Market Hill's Ballard: The case for digital transformation in PE

Digital transformation

When it comes to private equity firms and digital transformation, there isn’t much Thomas Ballard, founder of Market Hill, hasn’t seen. Market Hill works alongside private equity firms to maximise portfolio companies’ future valuations, and as the company’s founder and chief commercial officer, he collaborates directly with private equity operating partners and portfolio company CEOs to uncover the unconsidered needs of firms within the space.

Since Ballard’s worked with some of the biggest tech companies around, as well as being involved with building the backbone infrastructure for the 2012 Olympics in London, Private Equity Wire sat down with the founder to find out about best practices when it comes to PE & digital transformation.

One of the main aspects when it comes to digital transformation is to figure out the needs of your organisation, according to Ballard. “It’s almost become a new lever, and those that get it right see a significantly higher return,” he explained.

The book on best practice hasn’t been written yet though, in Ballard's view. There are essentially two ways of doing things: option A is to do it really fast. Option B is to let it take a bit more time but make some changes early on that will create significant change for a company’s customers.

Ballard would advise not to overcomplicate the process, however. “Planning is great, but many firms can spend multiple years thinking about what they would like to do, and in all that time thinking, you’ll spend less time doing, actually realising some kind of benefit,” he said.

And in order to find and identify the leading-edge firms when it comes to digital, it’s as important to listen to what they don’t say as what they do say. “Either they are not talking about it because they aren’t doing it so well, or their focus is on something else. Maybe on their marketing strategy, or building very good management and board teams.”

“The other side of it though is: maybe they are not talking about it because they are doing something really special. The question is, if they’re not talking about it, why aren’t they? And it’s either because they’re not doing it, or they’re actually excellent,” added Ballard.

To listen to the full interview, please tune in to this Private Equity Wire podcast.