Our Business Development Executive, Anna Khachatrian was interviewed by Jason Hartman, an author on Authority Magazine. We represent the whole interview below.

The main challenge of digital transformation comes when some companies are not familiar with tech innovations and the digitization process. They usually do not have IT departments or appropriate in-house professionals who can deal with IT stuff. The lack of technical persons in a company makes the communication process of the digital provider and the client a little bit difficult. Of course, this does not relate to each and every organization. But usually non-technical people need more time to get used to digitization, to learn more about its details, analyze whether that is something vital for their company or not. It’s faster and easier with technical people as being in the hub of the tech environment they always notice how the lack of digital solutions can impact the business in this or that way.

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 Anna Khachatrian.Anna Khachatrian is Business Development Executive at CodeRiders software development company. She is a digital marketing expert with 5+ years’ experience in business development, partnerships, client communications, and lead generation. Anna took part in several events as a speaker ”” both local and international, and one of her recent speeches was about professional women in a digitized economy during a conference by Women Impact Network (WIN). She also gave interviews to several media and event organizers, as well as writes articles for international media (like Clutch, The Entrepreneur), CodeRiders blog and her own blog on Medium.

- 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?

- My educational background is different from what I do right now. I started it all with linguistics and journalism classes and ended up in IT sphere. I have been working since my university years as a journalist, English tutor, translator, PR specialist, but now I can confirm I shaped my career path when I entered the Information Technologies industry 5 years ago. Working on tech innovations in the IT sphere is what makes me feel comfortable. I started exploring the world of digital, and this is when I understood what my career destination is going to look like. Since then I have been studying and learning new things in this industry every other day. Each day brings new skills and new opportunities for me because the base of my job is digital and we encounter constant innovations in the virtual world. I find this very exciting and motivating to move forward.

Today my work at CodeRiders is mostly about digital and digitalization. My work sphere is digital marketing in tech and innovation. I am the main communicator between CodeRiders and its clients who want to digitize their businesses. I am leading the company’s campaigns implementing both Inbound and Outbound marketing methodologies. Helping businesses to meet their desired digital solutions is what makes me happy. I plan long-term and short-term strategies for business growth, present CodeRiders and its services during business meetings and events. Besides these, my everyday work includes conducting SEO and SMM campaigns and branding the company in the market. Today the way I showcase my skills in the digital world makes both me and our clients satisfied.

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- 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?

- I receive this question a lot, and every time I look back to find an example. Surely there will be examples of failure but the human brain is constructed in a way that you always remember the good things and success stories you have rather than the failures. In my case, the thing that I am looking for an answer to this question for too long is also because I have shaped my mindset in a way that even if I make mistakes I always try to find the good thing in it and the lesson I’ve learned. That’s why I am keen on remembering the positive sides than the failures.

However, after recalling the past experiences of mine, I think I have one story to share with you. A few years ago I was offered to join a technical team as a project manager and to conduct the whole development process. I had no previous experience in project management, but because I was successfully conducting communication with our clients and I have been in the IT industry for a few years, I felt quite confident I will be able to conduct the team of developers as well. As you can guess, the project was not one of the smooth and easy ones. I ended up with a lot of stressful days, tough times, and a bunch of lessons I have learned from this story. To make a long story short, after all the client ended up with so much satisfaction that they still keep in touch with us and are going to set up another development project with us in the near future. My mistake was to take up something I wasn’t fully aware of and to struggle to end it up successfully while I was learning in between. If I were given that offer now, I would, first of all, get some basic (if not in-depth) knowledge and the most important tips about project management before diving into the project. This is an ideal solution to provide a quality service without additional stress and energy loss, and this relates to anything. We may think we are well prepared and ready for anything new, but we also should be prepared mentally and professionally for new challenges. Even if the client’s feedback on this project was very positive, I count this project as a fail for me personally as there were a lot of situations I could have managed better, smoother, and fluently.

Team CodeRiders at EASA ceremony with the award of best software vendor

- 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?

