Link To Guest Website: Imarc

Title: “Digital Transformation For Improved Business Growth”
Guest: Nils Menten – Imarc
Interviewer: Nathan Gobes – Radio Entrepreneurs

Click here to read the transcript

Nathan (1s):
Welcome back Radio Entrepreneurs, listeners and fans, I’m producer Nathan, Gobes filling in for regular host, Jeffrey Davis this morning. I’m excited to bring you back with another wonderful guest. This is Nils Menten CEO of Imarc. Welcome Nils.

Nils (18s):
Thank you, Nathan. It’s great to be here.

Nathan (21s):
Great to have you. Why don’t you start by telling our audience about Imarc, what it is you guys do and we’ll go from there.

Nils (28s):
Sure, absolutely. Imarc is what we call a digital agency, a full service digital agency. We’re located north of Boston, a little town called Amesbury, Massachusetts. We serve primarily business to business customers, mostly regional. Although we do have some national accounts that we work with. Some of our larger, better known accounts include a company called breeze line, formerly Atlantic broadband. We’ve done cool projects for red bull Motorola sprint, but a lot of regional and smaller B2B and tech focused companies is probably our sweet spot. That’s where we do most of our work.

Nathan (1m 3s):
Great. How long have you been doing this and when did you start the company? What, and I wanna, I wanna, I have several questions with that. So go, so let’s start the,

Nils (1m 12s):
I chuckle when that comes up because it seems so long. It’s actually 24 years the company, I started the company in 1997 and it’s been 24 and change years since we began. And we’ve been through obviously quite a lot of changes during that time, along with our industry.

Nathan (1m 28s):
Great. Yeah, that is a long run. What’s your background, as, as Jeffrey would say, let’s get in the way back machine, which is a reference to a show before my time, but tell me what brought you to start I’m mark and your background.

Nils (1m 45s):
Well, it it’s, it’s it’s, you know, like many entrepreneurial stories that it turned out a little differently. They’ve been set out my background when I was a young man. I wanted to be a photographer and that led to a career in, in photo lapse. And that in turn began a career in digital imaging. When that industry transitioned from silver based imaging to digital, as we were exploring digital imaging, we had some customers that wanted to do a better job of managing their archives of images. And the first one that we worked with on this project was actually bows the folks that make wonderful speakers and headphones. And so with a close collaborator at the photo lab com digital lab that I worked at, or I was, I was actually the vice president general manager.

Nils (2m 27s):
We developed a digital system for managing our kinds of photographs, which doesn’t sound novel right now, but that was 1993. And so when we show that to bows, it literally blew their minds and, and they were very excited to say, wow, what else could we do with this? This unlocks all kinds of good potential. And we developed a very robust solution that we had really ready to go. And in 1995, the funny part of the story and that that many entrepreneurs will recognize it in their own experience. Bose never bought it from they, they, they, it collapsed under its own way with all the that they brought in and they never executed on the project. But we had this thing very well baked and Starwood hotels, which was actually called ITT sharing at the time they came along and said, we have this problem of needing to manage big archives of digital of images.

Nils (3m 14s):
How can you help us? We said, hold that thought. And we went and we demonstrated the Bose system, but with their images with Sheraton’s images. And we won that, that business in 1990, I want to say five, that product became the seed that became Highmark years later. And in fact, when Marriott bought Starwood hotels, we went along with them. We still have that client to this day. We still work with Marriott hotels, manage an archive that now comprises millions of digital assets. And we have now spanning the other years for 26 years. So it was our, that was our foundation plan.

Nathan (3m 49s):
Great. And you know, you and a trend exchange, some emails before this, about what you wanted to talk about. And I think that story transitions, as well as, you know, you were working with organizations on Digital Transformation for their, for their images. And I know Digital Transformation is what you wanted to talk about, which I think is a great topic. Many businesses have to deal with coming out of the stone age, so to speak and adapting to digital systems. So why don’t you talk to our listeners about that?

