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CIO vs CTO: What’s the difference?

It is easy to assume that a Chief Information Officer (CIO) is the same thing as a Chief Technology Officer (CTO). However, there are important differences from the point of view of a mid-market CEO. Read on to learn about both job titles and their functions.

Internal or External?

Although there isn’t universal agreement on the difference, one way of thinking about it is that the CIO is more internal-facing, while CTOs are more external.

CIOs take ownership of internal processes – the day-to-day tech, the systems and devices. A CIO also facilitates collaboration between the C-suite, IT teams, and other stakeholders. A CIO speaks the language of tech and the language of business.

Of course a CTO must communicate between techies and businesspeople. But they have a strategic function, developing the tech initiatives that will drive growth and value. For example, they will oversee the development of custom software and apps.

Is CIO higher than a CTO?

For organizations with both a CIO and CTO, the CIO is normally senior. But the positions should be complementary, especially if a business is looking to grow. And while there will of course be overlap in terms of skillsets, they are two different positions, with different career paths.

Do you need both a CIO and a CTO?

If the business is large and complex, it is a very good idea to have both a CIO and a CTO. Just make sure that there is a crystal-clear delineation of duties so that both roles add value and have space to operate effectively.

The internal vs. external idea is a good place to start. Remember: it’s the CIO’s job to keep things moving along inside the company and to communicate between the techies and business units. The CTO looks forward, developing innovations for growth.

And it behooves the CEO to ensure smooth communication and cooperation between the positions so there is no confusion or duplication of work.

Comparing a CIO and a CTO

CIO: Chief
Information Officer

image/svg+xml

Internal
IT operations
Builds systems to supports growth
Supervises vendors of internal systems
Represents IT teams to the Board
Focus on improving systems and processes
Organized, skilled communicator and technologist
Click to learn What is the meaning of CIO.

CTO: Chief
Technology Officer

image/svg+xml

External
Ensures connection between tech and business goals
Supervises medium- to long-term initiatives, e.g. custom software and apps
Skilled communicator and technologist
Uses systems and digital to drive innovation and deliver value
Click to learn What is the meaning of CTO.

“Freeman Clarke provided a CIO to help us develop a roadmap for the future state of our IT systems, together with a strategic plan to help us get there. Our IT has always been a significant value driver in our business, and we need to ensure it stays that way.… [Our] Freeman Clarke CIO has not only helped us with creating that roadmap. He also became a key member of our senior leadership team.” – Chris Johnson, Chairman, JJS Manufacturing.

Why Freeman Clarke?

Freeman Clarke CIOs and CTOs work on a “fractional,” or part-time model. This provides a business with first-class tech leadership without the full-time cost.

Our fractional tech leaders are uniquely suited to mid-market businesses. They have outstanding technical and strategic skills. They understand how to use tech to drive growth. And they are suited to the culture and reality of mid-market businesses.

Whatever the remit, our CIOs and CTOs operate from the fundamental idea of linking a business’s systems and digital strategy to business objectives. This should be the goal of every innovative, ambitious mid-market company because it’s one of the best ways to create real, sustainable growth.

To find out more about how we could add value to your business, Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

What Is The Meaning Of “CIO”?

First, there is a simpler question: What does the abbreviation “CIO” stand for? The answer: “Chief Information Officer.” But what is the exact role? How is the CIO different from the CTO? How does a CIO make a difference to a mid-market business?

There is no universally agreed definition of a CIO’s role. But in our view, a CIO is a C-suite position responsible for all aspects of IT, including organization, systems, and processes.

The CIO helps develop the vision and strategy of the business and ensures the systems and processes create a firm foundation for growth.

For CIOs to succeed, they must be expert at delivering complex, transformational projects. And they must know how to make tech and people work successfully to achieve business goals. This means understanding IT in detail as well as being an impressive communicator and organizational leader.

Who does a CIO do? What are the roles and responsibilities?

