Innovating Beyond Technology | Service & Technology Centered on the Customer

Published October 24, 2018 - Writtten by John Krupnik

5 min read


IAA's John Krupnik, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, delves into the true meaning of innovation, and why IAA continues to push to deliver value to its customers.

Innovation is a frequently used buzzword in today’s business world.  With everyone claiming to be innovating, the catchphrase has the potential to lose meaning.  Let us step back and examine what really is true innovation.

The Latin word means ‘to make changes’ or ‘the introduction of something new.’  While the definition may explain the what, it does not cover the why.  Here at IAA, we have not innovated or changed simply because we can.  We have looked to innovate because it drives efficiency to what we do every day and delivers value to our customers.  Innovation, however, is more than a technology term; it is embedded in three core elements of IAA – our culture, our customer, and our vision.


Since our inception, nearly 40 years ago, IAA has looked to make changes and introduced ways to do things differently.  Beginning in the early 1980’s IAA was first to recognize the need for process improvement and change to push the industry forward.  Our early history shows continuous geographic expansion and foundational innovation – critical to support the future.  We held auctions and connected buyers and sellers.  We developed the core systems, sites and functions that would help us outpace others in our industry.  What followed was a revolution in auction innovation that has led IAA to the market leading position it has today.

If you walk through our auctions, our business technology department, or our customer service centers, you will feel the innovative spirit.  The IAA culture evokes a drive to make every process more efficient than it is today.  In fact, in addition to our day-to-day business and operations teams, we have embraced the concept of thinking outside the box and have a formal innovation development team.  This group of talented folks focus on the “what could be,” to the “radical new idea.”  Moreover, they focus on this not in isolation, but by collaborating with other parts of our business, our clients and the broader industry.  So, whether it’s an ID8 session of cross functional team members working together on a list of next ideas for selling vehicles, or a customer service representative partnering with a developer on our ChatBot language – innovation is something we focus on every day, with nearly every employee, in literally every corner of our organization.

Innovation has been such a part of our culture and our brand; it is something our customers expect from IAA every day.  To them, we are more than a salvage auction company; we are their solution in the vehicle disposition ecosystem.   When we think about the next iteration of a product or service, or even contemplate development of something new, we first dig into the details with our buying or selling customers.  How will it deliver value, how will it help them work faster, how much time and resources will it save, will it provide transparency and help them make better decisions?  When we innovate, our customers are at the center of the process.

For most, innovation is used as a competency to gradually change and update products, process and business models.  If you look at IAA’s history, you will see that we leverage innovation to evolve, and in some cases disrupt.  Our early years are marked with examples of innovation that built the strong foundation of the company we are today including the creation of a connected competitive market place for buyers and sellers, the development of customer centric catastrophe services, and the rapid growth of our facility footprint.  In the last, nearly 2 decades our innovation has rapidly accelerated from both a vertical perspective, with our auction model, and from a horizontal perspective with the entire disposition ecosystem.

We understand that change is just not an outward strategy, but one we must turn inward as well.  Taking innovation to the next level, we have focused on disrupting our own auction model.  This decision is rooted in providing our customers choice, flexibility and above all the strongest market connecting buyers and sellers.  Today, IAA boasts a multi-channel auction model including six platforms to sell and buy cars.

Looking broader, we have extended innovation to the entire disposition ecosystem and created solutions that cut cycle time, transform paper process to electronic and delivering data and information that help our clients make smarter decisions.  A few recent examples are the IAA Tow App, which transforms vehicle transportation, and IAA Loan Payoff, which drastically cuts cycle time

We know that what we do today, will not be what we do tomorrow.  Our practice of innovation is beyond incremental change, it looks to shift, turn and flip who we are and what we do.  IAA looks at the future as an opportunity to transform how we design and build internally, as well as how we connect to the broader industry.   And, as the saying goes, “we are just getting started.”

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