- Today when I look back to my career path I feel that the storyline and people around me were shaped and gathered in a way that each of them and each situation contributed to the elevation of my skills and character. I would hardly point out one particular person who had more influence than the others. But just to understand how all the situations and events were generally bonded together, let me mention that in the beginning when I started my career as a freelance journalist and a correspondent, I couldn’t imagine that in a few years I would be working in a totally different industry. My colleagues in journalism directed me to try my skills in PR management as well. I did it, and I felt quite comfortable in it, so I continued my Master’s in Public Relations, and therewith started my career as a digital marketing specialist in the tech industry. One thing I am always trying to do and also encouraging everyone around me to do is working in an environment that not only grows by your commitment but also teaches you skills and lessons you were not aware of. The things you learn may sometimes seem too tiny, but once you use them in real-life situations, you understand that working in an innovative and creative environment is what shapes you with more skills and knowledge.

- 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?

- I would probably note the importance of motivational films in my life. I love movies based on real-life stories, which tell about the persistence of the characters that lead to their success. One of those films is “Whiplash”. I am an extremely persistent person myself, and I don’t tend to stop halfway. When I pick up something I aim to finish it the way I imagined ”” no matter how hard it may be or how much energy it would require from me. So, watching films with scenarios like this does really motivate me to feel that I am on the right path and that this way each day I am getting closer and closer to my dreams.

- 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?

- When CodeRiders gave a start to its mission and vision back in 2013 they were totally different compared to the ones we have now. The reason is that CodeRiders was first founded as a web development school. At that time our vision was to have hundreds and thousands of Armenian youth learning web and mobile development and be given the opportunity to enter the IT job market with no difficulty. We followed this vision by introducing and teaching software development to more than 800 young people. After one year of operating as a school, we decided that we should also be the ones who could provide our students with job opportunities and a great workplace. So in 2014 we also founded CodeRiders software development house which had one vision at its core: “Time is precious. Automation should save it.” So we build simply powerful systems with state-of-the-art technology and innovation to automate business processes. We have a purpose behind our business and we’ve always strived to follow it through the long years of the company’s operation. To our great happiness, we managed it throughout these years and now continue with more energy and motivation.

CodeRiders is a team of talented professional software developers

- Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

- Throughout its 7 years of operation, CodeRiders software development house helped other companies to digitize their businesses and to provide with state-of-the-art solutions built specifically for covering their business needs. In 2020 we decided that besides being a digitization help to other companies worldwide, we also want to create our own digital product which will help customers to ease their lives through an innovative solution. The project is about an application which will be a help for drivers and car specialists to find each other in the easiest way and connect via mobile app instead of spending time on driving through so as to find the best specialist in the area. The application is still in its development phase, and we hope it will go live this year. As it hasn’t been released yet, we can’t tell too much details for now, but we truly believe that this is an application which has the potential to be used not only in the local market but also worldwide. As this is our first own product designed and developed by our team we truly care about it and want to present users a product which will cover all of their needs.

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- 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?

- Simply said, Digital transformation is the process of implementing technology and innovation in the core of the business. It’s like a technological revolution within an organization. Especially the overall situation and lockdown during COVID-19 came to prove that the need for digitization and implementation of new technologies should be the number one priority for all businesses. The world went remote and is still remote. Imagine how people would fail to endure this situation without any digital solutions. To win the competition and to stay one step forward in the market, many businesses invested in technological transformation ”” despite the crisis they were going through. The return on investment of digital transformation almost always proves that it’s something worth spending money on. Redesigning or refreshing business is proved to work in a crisis. It’s quicker to orientate in the virtual world which has limitless opportunities. Nowadays a few companies can survive in the fierce competition without implementing innovations and digital tools. Software solutions and digital transformations are always welcomed in any company regardless of their industry.

- Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

- Our experience at CodeRiders shows that the demand for digital transformation rose especially for industries like Healthcare, Education, Retail, and Finance. The reason is simple ”” these are the industries that were affected by COVID-19 the most and required new technological solutions that would give alternatives to non-physical interaction and keep the company on its feet. No wonder that healthcare companies are number one on this list. This is the most demanded industry for the last year. Without a digital transformation and innovative solutions, many hospitals, polyclinics, and other healthcare institutions would fail to cope with the situation. One simple tech solution is a platform that connects doctors with patients without a need to go to a hospital for getting prescriptions or other documentation.

The same is about Finance. Of course, many financial institutions were already transformed digitally before the lockdown, and these were the organizations that successfully passed the lockdown crisis test.

Almost all educational institutions were physically closed because of the lockdown, so all they could do to continue operating was to transform their business into a digital platform and build a digital learning institution. The most popular e-learning solutions include virtual classrooms, online meeting platforms, whiteboards, virtual exams, etc. For many people, this was something new, but 2020 was all about a quick elevation both mentally and professionally, so even people who were not using digital devices every day, had to do it in order to move forward.

As people were supposed to stay home, the shopping and e-Commerce industry was among the ones that required a quick digital transformation. So the retail industry changed its perspectives in the new business development plan as well. If brick-and-mortar shops were able to succeed in business without advancing their digital appearance, in 2020 that was hardly possible. Brick-and-mortar shops had to build online shops and e-Commerce platforms to boost their sales and business revenue following up the massive lockdown.

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- 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.

- The industries I mentioned in my previous answer are also the ones CodeRiders is an expert in. During our experience, we helped our clients from these industries to turn their traditional approach to business into a digital one. For example, one of our clients is an English elementary school based in Hong Kong. They used to deal with their everyday tasks manually, e.g. everyday teachers were filling in journal information, writing down the assignments for each student, when they had to give feedback to the parents about their children they were to go through their handwritten diaries to recall what exactly they wanted to say, or they were to call the parents or answer their calls to arrange meetings with them, etc. These are just a little part of the work they used to do. Now with the digital solution that CodeRiders built, they are doing all of the paperwork via their digital devices, most of the work is automated and teachers spend less time on everyday repetitive tasks. They can arrange meetings via a calendar planner in a few simple steps, follow the progress of the students, send student feedback to parents via the application, send learning materials to students. Plus, they gamified students’ exams. So they can not only pass their exams as usual but play a game and win to pass the tests successfully.

Anna Khachatrian of CodeRiders was interviewed by Authority Magazine

Another example is a healthcare project for a US-based company. This is a platform that connects doctors with patients virtually. The main aim of the application is to help patients get the required consultation or information from doctors without actually visiting them. So they can save time, be more convenient and accurate. The system has patients’ demographic data, and the doctors have the ability to discuss, write, input, update and share reports of the patients with them. Of course, they can track the clients’ health history beforehand, as well as follow the progress later on. They can assign online prescriptions and interact with the patients. The platform also supports medical billing and online payment. If the patients still want to visit the doctors, they have the ability to electronically schedule and set appointments.

- Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?

- The main challenge of digital transformation comes when some companies are not familiar with tech innovations and the digitization process. They usually do not have IT departments or appropriate in-house professionals who can deal with IT stuff. The lack of technical persons in a company makes the communication process of the digital provider and the client a little bit difficult. Of course, this does not relate to each and every organization. But usually non-technical people need more time to get used to digitization, to learn more about its details, analyze whether that is something vital for their company or not. It’s faster and easier with technical people as being in the hub of the tech environment they always notice how the lack of digital solutions can impact the business in this or that way.

As a solution to cases like these, we usually hold introduction, solution, and learning sessions with our clients. This means that during each stage of digitization we provide our clients with full information regarding the process, influences, benefits, and possible issues. This helps both the development team to get feedback from the clients, and the clients to understand the core of the digitization. It lets them bring up new ways of innovation and transformation.