The CIO oversees all internal IT teams and suppliers, all IT budgets and IT operations, cybersecurity, and risk management. Their role may encompass digital and online and they may drive initiatives across other areas as well.

These initiatives should include systems and data integration in order to deliver more efficient processes. Integration improvements are often focused on improving margins and customer service. But the CIO will tie integration to improvements in management information and reporting, which are crucial to enabling growth.

The CIO will also be responsible for streamlining and automating systems and processes whenever possible, to enable scalability, reduce costs, and facilitate the ability to demonstrate compliance.

In some cases, the CIO is responsible for linked areas of information and compliance, such as regulatory approvals like GDPR and ISO 27000.

Are there different types of CIO?

Of course, the CIO’s role will vary depending on the needs of the organization.

In some cases the CIO’s main purpose is to drive transformational change; sometimes the role is to maintain and continually improve infrastructure and systems.

Some CIOs are externally focused, ensuring, for example, that the company leadership understands the needs of their customers. Others are far more occupied by ongoing management of internal operations.

For mid-market businesses, a ‘fractional,’ or part-time CIO, provides a cost-effective way to access the skills of a top-quality CIO.

How does a CIO impact businesses of different sizes?

Systems and tech are at the heart of any modern business, so the role of the CIO is crucial regardless of its size.

In larger organizations, the CIO leads broad-based initiatives where a siloed approach would be counterproductive, for example in businesses struggling with disintegration and incompatibility. The CIO provides unifying leadership, bringing together different groups, resolving competing objectives, and creating buy-in to a single vision.

For smaller organizations, the CIO ensures that business objectives are met by managing suppliers, teams, and specific projects. The CIO understands the technical and commercial details and can make decisions accordingly.

In a mid-market business, the CIO spans the range from unifying leader to expert. Critically, the CIO always sets the agenda and drives the business priorities into the IT culture. The CIO is always aware of the strategic direction of the business and ensures that the systems and digital strategy match.

“A new business strategy required TGS to become the operational center of the other businesses within the group. We had no systems in place at the time and a very short timescale, so we needed somebody with the knowledge, experience and drive to understand our business very quickly, source and implement a group wide ERP solution, create a new IT infrastructure, and find a trusted IT partner in minimal time. Freeman Clarke came in and completed what we believed was a mammoth task, with no drama and delivered us exactly what we needed. Fantastic.”

Clare Coles, Group Finance Director, Traffic Group Signals.

Why Freeman Clarke?

Freeman Clarke CIOs work on a “fractional,” or part-time model. This provides a business with first-class tech leadership without the full-time cost.

Our fractional CIOs are uniquely suited to mid-market businesses. They have outstanding technical expertise. They are strategic thinkers. They understand how to use tech to drive growth. But they are also suited to the culture and reality of mid-market business.

Whatever the needs of the company, our CIOs operate from the fundamental idea of linking systems and digital strategy to business objectives. This should be the goal of every innovative company because when the two disciplines are connected, we see real, sustainable growth.

To find out more about how we could add value to your business, Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

What Is The Meaning Of ‘CTO’?

“CTO” stands for “Chief Technology Officer.” But what exactly does that role entail? And why is a CTO so important to a mid-market company?

There is no widely accepted definition of the role. However, in our view, a CTO is a C-suite executive responsible for all the technology in the company – including, but not limited to, its IT. The CTO is also responsible for all tech-related teams and suppliers.

The term “CTO” best describes the role required when tech is a significant part of a company’s revenue, profit, or value, often through online and digital initiatives.

A good CTO will have a deep understanding of tech, particularly custom software development, combined with real-world business experience. A good CTO also understands funding, valuation, and exit.

A CTO can transform a business by fostering innovation, efficiency, and streamlining. When a CTO combines tech expertise with real-life business experience, they can have a significant effect on the valuation of a company.

