Click here to close now.


Release Management Authors: Jnan Dash, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Open Source Cloud: Article

Five Keys to an Awesome M&A

M&As are one of the most powerful opportunities for a Phoenix to rise

In the interest of balance, today I'm waxing on about the awesome opportunities presented by M&As - and some of the lessons I've learned along the way to help things go a bit more smoothly.

M&As are one of the most powerful opportunities for a Phoenix to rise; stronger, brighter, ready to soar into a leadership. After all, you're bringing two companies together who presumably have complementary skill-sets, products, market knowledge and customer bases. What could be MORE exciting?  Instead of investing time and dollars to build these assets  - we have the opportunity to blend the best of the best and keep running!

But sometimes it's easy to forget that opportunity once the deal is complete. When the deal is signed and we roll up our sleeves as the true blending begins, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the day-to-day reality of these two completely unique business entities. To keep the power of the vision and opportunity alive - there are some key things I recommend to clients:

Define the strategy and vision upfront and for all to see. Sometimes execs introduce the coming event with high level glimpses of the strategy - not wanting to set the wrong expectations before the details are all ironed out.  This leaves the door open for personal opinions and perspectives to take the lead - and assumptions to be made. It's human nature to apply our own predispositions to our analysis - and that's when ego and turf can take priority over following the agreed to vision.  As early as you can, state the vision and the steps to get there clearly and concisely, and keep refining with all those involved on a regular and frequent basis.  Just as feature creep can negatively impact product value, so can 'turf battles' dilute the power of your vision.  Don't let your teams be distracted from the end goal as you move from the high level to the details.

Stay positive and passionate about the vision.  But we are - we're excited!  Of course you are - you see the value and opportunity. Yet somewhere in your organization are folks who don't share that perspective. We all know that.  But we need to do something about it.  The snide remarks at the water cooler or the condescending attitude in departmental meetings do more to undermine the success of an M&A than any other single action.  These opinions need to be heard and settled once and for all - and then folks either need to get into the boat or go take another train.  Dissension in the ranks is wasteful and detrimental to success.  Nip it in the bud -visibly -  and move on - swiftly.

Be thorough with your best-of-the-best planning. We technologists tend to get all excited about the products and solutions and innovation that we can bring together.  But the best-of-the best goes far beyond the offerings we can deliver.  Some other factors to consider include:

  • Technology. Just a quick word here.  If you haven't read my blogs ‘But It's Our Biggest Seller' and ‘What Exactly is Game Changing', you might want to check them out. The biggest seller today may not be the best-of-the-best for going forward.  Make sure you look at ALL the technologies in play and map them to the plan for future markets and customers.  Put  resources on your best future opportunities, and not just on those 'best selling' legacy products that may not power the future you want or need.
  • Customers. Customers are one of the biggest assets an M&A offers. Combining two diverse customer bases can positively impact your market presence. Take the time to thoroughly understand the customer opportunities - past, present and future. Too often we look at the biggest customers as the best going forward opportunity - when in fact other customers may hold the keys to that new market or emerging opportunity we‘ve been seeking. Make sure your executives charged with the blending have a clear vision of the future - and don't make short-term decisions that can blow your longer term opportunities.

Be sure and communicate with the customers - in more than an email and news announcements. I see so many companies send a press release and customer email and move on. They expect customers to be happy about the change - while they leave the cleanup to sales and customer support reps. Executives and leaders need to be involved with customer transitions - be present, be obvious and communicate, communicate, communicate.
Finally, be sure to thoroughly evaluate the teams who support those customers.  Those teams may be the reason those customers are around...and will stay around. Personal contacts are often more important than product offerings when it comes to customer loyalty. Never forget that when blending a customer-facing team. For example:

