Digital transformation – how small partners can turn big giants. Matthew Johnson - Content Strategist by Matthew Johnson, Content Strategist

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The nature of large organisations means they often have their hands tied by what they can and can’t do. They can be limited by bureaucracy, compliance, processes and procurement; which can make them ineffective when it comes to developing digital transformation solutions. Legislation is a necessity but the consequences can be apparent. It can make them slow, hindering them from reacting in time to market trends. Agencies, on the other hand, particularly independents, do not have this issue and can act much quicker. Acting quickly could be all it takes to steal market share from a competitor. So it’s no huge surprise that many FTSE companies outsource most of their marketing budgets to agencies. 

The broken digital innovation process. 

Take a law firm who want to send some of their employees to an overseas office on a placement. Pretty common with top law firms. The process for this is long and tedious as the majority of firms currently do it manually – via emails and spreadsheets. They would send out an email asking who is interested in placements and then have to manually update a spreadsheet. The organiser’s inbox explodes with replies from interested employees with their preferences and descriptions of their personal situations. An operational nightmare. This internal process requires employees to send out the comms, application forms, visa eligibility forms etc. and can easily take up to six months to organise.

The process is riddled with inefficiencies, so they go to their IT department for a digital transformation solution. They quote £150k to build something on SharePoint that would take around 12 months. The ‘solution’ is not fit for purpose, uninspired and slow. But they went to the IT department because the company legislation commands this and that is what they have always done. 

This sort of situation was made for Contra.

We have several case studies where we have jumped into a similar situation to automate manual processes with a bespoke digital transformation applications. So here’s what we did in a similar situation. 

The Contra effect.

We were already on the preferred suppliers list and, because we had a direct relationship with the decision-maker, we were able to put forward a different proposal for the project. A new perspective. Using our wide range of industry experience, we pitched a simple UX and effective solution that would make the whole process much easier. The client could instantly see the benefit and wanted to proceed. It took them more time to sign off on the budget than it did to build the system! Built within 3 months, it was clean, efficient and job-specific. It used an algorithm to automatically place people’s preferences against availability. There wasn’t an existing algorithm for this, so the IT department might have become flustered at this stage. However, with a creative approach, we found a similar algorithm originally used for the dating industry and adapted it to meet our requirements.

“Contra acts like a dedicated department for specific projects. This allows them to work without limitations and get the functionally right. Contra just gets it done.”

We took a start-up mentality to a large firm and made them more agile, resulting in them being able to see the results a lot quicker. With Contra, it’s not just how we build the system, it’s the level of planning and understanding of business needs that goes into every project that helps us succeed. 

Don’t agencies cost more?

It may seem like an external partner will be more expensive, with potentially higher day rates, but the length of time for both internal and external teams to deliver is incomparable. Being the much quicker digital transformation solution, it’s not any more expensive and it also allows the company to start making a return a lot sooner. 

It’s easy to maintain the status quo, but where has that ever gotten anyone? Using internal teams can sometimes be the easy way out but you risk the solution being unoriginal, slow and ineffective.  


We think every large organisation needs to partner with some specialist geeks to help them think outside the box, stay ahead of market trends and provide another option from a new perspective. Bureaucracy can be good IF it adds value, but when it takes months of meetings with multiple stakeholders each time, it might be time to seek alternative solutions.

Ultimately, if you don’t speed up, you’re not evolving and risk being left behind.

Matthew Johnson - Content Strategist by Matthew Johnson, Content Strategist
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