Digital transformation also helps you improve the process and performance of your contracts. I talked a little bit about KPIs, and they are all about data — data helps you set benchmarks and track performance against them.
As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Parks, Director of Product Marketing at Contract Logix.
Dave Parks manages Contract Logix’s overall marketing strategy and initiatives including product marketing, demand gen, digital, content, and public relations. Dave has over two decades of strong product and content experience having served in senior marketing roles with Progress, Ciena, Lucent, and Cascade Communications and as an industry analyst with the Yankee Group. Dave is a passionate marketer who loves creating content that answers people’s questions and delivers his audience value. He holds a BS from Northeastern University.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I’ve spent the majority of my career in B2B high tech in various product and content marketing roles. I worked in telecommunications for over a decade, and was also an industry analyst. Several years ago, when the telecom space started virtualizing and becoming more software-defined several, I moved to the software and application development space which is how I ended up in my current role at contract management software provider, Contract Logix.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
This wasn’t a mistake, but a good story about how “the marketing guy” ended up with a very technical patent. When I worked at Ciena, two of my super bright software engineering colleagues came to me and said that they had an idea for a patent but were having difficulty justifying it and navigating the overall patent process. So, I leveraged my years of experience building Marketing Requirements Documents (MRDs) and as a research analyst building forecasts and market sizing models and started building an in-depth business case for it. Patent applications can be long and arduous, but I worked with my colleagues and the three of us are now patent owners of “Systems and Methods for Pseudowire-in-Pseudowire to Transport Pseudowire Payload Across Packet Switched Networks.” It was a great experience and a cool example of teamwork and the need to leverage different types of expertise to get a job done. From the time we wrote the application and submitted it to the patent getting granted took over five years. The plaque is still hanging in my office today.
I guess one of the lessons there is that you should never underestimate the value of being able to tell, or write, a good story.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have a number of people who have helped me with my career path, but a few really stand out. The first is Steve Kelly, who took a chance and hired me for my first product marketing job at Cascade Communications when I was still in an undergrad at Northeastern. That job got my entire high-tech career started, and Steve took me under his wing and taught me so much about technology. The second big influence is Bill Rozier, who I worked with for a number of years at Ciena and who has a very special marketing mind. When I started working for Bill, most of my background was in technology marketing, but he taught me about the importance of the branding, creative and design side of the business. And now, I have the pleasure of learning from my current CEO, Rick Ralston, who has really helped me understand the importance and power of corporate culture as well as so much about everything SaaS.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier is one of my favorite books. I’ve read it several times. It’s Moitessier’s own memoir about his participation in the 1968 Golden Globe Race, the world’s first non-stop, single-handed, around the world sailing race. Moitessier was on track to win the race by a large margin, but dropped out, and decided to keep sailing around the world to Tahiti instead. I love to sail, so it’s a great story about the sport. It’s also a great story about rejecting values that are not yours, following your passion, and being okay with changing your dreams and goals along the way.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
Our vision at Contract Logix is to eliminate all hidden risks in contracts. Contracts are the lifeblood of business, but bad contract management can really impact a company’s bottom line. The risks due to ineffective contract lifecycle management can be small or they can be massive and include everything from overlooked penalties, missed obligations, lost revenue, lost contracts, unexpected renewals and expiration, hidden clauses that leave you open to liabilities, to potential overall brand damage. All businesses have hidden risks in contracts. At Contract Logix, we are the logicians that help you uncover and mitigate them. That’s our purpose.
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
Without a doubt, our new Collaboration Room technology. We are truly changing the way people negotiate legal agreements. The cost of negotiating a contract can run anywhere from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, mainly due to the sheer number of people needed to finish the process and inefficiencies in tracking changes. Collaboration Room turns all of this on its head. Essentially, the technology allows everyone involved in the negotiation to simultaneously and securely message, comment, collaborate, redline, and negotiate contracts in real-time from a single online destination or “collaboration room.” This eliminates the headache and inefficiency of needing to endlessly email contracts back and forth. It gives our customers an always-up-to-date, system of record for tracking all changes, timelines, and collaborators involved in the entire contract negotiation process. We’re basically helping people negotiate contracts with more transparency than if they were in the same room together.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is essentially about the integration of digital technology into all areas of your business. It’s all about data. And even though we’ve been talking about it for over a decade, with some many business models changing so quickly right now, digital transformation is absolutely accelerating. At Contract Logix, we focus on Digital Contract Transformation (DCX). DCX basically allows businesses to digitize and automate their contracts and contract lifecycle management (CLM) processes, making them fundamental pillars to overall digital transformation efforts. Again, it’s all about harnessing your data to deliver actionable insights that you can leverage to evolve and optimize your business. In our case, that data happens to live in your contracts and we unlock the power of it for you. Contract Logix is a very data-driven company, and we believe contract management needs to be data-driven as well.
Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?
In my opinion, all companies and departments can benefit from digital transformation. It all comes down to data. Companies that truly understand the importance of their data are the ones that will benefit most. But it’s not just about knowing data is important, it’s about being able to leverage it in a meaningful and intelligent way so that you can use it to make accurate and timely decisions about your business — those are the companies that are really leading digital transformation. The ones that recognize it’s a journey and that data is lighting the path forward.
We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.
Contract Logix has data in our blood. As I mentioned earlier, our company and our software is data-driven. In fact, we call ourselves Logicians because we are so passionate about analytics and data, and we bring that to our customers. We help our customers capture, analyze and act on the data in their contracts to uncover, risk, find more opportunity, and optimize processes. A great example are KPIs. So many businesses are trying to do more with less these days. By benchmarking and tracking KPIs, they can absolutely optimize the performance of their contracts, provided they can access the required data. We make all of that possible in a streamlined and automated way.
Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
Yes. Digital transformation is all about change management, and that is hard for some people. A lot of organizations and departments can be technology laggards, and changing business processes is not easy. That said, regardless of how people feel about digital transformation, it IS happening. Before COVID-19 hit, 92 percent of companies thought their business models would need to change given digitization, and business leaders were expecting that 80% of revenue growth would hinge on digital offerings and operations. COVID was really a forcing function, and has shown how heavily reliant we are on digital tech and now that people are using it, we’re not going back to how things used to be. We had so many customers tell us that our software was a lifesaver during COVID because for businesses to survive, they still had to negotiate contracts. The business continuity we offered was key. With our software, they can manage contracts with customers, vendors, and partners from anywhere or any device. A great example of this is electronic signature usage. We saw the number of contracts executed in our software using electronic signatures skyrocket by 682% during the first six months of COVID-19, and we also saw triple-digit increases in the number of contracts, documents, contract requests, and tasks that customers manage with our technology. If that’s not a great example of digital transformation, then I don’t know what is.
Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
It’s a good question. In our business, digital transformation, or more specifically, digital contract transformation, is all about the wealth of data that lives in your legal agreements like names, terms, language, dates, organizations, pricing, schedules, etc. Many companies still manage contracts using spreadsheets and shared drives, some even still use paper. Those approaches render the data useless and roadblocks digital transformation. However, once you can effectively access all that contract data and report on it, now you can really start to take things to the next level.
- First, you can uncover hidden risk in a contract. You can use the data to both uncover and ultimately mitigate risks. A good example might be having a data-centric solution like ours that automatically sends you an alert 30-days before a contract auto-renews so you can cancel it. Without that, you’d have to rely on manual reminders which is risky.
- On the flip side, you can uncover opportunity. Data can help you see where contract processes break down. You can use it to improve relationships with vendors and customers, or improve the performance of a product or service.
- Digital transformation also helps you improve the process and performance of your contracts. I talked a little bit about KPIs, and they are all about data — data helps you set benchmarks and track performance against them.
- Another big area is you can collaborate better. As I mentioned before, technology like our Collaboration room is game-changing. You have a digital destination to handle the entire process.
- Finally, automation is huge. DCX allows you to use data to automate virtually every step of the contract lifecycle process from the moment a contract is created or submitted, as well as the approval, execution, and all of the post execution management. This saves time, ensures you are following your business rules, and certainly helps with compliance, which, for a lot of regulated industries is critical.
In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?
I think it’s important to always understand what the real customer problem is. You want to be solving real problems and encouraging people throughout the organization to do so as well. It’s so important to give people the confidence and encouragement they need to innovate and ensuring they have the tools, training and support they need goes a long way. You certainly have to hold people accountable to getting the problem solved, but always, always lead with trust, respect and encouragement.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s hard to pick just one! I’d say lately, my favorite has been one of Bill Gates’ famous quotes, “Success is a lousy teacher. It teaches smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the course of my career and 2020 was no different, but I always try to learn from them and turn them into positive experiences. It’s not always easy, but if you can do it, then you will always come out the other side with more experience and knowledge. Plus, if you are always successful, then you probably aren’t trying or pushing yourself hard enough.
How can our readers further follow your work?
You can follow the company at www.contractlogix.com and on https://www.linkedin.com/company/contract-logix-llc/
I also write about contract management on Business2Community at https://www.business2community.com/author/david-parks
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!