The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

The Honest Truth on Long-Term Digital Success


Part 2: Thinking About Tomorrow

“Going digital” is becoming redundant as it becomes increasingly synonymous with “doing business,” so it’s time to get back to basics. Why and when should you transform your business to take advantage of new technologies? In part 2 of the Honest Truths series, Yanick Bédard, Vincent Ramsay-Lemelin and Pier-Luc Beaulieu, leaders of the digital team at Sid Lee, explore this topic honestly and openly.

This talk was moderated by Brenden Murphy, former senior content creator at Sid Lee.

1. Keep an eye on the businesses in your blind spots

Brendan Murphy: Let’s start with the basics. How does an entrepreneur know when it’s time to go digital with their business?

Vincent Ramsay-Lemelin: Now is the right time. You always have to look to the future. Entrepreneurs have always said that when a business doesn’t move forward, it’s going backwards.

Yanick Bédard: That’s just as true in this day and age, when competition isn’t as intuitive as it used to be. Take a look at Amazon.com: they just bought PillPack, a business that specialises in the delivery of medication prepackaged by dose. The day this happened, all American pharmaceutical companies’ stocks dropped by 8 to 10%. That means that a pharmaceutical entrepreneur in Quebec who previously only had to be concerned with what Uniprix, Pharmaprix, Familiprix and Jean Coutu did now has to think about their blind spots, not just about what’s in Quebec.

Pier-Luc Beaulieu: Often, it’s a new player coming in that will push a client to undertake their digital transformation. That’s what happened with telecom businesses when Netflix expanded. You shouldn’t wait for something to happen to react, because then it willl be more difficult to manage that kind of change.

2. Using digital to transform internal activities

BM: Some B2B company bosses think they don’t need to go digital because their business isn’t web-based. Are they wrong about that?

YB: Absolutely. These days, it’s getting easier and easier to use technology. You don’t need a website or an app to use technology for transformation and to evolve. There are small businesses, like Bar Pamplemousse and the store Centrall for example, that are using only social media since they don’t need anything else.

VRL: When a client envisions their digital transformation, they’re often looking for ways to sell their services or products online, but it doesn’t stop there. They can also look towards analytics to optimise the layout of their stores. For example, there are businesses like Sobeys that are transforming the way they’re shipping their products from one warehouse to another with the help of automation. An agricultural entrepreneur could put electronic chips on their cows to know where they are in real time.

These are all opportunities that you don’t think about at first, but that could allow any entrepreneur to gain an advantage on their competitors.

3. Talk to the people who are in direct contact with your customers

BM: Ten years ago, all customers wanted was to be able to find you online. Now you’re saying that digital can help businesses review their internal activities and their philosophies. Where do you start?

PLB: Many of our clients don’t take the time to look at the data they already have. What are the salespeople in their stores saying? What about the Facebook community? Or the call center employees? You need to analyse the data to find your business opportunities and your friction points. That’s actually what we did with Videotron’s website. We sat down with their customer service employees to better understand their reality and to create relationships with them.

YB: Thanks to the data we gathered, we were able to make a list of priorities and create a long-term plan for the next five years.

4. Manage your digital activities the same way you manage your stores

BM: A long-term plan can quickly become difficult and demanding. How do you plan a digital transformation project of that size?

YB: You have to divide your project into smaller autonomous parts, and establish quick and concrete action plans. That’s what allows everyone involved in a long-term project to stay motivated. You also have to keep in mind that digital transformation is a continuous investment. As it develops, it generates value and increases sales potential.

PLB: Digital transformation isn’t a website or technological expenditure, it’s an operational expenditure. It’s a tool you have to operate, just as you have to maintain a store. It’s not like a TV commercial where the process ends upon delivery. You have to keep an eye on the competition, stay up to date and evolve.

VRL: That goes for all businesses these days. If they don’t evolve…

YB: If they don’t evolve, they’ll have to move on to something else.

If your curiosity piqued? Well, that’s a good thing: our next blog posts will help you to succeed in your digital transformation.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. As a result, the Chamber cannot be held responsible for published content.