- 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 more than 7 years we at CodeRiders are making an effort to help businesses transform digitally. By the way this month we are going to take part in the EuroAsian Startup Awards where we are nominated as “Digital Transformers”. So, digitization and automation is our goal and direction. As CodeRiders vision says “Time is precious. Automation should save it.”. We encourage businesses worldwide to take one more step forward by entering the world of digital.

There is no standard way of transforming digitally. It highly depends on the business structure, industry, goals, priorities, etc. So we, first of all, consider those merits, discuss the issues and problems the business usually faces as a result of being non-digitized, and offer solutions that will cover all of their tech needs. The most common five ways of digital transformation are done via the following tech solutions.

  1. ERP software: Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is a possible solution for businesses that have troubles managing their employees’ work, tracking the company’s growth, analyzing the work done, etc. ERP software collects all the employees’ tasks on one platform and makes the labor hours much viable, less stressful, with more virtual and productive communication between the employees and the customers (depending on the type of software included in the ERP). It’s obviously less time consuming and productive to gather your team on one platform and cut off the time spent on going from one office to another. This is especially helpful for remote team management. There are certain types of software that may be included in ERP systems, such as CRM, inventory management, payroll, and finance management, reporting and analytics, document management, shared calendar, etc. Recently we successfully completed one ERP project with our Australian client. Its case study (which can be found in our website) is a vivid example of how an ERP system can help households to transform their family tasks into a digital level.
  2. Custom CRM system: Customer relationship software (CRM) systems are settled on the unique business needs of each company when they are custom-made. Custom CRM system makes all the vitally important tasks of the business highly automated, allows concrete and reliable business analysis, data migration, user training sessions, support, evolution, and much more. These aspects are extremely important if a business is in a tense situation struggling to conduct and manage the data of their customers, partners, members, employees, or candidates. The automated CRM will allow setting metrics and tracking progress, so companies can face the benefits of increased ROI and bounced client retention rate. Based on the given report, they may build strategic and realistic KPIs. They can also collect data from other CRM tools, web portals, and any other sources where they have stored their data. This can be done either by integration, data transformation (ETL), or migration. We helped one of our clients from Europe to build a CRM and an e-mail marketing system (case study in our website) for business management. This helped their business grow digitally and transform the manual work into an automated one.
  3. E-Commerce platform: The pandemic came to prove that no matter how successful traditional shops may be, they can face quite big issues in crisis situations if they are not digitized. Online shops are one of the top things that scaled up hugely in 2020. To win the competition many physical shops transformed into digital ones by creating e-Commerce platforms. This helped their business not only survive during a crisis but also grow by gaining more customers from the digital space and enlarging their customer database with more regions, cities, etc. So, scalable and secure e-Commerce solutions that help businesses deliver a powerful online shopping experience to end-users and bring value through increased ROI and overall productivity.Footmall is one of the e-Commerce platforms we are proud of building. The project goal was to develop an online marketplace and gallery to become a link between stores and customers, making the purchase process easier. The best thing is that we completed this project a few years ago, and it still operates and helps its customers to shop online and experience a digital shop.
  4. Business Intelligence tools: If the manual and time-consuming work are transferred into an automated one organizations would be able to make smarter business decisions. Now with the help of BI digitization, many helpful solutions are easily accessible, such as forecasting and analysis, structured data, optimization, budget planning, financial reporting, data visualization, and many more. Companies can easily help their team collaborate effectively and share data instantly with each other via a workflow automation system that connects people, processes and content. They can centralize, clean up and filter data for the users to extract required information efficiently. Business Intelligence tools help to analyze historical and real-time data from disparate sources, dig into your data, clarify the most important aspects, and make predictions. This way, we helped one of our clients transform their data into graphs, tables, charts, diagrams, and dashboards with BI visualization solutions. They also were able to outline their financial direction and expectations, document how the overall plan will be executed month by month, specifying expenditures. The digital transformation helped them to consolidate and centralize their financial information to produce accurate budgets and perform what-if scenario analysis.
  5. Learning Management System: This is the second top wanted digitization tool after online stores during the pandemic. As the Education industry is among the ones that went fully remote and no classes could be conducted without a virtual solution, Learning management systems is what came to help. The digital transformation of traditional schools into virtual ones helps the teachers, students, parents, managers to get their big data organized and safely stored, to analyze and track students’ learning progress and performance, improve resource allocation, personalize online training experience, and more. The most useful tools are online training sessions, virtual classrooms, sessions recording, online examination systems, etc. For our Hong Kong-based client we developed a learning management system which connected teachers, parent, and students. It allows students to not only participate in classes by physically attending the school but also have the assignments, books, movies, and other informational materials in hand at home. They can even pass their quizzes and exams with their smartphones. This process is a little gamified to make it fun for the students. Besides, the teachers can access the students’ data all in one platform, send feedback to the parents, make appointments with them, track the students’ progress and analyze their weak points, etc.

