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Get Real: How does tech fuel business growth?

We recently launched Freeman Clarke in the US and hosted an event where 3 panellists discussed how technology fuels business growth. The 3 panellists; Matt Pritchard, Ramin Behesti and Jonathan Giaramita who all work within different industries, job roles and business sizes, came to conclusion that despite these variables the driver to successful growth through technology was down to people, process and organisational challenges.

We filmed a quick interview with each of the panellists before the event to get their opinion on the subject matter – and their take on how technology has affected their business.

Matt Pritchard, VP Digital and Innovation, Campbell’s Soup Company

Ramin Beheshti, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Dow Jones

Jonathan Giaramita, CFO, The BP Group

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

What does a fractional CTO really do for a mid-market business? 5 tips to make it work.

The use of fractional Board-execs in mid-market businesses is growing. More companies see and hear stories of successful engagements, more talented execs looking for a change start to think of the fractional model as normal… this creates a virtuous circle.

There have been fractional execs for decades, typically Finance Directors, and this way of working has gradually spread across the disciplines: marketing, HR, legal and finally IT.

Freeman Clarke are the largest team of fractional CIOs, CTOs and IT Directors – this is our business.

What’s the difference between Fractional and Interim

Interims typically work full-time for a client for a limited period on a specific project. They are retained to deliver a technical result, they are “hired guns” who inevitably remain outsiders.

Fractional Board-level execs really engage and connect with the company and the team. They are there to deliver a business outcome, they will put in the effort necessary to do this, and they are committed to the long-term success of the business.

5 Tips for a successful fractional CTO engagement

  1. Check your fractional CTO has real Board-level experience, first class business skills and deep technical expertise.
  2. Choose a fractional leader who fits with you and your Board; they need to feel relevant and “get it” immediately.
  3. Treat your fractional CTO as part of the leadership team. Open up, include them in difficult and confidential discussions. A fractional leader can’t be relevant if you don’t give them the permission and knowledge.
  4. Demand short-term wins but keep a laser-focus on the long-term business objectives. Insist on a clear strategy, as well as real, visible progress every month.
  5. Take the opportunity… a fractional CTO can create new starting points, offer new visions, save money, and potentially transform your business. Of course you want today’s problems fixed, but keep an open mind to the bigger picture as well.

Contact us… it all starts with a conversation!

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

Who are Freeman Clarke?

We are the UK’s largest and most experienced team of CIOs, CTOs and IT Directors and work exclusively in the mid-market. Our team of Principals are highly experienced and deliver real value to our clients everyday.  Graeme Freeman, one of the Co-founders and Directors) explains exactly who we are and what we do in this short video.

(Image left to right: Graeme Freeman, Steve Clarke)

For more information or to find out how one of our Principals can help you use technology to grow your business please get in touch today. [email protected] 

 

Using systems & digital to grow your business

Companies planning growth need to have a plan for how their technology can support and drive this growth allowing them to scale-up confidently, whilst maintaining or improving their margins and customer service.

Quite often, it’s hard to know where to start. Watch this video where I explain what a Technology Roadmap looks like, the benefits and how to start planning yours.

We also have a more fulsome CEO’s Briefing which you might find helpful which provides some pointers on getting started. Or, visit our Knowledge Centre 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 leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

What really is Digital Transformation?

Many mid-sized businesses simply see IT as a problem to be overcome or a beast that has to be fed. The Board meeting IT slot is often dominated by discussions about anti-virus software, operating system upgrades, contract negotiations and laptop replacement costs. The Board’s time, money and emotional energy are all used up just dealing with these operational details.

But IT genuinely has the ability to transform a business. There are radical and new ways to grow the business, to serve customers better, and to make more profit. Businesses that can connect with these benefits are, understandably, valued far higher than their low-tech competitors.

These opportunities 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. That’s different to a simple upgrade, or fixing some niggling problems. It means: using IT to make a significant change for the better.

That may just mean simple IT done well. That’s surprisingly rare! Or it may mean genuine technology innovation, something that is breaking new (or new’ish) ground.