What are the roles and responsibilities of a CTO

A CTO is responsible for all the tech in the company, as well as all the teams and suppliers relating to technology. The CTO manages all the relevant budgets and ensures the secure, reliable, and efficient operation of all these resources.

More importantly, the CTO uses systems and digital to drive innovation and deliver value. This may mean streamlining and automation. It may also mean more specific changes, such as improvements to customer service. These changes will often involve creating custom software for market-facing systems.

The software may be central to the business plan, and the CTO may have a key role in communicating the plan to investors and other stakeholders. Thus the CTO’s credibility and track record will be important to the credibility of the plan, and, as a result, the credibility of the entire company.

Are there different types of CTO?

There can be many variations in the roles and responsibilities of a CTO, depending upon the needs of the business. Some CTOs will focus more on infrastructure; others may spend more time on the tech itself. These days, when so much business is online, a CTO may spend the majority of his or her time on customer acquisition or the customer experience.

Often a CTO will take a more global view of the business, looking for ways tech can drive value. This may involve implementing a new ERP or streamlining the IT to increase efficiency and lower overhead.

The exact responsibilities of the CTO will always be driven by the needs of the business, especially for mid-market companies. In these cases, a “fractional,” or part-time CTO, is an affordable alternative.

How a CTO impacts businesses of different sizes

A CTO will have a profound effect on a business of any size. The CTO of a multinational corporation may have thousands of subordinates, and the ability to inspire other leaders, to seek out opportunities and negotiate with internal and external partners will make an enormous difference to the bottom line. Their approach to innovation and security will strongly influence the corporate culture.

In a small business, particularly in startups, the CTO is crucial to survival. They must be nimble and flexible, wearing whatever hat is necessary to keep the business functioning. Since so many startups deal with tech products, the CTO’s talent and acumen is absolutely vital.

In the mid-market space, CTOs combine nimbleness and vision. Here the CTO should influence the culture, such as fostering good security habits, and deal directly with suppliers. And they also must be thinking ahead, aligning tech needs to business goals so that the business will thrive.

“Investing in IT has been – and will continue to be – critical for the continued growth and success of our business. Freeman Clarke has given us the confidence we need to make those investments. The flexibility and depth of experience provided by the Freeman Clarke model has been ideal for us as we’ve grown.”

Peter Davies, COO, Gateley

Why Freeman Clarke?

Freeman Clarke CTOs work on a “fractional,” or part-time model. This provides a business with first-class tech leadership without the full-time cost.

Our fractional CTOs are uniquely suited to mid-market businesses. They have outstanding technical expertise. They are strategic thinkers. They understand how to use tech to drive growth. But they are also suited to the culture and reality of mid-market business.

Whatever the remit, our CTOs operate from the fundamental idea of linking a business’s systems and digital strategy to business objectives. This should be the goal of every innovative company, because when the two disciplines are connected, we see real, sustainable growth.

Visit our Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) Knowledge Centre which includes all content related to this topic.

To find out more about how we could add value to your business, Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

What are Agile Principles?

Agile Principles present an approach to software development that emphasizes collaboration, flexibility, and customer satisfaction.

Some managers use the term “Agile” to excuse their unstructured ways of working, or to justify a lack of planning, or their vagueness about roles and responsibilities. In fact, Agile is the opposite; it emphasizes very clear and specific ways of working and well-defined management methods.

But Agile can also represent a general shift of culture and behavior to a more rapid, focused and value-driven approach, which is less easy to define. You know it when you see it!

What’s Agile for?

Agile came from merging ideas of lean manufacture and rapid prototyping, particularly in the software development sector.

Software development may seem like a specific challenge, it may seem that principles that apply here may not work with other kinds of projects. But software development is like every classic project management problem, in that it is complicated and labor-intensive.

If you have spent time on software projects, you have seen many times how things can go wrong…very wrong!