Nils (4m 23s):
I think that’s a perfect segue there, Nathan, because that really was what was at stake for Sharon and then at Marriott in that finding ways to be more competitive, more efficient, more effective in their operations by leveraging digital tools. And that has meant different things for different companies. We’ve worked with thousands of different companies over all these years. And, and if you were to boil it down, I would say it all came down to that. How can they use digital online web tools to make their businesses more efficient, to reach more customers and that’s taken different forms in the case of Sheridan, of course it was help us manage this giant archive of images and logos and digital assets to be more efficient, to be better at marketing.

Nils (5m 4s):
That was the Genesis of that tool for other customers. Like we did a lot of work with a lot of membership associations. It was how can we better serve our members? How can we deliver professional development and educational courses through the internet without requiring people to come in in person where we’re having friction and, and for other companies it’s been marketing based or it’s been member service or customer service reducing the cost of, of providing great customer service. And so digital transformation, it really becomes about how do we apply our skills, our knowledge, our expertise to help companies solve problems, do a better job of serving their customers, make more money, be more efficient.

Nathan (5m 42s):
That does make sense. I know many, many organizations over the years may have been slow to adapt to new technology. But I think especially in this day and age where many organizations have been moved, have now operate remotely, it becomes blatantly obvious how important these systems are. You gave that one example of, I think it was golf clubs or, you know, golf courses that move to a digital tracking system rather than having people come in in person, which, you know, this day and age would wouldn’t would be very difficult for people. Do you have any other examples of, of ways that you’ve worked with organizations on digital transformation?

Nils (6m 26s):
Well, education is a big one and that thread runs through a lot of different organizations. And I think this was, this was new ground to break 15 years ago. And now it’s like, well, of course, of course we can, we can have education online and, you know, it’s happening at schools in some ways and very rudimentary ways through just zoom and, and online curriculum, but it’s happening in very sophisticated ways with companies like Salesforce. So, or even HubSpot leaders in CRM systems and, and related that provide the frontline of training and support and the growing of their ecosystem ecosystem through online training and support. So education, I think is probably a really great example, but, you know, we, we can pick, you know, a half a dozen from, from our experience in ways that has, you know, enabled that empowered entirely new ways of doing business and expanding the reach of companies to find new customers outside of what had been historically their geographic limitations.

Nathan (7m 22s):
That makes sense. I know on the education side, at least when I was in school, you’d receive a textbook and inside the front cover was a little a CD or DVD of some online classes that were always sort of an afterthought, but obviously, you know, again, in this, in the pandemic now that’s the, the front runner of, of academia. So it is interesting how both societal shifts, you know, things going on in the world have forced digital transformation, but also just the proliferation of, of technology.

Nils (7m 54s):
Yeah, here we are on a zoom call having a really effective media and collaboration on, on this interview, we would have been in person two years ago. And as you said, the pandemic only accelerated the pace of change and then only, you know, freed up budgets. We’re not traveling. So we’re spending money on ways to enable digital and, and our, our, my little company is no different when, when the sort of it became clear that we would not be returning to the, to the office on, in numbers. We said, well, then why are we recruiting from our geographic area close to us? Let’s throw it open to nationwide recruiting. We did this in the fall of 2020. And the result of that was that we found more and better candidates that we were really successful onboarding, and they’re on equal footing with everyone else in the company.

Nils (8m 39s):
That’s working remote as we, as we stay safe and we stay home in our dense. And so it’s, it’s had, it’s had a silver lining. It’s accelerated the pace of change as you mentioned, and it’s in our case, it’s brought us more and better talent. That’s made the agency better, made us more successful.

Nathan (8m 55s):
That makes sense as we continue forward, where do you think you see Digital Transformation heading in the future? What, what do you think employee companies and business owners might expect to be prepared for or should be prepared for?

