The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association recently named the 2020 recipients of the Operations & Technology Awards and shared lessons learned by the winners.
Each year, the ELFA's Operations & Technology Excellence Award Program recognizes finance organizations that have successfully implemented an operational excellence initiative and/or a technology innovation project. For 2020, the ELFA’s Operations and Technology Committee added a new category to its award program to recognize excellence in COVID-19 response as well as in operations and technology. Volvo Financial Services (VFS) won the Operations and Technology Excellence Award COVID-19 Project, while TIAA Commercial Finance won the 2020 Operations & Technology Excellence Award.
The overarching lesson from the award winners related to the greatest challenge of the year: the coronavirus pandemic. When the going gets tough, the tough companies innovate, wrote Susan L. Hodges in a recent article highlighting the award winners and describing six ideas for equipment finance companies to consider in operations and/or technology.
2020 Operations & Technology Excellence Award Winner TIAA Bank, for example, invested in incremental business improvements through a series of finite projects. "TIAA didn’t win for implementation of a project," Martin says. "They won because they found a way to look at their business from an entirely different angle. They found a modern way to meet the modern needs of their customers, shifting the entire company’s mindset to become a digital product company first and foremost, and then centering that renewed focus on their customers’ journey. This is the kind of big thinking and change that’s necessary to move forward in our industry.”
In the article, Martin describes how too often, a fear of failure can stand in the way of innovation. Even so, she’s optimistic about the direction in which forward-thinking companies are headed.
“Just five years ago, award submissions were focused on gutting the infrastructure,” she says. “Now the focus has moved to agile eco-systems and digitization of the leasing industry. Major initiatives like these will help drive the entire industry forward, but there are bound to be lessons learned along the way.”
Martin also said she believes the bigger, outside-the-box thinking demonstrated by TIAA is shrewd, given the rapid increase in client expectations.
“It’s all about that Amazon experience,” she posits. “You can search for anything online, buy it, and it’s there in two days. Leasing has been challenged to get to that point of innovation, and now we’re playing a game of catchup."
The article highlights these tips:
- Think differently about technology
- Adopt an agile approach
- Empower by involving the right resources
- Deploy change management techniques early and often
- Plan to fail in small ways
- Bring your partners along
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