When it comes to innovation, the equipment lease and finance industry is changing faster than ever before.
That was the message during the National Equipment Finance Association (NEFA) Summit earlier this year in Newport Beach. While recent progress and technology adoption were on display, it was clear that a slow-and-steady approach to transformation is no longer acceptable, and it is time to expedite digitization of the entire ecosystem.
Renowned industry consultant Deborah Reuben opened the panel “What’s the Future? An Exploration of Emerging Technology and What it Means for Equipment Finance” by highlighting the accelerating rate of innovation across society and in the industry. I had the honor of speaking with Reuben on that panel, along with Doug Houlahan, CEO of ClickLease, and Bob Rinaldi, a leading advisor to lessors, banks, and service providers in the equipment finance marketplace.
[To hear directly from Reuben and other industry experts, join us for our June 27th webinar. Registration link below.]
With this new rapid rate of innovation, Reuben encouraged decision makers to dedicate more time to the “TomorrowZone,” a space where they contemplate how to adapt to the new digital economy and the growing number of technological advances.
Reuben set the stage by addressing the real-world conundrum facing equipment finance executives. In the day in, day out of business operations, it is understandable for an executive team to focus on urgent, revenue-driving business tasks, rather than exploring the potential of transformative technologies. These forward-looking assessments often get put on hold until annual strategy meetings or budget discussions. However, the exponential rate of innovation simply doesn’t allow for these delays anymore.
Reuben cited the work of Brian Solis, a principal analyst at Altimeter, and warned the audience about finding themselves in a “Kodak moment.” This phrase, once the company’s tagline, no longer refers to special moments captured with a camera. Instead, Solis stated that the new Kodak moment refers to the instant companies realize, as the former photography giant did, that “customer behaviors and preferences [have changed] so dramatically away from your presumptions that it’s too late to do anything about it.”
To elevate responsiveness to the changing tech environment, Reuben recommended a four-step framework which encourages equipment lease executives to schedule time prioritizing:
- Understanding the difference between exponential vs. linear progress
- Recognizing forces of change
- Keeping exponential technologies on the radar
- Imagining the future and asking new questions
During a lively panel discussion with an engaged audience, we addressed each of these steps. Reuben walked us through the differences between exponential vs. linear progress (I highly recommend taking the time to read the breakdown), while Houlahan and Rinaldi provided real-life examples, having personally seen these forces of change. Here at eOriginal, we have also witnessed these forces of change ripple through our ecosystem as dependent parties adopt technologies, which in turn ultimately compels their business partners to accelerate their own transformations.
As for exponential technologies on the radar (bullet point #3), all the panelists agreed there are challenges to determining where and how to focus on emerging technologies. While the up-and-down hype of blockchain and distributed ledger gets much of the attention, the impact of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, virtual reality, and the internet of things cannot be ignored — these technologies have both tangible and intangible effects on the way lending and leasing is conducted. However, it is a challenge to navigate hype versus reality, while also realizing that the next great innovation is just around the corner.
The step that might be the most exciting one of all — imagining the future and asking new questions — received the shortest amount of discussion time during the panel. Imagining the future requires practice to train your mind to explore the future of technology in a disciplined and strategic way. It can be exhilarating and yet, overwhelming at times. As Reuben notes, “Each of us possesses the wonderful ability to time travel in our minds via our imagination… You’re not required to become a technologist in order to stay on top of technology trends, expand your thinking about the future, and understand the potential impacts and opportunities of technology.”
The equipment lease and finance industry is innovating and adopting technology faster than ever before. In this webinar, industry experts will discuss the exponential rate of innovation and the growing need to adopt technologies that meet consumer expectations, drive efficiencies, and accelerate funding.
Watch the recorded session here.
Webinar: The Digital Transformation of Equipment Leasing: Slow No More