outcomes, the results are better.  And we are seeing this happen more than ever before.  In addition to discussing the topics themselves, we also discussed tools to help enable transformative communication and change management, including the 6 Hats Role Play and How to Draw Making Toast.

#2 – The Future of Technology is Now:  ‘Emerging’ Technologies are here – now – being actively piloted and utilized in our industry.  Gone are the days when blockchain or digital identity verification were a future concept.  The confluence of AI and facial recognition are changing the game in digital customer experience and expediting the decisioning time for customers.  Now is the time to think about how you can experiment and leverage these technologies in your customer journey to change the game.  And as you think about the technology itself, stay abreast of best practice to manage its associated compliance and data security.

#3 – The Impact of Agility:  While historically, agile was created in response to software development, it’s benefits in managing the bigger picture are being realized.  In our industry, where rapid transformation is occurring, not only in technology but in our processes and people – why couldn’t an agile framework help us manage rapidly changing assumptions, business problems, and requirements that we cannot possibly plan for entirely upfront?  As noted in the recent article, ‘Critical Operations’ in the Equipment Leasing & Finance publication, agile is not just for IT or development, it is a model that can be used to manage business value across many groups, including Operations.  In addition to this article, check out one of my favorite agile studies from McKinsey and Company when considering your benefits in being agile.

#4 – Focus on Diversity:  In my five years in the industry, I’ve been thrilled to experience the increased focus on diversity and inclusion.  Diversity and inclusion includes both understanding and valuing differences of races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations, as well as differences in education, personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases.   Whether it’s the Women’s Council, Emergence or the new Diversity & Inclusion Committee – the ELFA and member organizations are focused on having the conversations and taking the actions that make a diverse industry a reality.  This will be critically important, so we have the diverse talent to positively and proactively manage the transformation happening across our industry – in technology, in processes and with people.

If you haven’t been before I encourage you to consider attending the 2020 Operations and Technology Conference in New Orleans – where these conversations are sure to continue.  Before then, come visit IDS at our upcoming events to talk about how we can partner with you as you continue your own transformative journey!

Lisa Nowak, Senior Product Manager, IDS