GDPR Compliance: What you Need to Know, and Why it Matters

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Security. Privacy. Peace of mind.

Although personal data may not be the first subject matter tied to these three desirable experiences, it has steadily emerged as a controversial issue equipped with grave concerns in the digital age. In response, a newfound emphasis on user consent has emerged as the vehicle for the change in the transparency we all wish to see in our modern technological pursuits, both business and pleasure.

For far too long, the topic of user consent has been sidestepped like a luxurious buzzword, hiding its true implications in the complex terms and conditions statements very few read, let alone fully digest. In turn, this has enabled tech titans to exploit the highly-personal information of their customers for lucrative gain, often times while feigning a resemblance of innocence to the rest of the world.

Enter the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – the first of what will likely be many proactive efforts ushering in a new era of digital privacy this Friday, May 25th.

What is the GDPR?
According to CSO, an online news source from IDG Communications, “GDPR is a regulation that requires businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states.” This data includes basic identifiers like name, address, and ID numbers; web information, such as location, IP address, and cookie data; health, genetics, and biometrics data; racial, ethnic, and sexual orientation data; and even political views. As a result, this has launched businesses into action, enacting key changes to practices affecting personal privacy, controls and notifications, transparency of policies, information technology, and training. 

Who does the GDPR affect?
Wait – this only applies to Europe, right? Wrong. And failure to comply could prove both dangerous and costly. According to Microsoft, “The GDPR imposes new rules on companies, government agencies, non-profits, and other organizations that offer goods and services to people in the European Union (EU), or that collect and analyze data tied to EU residents. The GDPR applies no matter where you are located.” More specifically, this includes companies with a presence in an EU country; no EU presence, but using EU resident data; over 250 employees; and also under 250 employees, when the effect of its data-processing extends to sensitive personal information. Or in other words, everyone. For perspective, a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that a whopping 92% of American companies pegged GDPR compliance as a “top data protection priority.” And if it’s not now, chances are it will be very soon based on the doors it may open to other regulatory standards of the like.

How has LeaseTeam responded?
To simplify things a bit further, the GDPR seeks to help the good guys to do right by their customers, while also protecting us from malicious cyberattacks by bad guys around the globe. This leads us to LeaseTeam’s (LTi) proactive approach to compliance – from the latest FASB Lease Accounting Standards in February, to now the GDPR in May – in which we strive to deliver maximum transparency to our customers, further building loyalty and trust. Keeping this in mind, here are the eight core GDPR requirements affecting what we do at LTi, along with the actions we’ve taken to ensure unwavering compliance ahead of Friday’s deadline. 

GDPR Requirement:
International data transfers

LTi Compliance Solution:
To minimize international data transfers, we utilize our well-established hosting facility in the UK. This strategic response to business expansion across the pond falls in line with our efforts to reach GDPR compliance. We also maintain certification under the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework, and our data is encrypted at-rest and in-transit with AES-256.

GDPR Requirement:
Request consent to collect personal data

LTi Compliance Solution:
ASPIRE templates can be used to standardize best practices for privacy and consent documentation. Templates to obtain consent can be customized for web-based services at the time of collection. Additionally, LTi’s website features a checkbox for prospective customers interested in receiving marketing materials via email.

GDPR Requirement:
Retain personal data records

LTi Compliance Solution:
The ASPIRE document repository allows company controllers to maintain records of past consent and privacy notices in a clear, organized manner. ASPIRE’s transactional database simplifies tracking and processing through standard inquiry at both the contract and account level. This establishes important guidelines and provides greater transparency throughout organizations moving forward.

GDPR Requirement:
Share personal data with individuals or controllers upon request

LTi Compliance Solution:
For immediate transparency, users can quickly create ad hoc reports to electronically deliver the personal data of one or more individual in the ASPIRE database, pending administrative approval of course. This information can then be saved and exported in various formats – whatever best serves your needs.

GDPR Requirement:
Individual right to erasure

LTi Compliance Solution:
Our customers come first, and that includes their right to be forgotten. Upon request, LeaseTeam can mask personal data within the ASPIRE database. However, it is important to first consult your organization’s Data Protection Officer or a decision-maker of similar authority regarding additional regulation for financial data or legal ground for processing.