These challenges drove software project managers towards a set of ideas to try to maximize the chance of success. These ideas were best summarized under the banner, “waterfall”: the underlying idea is to get things right the first time by finding problems as early as possible. Problems found late in the project become expensive and time-consuming to fix.

So detailed project methods emerged to guide a project: a clear delineation between customer and supplier; quality checks at the end of each phase; and an emphasis on progressing only when you are certain you are ready.

What Problems Can Agile Solve?

While on the surface, “waterfall” seemed like a great idea, in many cases this approach drove software projects into a negative spiral of risk-aversion and paralysis by analysis. Many large projects became mired in endless reviews, processes, and signoffs.

Projects became very lengthy, sometimes lasting years. A habit emerged wherein project managers loaded in every conceivable requirement from the start, because any requirements not included in the initial scope would probably never see the light of day!

So projects became bloated, creating further complications, risks, and extended timescales.

But experienced managers know that business requirements change for all kinds of reasons. Even experts often don’t know what they need until they see it. So perhaps detailed, long-term planning is something of a fallacy—or at least a more flexible, less bureaucratic approach was needed.

What Is Agile and How Does It Help?

In contrast to the waterfall approach, Agile emphasizes delivering value over impressive-looking plans or documents. It emphasizes genuine commitment, teamwork, and collaboration from all those involved in the project, rather than formal signoffs and handoffs.

Agile is thus is a shift from detailed planning towards clarity of vision. At every step, the team knows that the aim is to deliver working software!

Along the way, Agile project managers expect changes and problems. The team must embrace them and make trade-offs, always focusing on delivering value and progressing towards the vision.

So Agile project management consists of a set of methods to:

What Are the Problems with Agile?

Agile is not a panacea. Sometimes it simply replaces one problem with another.

Specifically, companies embarking on Agile projects must accept that plans may not be clear from the outset. And this approach may not be commercially or culturally acceptable.

It can also be the case that the idea of incremental improvements is simply not appropriate. In some cases, there is no value until the project is finished—you cannot live in a half-built house!

For simple or well understood projects, Agile can be an unnecessary encumbrance, creating a meandering journey to the finish line. Sometimes it is best to let the team create a plan, get their heads down, and get it done.

Adopting an Agile Culture

There is a wider point, however, that companies might adopt Agile thinking to other aspects of their work. Many spend time planning things that never happen, creating things that have no value to customers, or indulging in “blame-based management.”

Creating an Agile projects capability can break through these problems, creating a more effective culture of rapid value delivery for a forward-looking 21st century business.

The 12 Agile Principles

The following principles are from the Agile Alliance website. Look them over and see how they may or may not apply to your mid-market business and its current project.

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Businesspeople and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

At Dekra, we reduced software development to rapid seven-week cycles. Dekra’s Ops Director, Alex Underwood, said “During the period we have been working with Freeman Clarke, we have invested in IT products to bring ever higher levels of value and service to our clients. This has paid off in our market expansion and diversification.”

Why Freeman Clarke?

Freeman Clarke has extensive experience in software development utilizing principles of collaboration, flexibility, and customer satisfaction. If you are a CEO considering how Agile Principles can help your mid-market business – perhaps your teams aren’t communicating well, or you’ve got a stuck bespoke project – Contact Us for a low-pressure chat.

Visit our Technology Roadmap for Growth Knowledge Center which includes all content related to this topic. You may also want to look at our Digital Transformation Knowledge Center.

Diamond Logistics Client Story

Diamond Logistics is thriving. CEO Kate Lester speaks about her passion sharing her company’s success and how Freeman Clarke’s tech expertise has been instrumental for Diamond and its clients.

To find out more about how we could add value to your business, Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients to use technology to beat their competition.

Using Tech in Wholesale and Distribution: Getting the Basics Right

This is a time of extraordinary change for the market. Of course, the pandemic has brought about incredible shifts in how we do business. But tech advancements, customer expectations and regulatory requirements have been accelerating regardless.

