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Introduction to Office Automation Using Software Robots

Look around an office and you will see plenty of people whose main work is dealing with systems and information. Data, requests and instructions come in from emails and other sources, and go out similar ways. People handle information, organize it, fix it, share it, and ensure that different systems are up to date so that the right things happen. In this short video we discuss how this data handling can be replaced by office automation using software robots. A number of our clients are using this technology – and although there can be challenges the benefits and efficiencies far outweigh these.

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.

Preparing for Strategic IT Demands from Corporate Clients

It can be a lucrative opportunity when you get the chance to provide products or services to corporate clients. Large, stable clients can be a good market, and they can be powerful advocates for your brand.

But these clients come with challenges. Corporate procurement departments often impose stringent IT demands. Although meeting these demands can be a pain, once you get through those hoops, then you have earned a tangible competitive advantage.

In such situations, Freeman Clarke Principals are often called in to help. We’ve created the below CEO’s briefing on the subject to shed light on the most common issues and opportunities that pop up with corporate clients.

This area is of specific interest to our clients in the logistics/3PL sector—we have a specific briefing on this sector which you can find here.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time, or fractional CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with organizations looking to use IT to grow their business. If you’d like to discuss how Freeman Clarke could support your business contact us now for a no-strings conversation.

What Is Digital Transformation, Really?

This is the first in our four-part series on Digital Transformation.

Many mid-sized businesses see IT simply as an ongoing problem. When the Board meets, the IT slot is dominated by discussions about anti-virus software, operating system upgrades, contract negotiations and laptop replacement costs. The Board uses up its time, money and emotional energy on these operational details.

What they’re missing is that IT genuinely has the ability to transform a business. IT can bring radical and new ways to grow the business, to serve customers better, and to increase profit margins. And the market places a far higher value on businesses that exploit these benefits.

These opportunities—which many refer to vaguely as “Digital Transformation”—should be the focus of the Board discussions about IT.

So what exactly is Digital Transformation?

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.

Sometimes it’s pretty straightforward, a matter of following IT best practice—which is surprisingly rare! Or it may mean genuine innovation, utilizing technology that breaks new (or newish) ground.

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

The Four Kinds of Digital Transformation

  1. Market breakthrough. For example, some of our clients have used their expertise to create software that offers new kinds of specialist services. Some manufacturers or wholesalers have become retailers. Some have added value by repackaging or combining products and services from other companies.
  2. Wowing customers. This happens when provide your customers with the experience they want, how and when they want it, rather than imposing your processes on them. And it can give you new ways to de-commoditize your offering by focusing on service rather than price.
  3. Internal redesign. Many companies’ internal business processes are a patchwork decades-old solutions. New tech allows you to completely rethink your processes, to design from scratch to suit your team, your profit goals, and most importantly your customers. AI or software robots allow you to automate manual tasks and reduce errors.
  4. Risk reduction. Traditional processes often carry unnecessary risks that affect your company’s competitiveness. New tech can provide real-time risk assessment and automation of controls. Or it may allow you to offer higher guarantees to demanding (but high-value!) clients.

These categories are not hard-and-fast rules. In some cases transformations cross boundaries, for example radical improvements to internal fulfilment that enables significant improvement to customer service as well. And better internal processes can reduce risk as well as improve margins.

But these categories are a good starting point for any discussion of Digital Transformation.

There may not be enough time at a Board meeting to consider these options, which is why we often suggest a Board-level IT workshop, where you can kick start a discussion with the following 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?

Remember, Digital Transformation is one of those vague-sounding buzzwords that obscure a relatively simple concept: using IT to deliver dramatic improvement. If you’re interested in a pressure-free discussion about how IT can deliver Digital Transformation to your business, see below to get in touch!

Visit our 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”) 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.

AI and Midmarket Businesses: The Real Opportunities, and the Hype

From Amazon to Zappos, companies are investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence (AI). They’re using AI to radically change how they work — to redefine good service and to massively reduce their costs.
Many mid-sized businesses, however, feel — incorrectly! — that this kind of innovation is out of reach.

This briefing aims to clarify how AI actually works, and how mid-sized businesses can use it to drive growth. We also provide some real-world examples drawn from our own clients to illustrate the art of the possible. To read the full article on what impact AI (Artificial Intelligence) is having on business click on the thumbnail below.

 

Visit our Knowledge Center which includes all content related to this topic.

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

Using IT to Succeed in Third Party Logistics (3PL)

In an increasingly competitive market, the best 3rd party logistics (3PL) firms capture the lion’s share of the opportunities. IT is often a key aspect of their competitiveness and profitability.

How to ensure your business systems are well designed, properly configured, smoothly integrated and effectively used.

The Five Key Ways IT Is Integral to 3PL Success

  1. Keep costs down by assigning responsibility. Both in IT and across the business, every investment must have a director scrutinizing the costs and accountable for delivery. Similarly, because IT costs and process are directly linked, someone needs to have ownership of process efficiency.
  2. Automate tracking. Ensure accurate, effective, up-to-the-minute visibility and tracking of consignments — both internally and externally to customers. This may be complex and involve third parties, but ultimately it means meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
  3. Streamline processes. Strive for integration and standardization of processes and IT within the company and with external customers and partners. This is critical for cost reduction, minimizing errors, and maximizing efficiency.
  4. Aim for flexibility. Work towards being able to rapidly and efficiently take on new business and then deliver on your promises. At the same time, remember that contraction is an inevitable part of business logistics — plan for expansion and contraction to maintain profitability and stability.
  5. Strategize for points of difference. Ensure that your business strategy and your IT strategy are complementary. Streamlined and low-cost operations, automated tracking and flexibility are the pillars for finding points of difference which allow you to avoid competing purely on cost.

As well as the summary above, we have created a more detailed CEO’s briefing on using IT to succeed in 3PL. Click on the link to download the full CEO’s briefing.

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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Graeme Freeman
Co-Founder and Director

Subscribe to our Business Insights

Plain English board-level briefings focused on technology strategies to deliver competitive advantage and business success.

* Please enter an email address
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Thank you.

You’ll now receive regular expert business insights.

Call us on 0203 020 1864 with any questions.