Digital transformation gives birth to consulting business

Published on the 12/09/2017 | Written by Donovan Jackson

Lee Stevens_Brighter Days startup

Former Intergen staffer fires up ‘profitable from week 3’ company…

It’s early days yet for Lee Steven’s Brighter Days, a company he founded after a successful stint at major Microsoft enterprise solution provider Intergen. The business was effectively founded on Stevens’ experience in delivering ‘digital transformation’ for enterprise customers and, six months in, he told iStart it has nine paying clients, a healthy pipeline and is likely to increase headcount to 4 by Christmas.

But just what does Brighter Days do? “Funny you should ask; it took some time to figure that out,” laughed Stevens. “But the essence of it is that we provide strategy and we implement digital solutions vertically aligned to business units – so, HR, finance, logistics and so on. And the other side of it is the cloud; we don’t do any on premise stuff.”

This digital transformation thing, then, is very real for Stevens and indeed the clients with which he is working. Asked if ‘digital transformation’ is another of those terms that sneaks into the IT industry lexicon, gets everyone saying it but thinking entirely different things, Stevens said yes, there is a good lot of lip service being paid. “We’re seeing people chuck a sneaky ‘digital’ in there and then on the other side IT is still left to drive it.”

What’s required, and one suspects, what Brighter Days provides, is the ability to front foot ‘digital’ and put those transformative technologies, techniques and ‘ways of doing things’ into action. “A lot of companies are being reactive with how they are approaching digital business. But there are those who get it and realise that it is necessary to bring in digital skills at board level to make the change happen.”

A change which will set up your company to be competitive in the emerging world of mass personalisation, competition, and increased customer expectations.

Asked what it was like to run a startup after the corporate world, Stevens said owing to being profitable within the first three weeks of getting started, the business wasn’t considered a startup per se by at least one ‘shared space’ incubator setup. “We were rejected because we are profitable and making money and we know what we are doing. We’re not a struggling startup trying to figure out a product and how to forge our way in the world.”

Interesting contrast, that, with the recent State of Aotearoa Startups launch event, where discussions revolved predominantly around how to access other people’s money and how to get mollies well and coddled. Forget about that for a minute, and like Stevens has done, focus first on providing something of value. Fail fast? “Sure, go for it, but don’t fail at the expense of your customers,” he agreed. “That said, as a consultancy we are exploring new areas, but we’re open with our clients when that’s the case.”

As for where Brighter Days is headed, Stevens said the plan is to keep it boutique as the flexibility and responsiveness of a smaller agency is where he sees the ability to deliver value fast in a rapidly evolving space. “We’re often already delivering before a big company even comes back with a quote. And we’d rather have 10 really good people than a lot more average ones. And we’ll stay vendor-neutral, leaving us with the ability to recommend the best solution for any particular problem, rather than the one from a specific partner.”

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