Artificial intelligence, blockchain and smart contracts are three kinds of technology improving processes and outcomes in other industries, but which are not yet available for equipment financing. Two directors for the technology consulting company Capgemini, Jeff Boots and Roderick Wilkins, say it’s time that equipment dealers demand this tech of their financing partners.
Let’s break down what artificial intelligence (AI) offers. One simple example is a “chatbot,” those conversation boxes that pop up when you interact online with a company. Often, the initial interactions are with AI software, which directs you to the right human expert. For example, think about a customer connecting with a manufacturer online and then continuing the interaction with a dealer.
A more complex example of AI is the development of your individual customer persona. “What you’re looking at is a future world where people are literally a market of one,” says Wilkins. AI software could review a customer’s public data and configure a solution that matches their unique needs, such as packages that include equipment, service and financing solutions.
The second technology, blockchain, is making news these days. Forbes reports that the world’s 10 largest companies are exploring the technology, while a CNBC story warns about being “burned” by the technology because of its relationship to Bitcoin, the virtual currency that some hail and others proclaim “buyer beware.” In somewhat simple terms, blockchain is a trustworthy network in which the characteristics of any asset or data type are stored and validated by the network. It allows for secure, fast and paperless transactions. The need for intermediaries such as banks and attorneys is reduced or removed.
Finally, smart contracts enable credible transactions to happen quickly and without third parties because of agreed upon parameters. For example, if a financing company and an equipment dealer joined a blockchain with smart contracts in place, the financing company could arrange for a lease quickly because standard terms and conditions, warranties and other agreements are already in place.
These technologies put financing companies at the center of a complex web of capabilities that meet the needs of dealers and their customers, according to Boots and Wilkins.
What’s Blocking Adoption
If the technology exists and is already being used commercially, what’s the holdup for the ag equipment sector? Fear of technology, for starters, and wanting others to go first, says Boots. And, set aside concerns that the technologies will remove you from the process of working with your customers or turn you into a hybrid of a finance company/equipment dealer. Instead, the technology should enable you to provide tailored solutions more quickly. Boots and Wilkins hope that AI, blockchains and smart contracts will be a reality for ag equipment financing in the next 3-5 years.
They say dealers can help drive the integration of these technologies by asking questions of their financing companies and seeking partners who are looking into this technology.
“Ultimately, it’s not ever about the technology, but about the customer and improving the service you can provide,” says Boots.
“Demand will lead to creation. If the dealers demand it, it will happen,” says Wilkins.
Learn more by tuning into our podcast, “What Smart Technology for Financing is and Why Dealers Need it” (www.RuralLifestyleDealer.com/RLDPodcast) and start the discussions now with your financing partners.