Biggest doesn’t always mean best: size up all the options before picking a digital partner

  • Insights
  • Digital transformation

When you last bought a coffee from the high street, did you head straight into a major chain for a quick caffeine hit? Or did you walk further, giving your taste buds time to consider the origin, flavour and craft of the brew you really wanted and deserved?

Big, omnipresent brands like Starbucks may always be front of mind thanks to their sheer prominence and marketing clout. But you might just have been tempted by a local coffee shop with expertise and artisanship that made your purchase feel more special and rewarding.

The message here, of course, is that biggest doesn’t always mean best. In an era of unmatched choice and competition, selection should always be set against specific needs. As it is in the battle of the baristas, so it is in the domain of digital transformation.

Despite more than two decades of operation as a digital partner, solid growth and reaching over 200 employees globally, we have made a point of staying true to our roots. And in so doing, we’ve deliberately maintained a point of difference from the bigger agencies that we encounter on our digital transformation travels.

With this in mind, we wanted to reflect on the essence of MMT’s ‘boutique versus big agency’ approach - and why it can make a positive difference for our clients and their customers.

Before you decide on your ideal digital partner however, you may want to consider and weigh a few key factors.

Before you begin

Research shows that seven in 10 transformations fail. In many cases these troubles are rooted in the early stages. There’s a tendency for digital partners’ wisdom to be overlooked during the planning process. That can cause major problems the deeper an organisation goes into its digital transformation. A good way to look at this is considering our view that it’s not the ‘what’ that counts - the tech stack as the perceived answer to everything - but the ‘how’. We’ve frequently been brought in to fix issues caused by a business or its digital partner - or both - not defining how legacy tech fits into the business needs puzzle from the outset. The trick here is to bring the partner on board as soon as possible, rather than briefing a strategy that’s been devised without them. While larger digital agencies may say ‘yes’ to your brief and bring in the resources you think you need, we work with you in a highly personalised manner to find out whether the existing digital proposition is what the business needs; or if this is something we can refine together before the work begins.

Speedy solutions

An organisation’s definition of ‘speed’ might well be the factor that determines which type of digital partner they opt for. Proposals from the large digital agencies tend to come with a big team that equals quick additional resource to plug in-house gaps. But, overtime, the initial 'speed' of big teams, can end up slowing down progress, plus quick results are often not long-lasting ones. When it comes to longevity of the digital transformation, agility and culture is as important as capacity and the capability of your team. When we deploy a team, it tends to be a tighter band of agile digital transformation experts, cherry picked to match exact requirements a client may have. That means they bring agility to the transformation, whether that’s in the planning and strategy, or implementation phase. According to Capgemini, 62% of organisations say keeping a handle on culture - more of a problem as more people get involved - is the number-one obstacle to successful digital transformation.

Digital disruptors

This is really a case of playbook versus playfulness. By that, we mean there’s no harm in experimenting with different products and solutions. Big agencies often arrive with their own transformation framework, which leaves little room for manoeuvre on the innovation front. A boutique approach to digital change means our experts can be braver, pivoting with creative problem-solving, energy and enthusiasm which can’t always be the case with the a well-worn playbook. We still subscribe to a start-up mentality, two decades into our own digital journey, and it reaps rewards for our clients. But that doesn’t mean our ideas are headlong or heedless, simply suggested to satisfy the 72% of business leaders who see aggressive digital strategy as a key route to competitive advantage. Expert insight and cool wisdom always underpin our best thoughts.

Bespoke services

It’s fascinating to note that studies show 41% of IT budgets are wasted by enterprises because they use the wrong analysts to plan and implement their digital transformation strategy. Operations become sub-optimal, focus is on the wrong tasks; delivery suffers. When you have a smaller, specialist team who are hand selected to match your requirements and goals there is less chance of efforts going to waste. Listening is a core skill for our teams. And we know we can always learn more from our clients, to stay in lockstep with them on the transformation roadmap.

All hands on deck

If you’ve ever had renovations at your property you’ll understand how many people are involved to make everything run smoothly. Rather than impose a large team on customers, as is the way with most bigger consultancies, there’s a more agile method of finding resource. Along the way, client organisations need the likes of cloud application developers, security specialists, scrum masters and many more - and 80% of firms say these specialisms are hard to find, which harms digital change projects. There’s a talent pool that we can tap into at will thanks to our relationships with expert individuals who can fix the tricky task of team augmentation in timely fashion. That way there is no hiatus in the transformation roadmap.

All outcomes in mind

According to PwC, more than nine in 10 (91%) business leaders say ESG goals are crucial to driving their business forward. It’s good news then, that our agile approach and inclusive focus for every aspect of business strategy within digital transformation means sustainability is at the forefront of our minds. Again, this isn’t always the case with big consultancies which put ROI front and centre of transformation. Nor are they always cognisant of the needs of all end users. We know that a larger share of the UK population than you might think fall foul of accessibility issues: for instance, 16% of citizens are unable to use the internet by themselves. Designing digital services for all, so no one is left behind, is imperative.

As we’ve seen, size does matter. It counts across a range of key aspects of digital transformation, from flexibility of resource to speed of innovation. We helped a global pet healthcare company transform part of its business, delivering new and effective digital solutions to users with two sprints in a matter of weeks. The client admitted the project would previously have taken six months.

Finally, it’s important to note that we understand that, at times, large enterprises need to use multiple vendors, and we do work alongside big agencies - combining the best aspects of both worlds. But whether you’re about to begin your digital transformation journey; need a quick but reliable fix to components of change that have gone wrong; or simply want to sound out different digital partners about the potential to work together, it makes sense to consider boutique alongside big.

It could just provide the more closely considered caffeine hit that your business deserves.

To discuss how a digital partnership with MMT can benefit your organisation, book your discovery call with us here.