GDPR Requirement:
Additional product and service security measures

LTi Compliance Solution:
In ASPIRE, system administrators maintain exclusive control over configuration of security profiles and access to personal data within the organization. Unless a user has permission granted through his or her security profile, he or she will not be able to access the pages or the individual’s data will be concealed.

GDPR Requirement:
Data breach notification

LTi Compliance Solution:
In addition to the data encryption guidelines in LTi’s Data Security Policy, our Incident Response Policy is compliant with the GDPR’s 72-hour notification requirement for data breach reporting. Our support team frequently audits our tracking database and written agreements, and may also review employee computers at random to ensure customer data is not being misused.

GDPR Requirement:
Lawful basis for processing personal data

LTi Compliance Solution:
Finally, LTi’s Privacy Statement thoroughly details the Privacy Shield principles we abide in regards to how the visitor information gathered through our company website is collected, maintained, and utilized. For example, when visitors request additional information, LTi extends the option to include personal contact information in order to do business more effectively.

In Review
The GDPR is a European privacy law that goes into in effect this Friday, May 25th.  

  • At face value, the GDPR sounds like a confusing, regulatory buzzkill created by big government. But after sorting through the technical jargon, that’s clearly not the case.
  • The GDPR has the best interest of the consumer’s individual security in mind, as it will encourage better practices for handling personal data, including transparent communication in policies, reporting, information technology, and training.  
  • The GDPR will help businesses do right by their customers, while also safeguarding against malicious hackers seeking to exploit sensitive information for financial gain.

At LTi, we are steadfast in our commitment to the security, privacy, and peace of mind our customers experience when working with us. We believe the GDPR’s emphasis on consent to personal data and transparency in how it is used will only advance our mission. Going forward, this will undoubtedly pave the way for similar, progressive initiatives to make our world a better place online.  

Finally, we would be remiss to overlook the tremendous amount of work this created for Data Protection Officers and others of similar rank and function at companies big and small around the globe. Please be sure to give those kind souls a big handshake, high-five, or hug (whichever best suits your workplace culture) next time you see them.

Thanks, Marci!  

Benchmark Setup

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Need to set up Benchmarks in ASPIRE? Benchmark reflects the swap rate or cost of funds from the finance company’s funding source, for example, the Prime Lending Rate or LIBOR Interest Rate Index. The Benchmark is added to the yield and rate markup to determine the overall total yield applied to the contract, affecting the yield on the contract equipment as well as any financed fees.

Want to learn more about Benchmark Setup in ASPIRE? Check out your ASPIRE Help section.  You will click on the area for Administration. Then, under Economics, click the Benchmark Setup option.

Want to learn more about ASPIRE? Visit our website at www.leaseteam.com.

How Configuration Brings out the Best in Software Development

Just when you thought you had technology all figured out, Facebook unveils its latest algorithm change and Amazon is exposed for housing millions of fake customer reviews, just as GDPR requirements are about to enter the playing field. Suddenly, everything you thought you knew for certain about tech flies right out the window.

Alright, so maybe that’s a little dramatic. Still, the inner-workings of modern technology and the behind-the-scenes bureaucracy that influence today’s digital world are tough to grasp, whether it’s in the consumer or commercial environment. Simplifying a project scope to a high-level understanding is a great introductory strategy, but that doesn’t truly illustrate the experience and expertise required by swamped development teams to meet aggressive deadlines within budget constraints. As a result, confusion among customers is common. Take the configuration vs. customization mix-up, one that is as easily formed as it is forgiven. After all, both approaches to software development seek to deliver an innovative solution that best meet the needs of the customer in order to maximize employee productivity and operational efficiency as a whole. This makes understanding the fundamental differences between modular software development and custom software development all the more important – especially what makes the former more cost-effective, conducive to collaboration and easier to maintain than the latter.

Configuration

Modular software development is a strategy that entails breaking down a system into separate components, or modules, so they can be used in a variety of applications and functions alongside other components in a system. More importantly, modules can then be continually reused in other systems, spreading the wealth of functionality without the repeated heavy lifting.

This configurative approach to problem-solving presents many benefits to customers and tech partners alike – and frankly, very few drawbacks. First and foremost, less time spent developing and delivering the solution means a much lower price tag. Being able to repurpose existing code later on, whether it performs simple procedures or complex functionalities, drastically lightens the workload – making each following project configuration even easier to plan, build, implement, support and maintain. Why build from scratch when you can utilize existing software modules that have already proven successful for other customers seeking to eliminate similar pain points? In turn, this makes it much easier for quality assurance teams to pinpoint, troubleshoot and fix bugs moving forward.

