How to build a low risk, high return business transformation strategy
With an exciting range of emerging technology coming onto the market, coupled with the rise of automation, there are lots of opportunities for SMEs to enjoy greater efficiencies and higher returns.
The big question is: where do you start with digital transformation?
Surprisingly, it may not be where you think.
Identifying missed opportunities in digital transformation
When businesses are considering digital transformation or moving towards automation, they often start big. Traditionally, many companies have tackled problems with their production, manufacturing or logistics processes by investing in large, generic ERP systems. Others spend a great deal of time and money developing more customised software.
In both cases, some problems will undoubtedly be solved. However, despite the large-scale investment, many day-to-day processes are still left untouched by technology.
At the First Solution Group, we call these untouched areas the ‘white space’. They are the places that generic systems can’t reach. The spaces that can’t be impacted without more bespoke solutions or a deeper understanding of your business.
For us, ‘white space’ isn’t just an untouched area of your processes, it’s also a missed opportunity to innovate and drive value. That’s why we make it a key focus and help our clients to turn it into a competitive advantage.
To eradicate ‘white space’ and move towards digital transformation, book a call with us today. Or keep reading to discover a few ways to kickstart the process.
Creating a low investment, high return strategy for your business
At the First Solution Group, we believe the first step towards automation shouldn’t involve tech at all. For us, effective digital transformation starts with the right methodology and mindset.
Let’s face it, as human beings we rarely get things right first time, especially when we’re innovating. We make mistakes and learn from them. It’s how we progress.
The problem is: since we were young, we’ve all been programmed to see failure as a negative thing. Failure has traditionally been a taboo topic, with leaders trying to deflect or cover up mistakes in the name of smart business.
But when it comes to digital transformation, we believe embracing some level of failure is critical to success.
Of course, we’re not the only ones with this view. Many companies, most notably GoogleX, also known as Google’s “moonshot factory”, actually seek out failure. The quicker they fail, the better. It means they avoid costly mistakes and weed out weak ideas before investing in them.
In today’s fast-paced world, innovating successfully involves failing fast, cheaply and intelligently. We understand it’s not easy to change mindsets, but doing so can give you a real competitive advantage.
To see how ready you are for automation, try out our free Automation-Ready Assessment tool.
Overcoming the challenges of traditional digital transformation platforms
Once the mindset is sorted, the next step is deciding on the technology solutions themselves.
After many years helping clients with digital transformation, we’ve found that a lot of solutions on the market tend to go against the mindset we’ve just talked about. Systems are often designed to fail slowly, which means expensively.
In addition, digital transformation projects often have unclear endpoints. As final objectives are usually decided so far in advance, they are often abstract and theoretical, which means businesses buy into large systems without a clear view of what they’re getting.
There’s also the issue of off-the-shelf solutions. Many digital transformation systems adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, which is understandable. However, it means that many businesses end up bending to fit with the software, rather than the other way round.
So what is the solution? Can you buy software that offers more flexibility and evolves with your business? In our eyes, the answer is yes. And it comes in the shape of the Microsoft Power Platform.
Introducing the Microsoft Power Platform
The Microsoft Power Platform offers a unique technology solution for SMEs. It allows you to fail fast and fail intelligently. And as it’s low code, it can be implemented quickly and cheaply.
One other core benefit of the Microsoft Power Platform is that it offers ongoing feedback loops that help you find failures and course-correct quickly.
If you’re not familiar with the Microsoft Power Platform, it’s broken down into several key elements:
This tool allows you to connect your business processes and to automate them effectively. It’s all about cutting out those manual processes that take up time and effort.
Meet the data analytics element of the platform. Power BI takes your raw data and presents it dynamically and visually, giving you valuable insights that can prompt proactive action.
Build apps quickly and cheaply, then integrate them into your business. You can build almost anything you need – imagination is the only boundary.
- Power Virtual Agents
Now you can build chatbots that interact with users within your apps or on your website. Some virtual agents can also be programmed and automated to take actions for your customers.
Underpinning all of these elements is the ‘book of truth’ called the Data Verse. This helps you store, manage and interact with your data in interesting ways.
As there are thousands of data connectors, any apps you develop will seamlessly link with your current business applications. Plus, with its low code AI capabilities, you can start bringing AI into your business – no data science degree needed!
To find out how the Microsoft Power Platform can work for you, please get in touch for a no-obligation chat.
Mindset and Microsoft Power Platform: A powerful combination
At First Solution Group, we believe the combination of a fail-fast mindset and the capabilities of the Microsoft Power Platform can give businesses a real competitive advantage.
We’ve helped our clients to create rapid prototypes, using a build, measure, learn feedback loop. This allows you to iteratively design innovations and launch ideas quickly and cheaply, without the burden of heavy risk.
In effect, you can make mistakes, and identify new ways of driving efficiency and increasing revenue, without any huge costs or impact on the wider business.
Of course, talking theoretically is great, but what could this look like in practice?
To demonstrate the benefits, we would like to share some of the ways we’ve worked with our client, CD Auction Group.
Spotting an opportunity for automation
CD Auction Group has over 30 years’ experience remarketing and managing vehicles for many of the UK’s leading organisations. With thousands of vehicles passing through their systems each week, they need seamless processes at every stage.
As one of our clients, CD Auction Group have been benefiting from our ongoing technology strategy for a while. Through this process, our team and client identified an opportunity to update and automate one of their manual filing processes. This has made a big difference to the business.
Up to 600 times a month, the team at the CD Auction Group had to gather information from V5c documents (vehicle log book documents). To do this, they’d need to search through a filing cabinet, get the information, scan the document and refile it. This was not only time-consuming, it was also open to human error – and occasionally resulted in files being misplaced or lost.
Our job was to streamline this process and help the team to save time and money.
Microsoft Power Platform: the solution
We kicked off by using Power Automate – one part of the Microsoft Power Platform. Instead of manually scanning and sending on the information, a multi-function printer now scans a V5c, turns it into a PDF and emails it to a designated address. At this point, artificial intelligence extracts the registration number from the PDF and saves it in a document library in SharePoint for all of the business to access.
In addition to this, we used a similar process to extract and safely store registration numbers from service documents.
This simple process has had significant benefits. The team can now access data instantly, wherever they are, without having to search through a physical filing cabinet (or getting someone to do it for them). What’s more, as the documents don’t need to be handled by multiple people, we’ve helped to reduce the loss and misplacement of files too.
The great news is, this was all done quickly and cost-effectively, and is now helping to pave the way for more automation in the future.
For an in-depth view of this process and further details on the Microsoft Power Platform, you can view the full CD Auction Group case study here.
Would you like to see how automation could help you gain a competitive advantage?
By finding the ‘white space’ in your business, we believe you can tap into a whole range of opportunities. With this in mind, adopting the Microsoft Power Platform is a great way to embark on digital transformation, innovating intelligently without great cost or risk.
We can also tailor these technology solutions to your business, making sure each element is shaped around your needs, rather than the other way round.
In fact, innovating in small, focused increments allows you to uncover blockages, overcome challenges and take advantage of new opportunities that can put you one step ahead of your competitors.
About First Solution Group
The First Solution Group is made up of three businesses. First Solution, an award-winning IT management service and technology strategy company. First Digital, which supports business transformation through the delivery of low investment, high return technology. Plus, First People, a resources company, providing the right leadership, operational and technical skills to support business transformation. Book a call with our Digital Transformation lead to see how we can help you.