From what we’ve seen at Freeman Clarke, the changes have been particularly challenging in the wholesale and distribution sectors. There are just so many associated services as logistics, transport, storage and 3PL, each with its own complications and disruptions.

Margins remain tight. Yet the range of services you need to offer is increasingly broad: customers want ever-higher quality and seek specialist support across the entire supply chain.

It is possible to prosper. But only for the most competitive, well-run and efficient companies.

Growing Expectations

Warehousing and distribution have always been hugely competitive, low-margin sectors. Now the rise of ecommerce has set new standards in B2C parcel delivery standards that we are seeing reflected across the entire market. There are ever-increasing demands in terms of information, timeliness, reliability and cost.

Service level agreements (SLA) also have rising demands as B2C ecommerce has redefined market expectations. The challenge with SLAs is partly adherence and partly demonstrating adherence.

At the same time regulatory requirements have grown more complex:

For mid-market businesses, all of these expectations are not matched by generous budgets! New technology can solve all of the above issues, but the investment costs can be high.

Mid-market wholesalers and distributors can absolutely meet or even exceed customer expectations and external requirements. They just have to be incredibly strategic about technology. They need systems that guarantee ROI. They must select the best and most cost-effective suppliers, negotiate the best possible deals, and ensure that their investments deliver real financial benefits.

Start by Getting the Technology Basics Right

For ambitious mid-market companies, tech is central to success in this tough environment. So then how does a mid-market company on a limited budget use technology to drive growth and customer satisfaction?

The answer is straightforward: get the basics right. If the technology agenda is submerged in day-to-day problems, there is little time to talk about vision!

What follows if a brief list of priorities:

  1. Ownership. Tech needs a senior leader who can set strategy, be part of the business decision-making, and maintain a coherent vision for the future. Without clear ownership, expect problems.
  2. Infrastructure. Identify a sensible and appropriate configuration based on your business; don’t assume everything will be solved with off-the-shelf products. Remember that infrastructure includes hardware desktop computers, mobile devices, factory-floor devices, etc. Modern infrastructure is cloud-based, so insist upon reliable connectivity and security.
  3. Security. Cyber security is a rising problem, and it won’t go away. Make sure that you have right security protocols in place and that your staff has been properly trained. Remember that good habits start at the top: is your CFO scribbling passwords on Post-Its?
  4. Disaster planning. Disaster recovery and business continuity plans must be rehearsed and ready to go at short notice. Make sure that everybody knows who is in charge of what!
  5. Reporting. Accurate, timely reporting must be available so that managers and executives can understand what’s going on, what’s working and what’s not.
  6. Suppliers. Go through the entire list and ensure that you are getting the service you paid for and that the pricing still makes sense. Make sure that your staff is trained in external systems and understands how to tackle problems. Third-party transport management or warehouse management systems can be effective, though the quality of support and customization varies between suppliers. Are they still worth your time and money?
  7. Integration. The wholesale and distribution sector typically have multiple internal and external systems. Are all your systems effectively integrated? Meaning, is there minimal manual effort? Is anybody rekeying? Is data available to dashboards so managers can run the business hour by hour?
  8. Negotiate. When dealing with external suppliers, make sure that at every point you have the right price and service level for your company.

Once Again: Cost-Effectiveness and Ownership

Yes, we said that already. But it bears repeating. If you want to use IT to succeed in your sector, you must identify who is responsible for each and every IT project. Be very clear about who is tracking its implementation and outcome so that the benefits are realized.

And at every step, you need a focused financial argument to ensure that every single project is cost-justified before it gets authorized.

The Future is More Tech

We don’t see warehousing and distribution as getting simpler, in fact, we’re seeing every indication it will become more sophisticated and demanding. We’ll see more AI for route-planning, more chatbots for customer services. Autonomous delivery is just a matter of time.