These were just five ways and examples of digital transformation, however, there are so many more. Each industry has its unique requirements to successfully virtualize the business. Custom software development vendor is the help that is usually needed in the first stages of digitization. Without a technical team and support, it would be difficult to cope with the issues that may arise during the transformation. An experienced tech team will help to facilitate this process, make it smooth and quick without any delays.

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- In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?

- Creating a culture of innovation is the first step towards moving the company into a digital space, as innovation means creativity, openness, and transparency. These are the adjectives that describe the culture which is ready for a digital transformation. There are a few things that should be implemented in company culture to make it innovative. Among them are tolerance for failure, experimentation, collaboration, and learning. A full cultural transformation is such a massive undertaking that it always has to start from the top. It requires strong leadership and extensive commitment from top management who should become role models for the employees. However, if employees throughout the organization don’t buy-in, the top management’s actions would be in vain. To prevent situations like this, the leadership team and the employees should hold permanent communication and continuously exchange ideas.

The first step towards creating a culture of innovation should be raising awareness of the importance of innovation in the company. The companies should be open to employees’ ideas, they should encourage change and risk-taking. The employees should feel safe in making mistakes and learn from them. What I mean is there should be minimum pressure and the company’s management team should understand that first of all we’re all human and treat the employees accordingly. I strongly believe that employee training sessions are very crucial and the company should make sure that their employees are stepping up with modern methods and tools. Permanent brainstorming, idea evaluation, and realization are important steps towards innovation and digitization. The company should also provide the employees with relevant workshops. Development of the technical and technological knowledge of employees is also very important. They should be ready for changes, even if they are in their comfort zone and feel that everything is alright. Without a culture of innovation, it would be more challenging and will take longer to transform digitally.

- Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

- I adore quotes about taking a risk, and I always encourage my friends, family members, colleagues to leave their comfort zone to take a risk. It always proves that risk-taking actions are meant to lead you a step closer to success. Hence, one of the life lesson quotes for me is “If there is no risk, there is no reward”. Of course, it seems easier to stay where you are, to feel that you are born to be just right there, and do nothing but enjoy the momentum. However, once you make a firm decision and feel encouraged to move forward to see what’s beyond, you discover that there was a whole hidden world full of new adventures, failures and success, joy and hilarity.

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- How can our readers further follow your work?

- At CodeRiders we are running a blog for our followers where we publish both company news, updates, as well as tech and business-related articles, useful tips, and information. We are going to distribute our new case studies in articles with detailed information on the development process, digitization, technologies, communication, problems, and solutions. So I believe readers would find our blog a useful source to follow by subscribing to our monthly newsletters. We also encourage everyone to follow our social media (FacebookLinkedInTwitterInstagram, and YouTube) to see and feel CodeRiders approach to work and team building. We publish work process photos, developers’ descriptions and strengths, our achievements, and try to use these digital platforms for spreading our news and updates. So, follow us and stay tuned to learn more.

For the readers who would like to read more on technology, digitalization, innovation, work-life balance, and marketing, I encourage following my own blog on Medium.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Source: Authority Magazine




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