As a result, this provides greater flexibility across the board – both in system functionality and communication between internal and external teams. Not only does modular software development aid collaboration between tech partners and their customers, but it also opens doors to valuable integration opportunities with reputable third-party vendors with solutions that have already been tested by the marketplace. All things considered, modular software development is without question a more time-efficient and cost-effective approach to problem-solving for all parties involved.

Customization

In today’s increasingly personalized world, having it your way is no longer a bonus – it’s the standard. Just as mobile apps and intuitive web experiences empower consumers to customize all the colors and features, toppings and sauces, delivery speeds and methods their heart desires, the same goes for tech partners and their customers.

Of course, not all of a customer’s wide-ranging technological needs can always be accounted for with existing functionality that’s already been successfully deployed in a tech partner’s install base – no matter how diverse and complete it may be. In this event, custom software development is likely the best approach to satisfy an organization’s system needs. When opting for customization, both the tech partner and customer are committing to a brand-new system designed exclusively for that enterprise. Each and every detail is tailor-made to their needs and their needs only. And since what works for their company may not necessarily work for others, this presents an opportunity to outpace the competition for years to come.

Although this sounds like an opportunity for endless bells and whistles, it comes at a steep price. Naturally, the cost of consulting, development and implementation skyrockets with the project’s drastic increase in timeframe and workload. This uptick in volume extends even further beyond the immediate impact on project cost, opening doors to expensive maintenance and support fees due to the custom solution’s unique requirements.

The Best of Both Worlds

Today, we at LeaseTeam believe ASPIRE reaches peak performance when utilized as a configurable end-to-end solution that prioritizes modular development over customization. The expansive install base we’ve established in the stable, flourishing and tightly-regulated equipment finance industry allows us to successfully do so, saving our customers a great deal of money and our team a great deal of time and energy. However, this is not to say configuration-first partners like us shun custom development opportunities. Although we do offer in-house custom development when necessary, we first evaluate a prospective customer’s functionality needs by determining if the customer’s desired functionality is an improvement to ASPIRE. If so, can this functionality be used to benefit other customers in the future? In the event that it does, we configure the solution together so others can potentially reap the benefits of the functionality down the road, too. If that’s not the case and the customer truly does have unique requirements they cannot operate effectively without, we join forces to design, build and implement a custom solution.

In Review

Although custom software development clearly has its perks, modular software development is more feasible for tech partners and their customers considering:

  • Configuration is more cost-effective, conducive to collaboration and easier to maintain.
  • Customization has its perks, but is only ideal for massive enterprises with unique requirements.
  • Embrace the best of both worlds by exploring a configurative approach first, while falling back on your tech partner’s custom development capabilities as a safety net if necessary.

In the end, it all comes down to which strategy best fits the customer and its objectives moving forward. Whether configuring existing functionality into a unique solution or building one from scratch, both processes require a great deal of technical skill, ingenuity and respect for the big picture in order to ensure customers survive and thrive.

Opening a Support Ticket

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Having trouble opening a Support Ticket for ASPIRE or LeasePlus? LeaseTeam’s Support is the first stop when experiencing an issue. Tickets can be submitted via email to support@leaseteam.com. Please make sure to provide relevant details up front, including the following:

·         Company Name:

·         Your Name:

·         Phone Number:

·         Email Address:

·         Product (LP, ASPIRE, LSM, GP, Report Director, RDM):

·         Version:

·         Severity: Production down, Severe, High, Normal, Low

·         Full description of that problem or question (please include steps to recreate the issues as well):

**PLEASE BE SURE TO INCLUDE ANY AND ALL SCREENSHOTS OF ERROR MESSAGES IF RECEIVED**

When you describe the severity, please keep in mind initial response times. Please try to use your best judgement when selecting the level for an issue, as it is used to prioritize work fairly and appropriately for the situation. The severity levels are:

·         Production Down – Inability of all users to access one or more products – 15 to 30 minute initial response time

·         Severe – Production functionality not working for a specific area; critical business processes affected – 2 hour initial response time

·         High – Business is affected; issue is not impacting mission critical processes – 4 hour initial response time

·         Normal – Business moderately impacted; users can work; efficiency is hampered – 6 hour initial response time

·         Low – Business not impacted significantly; issue is annoying or an enhancement – 10 hour response time

*Initial Response Time is the time between a new ticket submission and the first contact by a Support Representative.