Nils (9m 13s):
Well, I, I don’t think anyone’s going to be in a hurry to go back to business as usual from two years ago. I think we’ve unlocked some new potential and some new possibilities. And I think the people, our staff, our companies have also unlocked new possibilities for their lives and they don’t want to go back either. And so I think if anything, the genie will not go back in the bottle as far as in-person work. And I think that will continue to drive growth. I think things that are low-hanging fruit for efficiency become good targets for a software as a service platforms that enable companies to do specific things. And you see niches on everything. We spoke with a company recently, and there was actually a foundation who has a scholarship fund and they, they fund scholarships for a local group.

Nils (9m 60s):
And they were like, we have this, we have this challenge of trying to manage these scholarships and these applications and these applicants online. And they were interested in a custom web solution. And we looked at it with them and we said, it’s a software as a service there’s wonderful platforms that are exactly tuned for your exact needs. And, and, and they’re way more efficient use of your money and your time. And you’ll get a more mature product. And we think that’s, that’s where you belong. I think you’ll see more and more platforms, you know, driven by things like Salesforce or even HubSpot that enable online commerce that enable collaboration across time zones and space and make companies and small organizations. I think it’s now where once it was the province of large companies to build bespoke crazy things on SAP, or even Salesforce, big, heavy iron, one of a kind things, Oracle, those were expensive.

Nils (10m 50s):
Those required a lot of in-house expertise. They took years to implement, and they were, they were expensive to maintain. That’s no longer the case. There’s a lot of opportunity for smaller organizations to be very efficient using software tools, either, either bespoke ones that we create or integrating them with their websites software as a service offerings that are really powerful, really effective. That’s great there’s opportunity for small companies to look to adopt technology that was really past the, the adoptability point for them in terms of cost and complexity in the past.

Nathan (11m 22s):
Yeah, that makes sense. I think a lot of, as you said, smaller organizations think about these digital tools as something that’s only for the big big players, but do you have any closing comments for, for other, for, you know, smaller organizations, organizations of any size that are, you know, hesitant or slow to, to jump on, you know, they’ve maybe been hearing about new tools, but they, they said, well, maybe it’s not, not the right time. I’m very busy right now with everything going on in the pandemic. I just can’t, you know, can’t get it into my bandwidth at the moment. Do you have any advice for, for people that are on the fence?

Nils (11m 57s):
You know, I, I think all of us that have run companies for a while, it’s incumbent on us to, to step back, I mean now, and then evaluate how we do business and how we operate and, and, you know, the way we’ve always done it isn’t necessarily the path forward. And so giving yourself the benefit of an outsider’s perspective or a clean sheet approach to solving business problems or meeting your strategic goals for growth or for efficiency, or to be more competitive, take a fresh look there there’s there’s opportunity. Now come out of the pandemic, come out of the growth of, in adoption of technology to be a better company, to be more efficient, to serve more customers. And I think companies are well-served to, to look after it, to look into it.

Nathan (12m 37s):
That’s great. Thank you. If listeners or viewers want to find out more about IMR or get your help, whether it be before Digital Transformation or anything else, what’s the best way for them to get in touch.

Nils (12m 50s):
We’re a digital agency. And so our website would be really the best place to start at www dot <em></em> dot com. I You can learn a little bit about us and some of the industries that we have found a niche in, and also some of our experience and get in touch. And we’ll be right back in, in touch with you and talk about,

Nathan (13m 11s):
Thank you. We’ve been speaking with Nils Menten CEO of Imarc. Nils, I want to thank you again for joining our show today.

Nils (13m 18s):
Nathan, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.

Nathan (13m 20s):
Yes. For me as well. I want to ask all our listeners to of course, like comment, share, subscribe, follow us on YouTube, as well as all our social media platforms. We’re posting content every single day and all of your comments and, and follows really are really appreciated. And we thank you. We’ll be back with more on Radio Entrepreneurs after this break.

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