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Takeaways from the ELFA Innovation Roundtable

December 07, 2021, 07:15 AM

ELFA’s Technology Innovation Working Group continues to monitor technology and innovation trends to help equipment finance industry leaders understand the impacts and opportunities for the future of the industry. The group sponsored the interactive “ELFA Innovation Roundtable: Innovation is Not Only About Technology,” facilitated by Deborah Reuben, CEO and founder of TomorrowZone. It was the third event from ELFA and TomorrowZone’s partnership.

“I can’t think of a more important or timely topic than how technology and innovation are shaping the future of equipment finance,” said ELFA Chair Mike DiCecco in welcoming attendees. “We have all seen over the past year-and-a-half how the pandemic has sped up technology adoption and innovation in our daily lives, in our industry and in our own companies. ELFA and the Board of Directors are committed to providing events like this to help member companies succeed in the new digital frontier.”

Technology Innovation Working Group members Tina Cartwright, CLFP, SVP Information Technology and Operations, Equipment Finance at U.S. Bank Equipment Finance; John Cooper, Director, NAFTA Financial Services Business Solutions at CNH Industrial Capital LLC; Steven Siler, Chief Technology Officer at Stonebriar Commercial Finance; and Denis Stypulkoski, Founder and Principal at Reimagine Advisors were panelists for the wide-ranging discussion, which focused on the theme “Innovation is not only about technology.”

The key takeaway from the discussion, said Reuben, is that “No matter the technology, it's only a component of solutions. We have to focus first on solving the right problems to improve the human experience. The human side of innovation is so key.”

Reuben shared the following panel discussion takeaways:

  • Adoption should be part of the design process upfront when solving problems.
  • EMPATHY is a key part of not only customer experience design, but applies to employee design, change management, training, and adoption.
  • Training in minimum effective doses, and just in time, can be more effective than trying to train on everything all at once when implementing a new system or process.
  • Innovation is all about solving problems, but sometimes we need to spend more time with the problem definition to ensure we are solving for the right problems.
  • When reimagining processes, it is important to ask whether the processes you are considering should still be done (avoiding getting stuck in the trap of doing the same old thing).

Reuben also highlighted some of the innovations that attendees have adopted to make a difference for their teams and processes. Examples included:

  • Leveraging off-the-shelf OCR technology to identify and sort incoming email requests as well as contents of document packages to gain efficiency and enable people to work on more meaningful tasks
  • Using intelligent automation to help write more meaningful and attractive job descriptions for a rapidly changing work environment
  • Employing intelligent automation to match people with new career opportunities and help with upscaling talent
  • Using Microsoft Teams chat to bring a conversational and collaborative approach to every deal
  • Reducing email by using Slack for better collaboration AND to minimize the threats that come through email
  • Having a method for idea capture can help in building a culture that embraces innovation (there are off-the-shelf tools that can be used to manage the flow of ideas)
  • Trying new approaches for building trust in teams like anonymous idea sharing helps people to bring their wild ideas to the table and take the limits off when exploring new possibilities for the future

The next ELFA Innovation Roundtable with TomorrowZone and the Technology Innovation Working Group is on Thursday, March 3, 2022, from 12:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. CT.

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