The severity level may change during the life of a ticket. For instance, severity level may be reduced with a viable workaround or the inability to recreate the problem. Severity may also be upgraded based on increased usage of the function, project deadlines, or increased frequency of the issue.

Want to learn more? Email us at support@leaseteam.com or call us at 1 (402) 493-3530.

Want to learn more about what ASPIRE has to offer? Visit our website at http://ow.ly/Swt2t

Why Industry Conferences are Vital to Successful Time Management

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"I don’t have time for this. There just aren’t enough hours in the day." Or my personal favorite – "It’s five o’clock already?"

We’re all familiar with office jargon like this. Whether you’re an investment banker or a software developer, a physician or a professor, a trucker or a farmer, time is of the essence because you can’t buy more of it. Sure, maybe you can stretch a deadline until next week or even hit a target launch date ahead of schedule when everything goes as planned. But either way, that means squeezing as much productivity out of each 24-hour sprint as humanly possible. Although in today’s landscape technology helps optimize time to reach maximum efficiency, that doesn’t mean it’s the only component of effective time management.

Now in its 30th year, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Association’s (ELFA) National Funding Conference recently brought industry professionals together once again at the Swissôtel Chicago earlier this month. Given the elevated market confidence in a booming industry with can’t-miss opportunities at stake, this year’s record turnout of nearly 700 attendees is hardly a surprise considering the annual gathering continues to make it easier, more flexible and extremely affordable for funding sources to participate and meet with the companies that fit your funding profile.” Needless to say, the ELFA National Funding Conference is a prime example of a productive, high-impact use of time tailored to meet the needs of a competitive industry. In spite of the vast technological changes in the marketplace, industry events remain vital to successful time management. Here’s why:

Conferences have everything you need, all in one place

Technology has high-jacked the conversation surrounding workplace productivity (and rightfully so), but that doesn’t mean it’s drained the value from strategically-planned networking opportunities like the ELFA National Funding Conference. Much of this has to do with the principles on which it was founded. The event is structured upon the idea that independent leasing companies are always looking for new funding sources, so providing an open trading floor will empower parties to sell deals back-and-forth more effectively. With this understanding in mind, the ELFA has carefully crafted an ideal atmosphere for all kinds of funding relationships, with respect to everyone’s own unique appetite for business. Whether you’re looking to nurture existing relationships, or test the water with new prospective clients, this event proves to be a wildly-productive use of time year in and year out.

In the past, the conference has kicked off with a cocktail reception on Tuesday night, followed by 20 minute meeting slots scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday – reminiscent of speed-dating. However, this changed with the introduction of ELFA Executive Roundtables, which begin on the same day at 1 pm. Before implementing this new conference feature, most attendees arrived midday Tuesday, still with plenty of time to spare before the evening festivities commenced. But with this slight tweak in scheduling, it’s now more feasible to arrive on Monday due to the uncertainty presented by weather and travel – especially in a bustling landscape like the Windy City.

As a result, leasing professionals and funding sources alike flock to the event an entire day in advance, often times booking independent meetings of their own to maximize the amount of valuable face-time with others. Just like that, a simple change to the conference schedule introduced a new dynamic to way attendees interact, helping attendees get more bang for their buck.    

Tech partners are the facilitators in the field – not the focus

At events like the ELFA Funding Conference, there is typically a hierarchy of priorities. Leasing companies check in with financial institutions first to get their funding lines approved before branching off to smaller funding sources with the hopes of expand their portfolios. Somewhere along the line, tech partners – the problem-solving catalysts for any complications that arise – may enter the equation. Of course, traditionally most equipment finance companies aren’t as interested in meeting with the software provider because that means spending money at an event where the goal is to secure funding. However, with the rapid emergence of digital banking and other FinTech pursuits, software companies are becoming less of an afterthought on the conference trading floor.

