Digital Transformation: Real World Examples of Market Breakthrough

This is the second in our four-part series on Digital Transformation. For a more in-depth definition of Digital Transformation and its four types, read the first post. 

For our clients, “digital transformation” simply means using IT to deliver dramatic improvement. It’s going beyond simple upgrades or fixing niggling IT problems—it means using IT to make a significant change for the better.

At Freeman Clarke, we see Digital Transformation in terms of four categories:

  1. Market breakthrough
  2. Wowing customers
  3. Internal redesign
  4. Risk reduction

Market Breakthrough Defined

“Market breakthrough,” in our analysis, is really about using your expertise to create entirely new offers. For example, some of our clients have created software to provide new kinds of specialist services; some manufacturers or wholesalers have become retailers. Others have cut through supply chains, or they have positioned themselves as new kinds of intermediary, repackaging or combining products and services from other companies.

In our experience, mid-sized businesses often have a huge advantage over their larger competitors in this kind of transformation because:

  • They have expertise in their markets and an in-depth understanding of their clients’ business needs
  • They are small enough to make rapid decisions and changes
  • They are less beholden to short-term reporting
  • They don’t have a gaggle of middle-managers focused on preserving their careers or exploiting existing incentive arrangements

We recommend that mid-market businesses think about their real customers’ needs and work backwards from there. Start with a blank sheet of paper and work out what your customers really value—which may not be the same as what you currently give them!

Market Breakthrough Case Study: Amberjack

One of our clients, Amberjack, is a global expert in future talent and intake-based volume outsourcing. They work with high profile global businesses operating in competitive international markets.

“Historically, Amberjack won business based on our highly specialist teams and great levels of service,” explains Cynthia Bostock, CEO. “That’s still true today, but the market moves on. Our clients are companies like Unilever, international brands that rightly expect more. The advent of automation and digital assessment means that strategies that worked in the past to attract and select the very best talent are no longer effective or competitive.”

Many Amberjack clients recruit large numbers of graduates and apprentices annually, and they expect a slick digital recruitment process to secure the best talent. For outstanding candidates it’s always a buyer’s market, and Amberjack needs to help their clients to stand out and attract the very best.

“We offer real strategic advantage to our clients rather than just cost-saving,” Bostock continues. “For example, offering to help a Big 4 consultancy recruit graduates more efficiently is interesting, but giving them a way to recruit the very best candidates in an exciting and immersive way offers them long-term strategic advantage. And that is a fundamentally higher-value proposition.”

Amberjack created a vision for an end-to-end digital experience for candidates and advanced tools that manage the entire recruitment process online.

Its clients now have a much slicker process, and they have far greater control, because recruitment is underpinned by data insight. They can easily review compliance information and ensure they are implementing their diversity agenda or ensuring gender balance. They can even measure the candidates’ experience of the recruitment process.

Freeman Clark provided one of our Principals, Kev Cooper, as Amberjack’s CTO. Cooper describes the challenge and the opportunity:

“We’ve only just started. There is so much further we can go. This industry will continue to be revolutionized by new value-add technologies, and Amberjack will be at the forefront, bringing increased value to clients.”

For these reasons, international advisory firm Bersin by Deloitte recently named Amberjack as a “global HR disruptor for 2018.”

In 2018, Amberjack was nominated for seven National Recruiter awards, and won four including Supplier of the Year. For more information about Amberjack, visit https://www.weareamberjack.com

Market Breakthrough Case Study: CoachHire.com

CoachHire.com is a British company providing group transport solutions to more than one million passengers per year.

The coach hire industry is typically very fragmented and local, and it’s not renowned for technology innovation.

For CoachHire.com, the opportunity has been to create a platform connecting buyers and sellers. Across the tech industry, new platforms always attract attention. But there are plenty of markets where specialist expertise and relationships are key, making established players better placed to spot opportunities than a Silicon Valley startup.

Mathew Hassell, CoachHire.com’s CEO, saw an opportunity to help customers find coaches and specific services, and to bring efficiencies to the coach operators.

Hassell explains: “Most coach operators are very small companies with very limited internal systems—often just paper, spreadsheets and whiteboards. On the other side of the equation, people who want to order a shuttlebus or coach may have an urgent need and don’t know where to start.”

CoachHire’s platform gives customers a simple, well-designed purchasing experience. At the same time, the platform helps operators manage their bookings, allowing them to move in the 21st century.

One of the biggest markets for coaches is schools. CoachHire.com uses technology to improve safety and to give parents more peace of mind.

Freeman Clarke Principal Mat Diss is CoachHire.com’s CTO. He explained: “We use technology to ensure the operator, schools and parents know where the bus is. And we can confirm children getting on and getting off the bus which is a real safety enhancement. So no-one worries unnecessarily.”

Where You Can Begin

It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true: the hardest part of Digital Transformation is just getting started.

We recommend a Board-level discussion to tackle these questions:

  1. What is it that your market really needs?
  2. What do you customers really care about and value?
  3. If you started with a blank sheet of paper, how would you do things differently?
  4. What are the barriers to solving the above questions, and how might IT remove them?

Both CoachHire.com and Amberjack have achieved market breakthroughs by combining their market expertise with new technology. There is every reason to believe that you can achieve this in your market.

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Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations, helping our clients use IT to beat the competition. For an informal conversation, Contact Us, and we’ll be in touch.