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This is the first of four posts in our OS blog 2.0 series highlighting the “ARM ecosystem”—what it is, how it works, and how ARM businesses can benefit by adopting this approach.


In their quest for market dominance, more and more collection agencies are vying to become the earliest of early adopters. They stay on top of the latest advances in ARM technology and move quickly to avoid being left behind.

Maybe you can relate. As tech innovators, researchers, and developers, we certainly can.

The allure of point solutions offering predictive analytics, AI-powered bots, personalized consumer engagement, etc., is strong. Like Tantalus’s mythical fruit, they dangle in front of business owners and IT teams, begging to be integrated into core collection platforms—a seemingly simple path to a much more streamlined, successful operation.

But the reality is a bit more complicated.

Best-of-breed solutions should, in theory, excel at their respective functions while working together in harmony to simplify collections. But inherent flaws in the classic ARM bolt-on integration model can have the opposite effect, thus working against business goals and interests.

Here are three big problems that tend to accompany the typical ARM tech stack.


Problem #1: Outsized Technical Burdens and TCO

Bolting ancillary solutions onto an existing tech stack creates the need for custom integrations and multisource business logic to ensure the level of interoperability collection agencies need today. A unified, seamless tech environment is crucial for streamlining account management, helping adhere to day-to-day compliance demands (in step with ever changing rules), and achieving optimal revenue recovery.

By virtue of its disparate multivendor design and architecture, the classic ARM bolt-on integration model shifts the burden to collection agencies to play the role of IT provider. System maintenance is a never-ending cycle that eats valuable time and resources.

When an otherwise routine update or technical fix is performed, it reverberates throughout the system. Disparate but interdependent parts, like links in a chain, then require their own reconfiguring so they remain compatible and fully functional.

For businesses, this unwieldy setup translates to a higher total cost of ownership (TCO) and increasing IT investments over time. It also means less time spent on developing high-value IT initiatives and strategies that drive revenue (e.g., onboarding new clients faster).


Problem #2: Ongoing Compliance Risks

According to BillingTree’s 2018 ARM Operations and Technology survey, compliance is the industry’s foremost operational concern. That concern may also be the industry’s greatest obstacle to progress.

While most ARM businesses aim to provide a better experience for consumers—thus becoming a “sticky” provider to clients and increasing recovery rates—many feel trapped in a complex web of federal, state, and municipal laws governing contacts and payment methods. Paralyzed by fear of risk, these businesses are reluctant to move in new directions.

Consider, for example, the CFPB’s proposed new rules. Agencies must abide by call caps, meet conversation history requirements, and get E-Sign consent for use of text and email messages in legally required notices. But visibility gaps between and among point solutions in an integrated tech stack pose major risks.

There’s no system-wide awareness of consumer preferences, consents, and prior communications. There’s no way to track customer data and communications through the entire operational cycle, without adding that data flow burden to the agency, adding again to the TCO. Therefore, there are no built-in protections against initiating too many or the wrong types of contacts.

For ARM leaders who are looking to improve their long-term prospects but concerned with maintaining compliance, the opportunity costs and potential liabilities they face make the classic ARM bolt-on integration model a lose-lose proposition.


Problem #3: Lingering Inefficiencies

Classic ARM bolt-on integration not only consumes resources on the IT side, but also limits gains in operational efficiency. The same lack of visibility that increases compliance risks also denies collection agencies the insights they need to take control of and streamline the collections cycle.

Even with best-of-breed solutions powering collection functions across the board, there’s no central brain governing and tracking account activity. As a result, agents continue chasing low-value accounts, or chasing high value ones at the wrong time, or with the wrong channel, or for too long. Productivity suffers, as does revenue recovery. Business leaders can’t make informed decisions, and agencies risk falling behind in a fast-moving industry.

In this environment, a central brain is the key missing ingredient. In fact, it’s the very thing ARM businesses need to thrive. It can help ensure every account is worked properly, minimize operational and cost burdens, make compliance the default, and empower IT personnel and agents to bring more value to the business.


What’s the Alternative to Classic ARM Bolt-on Integration?

An ARM ecosystem differs from an integrated tech stack in ways that free and enable businesses to accelerate their success. All tools in the ecosystem are designed from their inception to fit and work together seamlessly in a single unified system. All account data is shared, and accounts are easy to track and manage. System management and customization are simple, and built-in safeguards greatly reduce compliance risks.

You can read more about how the ARM ecosystem works and how it transforms collections in our complimentary eBook “The ARM Ecosystem: Advancing Beyond Integration.” Download your free copy today.


Don’t miss these other posts in the ARM Ecosystem series:


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Boost collections. Lower costs. Close compliance gaps.

Your approach to innovation may be hindering your success. Download “The ARM Ecosystem: Advancing Beyond Integration” and learn what a holistic, seamless collections operation can do for you.

Disclaimer: Ontario Systems is a technology company and provides this blog article solely for general informational and marketing purposes. You should not rely on the content of this material for any other purpose or as specific guidance for your company. Ontario Systems’ advice, services, tools and products described herein do not guarantee compliance with any law or industry standard. You are ultimately responsible for your own company’s actions and compliance efforts. Because everyone’s situation is different, you must consult your own attorneys, accountants, and/or other advisors to obtain specific advice on your company’s compliance, legal, tax, regulatory and/or other business needs. Despite Ontario Systems’ efforts to provide current and up-to-date information, you need to recognize that the information contained herein may become outdated quickly and may contain errors and/or other inaccuracies.

© 2020 Ontario Systems, LLC. All rights reserved. Information contained in this document is subject to change. Reproduction of this publication is not permitted without the express permission of Ontario Systems, LLC.

Posted by Dan Womack

Dan Womack is the Director of Product Management, ARM at Ontario Systems, and was previously the Director of Product Engineering at Columbia Ultimate. He oversees product management for all Ontario Systems ARM products. For 13 years, Dan has worked to enhance the solution offerings available to members in the ARM industry, consulting for and working with several hundred agencies to help optimize their systems and processes to increase revenues and throughput.
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