    • Sales and pre-sales relationships are complex and often quite personal.  Before you start substituting players, make sure you understand the dynamics. Buying decisions are often made based on these relationships -when you change the rep you may lose the business. 
    • Service and support relationships can be even more valuable. These are the folks the customers trust to come to the rescue - and many times they are the keeper of the customer truth. Listen and learn that truth, take their inputs seriously and respect their expertise.
    • Marketing relationships with customers can give you huge insights - when you pay attention.  Too often we look at the folks who lead the User Groups or industry/special interest groups and see organizational overhead and duplication - when they may have critical customer information that can add value to our overall assessment and going forward planning.
  • Expertise. Experts come in many forms, and all are valuable beyond measure. Too often we look at the technologists, the leaders, the innovators - and ignore some of the most valuable expertise we acquire. From the executive administrative assistant who knows the personal side of every customer CEOs (including their favorite lunches, their birthdays, their wives' and kids' names), to the telephone support rep who is on a first name basis with every customer in your key target market, to the product marketing manager who knows more about your next solution space than your whole company combined - pay attention to the expertise.  Listen and learn.
  • Don't overlook processes. One of my client's product definition process was the most streamlined I'd ever seen. Their merger partner recognized that fact - and instilled that same process into the new organization. It wasn't easy - the merging teams didn't respond well to change.  But within six months everyone involved agreed it was the right thing to do and a big win for the business.
  • Market perception. Sometimes the acquiring company is a leader and has the best overall brand and image.  But often that's not the case. Especially in this market.  Sometimes the acquiring companies are the young 'upstarts' acquiring critical expertise and market presence. Market perception takes time to develop with customers and the market at large. Think twice before you throw it away because of who acquired whom. Look carefully at how the market holds each of the entities. Play your cards so that you leverage the best options possible - which may mean anything from assuming the name of the acquired company to maintaining their expert position as a subsidiary to adopting everything about them.  Perception rules -  and besides, we all know it's easier and lower cost to leverage what's in place than to invest time and money to evolve people's beliefs.

Dig Deep. One of the biggest challenges with reinvention strategy is that we don't often dig deep enough to find the jewels hidden among the clutter.  We get lost in the noise - the buzz about the biggest and brightest and best.  The ‘knowns' come front and center and the ‘yet to be founds' often end up in the bottom of a pile - never to see the light of day.

The challenge is that in more companies than you'd expect - the true value, the crown jewels that will take you to the next level of success - may not be that obvious. At least not to the folks who live with them day in and day out.

  • That technology sitting on the shelf  - that was developed ten years ahead of its time - may be the key to reinvention and future growth.
  • That relatively small market that's been a side business for a year now may be the next big opportunity -if it can get attention and resources from the crowd swarming to the status quo.
  • Those five guys in the corner lab doing things no one really understands may be onto the next big innovation - and a perspective that will change a paradigm for good. Too bad they haven't shared their vision beyond technology.  No one ‘gets' the opportunity so they may go the way of the woolly mammoth - when in fact they are creating the next game changer.

Take time to get away from the day-to-day perspectives and knowns.  Dig deep within the organization, look at things from a fresh perspective, without the contamination of the plan. Sometimes its valuable to bring in objective outsiders to take a look with you - they don't have the  beliefs (or maybe baggage) that employees and executives can collect along the way. That's one of the values a strategic consultant brings to the table - assuming they have the fundamental market and technical understanding to get up to speed quickly on your opportunity, your markets, your vision.

Instill teamwork immediately. Let all employees know that you expect them to work together toward your vision - and leave their egos at the door. I know - that's a hard thing to ask people to do. But business is business and there's no room for turf battles in an M&A. Business suffers as soon as they start.

Above all, executives must set the tone of an M&A event. That tone needs to go beyond the initial company meetings and announcements. It has to permeate each and every interaction from exec round tables to coffee in the kitchen. Leadership is often the difference between a successful or failed M&A.

Great Phoenix' rise from M&As. Open your eyes, check your past perceptions at the door and Throw Everything in the Fire. With the right blend of assets and attitude, you'll soar into opportunity.

More Stories By Rebel Brown

Rebel Brown guides organizations and individuals to harness the power of their minds to step into their ultimate potential. A masterful agent of change, for over 25 years Rebel Brown has inspired, coached and empowered individuals and businesses to unstoppable performance and results. As a recognized market strategist and turnaround expert, Rebel guided over 200 global organizations to step beyond their status quo perspectives to create profitable market advantage. She also worked with US and European venture firms to successfully fund and launch their portfolios. She also ran a consulting practice in Paris for three years, working with European clients. Fascinated by the power of our human minds to limit ourselves and our business results, she began her study of neural science. Her core question was simple. What could we do if we had no limits? Today, she brings the power of neuroscience to business (NeuroBusiness), fueling limitless thinking that drives powerful bottom line growth for her executive and corporate clients. Rebel’s work has been featured in media including First Business TV, Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, Business Insider and Business Week. She is a Vistage International speaker and workshop leader as well as NSA speaker. She’s also been named one of the Top 100 Women in Computing. Rebel is also the founder and director of the Unstoppable U Foundation, a non-profit program committed to guiding kids to know that they are born to be Unstoppable!

@ThingsExpo Stories
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.