Today’s marketplace is changing, and ‘digital transformation’ is on the lips and minds of business owners across the globe. Gone are the days when websites were built merely to hold an online presence: customers now have greater expectations and demand that websites serve as true digital showcases for their favourite brands, big or small. With this in mind, we sat down with Flowlens’ very-own Rich Dale to discuss digital transformation for small businesses. Check it out and don’t forget to like, subscribe and share!
Kicking off our discussion, Rich takes us on a very brief walkthrough on his own background and professional experience. The entrepreneur is currently a Director at Flowlens, a cloud-based platform built for small equipment manufacturers. “We have customers involved in building machinery, electrical components, and some of these small-to-medium-sized businesses are making some really innovative products,” explains Rich. Rich explains Flowlens as streamlining processes for these businesses, removing the labour and time expenditure behind the likes of Excel sheets and other manually-entered data.
Whilst recording data seen in spreadsheets is essential, Rich reminds us that the practice is fundamentally siloed. “If you’re working in sales or manufacturing, for example, you can get yourself in trouble very quickly by not finding the most updated piece of information as quickly as possible. Our mission is to seek out these businesses and digitally transform them so their business plan is future-proof”, he explains. “Every business follows a process whether they realise it or not. Whilst those processes might be passable in normal days, an influx of orders could turn that on its head and prove that process to be poor.”
The Flowlens CEO admits that in many cases, business continuity is often seen as an afterthought. “This has been particularly relevant with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. But whether the virus was here or not, our basic principle is that if you have orders, you need to know if you can fulfill those orders. That’s what our system does for a small equipment manufacturer. It gives them the confidence that in times like this, if your staff are off for any reason, someone else can come and pick that up knowing that the information will be there for them.”
On the topic of digital transformation, the benefits of the system for a small equipment manufacturer are obvious. Rich highlights that processing orders will require inventories of machinery and other pieces of manufacturing equipment – things which themselves require upkeep, maintenance and management. You have customers that you have to look after, their satisfaction and the after sales element, exploring new revenue models. Customers want the piece of mind that you can look after them if something goes wrong”. With Flowlens, the CEO argues that its customers can proceed with confidence that the data is there to support and justify those various elements of work.
Mapping Out Real Change
The software expert emphasises that regardless of whether you decide to opt for Flowlens or any similar product, there is huge value to be found in mapping out your company’s processes, seeing how it moves “from A to B”. He highlights that this is particularly important for smaller businesses, who can more closely examine if a process is effective or not. “This will ultimately prove its worth if and when circumstances or customer demands change,” says Rich, “and ultimately means that your business will be future-proof in its processing of orders”.
The approach of Flowlens to digital transformation in small businesses is a modular one. Rich highlights that the Flowlens system doesn’t transform a business overnight, instead encouraging a gradual and thorough approach granted by the visual mapping of the manufacturing process. “We want to see their appetite for change transformed, away from that mindset of ‘this is how we’ve always done it’. We want to see both their mindsets and their business processes change. It’s as simple as having employees sending an enquiry to the system and following it up with a task or a reminder, or as complex as having that accurate picture of what stock you have.”
The story for Flowlens thus far has been of rapid growth. But what comes next for the cloud-based platform? Rich predicts a future of continued growth for the company, focussing on that same customer niche and building on the strong moment it has gathered behind it.
“We’re focussing on continued growth and participating in that digital ecosystem – it’s really exciting! We’re keen to hear from more people who have been inspired by that journey, and we’re looking forward to getting stuck in.”
ProfileTree’s interview with Rich Dale joins the Business Leaders series, our award-winning YouTube playlist featuring interviews and industry insights from entrepreneurs across Ireland, the UK and Europe. To pitch your business to our series or discover how our digital marketing services can boost your online business, get in touch with our expert team today.