Just about every industry is evolving due to advancements in technology. For Jonathan Brassington, his business is IT services, which means that not only must he evolve LiquidHub Inc. — which he oversees as co-founder and CEO — he must also provide the services that will help his company’s clients evolve, as well.
It’s a challenge that has required Brassington to keep a constant eye on the market, and continually find new ways to serve the market. That, in turn, has required LiquidHub — which generated $54 million in 2010 revenue — to remain nimble, agile and adaptable, which has become an increasingly difficult task as the company’s work force has soared well into the hundreds.
Smart Business spoke with Brassington about how to keep a business adaptable and scalable as it grows.
Define who you are. We develop and launched what we call LiquidHub 2.0, which is our internal transformation. We really developed a framework of core processes. We have eight core processes that we identified and sub-processes under each of them. We’re using each of those as an internal transformation framework for the firm. Everything from sales and marketing to service delivery to alliance partner management, organizational design in team building, financial operating metrics. So the big view from my lens is communication of this to every unit in the firm. You need to have a clear, consistent vision and metrics, and relating the metrics to the vision, and communicating that to everyone on a consistent basis. Every two months, we do an offsite meeting with 35 or so people. We’re approaching 1,000 people now between the U.S. and India. And we’re hiring 30 to 40 people a month now.
Learn the market. Our strategy is based on a client-centric view, so we look at the vertical industries that we’re targeting — financial services and health care. We’re looking at capabilities, whether it’s things we build organically or through acquisitions. We just did our first acquisition. So we’re looking to add new capability that matches the goals that our clients are trying to achieve, or the transformations that are impacting the specific industries that we’re serving our clients in. That is a core metric for us.
We have historically been a technology integration firm, but we are now marrying that core competency and capability into addressing industry-specific problems and opportunities, relative to how those industries are changing. Then, using that as a way to develop a longer-term, stickier relationship with our key clients. You’re looking for a way to get much more intimate with the business, as opposed to waiting for them to address the business problem, and then we’re having to come in as the technology Swiss Army knife. We want to engage with them in ideating what the business solution could be, and how technology is used.
Know your separators. We’re in an $850 billion industry, that’s IT services. It’s very fragmented. The top 20 players account for less than 50 percent of the revenue. After that, it’s very fragmented. So our opportunity was to build a midsized firm that is an alternative to the big guys, but is more scale and critical mass than a 10-person boutique shop. So the challenge for us all along has been how to focus. Within IT services, there is a lot of sub-specialties, and we’re always seeing opportunities within existing clients to do something that is adjacent but not exactly what we do. What we’ve learned to do is focus on some specific areas of competency as we continue to get deeper with existing clients. But also, we need to be agile enough to innovate within those competencies.
A lot of people confuse innovation with going into a new line of business or adding something new. Our view is we stay focused on the mission and the core competencies in areas we’re attacking. We’re always applying new paradigms and approaches in how to deliver them. We’re innovating within the focus areas, versus just trying to do something new, and getting too broad, but not deep enough.
The advice that I’d pass on to other colleagues is that driving strategic focus doesn’t mean you stay stagnant, but it also means that you’re agile enough in innovating and reinventing yourself in the areas that you focus on.
How to reach: LiquidHub Inc., (484) 654-1400 or www.liquidhub.com