In an expanding U.S. economy, leasing companies are thriving, which amplifies the importance of securing larger-funded and more diversified relationships. Liquidity in the market means many high-risk, high-reward opportunities are available, as banks have an excess amount of money ready to put to work rather than sitting idly by collecting dust. At the end of the day, one of the key factors of influence in the equipment finance industry is risk mitigation. For example, smaller banks tend to fall victim to accounting exposure issues, so that’s when it’s time to go find partners to do business with – a need that is often satisfied by industry events such the ELFA Funding Conference. When those smaller banks start selling off deals, the need for sophisticated, end-to-end technology solutions to drive high-volume deals to the finish line suddenly becomes amplified. That’s where tech partners like LeaseTeam step in and spearhead issues that arise with our end-to-end lease management solution, ASPIRE.

Like any investment, emerging technology is a long-term commitment that impacts how you work every day. It’s a big-picture approach to time management. On the other hand, industry conferences are short-term commitments with a more immediate impact. They are quick bursts of high-impact activity that help you secure new business or discover opportunities to innovate within your existing model. Together, a robust technology stack allows leasing companies and funding sources to capitalize on deals with confidence when they interact at industry conferences – where the real business gets done.

In Review

When executed correctly, industry events like the ELFA National Funding Conference are much like professional playgrounds. They demonstrate the unwavering value of face-to-face interaction in the digital age, without neglecting the fact that the tech sector is here to help fight the race against the clock. To get your money’s worth, it’s important to understand where your company’s value proposition fits into the industry equation so you can focus on high-impact opportunities, while minimizing the amount of time spent entertaining low-impact endeavors. Based on this year’s spike in attendance, more and more individuals are coming to terms with this reality:

  • Successful conferences still bring everything you need together, all in one place.
  • Tech partners are facilitators in the field looking to solve critical business problems.
  • Understanding the dynamic relationship between the two is great for time management.

Next time you find yourself pondering the value of attending a conference, ask yourself – where else can you crank out dozens of face-to-face meetings in a three-day span? And if you’re not there, well, chances are your top competitors will be, stealing the show.

How to Overcome the Silo Mentality to Boost Process Efficiency

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin.

True or not, organization is a fundamental component of any successful process – whether it’s at home or the office. But much like how the information in a data silo and the grain in a farm silo remain isolated from their surroundings, organizational silos are prone to shutting out cross-departmental communication in the workplace, leading to rampant process inefficiencies. This contagious mindset, recognized by business leaders around the world as the Silo Mentality, is the cause of many day-to-day shortcomings that SaaS business models like LeaseTeam seek to streamline. But no technology can’t fix this surprisingly normal and naturally human pattern of behavior by itself.

SILO MENTALITY: A ROOT OF INEFFICIENCY

Simply put, the Silo Mentality develops when various departments in an organization struggle to share information with each other. Not only does this pattern of behavior limit operational efficiency, but it also tends to reduce trust and morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture.” In turn, these barriers to collaboration breed miscommunication among peers and redundancy in their efforts, resulting in a collective waste of everyone’s time, money and resources.

Of course, no department is immune to the effects of the Silo Mentality once its slides past the reception desk and sets up shop. Take marketing and sales for example. A Silo Mentality between the two is the root cause of process inefficiencies such as inconsistent brand messaging to current and prospective customers and document anarchy – chaotic design tendencies among company presentations and other marketing collateral.

Keeping this in mind, three steps that can be taken to break down barriers built by the Silo Mentality, or avoid it in the first place, are establishing a unified company vision, embracing departmental alignment and experimenting with employee advocacy via social media.

STEP 1: ESTABLISH A UNIFIED VISION

How do we manage our time and allocate our attention? What are the dominating forces in our daily schedules, and what is neglected as a result? These are the questions every company must ask, because as Steve Goldhaber explains in Why Focus is What You Should Focus on in 2018: “Even though technology has done a great job advancing everything, one of the consequences is that it’s harder to focus. And when you can’t focus, your work suffers.”

