We are in the midst of a freelance revolution. And this is not only apparent in blue-collar industries, as reports show that freelancing is an increasingly popular career choice for highly skilled workers all over the world. Companies like BCG have reported that agile, flexible teams, including both freelance and full-time talent, are more likely to meet project deliverables when compared to traditional full-time employment models.
At Riverflex, we believe that it is critical for organizations to start building their own transient workforce strategies which should be activated globally. This is why we opened up in a new market in Turkey last September under the management of Güneş Süsler. As a Digital and Technology Transformation expert, Güneş is working with independent consultants in Turkey to solve business challenges for international clients.
We sat down with Güneş to understand what it means to be a digital transformation consultant, why he moved from his role as a Partner in a traditional consulting firm to managing a network consultancy from Istanbul, and what kind of work him and his team are focused on.
Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your professional journey in consulting.
I am the Managing Director of Riverflex Turkey and have about 25 years of experience in consulting, and have previously worked as a Partner in a global consulting firm. My background is in business strategy, operations and technology, and throughout my career, I have had many global responsibilities. For instance, sponsoring the international positioning of new digital technologies-based services.
Currently, I am leading several omnichannel and digital transformation programs in Europe, while working from the Riverflex office in Istanbul. I help organizations create data-driven business value by aligning business objectives with digital and analytics solutions, new practices, and eco-system partnerships.
What do digital transformation consultants such as yourself do?
Digital transformation is a diverse topic with many layers, but at its core, it’s business transformation. As consultants, we start with the fundamentals and help companies develop their transformation strategies.
This means asking questions such as:
- “How is my industry changing?”
- “What are the new economics?”
- “What customer and consumer behaviors are emerging?”
- “How are competitive dynamics evolving?”
- “In what way and how do we want the company to transform”
- “What business model is the right one?”.
By answering these fundamental questions, we can lead a company towards a better-suited customer and employee experience, higher digital products and services, and new ways to collaborate with eco-system partners. We help companies to scale up or down their capabilities at a functional level from supply chain to marketing, from technology to human resources.
The new transformation model needs to be enabled through new capabilities and a fitting operating model, new technologies, updated processes and organization models, and changes to talent and culture. This is an area that allows us to add critical value to our customers by building that bridge between the strategy and enablers; we help them with new digital technologies by new software selection and implementation, advanced analytics, AI, robotics, data platforms, and architecture needs.
We have proven over and over again that successful transformations involve changes to the organizations operating model. The digital world requires different organizational perspectives than conventional ones, not only in the form of flatter and agile structures but also in a way to bring in-demand capabilities together to fulfill business requirements.
To put it simply, digital transformation consultants help companies carry out that structural change – end-to-end. From strategy determination to road-map development; from innovation and design-thinking to creating new digital products and services; and of course, to new technology implementation.
What is the one mistake you see organisations make over and over when undertaking a digital or tech transformation?
First of all, I’d like to indicate that there is no playbook for this new environment. Making mistakes is quite natural. I believe that the “failure is not allowed” mindset is the enemy of creativity and innovation, which are success factors when undertaking a transformation.
However, there are a few observations that I’d like to share:
- A major mistake that companies make is by starting the transformation process from technology and working their way backward. This almost always ends up in failure or lost opportunity. My recommendation would be to always start with business objectives and determine what you need before making technology decisions.
- Another observation I’ve made is that businesses tend to downplay the importance of data. . To carry out a digital transformation successfully, you need to have accurate and complete data, and you should be able to efficiently manage, govern it and democratize it.
- It’s fundamental to Integrate different perspectives within your transformation project. Digital transformations are complex and you need many different capabilities and functions to operate harmoniously. For instance, during an omnichannel strategy, it is integral to consider the supply chain together with customer-facing initiatives such as CRM.
- I must also add the importance of new skills and cultural change. Digital transformation requires a new set of skills and mindsets among the employees and leadership. Companies need to transform from a push to pull model. Initiatives such as talent conversion through training and new hires, new career plans, integrated performance criteria to support the operating model is critical
You’ve gone from working at traditional consulting firms to now managing a network organisation in Turkey. Why and how did you go about making this transition?
The reason I went through this transition has a lot to do with how digital transformation has had an impact on the consulting industry. Of course, I have a deep respect for traditional consulting companies, but I believe they are not as agile and flexible as the newly emerging services and technology companies. Global employee trends are changing in terms of how people see their careers evolving, and moving towards a network-based organization was in line with the type of flexibility I am seeking in my work.
It is extremely hard for companies to identify which capabilities are needed in a digital transformation initiative. Even more so to then go and attract and retain that talent. This is applicable for consultancies as well. You may be focusing on one or two business areas but as I mentioned before, it is never about a single perspective. I had this vision of a network consultancy, with a flatter operating model, working with a team of high-skilled independents, where it is possible to tailor teams for better client outcomes in an economically feasible manner – resulting in higher quality services. My vision coincided with what Riverflex is trying to achieve, as they too have a global perspective on consulting and are moving away from traditional consulting models. As the managing director of Riverflex Turkey, I aim to create a top-class global network consultancy. (in quote format)
What projects are you currently working on in Turkey?
Our strength as a company lies in the fact that we can build a bridge between strategy, business perspectives, and technology. We help companies create strategies, develop the necessary roadmap and implement it. We try and target companies with a holistic vision and would like to be their strategic partners rather than mere consultants.
A valuable aspect of Riverflex Turkey is that it enables Turkish freelance consultants to work on international projects, including transformation projects for some of the biggest players in Europe. For instance, our team of consultants is working together with a leading retail company to implement one of the largest omnichannel transformations in Europe. Turkey has a large talent pool of high-skilled independents, and Riverflex is shining the light on this talent to support business projects in Europe.