Some of these technologies will be costly, and mergers will likely put a further squeeze on mid-tier players. But the best companies will prosper. In our experience, the best the companies are the ones with their IT clearly wedded to business goals, the ones using IT to reduce costs, improve service and to focus (or create!) their own points-of-difference.

To find out more about how we could add value to your business, Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organizations and we frequently help our clients to use technology to beat their competition.

The 6 Ways Technology Is Crucial to Logistical Success

“Logistics” is a big word. It encompasses wholesaling, distribution, carriage, warehousing, transportation, 3PL, storage and more!

More importantly, each aspect is part of an increasingly competitive market. So how do you capitalize on the opportunities?

For such a complicated sector, the answer is simple: Digital. Get your systems in order and you’ve greatly increased your profitability.

In our experience, there are six key areas in which technology is integral to logistical success:

  1. Cost reduction. Technology is like any other part of a business in that all investments need a well-defined ROI. But in logistics, the narrow margins make tech costs even more of an issue. Thus you have to minimize tech costs while also using technology to save money, for example through process efficiency and clarity of information.
  2. Automated tracking. The key to an efficient operation is real-time tracking. The tracking must be both internal and external to customers and suppliers. This can be complex, involving web portals and an array of mobile and handheld devices. Plus customer expectations keep getting higher. But it’s definitely achievable with the right technology leadership.
  3. Streamlined processes. To keep costs down, it’s critical to have a seamless integration and standardization of internal and external processes. When it’s done right, it also minimizes errors and maximizes simplicity. The focus must be on scalability and achieving tight connections between customers and suppliers.
  4. Flexibility. With logistics, “flexibility” means both expansion and contraction. You must be able to rapidly and efficiently take on new business or acquisitions. And you must be equally efficient when taking down operations in order to maintain profitability, providing financial stability and confidence at every point of the business cycle.
  5. Disaster planning. Technology outages—whether due to cyberattacks, some natural event, or a freak accident—will happen if you don’t prepare for them. An outage can lead to major losses and lawsuits, as well as reputational damage. The necessary preparations need not be expensive or even that complicated (think: two-factor authentication), but they do need to be properly configured and rolled out.
  6. Strategy. However clear your business strategy, you won’t get far unless you have a clear tech strategy to match. That means understanding:

Of course, this is a particularly difficult moment for businesses. But we believe that the current stresses are only accelerated existing problems. Less efficient businesses are struggling, while those with better technology leadership are scaling up. These six areas are the right place to start if you’re looking to see how you can do better.

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

The 3 Key Ways to Transform Your Business with Technology

The lockdown created an urgent need for many businesses to switch to home offices. It wasn’t easy, but it was doable: getting people connected and working from home didn’t hurt so much.

But for many mid-market business leaders, the rush to telecommuting exposed troubling strategic challenges:

For nearly every mid-market business, security issues became even more acute. The lockdown quickly exposed weak and out-dated security and authorization processes. The result? Companies are falling prey to cyberattacks. Or at best they will struggle to demonstrate regulatory compliance.

These issues call for transformational changes. And although they won’t be easy, they’re not as hard as you might think.

Transformation 1: Using IT infrastructure to add value

Companies need to ensure that their IT infrastructure matches their business strategy.

For example, we often recommend outsourcing basic IT support of cloud services. This frees up in-house people to focus on value-adding activities. Depending on your own company strategy, it may be better to in-source strategic software development, business process improvement, back-office systems configuration or data analysis.

Transformation 2: Integrated systems, processes and controls

It can feel daunting to move away from legacy ways of working. But simple, well-structured processes and systems cost less, improve customer service, and allow for compliance and business continuity planning.

If your systems and data are rationalized, you can integrate with external services, so as we mentioned above, outsourcing can become part of your strategy.

And, for many business service providers, your ability to integrate with your clients’ systems provides a point of difference and creates a barrier to exit.