Accounting and finance teams carefully calculate and forecast for the fiscal future. Software development, project management and implementation squads construct technology roadmaps, which serve as high-level blueprints for the implementation of new module integrations, industry compliance standards and more. As for marketing and sales, it’s their job to establish mutually beneficial relationships by generating, nurturing and converting prospective leads into loyal, satisfied customers. And this process becomes all the more the fluid when brand messaging is driven by a unified vision that clearly communicates the correct value proposition and secures a position in the desired market. Although marketing and sales spearhead the mountainous challenge of customer journey optimization together, it’s vital that all departments in a company break down organizational and informational silos so they step up to the plate with the same goal as they swing for the fences. This is the first step to stripping the ‘mess’ from your company’s brand messaging, and instead guiding your customer base toward the oasis of process efficiency and productivity we all aspire to reach.

STEP 2: EMBRACE DEPARTMENTAL ALIGNMENT

Now, just because a unified vision has been agreed upon doesn’t mean departmental alignment will magically blossom overnight. Rather, it’s a long-term initiative driven by respect for the big picture – acceptance that although increased transparency may not yield immediate value, over time it will contribute to the greater good of the company. It’s a commitment to honesty and trust in day-to-day collaboration that every organization strives for on paper, but few actually capitalize on its full potential in reality. Alignment among departments means alignment between what you say and what you do; more specifically, between your brand messaging and product roadmap.

Recent global research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and LinkedIn points to content marketing as a game-changing liaison between fragmented marketing and sales departments that ultimately enables true marketing success and revenue growth.” And in the proper context, this makes perfect sense. A more accurate understanding of the customer opens the door to a better buying experience – less intrusive and more genuine. This enables the natural flow of feedback, as the members of the relationship have zeroed in on a common goal. As a result, the mapping of the customer journey becomes increasingly streamlined, as does the underlying strategy that caters to it. If executive-level leadership struggled to prioritize marketing efforts before, that will likely change once it sees marketing efforts connect to success in sales. So was the case for CallidusCloud CMO Giles House, who explains the positive impact marketing and sales alignment had on his company: “Operationally, we’re able to attribute a lot more revenue to marketing programs, which is exactly what you need to do when you’re battling for budget in the boardroom.”

STEP 3: EXPERIMENT WITH EMPLOYEE ADVOCACY

With a unified vision in place and departmental alignment now humming along efficiently, that Silo Mentality is well on its way to becoming a problem of the past. But the resolve shouldn’t stop there. Social media is readily available to all – and although that doesn’t mean it’s suited for everyone in a professional setting – it can and should be used by influential employees to drive company engagement, both internally and externally.

As stated by Speaker, Author and CEO Michael Brenner, “Employees are every brand’s greatest asset with the power to build your brand and attract and retain the best talent.” On average, employees have 10 times more 1st-degree connections on LinkedIn than a company has followers. This is one of the many data-driven insights that highlight the importance of engaged employees who come to work inspired and motivated, ready to interact instead of hiding behind silos. When done right, it can serve as a means to amplify brand messaging and collectively communicate the objectives of a product roadmap – all while working toward the same underlying financial benchmarks.  

However, employee advocacy via social media is not a replacement for the value of face-to-face interaction, which is still paramount to building successful customer relationships; rather, it’s a limitless extension of the principles a company is founded upon. Moving forward, it can also pave the way for emerging trends like social selling and account-based marketing. Before we know it, employee advocacy via social media will no longer be pigeonholed as an extracurricular afterthought, but championed as a key competitive advantage in our increasingly digital age.

IN REVIEW

It is widely accepted that the Silo Mentality creates departmental rifts and process inefficiencies in the workplace, such as inconsistent messaging by marketing and sales, widespread document anarchy and various side effects of the confusion that follows. In order to topple these organizational barriers, consider this three-step approach:

  • Establish a unified vision
  • Embrace departmental alignment
  • Experiment with employee advocacy

Transparency and trust are fundamental components of the customer experience every business strives to provide, and it’s just as important they are practiced by its employees, too. When this state of organizational performance is reached, process efficiencies better optimize the customer experience and the departments that support it, keeping everyone on the fast track to success.

Private Label Setup Overview

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What does private labeling do in ASPIRE? Private labeling provides a way to include unique information and a logo image on documents and correspondence for a finance program. The private label data is available through the private label data view and the document tags can be inserted to any document template. The private label attached to a deal is displayed in the contract explorer header and can be changed in the header on the contract explorer. 

Want to learn more about what ASPIRE has to offer? Visit our website at www.leaseteam.com or check out your ASPIRE help area for v5. You will click on the area for Administration. Look under the System Setup area and click Private Label.

