The Bio Agency taps Toronto for expansion

The London digital transformation shop aims to develop solutions through a process built on speed and hard business metrics.
The BIO Agency-Award-Winning UK-Based Digital Transformation Age

U.K.-based digital transformation agency The Bio Agency has opened an office in Toronto, aiming to take advantage of opportunities for business transformation with an approach tied to strategic and business outcomes.

The Toronto office will be led by chief digital officer Vikas Datta (pictured, above), who previously held consulting and transformation leadership roles at business-focused software and IT companies Tech Mahindra, NTT Data and Keane.

The Bio Agency launched in London in 2006, and has another office in New York, but considers Toronto its “flagship” office in North America. Peter Veash, the agency’s CEO, said in a release that it tapped Toronto for the next step in its global strategy due to the fact that it is North America’s “fastest growing tech hub” and was located in a country with immigration policies that could foster a global talent pool. In a conversation with strategy, Datta added that there is also a lot of untapped opportunity when it comes to digital transformation at Canadian companies, which he says are “five to seven years” behind European counterparts when it comes to the kind of digital experiences they offer customers.

“We’re getting fairly global in our reach and customers are constantly leveraging experiences globally that they would want to see delivered by local brands as well,” he says. “A lot of local brands will really have to work to compete to offer these kinds of customer experiences. It’s a good opportunity for a London agency to be in Canada.”

The agency has previously worked with clients including Fidelity, Greyhound, British Airways, Travelex and Western Union. In Canada, Bio has already been working with Scotiabank to develop its “eHOME” service, which allows customers to apply for a mortgage online and track the progress of their application.

Bio is entering a Canadian market with numerous agencies looking to help clients through digital business transformation and creating new solutions for clients, but Datta says there are a number of factors that set it apart from other partners available to clients. While other digital agencies have a high degree of skill in certain areas, he says Bio “owns the transformation process” from beginning to end, covering strategy, service design, technical design, measurement and delivery, the last of which he says is particularly key when you’re dealing with big enterprise clients with data silos and numerous backend systems.

“Canadian businesses in particular have a long and rich heritage, but that comes with a lot of legacy systems as well that need to be navigated,” Datta says.

Beyond that, Datta says Bio also prides itself on simultaneously offering velocity and business accountability. Whereas rapid prototyping is an increasingly popular way to develop new and innovative ideas, Bio takes a different approach, with a small team asking basic strategic questions about a digital solution or transformation problem, ramping up the resources it creates to ensure there is a strong foundation. It is able to offer speed within this approach through proprietary tools that provide a groundwork for what it develops, meaning clients can focus on transformation instead of basic functionality. It also uses a proprietary framework focused on measurements, which aims to predict business outcomes tied to hard metrics as a way to decide which solutions to invest in, instead of doing so through a “fail fast” approach.

“A number of large initiatives with large clients start with a bang but really slows down like a snail, resulting in very high burn rates on spend and missed expectations,” Datta says. “One of the recommendations we tend to give clients is to carry a small team that lays down the foundation. And we don’t try to predict soft measures like customer pain points and usability, but hard metrics like revenue. It’s adds a level of predictability and science to the investments.”