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Sean Sollitto of Relish On How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level

An Interview With Tyler Gallagher

… Employee Retention: Internal digital transformations is often overlooked. Yes, it’s important to focus on customers and business partners, but employees are your most important resource. Younger generations are more likely to bring their talents to your company of you have a truly digital culture. Collaboration tools are just a part of this transformation — everything that is involved in employee communication should be looked at. Employees want to interact with their employers in the same way that they do everything else — on their phone. Building talent retention strategies around digital transformation is something that the most successful companies have done.

As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sean Sollitto.

Sean is Co-Founder of Relish, an enterprise application development firm. After dedicating the early part of his career to enterprise application operations, architecture design, and consulting, Sean has spent the last several years focused on developing solutions to fill enterprise software gaps and enhancing the user experience.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

After 20 years in the enterprise software industry, we became obsessed with building a scalable platform to fill enterprise software gaps. To meet our clients’ needs and help them run their organizations, we found ourselves developing custom solutions. The light bulb moment was when we realized we could create a platform to solve these problems for everyone.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

In the early days of naming our company, we wanted a name that reflected our mission and culture. We knew we were building something users would love. Relish was tossed around as a potential name and all we could think about were hot dogs and pickles. But we realized that relish also means to really enjoy something, and we knew people would respond.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

Our purpose was to simplify the user experience in complicated enterprise systems and reduce operating costs. Everything we do is driven by that purpose, and it keeps us grounded in developing tools that truly help users in their day-to-day business life.

Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

Yes. Our Invoice AI app extension already solves the problem of manual invoice import. We are excited about the next release which allows users to import invoices automatically using the camera on their phone. This is a game-changer for the AP Department.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is when an organization integrates digital technology into a specific part of the business. Typically, this requires business process reengineering through the lens of that new technology to ensure the process is enabled within the technology correctly.

Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

Any and all companies can benefit from digital transformation. Simply put, every business needs to constantly improve to stay competitive. As the technology landscape changes and improves, companies that avoid transformation will lag behind and find themselves losing customers and employees.

We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible. We helped a global retailer with over 3,000 outlets expedite their supplier onboarding process without compromising the quality of their critical global supplier data. To enhance their current practice and policies, the team was able to quickly and seamlessly integrate Relish Data Assure with their SAP Ariba Supplier Lifecycle instance (this solution from Relish works with all P2P solutions). Together, the solution enabled them to shift from the time-consuming activities in the supplier registration process to managing exceptions. This global retailer now has a more robust level of secure validations aiding in preventing supplier fraud and has saved over 30 hours per month in manual effort for tax ID validations alone.

Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?

Digital transformation is always a challenge — if someone tells you it was easy don’t believe it. Because of the nature of digital transformation to affect nearly all parts of an organization it is inherently difficulty and complex. One of the best ways to ensure success and avoid common pitfalls is to develop strong communications and change strategies. True transformation doesn’t come from simply deploying some new technology — people have to want to use it. The most common challenges are always on the people side — cross department decision making, organizing and maintaining the appropriate team, project detractors and a lack of participation. Technology itself can be a challenge, and ensuring you have highly qualified partners working with you is important. You can’t avoid these challenges, but you can be prepared for them and have strategies to reduce their impact.

Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Customer Experience: One of the most obvious ways that some companies have used Digital Transformation to achieve success is within the customer experience — automating and digitizing the interaction with customers. Airlines are a great example of this with the huge increase in carrier-specific apps being used to book flights and solve customer service inquiries. Digital assistants or chatbots have hugely changed the way customers interact with these airlines.

Procurement: I have spent the last 20 years helping companies go through digital transformations in their procurement departments, an area ripe for improvement. Organizations that have made this transformation to new processes and technology are seeing increased savings opportunities and partner collaboration with their suppliers. As the supply chain crisis continues, more and more companies will need to evaluate the way they do business not only with their customers but also with their suppliers. Tools that can help with supplier onboarding, risk management and collaboration are the key to success in the next 10 years. Being able to digitally forecast your customers’ demand and collaborate directly with your supply base is a game-changer. With everyone on the same page in real-time through digital collaboration tools, you can accurately plan your budget, resource utilization and delivery times.

Data Transformation: So much data is being captured and stored in every industry today, not just social media. The challenge is how best to use that data to make business decisions. Transforming the way that data is collated and presented to users is one way to achieve digital transformation success. Large enterprises will have dozens of systems that track and store data, and each with their own reporting interface. Spreadsheet style reports are out of date the minute they are created, so huge success can come from integrating all sources of data into one analytics tool that all users can access. This is the same story as collaborating with suppliers — when every department has access to the same data in real-time, better decisions can be made and strategies can be course corrected more quickly.

Automation: Organizations that have highly manual processes should consider digital transformations. Sometimes it’s easy to throw more off-shore labor at a problem — low cost, easy to scale and turn on/off. That’s not solving the root cause. For example, many AP departments have huge groups of people manually reviewing, coding and entering invoices into payment systems. I recommend that AP leaders investigate the options for automation in this space. Most enterprise procurement or payment system processes digital invoices, but going all the way into the transformation to find solutions that solve gaps like manual invoice entry will be hugely rewarding. Those AP staff can be redirected into more strategic roles that are more rewarding for them and the organization.

Employee Retention: Internal digital transformations is often overlooked. Yes, it’s important to focus on customers and business partners, but employees are your most important resource. Younger generations are more likely to bring their talents to your company of you have a truly digital culture. Collaboration tools are just a part of this transformation — everything that is involved in employee communication should be looked at. Employees want to interact with their employers in the same way that they do everything else — on their phone. Building talent retention strategies around digital transformation is something that the most successful companies have done.

In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?

This is the most important part of a transformation. Digital Transformation projects are not simply something done by the IT organization. Businesses must adopt a strong Change Management methodology when investing in transformational technology. Ensuring that users are brought along on the journey is key — you must understand where everyone is on the change curve and cater to their individual needs. Instilling a sense of pride in the transformation is something that I always advise companies to do. Once a company begins to reward transformational behavior and encourage experimentation, they will see the mindset change they need. As much as half your project effort should be focused on understanding the reasons people are reluctant to change the way they operate and using that information to reshape your communications strategy. Get people involved, make them feel like an owner, and reward them for participation.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I love the quote (I think from an old IBM salesperson) “The answer is always yes, it’s just a matter of money and time.” When I think about that, I realize that anything can be done if we plan well enough. Of course, money and time are not unlimited, so working through requirements to distill an idea to what will solve the real problem is key to success.

How can our readers further follow your work?

Follow Relish on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/relishiq/) or check out our website, RelishIQ.com.

Also, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/sean-sollitto-a51aa1/)!

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Tyler Gallagher

Tyler Gallagher

CEO and Founder of Regal Assets

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