4 Kinds of Transformation 

We simplify this issue by defining 4 different kinds of transformation:

  1. Market break-through. 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 cut through supply chains, or they have positioned themselves as new kinds of intermediary, repackaging or combining products and services from other companies.
  2. Wow customers. Providing new ways of offering your products to new audiences, more specifically targeted or positioned. It often means allowing your customers to get the experience they want, how and when they want it, rather than imposing processes on them that happen to suit you. And potentially it gives you new ways to de-commoditise your offering by focussing on service rather than price.
  3. Internal redesign. Most companies’ internal business processes have evolved over years and have their roots in ancient history. New tech allows this to be completely rethought, and designed from scratch to suit your customers, your team and your profit objectives. AI or software robots allow you to do away with manual tasks and reduce errors.
  4. Tame the risks. Traditional ways of working often have inherent levels of risk which affects pricing and competitiveness or create ever-present worries which consume your energy and attention. New tech can give you better customer insight or profiles, allow better targeting, real-time risk assessment and automation of controls, or might allow you to offer higher guarantees to demanding (but high value!) clients.

In some cases transformations cross boundaries, for example radical improvements to internal fulfilment can enable significant improvement in customer service as well. And better internal processes can reduce risk as well as improve margins.

So there is considerable overlap between these 4 types of transformation, but the headings do help think about what Digital Transformation can mean.

Starting this journey is often the most difficult step. The following questions can be a useful kickstart for a Board workshop…

  1.  What is it your market really needs? What do customers really care about and value?
  2.  If you started with a blank sheet of paper, how would you do things differently?
  3.  How can you remove the barriers to enable you to lead this transformation?

Imagine that, tomorrow morning, you read in your tradepress that one of your competitors has made a radical change that leaves you behind.

Be the one who does this first!

Visit our Knowledge Centre 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 leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

What is Digital Transformation and where do you start?

Everyone is talking about Digital Transformation…what does it mean?

If you’re interested in learning how Digital Transformation can transform your business have a listen to this short video by Graeme Freeman (Co-Founder and Directer at Freeman Clarke). He talks about 4 types of Digital Transformation and 3 good places to start.

We have written a lot of content about this subject and further detail about these 4 types of transformation. If you’d like to read more then we have created a dedicated page which you will find informative/helpful.

Click here to view our Digital Transformation Toolkit page.

Digital Transformation is just one of the ways businesses are striving to get ahead of their competition. Our CEOs briefing on IT Roadmap for growth provides further insight into ways businesses can plan and make sure their IT strategy matches that of their business strategy.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

What does it take to stay at the top of our game?

People are the most important part of any business.

We run conferences where we hear from expert speakers and run workshops to share knowledge, skills and experience. So, when you take on one of our Principals you get the benefit of all this training and the whole team!

Here is a snap shot from our most recent conference…

If you would like to know more about one of our Principals becoming part of your senior team, please get in touch for an informal discussion. [email protected] 

Bitcoin? Blockchain? I’m already lost!

When the last page is written on the bizarre Bitcoin story, many people believe the conclusion will be that the world was changed… but changed by the Blockchain, not by Bitcoin!

Blockchain promises a way for people to record transactions, for example, currency, information, deals or anything else that can be digital, using a ledger that doesn’t need to have a trusted central body to oversee it.

That could enable significant changes to the way that information and business happens and, more broadly, to the way that information and identity are managed.

What are you talking about? Bitcoin? Blockchain? I’m already lost.

OK, let’s rewind to the beginning…

Bitcoin was invented in 2009 in a mysterious story that geeks love. It’s probably best understood as a currency, though some sticklers would call it an asset instead.

In many ways there’s nothing new about digital currencies like this – think Tesco points or Air Miles. We’re all very used to vouchers that are like currencies but don’t have the Queens head on them.

But Bitcoin is different because a key part of the scheme is a clever ledger, called the Blockchain.

The Blockchain has special rules and maths embedded in it to allow all the users to track the deals without relying on a central authority.

That’s right… no one is in charge!

Obviously, if you want to know how many Air Miles you’ve got, you phone the Avios helpline or check your app; or if something goes wrong you call their complaints department. They are the central authority who oversee the system and ensure it’s working smoothly.