Finally, this transformation creates a platform for adoption of AI/ML and for creating new online channels.

Transformation 3: Innovation and digital initiatives

Both consumers and business clients expect almost all products and services to be online. Most innovations now have digital at their heart, and digital experiences are now practically inseparable from your customers’ experience of your brand.

This tech is much more than a necessary evil. To create a high-value and agile business, CEOs must embrace tech as part of their strategy.

These are uncertain times. But many CEOs see opportunities to restructure their business, to enter new markets, and to scale up. The above three transformations offer an approach to plan for your own breakthrough.

Need help? Many CEOs work with Freeman Clarke because we take on uncomfortable changes and challenges with reassurance and guidance. Transformational change requires experienced and expert IT leadership.

We are the largest and most experienced team of IT leaders. If you want to know more about how we can help, then get in touch.

Visit our Technology Roadmap for Growth Knowledge Center which includes all content related to this topic. You may also want to look at our Digital Transformation Knowledge Center.

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

Bitcoin and Blockchain: The Next Big Thing(s)?

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the underlying technology promise to change the business world. It’s easy to be cynical about this, when so much that promises sweeping change turns out to be hype. Still, we should pay attention: technology has indeed changed the business world many times, even after cynics have dismissed it!

So what is Bitcoin, exactly? And what is Blockchain? And why are they important to business? Read this briefing to see how you can position your business to take advantage.

Or watch our short video to understand the reality, the potential and the barriers.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time, or fractional, IT leaders. We work exclusively with organizations looking to use IT to grow their business. For an informal conversation, contact us and we’ll be in touch.

How Systems & Digital Drive Business Value for Private Equity (PE)

Private Equity (PE) ownership of mid-market companies is increasing. Of course, PE investors are driven by valuations, and these days IT/tech is at the heart of business value.

In the PE space, there are four areas where IT strategy and execution drive value:

1. Building in scalability

PE houses building an integrated group of companies will often aim for one of the companies to be the “platform” onto which they can add other companies.

The platform company will have well-implemented processes and technology. It will provide good service at low cost, and provide clear, flexible and timely management information. It will have the capability to grow and deliver high margins.

Most importantly the platform company may be valued at twice the multiple of the others due to its ability to assimilate and support acquisitions.

2. Due Diligence

IT/tech due diligence in mid-market deals is often overlooked. Or it’s a box-checking exercise, because traditional DD providers use lengthy old-fashioned checklists. These provide limited real value and lack commercial insight (and are often hugely over-priced!).

More thorough DD providers carefully check the basics: security, compliance, risks, legal exposures, contracts, people, suppliers and costs. But in the mid-market, DD expectations need to be realistic. Most importantly, value-focused buyers use DD to gain insight into future opportunities in addition to the risks.

3. Enabling Marketing Innovations

These days almost every marketing innovation has its roots in technology – businesses and consumers are increasingly finding, choosing and buying products and services online.

Brands that want to engage with consumers will tend to do so by establishing a 1-to-1 relationship. They offer immersive digital experiences that provide value to the consumer and insight and lock-in for themselves.

For B2B suppliers, the ability to integrate your systems with your clients is critical, and areas like security and reliability can enable you to acquire and retain high-value corporate clients.

These marketing innovations make mid-market businesses more attractive to PE.

4. Digital Transformation

These days, a company’s size is no indication of its ability to transform the entire market. Even a smaller company can radically improve its internal operations and valuation using digital technology.

For PE-owned businesses, or businesses looking to maximise their value to PE houses, digital transformation can be invaluable. Read our article on the four types of digital transformation and how to get started on using tech to make fundamental improvements to your mid-market business.

To find out more, watch the video Focus on Private Equity, where we explain four areas where well planned and executed tech strategy really drive business value.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time, or fractional, IT leaders. We work exclusively with organizations looking to use IT to grow their business. For an informal conversation, contact us and we’ll be in touch.

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