This article is part of the iA Think Differently series. Written by members of the iA Innovation Council, the series showcases thought leadership in analytics, communications, payments, and compliance technology for the accounts receivable management industry.
Like many of you, I’ve watched the cloud computing trend develop in recent years. In fact, over the last ten years, my own company transferred completely to the cloud. Everywhere you look you see new opportunities related to functionality previously available only to the largest organizations, now deployable in minutes, for an affordable cost.
In the ARM industry, however, I hear mostly frustration: Newer technology providers complain that most ARM organizations are not equipped to move to, or take advantage of, modern data, payment and other solutions that require interoperability. ARM organizations complain that their current technology platforms are inflexible and don’t offer the ability to integrate with the latest applications that are essential for a great consumer experience.
Imagine what could happen if a change in strategic focus also made you an employer of choice for the best talent
The elite few ARM organizations that made the commitment several years ago to lead with technology have pushed the envelope of what’s possible with the current offerings. This commitment took guts and money. But I can see the results; they are gaining interest from new clients, and they are emerging as a new class of service providers – as well as employers of choice.
What does being an employer of choice have to do with the cloud? More than just the place where you host your servers, commitment to the cloud is a mindset. It represents agility, the ability to innovate, and the ability to offer the best tools and customer experience possible. Innovation today occurs on a timescale of weeks or months; not years. If it takes years to improve your system, then you will always be years behind once the “new” system launches. This can lead to lost clients, and equally as important, it can lead to a loss of your best employees who will be frustrated by your chronic “behind-ness.”
Maybe you’re still not clear on what ‘the cloud’ actually is, and what it specifically means for your business
Dictionary.com defines cloud computing as “The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.”
If you haven’t yet started to learn about the cloud and what it could mean for your business, CompTIA, the IT Industry Association, publishes excellent content that explains the cloud in more depth. In this article, they detail the significant benefits of cloud computing:
- Use only what you need, when you need it
- Pay as you go
- Skip the lifecycle
- Switch CAPEX for OPEX
- Total flexibility and easy entry into new markets and services
I know that all of these benefits will resonate with owners of ARM firms who have seen their margins erode due to compliance and other expenses. I also suspect that all of these benefits would excite IT leaders who regularly have to plan for the unknown. What if we add a bunch of new clients next year? What if we lose clients? What if we enter a new vertical with different requirements? What if it works? What if it doesn’t work?
I get it; debt collection is a highly regulated market – you’re saying, “I have a responsibility to ensure the security of the data I hold. There’s no way I will pass an audit if I move to the cloud.” Read on.
In this article, CompTIA describes the four different cloud types: Public, Private, Hybrid and Community. My takeaway? You should be willing to explore a hybrid cloud, which allows you to take advantage of the infrastructure of the public cloud and the security of holding your data in a private cloud. Newsflash – all of your clients are there.
In the first five minutes of his December 3, 2019 keynote speech to the Amazon Web Services re:Invent user conference audience of 65,000, CEO Andy Jassy mentions a litany of highly regulated organizations that have migrated to the cloud. Why? Because startups have disrupted countless longstanding industries by doing so. And it’s happening in debt collection, too. It’s just taking longer. But a tipping point can’t be far off. [Can I just return for a minute to that number – 65,000 people attended a user conference. 65,000. They took over ALL of the Las Vegas strip. I can’t even. These are not just people developing food delivery apps. This, my friends, is an example of a trend that has gone well past a tipping point.]
The move to the cloud is a CEO initiative, not an IT initiative
Later in his keynote, Jassy suggested these top 4 requirements for success in a company’s move to the cloud:
- Senior leadership conviction and alignment
- An aggressive top-down goal that moves the organization faster than it would do so organically
- Training for builders in using the cloud
- Don’t let paralysis stop you before you start
One ARM industry IT leader I spoke with described the cloud this way,
“[It] really does enable businesses to become more agile and disruptive. When you are no longer afraid to experiment and fail you can take your business to new heights. This is exactly what startups are doing these days and bringing down behemoths that were too slow to adapt. While you CAN save money by moving to the cloud in most cases you will break even at best. It is the agility that is the big selling point.”
With the groundwork laid for WHY you should move to the cloud, in future articles I’ll provide a deeper-dive into the details of HOW it can help.
Another trend to follow? No-code software. This could be a game-changer for small-midsized or even large collection agencies that are challenged to find enough talented developers. We’ll dive deeper into this in a future article, too.
Stephanie Eidelman is CEO of the iA Institute, a media company (and publisher of insideARM) that advances the credit & collections industry through substantive and handcrafted news, education, events, and connection.
About the iA Innovation Council
The iA Innovation Council is a collaborative working group of product, tech, strategy, and operations thought leaders at the forefront of analytics, communications, payments, and compliance technology. Group members meet in person several times each year to engage in substantive dialogue and whiteboard sessions with the creative thinkers behind the latest innovations for the industry, the regulators who audit and establish guardrails for new technology, and educators, entrepreneurs and innovators from outside the industry who inspire different thinking.
Learn more at www.iainnovationcouncil.com
2020 members include:
Absolute Resolutions Corp.
AllianceOne Receivables Management
Crown Asset Management
Enhanced Recovery Company
Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group
NCB Management Services
Phillips & Cohen
Professional Finance Company
Radius Global Solutions
Spring Oaks Capital
State Collection Service
The CMI Group