"In 2013, we saw that most organizations needed to fast-track their digital transformation to remain competitive and relevant in today’s economy. We also realized how complex and difficult it was for companies to understand and undertake such a massive change. When we looked at the management consulting industry, there were very few who could perform strategy and execution with client-value in mind." says François Dion, founder, CEO, and visionary enterprise transformation consultant, when asked to recall why he founded Levio.
Since the rise of the Internet, executives and Technologists have been pondering a future where computers, robots, and artificial intelligence will replace antiquated processes, business practices, and manual labor. With the acceleration of computing power, more powerful satellites, and customers demanding immediacy, businesses needed to evolve quickly to survive and thrive. Additionally, threats to traditional businesses trying to stay relevant and profitable also came from digital-first, unicorn startups, not only locally but internationally. How do traditional industries such as insurance, banking, energy, and government operate in this new digital economy? Transform, digitally. Quickly.
A good strategy needs to be bold yet achievable, while execution requires well-organized processes. Furthermore, the plan needs to have the flexibility to allow for ever-evolving market needs, emerging technologies, without losing sight of the corporate vision.
The business-as-usual mindset and skills within an organization have been successful for many decades prior, but now a new way of thinking and working needed to be implemented. Oftentimes, strategy, and execution are designed by different groups with different expertise. This leads to misaligned execution of corporate objectives. "We have spoken to many C-level execs who have urgent mandates to transform, but the task is overwhelming, motivating companies to hire a brand-name management consultancy to paint pretty pictures. The biggest gap and failed attempts at transformation is between the pre-sold vision and the missed execution. A management consultancy needs to own the vision by being accountable for the execution from start to finish, adding value each step of the way. Forming a true partnership, in the best interest of the client and their customers," states Dion.
Levio solves this problem by accepting end-to-end accountability for the outcome of a digital transformation initiative. It can do this because implementation experts work alongside senior strategists and industry subject matter experts to develop an ambitious yet realistic roadmap. This same team remains on the project throughout its execution, ensuring accountability and clearness of the vision. Levio's senior experts and partners are required to work inside projects to ensure teams and clients are nurtured to deliver the best possible results.
As a vertically integrated company, Levio covers all aspects of a successful digital transformation that affect corporate culture, processes, technology, and business model. Its services span from change management, design thinking, rapid prototyping, robotic process automation, systems integration, systems development & maintenance, agile coaching, DevOps, cloud migration, big data, blockchain, IoT, AR, voice, and AI, to name a few. Levio combines the agility of a small boutique firm and the confidence of a large-scale consultancy to serve clients using various engagements and risk-sharing models. The company culture is driven by one idea: work together to deliver value, no matter what. "When teams remain focused on the expected result, they no longer see problems, but start noticing opportunities," says Dion. The Latin word "Levio" translates to "to make simpler, to alleviate," and it perfectly illustrates what the company does.
Navigating Common Pitfalls
Levio developed its global delivery playbook specifically to avoid common, recurring pitfalls. This set of delivery guidelines remains central to Levio’s willingness and ability to guarantee outcomes. It is based on leadership, accountability, and experience and offers a reliable and practical roadmap that Levio-led teams follow from the inception to the delivery of complex transformation projects.
Levio’s Artificial Intelligence team working on autonomous robot algorithms for the mission to Mars
This playbook is strictly enforced by the delivery excellence team, who reports directly to the CEO.
A common pitfall happens right at the inception point when companies align the initiative on a set of perceived requirements or goals that may ultimately prove not to be aligned on the real, urgent priorities. Levio developed a set of facilitation methods inspired by Design Thinking concepts to ensure alignment from the get-go and develop a program roadmap that delivers quick wins, solves real problems, and provides value to the business.
"The biggest objection from execs regarding Digital Transformation is why do it in the first place, and what is the ROI?" declares Neem Ba Ha, Levio's Digital & Innovation Managing Partner, "We are not in the 'convincing' business, we are in the 'proving' business. By employing methods such as Design Thinking and Rapid Prototyping, we have proven our hypothesis quickly and cost-effectively with about an 85% success rate. Digital Transformation is not difficult if organizations can see its effectiveness almost immediately."
An organization's in-house teams have a deep understanding of their business and tend to be highly competent and motivated. However, they often lack, as a whole, real-life experience from a major digital transformation initiative and may miss some critical technical and cultural skills. Levio’s approach empowers internal experts and unleashes their full potential by providing expert advice from business and information technology people who have lived digital transformation before, all supported by facilitation methodology.
