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Leading from the front

Baz Gray inspires guests at first Stratas Digital Transformation Leaders Dinner

‘Inspiring’, ‘motivational’ and ‘thought- provoking’ were some of the reactions to a talk given by ex-Royal Marine and Antarctic explorer Barry Gray at a networking event co-hosted at The Ivy Club, London on June 16 by business transformation experts Stratas and process transformation platform provider BusinessOptix.

Barry Gray, ex-Royal Marine and Antarctic explorer

The first Stratas Digital Transformation Leaders Dinner brought together 50 guests from blue-chip enterprises and mid-market companies to share business transformation experiences and take inspiration and leadership advice from Baz Gray.

Since leaving the Royal Marines in 2016, after 26 years’ service, Gray has divided his time between running Whiteshod, a leadership coaching and team-building business, and planning and undertaking ever more challenging expeditions in Antarctica, leading up to a solo, 1,600-mile crossing of the continent planned for 2023.

Gray managed to combine both these interests in a talk that weaved together an appreciation of Ernest Shackleton’s epic exploits and exceptional leadership skills with video and anecdotes from Baz’s own experiences in Antarctica, notably his 2018 solo expedition to the South Pole, the third fastest on record, and a 2013 recreation of Shackleton’s legendary journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia.

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Stratas Chief Innovation Officer Ashley Hamer said: “This was the first time
Stratas has held an event like this, and the feedback has been excellent. Good leadership is essential for successful business transformation and Baz’s
insights into Shackleton’s leadership style, which was based on identifying and accommodating each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, were inspiring. Shackleton’s approach was ground-breaking at the time and is still applicable today as business leaders ask staff to follow them on their digital transformation journeys.”

Hamer adds that Stratas itself has undergone a major transformation over the last three years, using the BusinessOptix platform, which underpins its consultancy and business transformation services and which it also resells to large businesses and consultancies, to review its own operational processes and to enhance its capabilities as a digital transformation specialist.

“The ‘new normal’ post-pandemic has changed the way we do business and it was important that our processes reflected these changes,” explained Hamer. “BusinessOptix helped us understand and transform how we operated with our current and future customers at the heart of everything we do.

“More than ever, companies are looking to drive improvements in their cost base and deliver better outcomes for their customers. This is where Stratas excels, using the intelligence held within documents, both physical and digital, to drive automated workflows, eliminating manual tasks and reducing process cycle times. This is the key to unlocking the improvements customers are seeking, whether across purchase to pay, HR onboarding, document receipt and distribution or any other process that has documentation of some kind at its core. COVID has accelerated the need to change and increased the urgency to
find new improvement opportunities for many companies.”

Hamer adds that Stratas is well placed to meet this demand as, from the start, he and Stratas co-founder David Wilson took a conscious decision to move away from simply selling software or products and to build an organisation that was service- led and focused on delivering true value through process optimisation. This approach has seen the company go from strength to strength, to the point where it is targeting 50 new business customers this year alone.

Process Transformation

A key enabler of the company’s digital transformation strategy is its DataForge platform, with BusinessOptix embedded, which enables Stratas and its customers to discover, map, redesign and continuously improve operating models and processes.

“Understanding the current state process and its relationship to people, systems, risk and compliance provides a solid foundation from where transformed process models can be simulated and tested to establish the best model and the exact benefits in cost, work time and compliance,” explained Hamer.

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“That’s what we do when we help an organisation transform their AP process,
for example, and what we enable through providing customers with the BusinessOptix platform. I am genuinely excited as more functionalities come to the platform, such as the ability to measure ESG and Sustainability metrics at a process and task level to further enhance the understanding of process and the changes derived from transformation.”

Hamer adds that identifying, mapping and optimising processes doesn’t just increase efficiency, but also ensures that the knowledge and experience of staff members is retained and not lost when someone moves job. Because workflows are mapped digitally, they are easier to share, follow or modify than ones recorded only on paper.

“I was thinking about this as Baz talked about his expeditions. I kept thinking
of all the planning and preparation and funding involved and the importance of having mapped, repeatable processes so that nothing is left to chance and so that you can take tested processes and use them for planning the next expedition, potentially with a completely different team,” explained Hamer.

“Whether you are Shackleton or Baz Gray or an office worker, it is key for everyone to understand the process, the people and the external factors that can impact success to maximise what can be achieved. I hope that both Stratas and BusinessOptix can continue to help organisations do this to deliver positive and improved process outcomes.”

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