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Lessons in Digital Transformation: 10 Years at Heat

After a tumultuous few years, many businesses who might previously have held an ambivalent attitude towards the value of digital transformation were forced to embrace new technology as a matter of necessity. According to a survey carried out by Bullhorn into recruitment trends, 2021 saw ‘a dramatic rise in the number of recruitment businesses employing a digital transformation strategy’, as ‘industry-wide adoption increased 95 percent from last year, an incredible 236 percent from two years ago, when just 25 percent of firms reported the use of a digital transformation strategy or plan.’ But, in spite of this data and the changes that the pandemic wrought, the same survey actually found that UK-based recruitment business respondents are the most likely to say that their team sees little to no value in adopting new recruitment technologies, with resistance to change being cited as one of the main blockers.

On his 10th Anniversary working at Heat, we spoke with our Technical Operations Director Marcus Granville to discuss how the approach to digital transformation at Heat has evolved over the years, the ways in which the tech stack offering has powered us forward in our goal of achieving excellence and building partnerships, and the challenges that new automation software present in retaining our unique personality.

How has Heat changed since you started?

I actually chuckled when I first heard this question: initially I’d say the business has changed unrecognisably! Thinking back, we weren’t quite using a rolodex, but in comparison to how far our technology has advanced since I started, we may as well have been. We were a small start-up agency which, as you might expect, has a limited budget. It was all hands-on, manual desk phones, coming into the office every day, even using a fax machine. Many of the departments we have in the business today such as Marketing, HR, Talent Acquisition and Technical Operations didn’t exist.

But, with all of that being said, a lot of things haven’t changed. It was clear when I started that the company was founded on ambition, hunger for success and fun, and these core values that drove the initial success of the business in those early days are ones that have remained and informed the values that we uphold in the business today: Partnerships, Passion, Integrity, Excellence & Fun. I truly believe that having kept our core identity whilst advancing in so many other areas as we grew was the key to how Heat became the business that is today.


How has the tech stack at Heat evolved in that time?

As I’ve already alluded to, the tech stack we had when I started was minimal to say the least, but what has impressed me most about Heat over the years is the understanding and willingness everyone shows to strive forwards and adapt to new technology as and when we implement it.

Moving to a market leading CRM was key to this journey. It allowed us to utilise our database properly with little or no down time, and that initial change was the catalyst that started us on our journey to become entirely cloud based. Little did we know how vital that move would turn out to be later down the line. Since then, my role has been to ensure we’re giving our consultants all of the right tools to allow them to be the best they can be. Whether that be through new laptops, implementing a cloud based VOIP phone system, or ensuring we have seamless communication through Teams & other platforms, all of which have proved to be essential over the last couple of years.

The recruitment technology landscape is complicated, with new solutions being added all the time. It can be difficult to cut through the noise and differentiate what will actually aid the business and what is simply a passing trend, but it’s crucial to get it right. Planning the right tech stack will boost efficiency and allows our consultants access to the data that will assist them in doing what they do best: building relationships.

In terms of the recent additions to our tech stack and how this has been evolving, we’ve been able to remove all of the admin that consultants find challenging or time-consuming with the shift into integrated automation software. This shift has increased our service levels for both our clients and candidates, and equally ensures that our data is in the best condition. As well as this, to be certain that we’re finding the best candidates within the market, we have also implemented an AI-powered sourcing tool which reviews, sorts and ranks talent: this increases our potential candidate pool whilst also speeding up our searches and reducing manual repetitive tasks for our consultants. This doesn’t always replace traditional methods however, so we have coupled this with a first-class training program created and developed over the years by our Learning & Development department. Through the use of these technologies, we have put ourselves in a strong position to supply the best possible service to our clients as we strive to achieve excellence in our processes.

We’ve had to also had to adapt and evolve on the client and candidate side too, namely by ensuring we have functional online portals to assist with IR35 Classification as soon as the legislative changes took place, as well as an online Timesheet portal to allow our contractors and Line Managers to manage their hours, approvals, invoices, and payments with as little fuss as possible.

Finally, there’s our website: this has been refreshed a number of times over the years, with the additional of new services, applications, and capabilities, but this is currently in the process of a whole new revamp, so I don’t want to give too much away on this just yet- but watch this space!

automation evolution graph

What are the plans for the future?

As we have grown as a business, so has the data we have accumulated. In the near future we’re looking to dive deeper into the value we can add to our clients from this, by providing additional real time information on prevalent trends, retention, and skill scarcity. As a partner to our clients, we have the opportunity to provide more than just recruitment services: if we can harness the systems and technology, we have in place to expand into this area and provide useful insights, I think this could be an important additional service for our clients.

With technology moving at such a rapid pace, it’s important for us to strike a balance between keeping our ear to the ground and staying ahead of the curve whilst not being drawn into technology fads which hinder rather than advance our services. I believe automation will become increasingly prevalent within the recruitment industry, but the key to automation is ensuring we don’t lose the personal touch that has been fundamental to our success. We are a people business, and our strength is providing our service with the right measures of each.

Marcus Granville
Technical Operations Director

Marcus headshot with a building background