Levio has also identified accountability – or the lack thereof – as being at the center of a failure to transform. Major transformation initiatives are enterprise-wide undertakings that profoundly change how people work together and interact with customers and partners. Consequently, true internal leadership and ownership may be hard to achieve. This is compounded by the need to involve professional services vendors to augment internal capabilities and add capacity. Levio works with C-Level executives to build an enforceable governance model that includes vendor accountability.
Some organizations hire vendors that are only committed to staffing a project instead of an actual deliverable or meeting deadlines. Without a strong incentive to meet milestones, a project tends to drag-on and cause massive cost overruns. The root cause is often a conflict of interests where the vendor directly benefits from continuous scope creep and unnecessary complexity being added to the solution, as the too-often used solution is to throw more bodies and more consulting money at the problem. This, in effect, rewards vendors for bad behavior. Levio breaks this toxic cycle by introducing various risk-sharing models that perfectly align interests.
Results, Results, Results
Levio's true uniqueness lies in how it puts its clients and their projects at the absolute center of its existence. The company's leaders and shareholders, all the way to the CEO, are active senior consultants engaged in client projects and committed to delivering value. Levio adheres to the philosophy that leaders working inside a project are the best judges of what is required to ensure success and are empowered to act as they see fit. Furthermore, Levio's flat and fluid managerial model is free of titles, which allow responsibilities to be assigned – and reassigned – based on talent, interest, and need.
As a result, Levio is a highly nimble, ever-changing company that organically adapts to face the challenge at hand and fosters the development of natural organic leaders. These “shapeshifting” abilities have enabled Levio to grow to more than 750 employees in six years while retaining its ef ficiency and customer-focus.
Driven by People — Powered by Innovation
Levio's success is rooted in the development of innovative methods and technology. At the bleeding edge of this inventive spirit lies Levio's Artificial Intelligence team that enjoys global recognition as an AI leader thanks to its work in autonomous robotics and advanced threat management automation.
Algorithms developed by Levio are used on land, on the sea, and in space.
Levio Labs is the business unit dedicated to developing new technology and IP in partnership with customers to solve everyday problems. One such example of that team’s work is the CIL Stack that is designed and built to accelerate the interconnection of intelligent devices (IoT) with legacy enterprise systems. Levio Labs is unique in the way it creates value by offering cross-industry, non-competitive development opportunities that open cost-sharing options and unlock new ideas by looking at a problem from different angles and perspectives.
“Hope is not a strategy, nor is it a substitute for careful planning and execution”
Innovation at Levio isn't all technology-related. Projects succeed, and benefits realization starts when humans embrace the changes. Levio has noticed that the human factor is considered too late in the game, which can severely hinder deployment efforts and even lead to major operational havoc resulting in the need to roll-back the changes. To remedy this, Levio developed its ARTTM change management approach and a comprehensive toolbox that integrates change management as a core function of project management and removes project management incentives to cut corners on the human factor.
Levio also offers complete industry-specific end-to-end solutions.
A first solution – Helix – caters to the insurance sector. Helix is an affordable and complete SaaS-based solution for mid-sized property and casualty insurance carriers.
Pensionify is a full-feature cloud-based software solution for managing defined benefits pension plans. It provides enhanced service capabilities, streamlines operations through simplified and optimized processes, lowers operations costs, eliminates technical obsolescence, and enables efficient execution of complex processes.
Culture is Levio’s Largest Asset
Besides innovating at a solution level, Levio brings innovation at the individual level as well by investing in its people and building a culture that rewards collective wins, intrapreneurship, and accountability. More than 90% of the company's workforce is comprised of permanent full-time employees who each get a yearly professional growth allowance and who actively contribute to developing and sharing knowledge via ten global business practices and 30 practice groups.
Levio employees are passionate about their work. Employees with similar interests will often blend together to explore new trends or technologies and develop new expertise ahead of the curb. Levio provides a framework for encouraging such grassroots initiatives and making sure they yield useful results that can be used to help clients across the entire company. This enables Levio to have a deep treasure cove of knowledge to help clients navigate new uncharted waters.
The Journey Ahead
Levio’s expert diversity across process, people, and technology have felt explosive growth over the last six years, culminating in the company winning the award for "Canada's second-fastest-growing company across all industries" in 2019. Levio is by far the fastest-growing professional services company in the country with onsite services in the U.S. and Canada, nearshore services from Canada, and an offshore solution from Morocco.
After only six short years of existence, Levio has fully realized its vision of offering the full suite of services necessary to bring about a digital transformation while maintaining the nimbleness of a boutique company.
Levio’s impressive growth trajectory is expected to accelerate in 2020 thanks to a mix of organic growth and strategic acquisitions in key North American markets. "While doing this, we'll be looking for people and companies that have a culture similar to us, and that can immediately embody the Levio mindset, which is to make things simpler, lighter, and deliver value to customers no matter what," concludes Langlois.