In the wake of COVID-19, everyone’s best laid plans have been tossed into the fire. Survival mode kicked in, and the industry discovered quickly that becoming nimble was among the most crucial attributes for success.
“Nimble” does not describe the state of the industry from a technology architecture standpoint. Before COVID, even large businesses could hide their systems deficiencies with “quick fix” solutions. VPNs are great when you’re expecting to be in the office most of the time, but leaning on antiquated tools in the immediate wake of the pandemic quickly showed that they couldn’t handle the stress. Moreover, technology-constrained business processes quickly yielded to the pressures of a post-COVID working world that demanded immediately adaptive technology to enable business agility.
COVID Exposed Insufficient Business Processes and Systems
Technology-challenged companies were forced into unfamiliar territory, relying on now ubiquitous work-from-home tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom. But while these were relatively easy to acquire and implement, decades-old core business systems have largely struggled under the spotlight. In this scenario, it might feel like there are no immediate solutions, only bandages. Changing infrastructure in the middle of a pandemic might feel like trying to change a tire while doing 80 on the interstate.
Luckily, a blueprint for success in a post-COVID world exists. It requires overhauling what we think of “bare minimum” technology, and it starts with adopting cloud architecture.
Cloud computing was once the “next big thing”. Risk concerns kept cloud from exploding within the financial services industry, and true cloud-first business solutions became conflated with old-school “data center hosting” – clearly very different models, with the latter being termed “lipstick on the pig” by industry analysts. No matter the form, cloud had been a sometimes uncomfortable prospect for executives for the better part of 25 years. There’s barely a concern today, and yet, while 96% of organizations are using cloud in some fashion, just 53% of corporate data and applications is being stored on cloud. That may sound like a lot, but that means 47% was nearly inaccessible when COVID hit and workers were sequestered to their homes worldwide.
Cloud is more than just data access. Providing seamless and secure access to mission critical tools like customer information, pricing tools, amortization calculators, and document storage is crucial. This isn’t news, yet the industry is woefully behind. In my years spent working with financial services, the joke is that the day the industry catches up to technology, it’ll look up and realize it’s 20 years behind again.
Now mix in accessibility problems, unforeseen maintenance issues, sophisticated cyber-attacks, rising costs of private server hardware and staff, and throw in a heaping helping of fear regarding going to the office and general uncertainty surrounding COVID. This adds up to cloud becoming a need moving forward.
Simply put, businesses will not thrive with inadequate solutions in a post-COVID world. The days of getting by with substandard data management and limited access are over, and the longer it takes to adapt, the more companies expose themselves to risk. Preparing your business to be adaptable to ever-changing world conditions will no longer be considered an advantage; it’s now table stakes.
But it’s not all fear and loathing. Cloud-first architecture is the foundation of exciting solutions that can and are supercharging origination cycles and customer experiences in our industry. While risk is certainly important to consider, the benefits of the cloud now far outweigh the costs and challenges involved. Cloud offers tremendous agility in terms of scalability and connectedness. Microsoft’s Azure network, for example, provides unified security tools with multiple layers of defense, whether that data is secured in a cloud server, on a personal computer, or a mobile device. A proper cloud network doesn’t impede the users’ ability to track and monitor data, rather it streamlines those tasks. Cloud isn’t just a bandage that plugs infrastructure holes and offer flexible access in times of crisis. Quite the contrary, it is the foundation for the Intelligent Workplace, offering massive opportunity for growth and efficiency.
The Intelligent Workplace is the Solution for the New Normal
The Intelligent Workplace is defined by a seamless, smart and dynamic experience for employees, partners, and customers. In the Intelligent Workplace, the right digital tools connect and support these groups wherever they are and encourage productivity, engagement and collaboration. Data is centralized and the work experience is made efficient through automation, integration, and highly adaptive business processes. When humans lag, the system picks up the slack. Now, the system is responsible for automatically scoring deals, routing tasks, updating queues and dashboards, and offering leadership dynamic control over all of it.
How do we get there? Through digital transformation.
Digital transformation is adopted by an organization when they decide they want to transfer their operations from the analog (paper and human-driven processes) to digital (data-driven and automated). Digital transformation is not so much a checklist of tasks to complete, but rather a handful of principles that companies can implement to become intelligent and adaptive.
Cloud-first enterprise systems and digital transformation are not just foundational concepts, they are proven enablers of growth. Many industry experts believe that new business demand is still strong or will be very soon, which will result in a burst of business as we transition to a slightly more normal business climate. So you have to ask yourself, if you experience a 30% jump in applications tomorrow, are you prepared to handle the traffic, run credit reports, review documents and make rapid underwriting decisions to keep up? If the answer is “no”, you owe it to yourself and your business to explore how to change it to “yes”.
If there was ever a time to pivot, now is that time. Forward-thinking businesses can capitalize by using this time to openly assess where current systems and processes are breaking under the stress of adaptability and noting where changes are beneficial. There is light at the end of the COVID tunnel, but it’ll be brighter for those that use this as the opportunity to make their businesses faster, more accessible, and more resilient.
The time to prepare your business for growth is now. The risk is minimal, but the rewards can be monumental. Seek digital transformation and create your Intelligent Workplace today!
About the author:
Leasepath is the intelligent workplace solution for Customer Engagement (CRM) and Originations (LOS) built exclusively for asset finance brokers and funding sources. Leasepath leverages the Microsoft Power Platform to provide a proven, quick to implement, cloud-first solution with pre-built automation, pricing tools, amortization calculators, asset management, and integrations with credit bureaus and other mission critical applications. Leasepath customers Win More, Risk Less, and Profit More!
Sean serves Leasepath as the Director of Sales & Marketing, helping Leasepath attain 40% year-over-year growth. He has worked with cloud-hosted Microsoft technology for more than 7 years, providing consultation and guidance to the financial services industry, municipal governments, and fortune 500 companies. Sean is a member of ELFA, NEFA, CFLA, NACFB, AACFB and is a regular fixture at industry events.
This article originally appeared in the May/June issue of the Monitor. For more Monitor content, please visit the Monitor’s website and consider subscribing to their printed magazine.