Utilizing Technology: Strategy, Adoption, and Implementation
Last month ProDeal gathered with leaders in the private lending industry at Geraci Media’s third annual Captivate conference in Las Vegas. ProDeal’s Head of Customer Success, Ian Group, led a panel on technology, with a focus on adoption, implementation and information security. Whether you are looking to implement technology for your business or are interested in the ways technology is affecting the lending industry, here are several key takeaways from the panel discussion:
- Adoption is driven by adding value. Melissa Martorella, a transactional associate at Geraci LLP, detailed how her firm built a platform to automate repeatable tasks, like the creation of loan documents, for her private lender clients. Their main driver for building this platform: adding direct value for her clients. By focusing on driving value, Martorella and her team have been able to offer streamlined and innovative client services that have set them apart in the industry.
- Lost opportunities can move mountains. While technology companies are looking to solve external challenges, companies like RCN Capital have leveraged technology to improve their internal operations. When asked about how Bridge Loan Network, a leading online portal in the asset-based lending space, has affected RCN’s business model, Jeff Tesch, CEO of RCN Capital, touched on how his business was actually losing money by its inability to keep up with deal flow. By utilizing a loan origination system, it smoothed their entire pipeline and the transition of data between teams. This ultimately paid dividends for his business.
- Do your homework! Understanding all of the technology options that exist on the market and learning what they offer is the first step on the road to adopting new technology. Rocky Butani, founder of Private Lender Link, described how he put this advice into practice: by building his knowledge of the market, he has not only been able to offer actionable advice to his clients about solutions that fit their specific needs but also leverage that knowledge to position Private Lender Link as a source for industry peers to seek technology solutions. Tim Milazzo, the CEO at Stacksource, a platform that connects borrowers and commercial mortgage lenders, found that his research influenced the direction of his entire company. “The initial thesis behind Stacksource was to become a software package for brokers looking to add more transparency and efficiency to commercial real estate lending,” Milazzo said. By gaining a better understanding of the market, Milazzo ultimately pivoted the direction of his company into what it is today.
- Success lies in continuous improvement. When asked how he rolled out the utilization of a newly acquired platform to his company, Tesch said the key was to gather internal input from his employees and to keep them engaged in the process. While his company has seen success with their projects, Tesch indicated that “technology is not a one-and-done type tool.” Tesch and his colleagues are still iterating on it to this day to stay up to date with changes to improve internal and external use of their platform. Similarly, Martorella described how her use of technology has grown from basic search functionality in loan documents to full scale automation. Incremental steps have ultimately allowed her and her team to arrive at complex algorithm as well as client customizations that would not have been possible but for their prior research and development.
- Don’t develop technology on your own. The overwhelming sentiment of the panel was against private lenders developing their own internal solutions. Milazzo specifically touched on the difficulties technology companies have shipping solutions to their customers and urged the audience to utilize a purpose built tool like ProDeal that exists on the market today to give firms an edge. Tesch echoed the sentiment on the panel by referring to developing technology as an “extremely difficult process.” What made him successful, however, was being surrounded by a team who knew exactly what to build. By understanding the end users and being on the front lines in the industry, Tesch and his team laid the groundwork for their software developers.
- Take security very, very seriously. Although firms are aware of data security threats, there is a lot of work to be done to protect their data. The panel made suggestions including subscribing to software updates and urging business leaders to rethink information security with a very serious lens. During the Q&A, ProDeal’s account executive Chris Smith expanded the security discussion from the audience by indicating that although most small businesses do not believe they are susceptible to hacks, approximately 55-70% of small businesses wind up getting hacked at some point. Want more actionable advice on information security best practices? Click here for an article recently in Geraci’s Originate Report.