The Value of Face-to-Face Interaction in the Digital Age

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Kids don’t play outside like they used to. And as far as work goes, adults could be next.

This month, LeaseTeam attended the ELFA Executive Roundtable in Miami and the 2018 National Equipment Finance Summit in Las Vegas. In a few weeks, you can find us at the 30th Annual ELFA National Funding Conference in Chicago, while also prepping for our annual LTi User Conference in Omaha this summer. It’s no secret networking experiences like these have lost some appeal in this increasingly digital age. After all, innovation enabled by social media has proved nothing short of revolutionary. Video conferencing is an absolute game-changer. Help desk support continues to evolve with the power of artificial intelligence. Online customer reviews cast an investigatory spotlight on just about everything your company does, from its shining moments to its fatal flaws.

Technology will continue to redefine the way professionals communicate, regardless of the industry they inhabit. Consequently, the question, “what can’t technology replace?” is gradually transforming into a more concerning dilemma – “what shouldn’t technology replace?” As far as face-to-face interaction with customers, its intrinsic value remains in how it fosters authenticity and transparency when building healthy relationships and leveraging new business opportunities.

INVEST IN AUTHENTICITY

Nowadays, discussions about authentication usually concern verifying user identities of a product or service. While there is obviously great reason for doing so, that doesn’t mean authenticity has lost its edge when it comes to establishing the value and purpose of customer relationships. Investing in time to meet in-person has and always will fuel the transparency, teamwork and trust needed to build loyalty – whether it’s spent in the office, at a trade show booth or at dinner following a conference’s keynote presentation. According to Capgemini’s World FinTech Report 2017, traditional financial institutions still hold the upper-hand over their younger tech-centric counterparts when it comes to trust, especially concerning the topics of fraud protection, quality of service and transparency. In fact, the ease of use associated with technology may actually limit the effectiveness of long-term customer relationships to some extent. As simple as it may sound, showing up shows that you care due to the level of effort required. So when all that entails is logging-in or pressing send with the click of button, the value of "showing up" suddenly decreases. Of course, we all want to trust the technology we use. But that trust still must be earned, which is why face-to-face interaction is still the best way to drive customer relationships to the next level.

TACKLE PAIN POINTS HEAD-ON

The growing number of opportunities presented by online reviews are too promising to ignore. From product research and development to optimizing operational performance, customer comments and reviews can provide valuable insights to any company’s blueprint for the future. That being said, it’s a little too easy to anonymously hammer out a scathing online review and walk away like nothing happened. In the B2B arena, troubleshooting customer pain points in person can unearth new ideas and perspectives that might otherwise be suppressed over a conference call or email. Sure, it might get awkward. But that’s alright if it jumpstarts the problem-solving process by pinpointing the root of the problem. More likely than not, it means you’re asking the questions everyone else is tip-toeing around, which will get the ball rolling on the issues at hand right here, right now. Too often technology is used as a Band-Aid for critical business problems. While a temporary fix to mask the trouble lingering beneath is always a relief, this doesn’t remove the effectiveness of hashing out a long-term solution in-person.

USE TECH, DON’T LET IT USE YOU

Last but certainly not least, no technology stack should automatically dictate how you run your business every step of the way. After all, we’re humans, prone to error, emotion and all kinds of variables technology is still unable to account for with accuracy and consistency. As far as we know, there will always be times when a crystal-clear video conference or a back-and-forth messaging spree glosses over matters that could be more easily identified and resolved in-person. Ultimately, the customer is in control because their functionality needs define the future. So when possible, seize opportunities to get out of the office and capitalize on the time you spend with customers, knowing that you’re chipping away at earning their trust and the loyalty that follows. If nothing else, appreciate this time to mix it up and have a little fun. Who knows, you might be missing it once you get back to the routine grind on Monday.

Of course, too much of anything can lead to trouble. That’s why finding the right mix of remote and face-to-face communication with your customer base is vital to your mutual success moving forward. In doing so, remember:

·         Taking the time to show up shows you care, which establishes authenticity.

·         Don’t tip-toe around customer pain points; tackle them head-on.

·         Use technology to guide decision-making, not completely control it.

At the end of the day, we’re not just a software vendor. We’re a technology partner led by humans, just like you.