With Bitcoin transactions (or anything else based on Blockchain) every user has access to a perfect version of the ledger so you don’t need to rely on a central body at all. The ledger is secure and reliable.

Now of course nothing is perfect, perhaps there are flaws in Blockchain that have not yet been discovered, or new kinds of maths or computers will make it hackable. You could distort the system by taking control of huge numbers of computers but it just isn’t practical. To all intents and purposes, the Blockchain is secure and reliable – in 10 years of Bitcoin there have been no interruptions, corruptions or errors.

And now there are a slew of other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Arguably some of them are technically superior to Bitcoin but none of them yet has the foothold that Bitcoin does. Only time will tell which will prove to have long-term value as a currency (or asset, if you prefer!).

However, all of these cryptocurrencies run on the same kind of rails – Blockchain! Blockchains are the ledgers for all of them. 

Blockchained to the rhythm

Very simply, the Blockchain is a set of rules and codes to enable a database or ledger to be securely copied and synchronised on millions of computers all over the world.

If you want to record something in the Blockchain database then you change one copy and this change gets replicated in all the copies. There are extremely clever rules that govern this process to make sure that only valid changes get accepted onto the Blockchain and replicated.

And once a change has become fact in the database then it’s impossible to undo it. If you want to check the data then you can do it on any of the copies, and if there were any doubts about one copy then it’s easy to see if it matches the others.

It doesn’t matter if any of the computers has a problem because there are so many others still running the system keeps going. It’s effectively impossible to tamper with the database because you would have to simultaneously tamper with millions of copies.

Critically, none of these databases is the master copy. They are all synchronized copies of the whole database.

Bitcoin transactions are recorded in a Blockchain ledger which ensures that there is an unequivocal record of buys and sells. There is no central bank, organisation, or government overseeing the system.

Now nothing is entirely secure, but there is no practical means to hack the Blockchain, so for the purposes of this Briefing we’ll assume it’s secure and un-hackable – because it probably is.

So why does Blockchain matter to business?

Well Blockchain could matter to business because it could allow disparate companies and people to work together even if they don’t know each other, or even trust each other. And it could allow this without the need for a central body to oversee the initiative.

And this is just the start, because Blockchains can go further and can store agreements in the form of Smart Contracts which could allow automation of lots of transactions that are currently manual and slow.

To read more about practical examples of Blockchains, Smart Contracts, and how this will create new opportunities for ambitious mid-market business, read our next briefing.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

Infographic – The 6 must haves of hiring ‘simply the best’ CTO!

Only the sharpest applicants make the Freeman Clarke cut. They posses an enviable range of talents that make them ‘simply the best’! We call these talents, the 6 blades!

Download the infographic to see what we think makes up a game changing Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for your business.

We have created a variety of content on this subject as the demand for CTOs grows rapidly:

Recruiting a CTO is getting harder for mid-market businesses

Why CTOs are on the rise in mid-market businesses (video)

Transform your business and increase revenue using custom software (video)

All of which can be found on our CTO Knowledge Centre Page

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

Software Robots, revolutionary new tech automating admin tasks?

Look around an office and you will see plenty of people whose main work is dealing with systems and information. Data, requests and instructions comes in from emails and other sources, and go out similar ways. People handle information, organise it, fix it, share it, and ensure that different systems are up to date so that the right things happen. Whether this is product information, contracts, claims, pricing, or just tracking holidays, new employees… a modern office is full of this kind of activity.

Software Robots(RPA) is technology that can replace these systems-based tasks, so it promises to automate much of the ordinary work that many office workers do for a living. Forrester (a well-respected technology research company) estimate that, by 2021, there will be over 4,000,000 robots doing office and administrative and sales related tasks!

This CEO’s briefing explains:

What is RPA?

Is RPA really new?

Is RPA part of the AI revolution?

Where is RPA really working? What are the benefits?

How effective is RPA really?

Over the coming weeks we are creating a series of content pieces about RPA’s. All of which can be found on our Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Knowledge Centre.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

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Graeme Freeman
Co-Founder and Director

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Thank you.

You’ll now receive regular expert business insights.

Call us on 0203 020 1864 with any questions.