Going from start-up to market leader with people-first business transformation

Laurent Deramaix, CEO at Business Elements and partner at Reply, spoke to Information Age about the value of people-first business transformation

No matter the sector of focus, staying up to speed with evolving customer demands in-store and online is essential for businesses. This is increasingly calling for the aid of digital capabilities augmented alongside the expertise of staff, to bolster efficiency and improve experience. To ensure that their investments in tech pay off long-term, organisations will often work alongside integrator partners to establish and carry out a strategy suited for their goals.

One such integrator proving successful in the business transformation space is Business Elements. A Reply Group company since being acquired in 2021, Business Elements has been scaling itself into a market-leading consultancy over time since 2014, with a focus on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform implementation. To help stay in tune with the needs of customers, Business Elements constantly monitor what aspects of a strategy need to be adapted, and share the array of expertise at the disposal of consultants not only in the company itself, but throughout Reply generally.

Delivering services at scale

BE’s CEO Laurent Deramaix joined the company in 2020 from Microsoft, bringing with him an approach that emphasises co-creation. When considering what has led to its success over the years, he said: “We have a vision where we thrive as a community of experts in Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, who always look to challenge themselves.

“We always strive to help grow the people in the businesses we work with, to the point where they can be magnets for new talent.

“As a services business, we also know the importance of empowering a diverse and inclusive organisation with departments that all work together towards a common goal.”

From 50 consultants working for Business Elements when Deramaix arrived in 2020, the workforce is projected to be around 100-strong by the end of 2022.

Attracting and retaining talent

For businesses, attracting and retaining talent is proving one of the biggest challenges in the market. Staff are increasingly looking for plus points beyond the salary, including company culture and day-to-day empowerment and impact that can be made on the bottom line. To succeed in overcoming this challenge, being a people-first organisation is vital, and for Business Elements, it’s a case of practicing what they preach.

“We always say that we are a people-first company. This means establishing strategy with purpose as well as ambition,” Deramaix explained.

“You need to utilise different types of skills, including authenticity, awareness, and intuition. We invest a lot into that side of things to ensure that we can really have a culture where people feel comfortable to not put not only their skills, but soft skills at the same time.”

When it comes to improving the long-term prospects of customer organisations, BE aims to combine classical company and industry skills with soft capabilities, including communication, problem-solving and emotional intelligence. It’s this approach that is key towards ensuring that talent stays on-board with their employer’s journey.

Balancing staff experience and profitability with diversity

Profitability needs to be properly balanced with employee experience for any business to prosper in the long run. For Deramaix, overcoming what can be perceived as a paradox entails emphasising a diverse workforce from the top down, with the leadership team setting an example.

“Having a diverse team not only refers to demographics like race and gender, but also means junior talent working with more senior members of the team,” he said.

“At the same time, you need to look at the onboarding process and ensure it caters for office and hybrid working, and is always reacting to changes in the market.”

By addressing this themselves, Business Elements were able to double its profits, which demonstrates the importance of continuous innovation when it comes to the onboarding process, as well as internal operations.

Next steps

Going forward, Business Elements is looking to maintain its people-first approach to ensure the company can continue to deliver “operational excellence” for its customers.

“When you grow a lot, you need to take care of the continuity of the quality,” Deramaix said.

“But what is new now is that we can start to scale our success. This means we can start planning to take on more leaders who can either develop the company further, or create other spin-off organisations.”

This entrepreneurial spirit that the company is carrying throughout its scaling journey encourages employees — no matter the level in which they work at — to progress further in their line of work, and consider how they personally can make real impact in their organisation and market. After all, with the business world seeing purpose on a societal scale rise up the agenda, empowering talent is paramount.

This article was written as part of a content campaign with Reply.


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