User Defined Fields Overview

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Let’s talk about user defined fields in ASPIRE? User Defined Fields give the application administrator the ability to create custom fields that are not available in the system. UDFs can then be included on configurable application templates and are displayed in the appropriate sections throughout the ASPIRE system. User Defined Fields are also available as document tags in document templates to be included on documents. When a UDF is created, a corresponding data view is made available on the Data Tag Selection listing that allows you to include the UDF in document templates. 

Want to learn more about what ASPIRE has to offer? Visit our website at www.leaseteam.com or check out your ASPIRE help area for v5. You will click on the area for Administration. Look under the System Setup area and click User Defined Fields.

When it Comes to Blockchain Technology, Patience is Key

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Much like artificial intelligence, Blockchain is a double-edged sword extending its range of motion toward the equipment finance industry. And like its emerging Fintech counterpart, blockchain still faces a variety of barriers to entry before it can carve out a legitimate position in the marketplace. That’s why when it comes to blockchain – especially potential uses like smart contracts – a patient approach to adoption is key due to security concerns, compliance with the vast sea of standards that regulate the industry and the fundamental fear of the unknown.

THE CASE FOR BLOCKCHAIN

Following the Great Recession, financial institutions were left searching for ways to restore trust in transactions with customers. A decade later, many are quick to assume the answer is blockchain – a secure ledger among members in a peer-to-peer network of computers. User access is verified by algorithms and real-time transactions are recorded automatically. Everything is instantly visible and traceable. In theory, blockchain maximizes confidence in data security and minimizes risk, as the decentralization of authority virtually eliminates criminal activity. It also reduces the time spent and cost incurred by the day-to-day operations of just about any business. According to the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, blockchain will lower infrastructure costs by $15-$20 billion by 2022.

For example, take smart contracts – the most relevant application of blockchain technology to the equipment finance industry. By managing contracts across a neutral blockchain network, users drastically reduce the inefficiencies associated with physical documents while also safeguarding against human error and external threats during points of vulnerability, such as the transfer of ownership.

All of this sounds great on paper. So, what could possibly go wrong?

THE CASE AGAINST BLOCKCHAIN

According to Robert E. Braun in Blockchain: The good, the bad, and how to tell the difference, the rise of blockchain may not be a response to financial collapse of 2008 after all. Rather, it may be “the result of a fascination with the possibility of an unregulated currency, and one which has benefited, most of all, those who wish to operate outside financial markets.” This is a daunting reality for the equipment finance industry, given the significant regulatory efforts that have taken place over the past decade. Given its volatile nature, blockchain could actually turn out to be more susceptible to malicious behavior than many existing solutions and services.

Thousands of players are vying for market share, all of whom come equipped with their own collection of bugs and shortcomings. Until the undisputed frontrunners emerge from the pack and the precedent for widespread adoption has been set, blockchain’s lack of standardization will limit its potential in the equipment finance industry – one that is certainly in no rush to replace what’s tried-and-true. From its scalability for high-volume transactions and integration with existing business systems to extensive legal battles over privacy rights, there are still an abundance of kinks and quirks to smooth out before it can be embraced with complete confidence.  

WHERE DOES YOUR COMPANY STAND?

Furthermore, Braun offers baseline criteria every company should weigh before signing on to blockchain. Not only should it be a clear-cut improvement upon what it’s substituting, but it should also solve an additional pain point the current solution is unable to address. As Braun explains, “much of blockchain is a solution in search of a problem, not a problem in search of a solution.” This begs the question – if it isn’t broke, why fix it?

The implementation of blockchain technology also requires you to extend your perspective beyond your immediate user base. How far does the impact of your business decisions reach? It’s not like you’re deciding whether or not it’s time to pull the trigger on that new copier your office needs. The adoption of blockchain requires meticulous vetting to thoroughly assess the risk at hand for your company, both internally and externally. Although these considerations may seem obvious at face value, they could be easy to overlook when a proposal for a shiny new object slides across your desk.

To be clear, this is neither a ringing endorsement nor a sweeping denouncement of blockchain technology. This is a call for the industry to carefully evaluate the current landscape of emerging technologies taking the world by storm. Because at this point, equipment finance has a lot to lose, without knowing for certain what there is to gain. As more and more innovative developments continue to surface, so too will dangerous setbacks and challenges. That’s why when it comes to blockchain technology, patience is key.