|By Rebel Brown||
|July 4, 2009 12:00 AM EDT||
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.
Focused on this fast-growing market’s needs, Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq: VTSS), a leading provider of IC solutions to advance "Ethernet Everywhere" in Carrier, Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks, introduced its IStaX™ software (VSC6815SDK), a robust protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment. Leveraging technologies proven in the Carrier and Enterprise markets, IStaX is designed to work ac...
Nov. 20, 2014 08:15 PM EST Reads: 857
ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...
Nov. 20, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 758
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 20, 2014 07:30 PM EST Reads: 1,037
C-Labs LLC, a leading provider of remote and mobile access for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced the appointment of John Traynor to the position of chief operating officer. Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, Mr. Traynor will now oversee sales, marketing, finance, and operations. Mr. Traynor is based out of the C-Labs office in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Chris Muench, Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Traynor brings valuable business leadership and technology industry expertise to C-Labs. With over 30 years' experience in the high-tech sector, John Traynor has held numerous...
Nov. 20, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 876
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 20, 2014 04:45 PM EST Reads: 570
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
Nov. 20, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,276
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Nov. 20, 2014 12:30 PM EST Reads: 1,586
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
Nov. 18, 2014 09:00 PM EST Reads: 1,903
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
Nov. 18, 2014 08:15 PM EST Reads: 1,395
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
Nov. 18, 2014 08:15 PM EST Reads: 1,325
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Nov. 18, 2014 01:30 PM EST Reads: 1,919
Smart devices that use wireless technology to exchange information with each other and with their human owners: this is the Internet of Things (IoT). This incredible level of connectivity is already transforming how we exercise, treat diseases, park our cars and access business documents. Research firm IDC projects that the IoT world of connected devices will grow to 200 billion objects by 2020. As more businesses, entrepreneurs and government entities embrace the IoT, more data will be generated daily than the already mind-boggling 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day. However, even curren...
Nov. 15, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,593
The Industrial Revolution in the 18th to 19th centuries was a period during which predominantly rural societies in Europe and America became industrial and urban. Advances in steam technology, transportation, mass production and the telegraph collectively transformed industry and society. Today, the Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to once again transform industry and society just as the Industrial Revolution did. Analyst firm IDC forecasts that the IoT market will grow to $8.9 trillion by 2020 with anywhere between 30 to 50 billion connected autonomous things, making the potential g...
Nov. 15, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,649
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world. The next @ThingsExpo will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, in Santa Clara, California. Since its launch in 2008, Cloud Expo TV commercials have been aired and CNBC, Fox News Network, and Bloomberg TV. Please enjoy our 2014 commercial.
Nov. 13, 2014 05:00 AM EST Reads: 3,487
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
Nov. 10, 2014 12:30 PM EST Reads: 2,590
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Nov. 10, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 5,894
Located in booth #314, the Bsquare team will present DataV demos and discuss how DataV will help customers put their data to work to improve business outcomes. DataV is unlocking new initiatives across a wide landscape of customers in industries such as industrial manufacturing, transportation, retail and mobile. The solution is designed to complement a new project start or help to enrich an existing machine investment.
Nov. 6, 2014 03:15 PM EST Reads: 2,323
The Physical Web incorporates beacons that can be put in any small retail store, for example, so that every store now has "an app" for its customers. In this Birds-of-a-Feather session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Scott Jenson, Product Designer at Google, will discuss the Physical Web and how it is an open standard so any device can broadcast a URL wirelessly, so any phone/tablet/watch nearby can see, and rank those devices. When the user taps on one, they just go to that web page. It's really that simple. It's about thinking small, enabling micro-information (what is in my prescription bottle...
Nov. 3, 2014 05:00 PM EST Reads: 2,503
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.
Nov. 3, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 3,495
Whether you're a startup or a 100 year old enterprise, the Internet of Things offers a variety of new capabilities for your business. IoT style solutions can help you get closer your customers, launch new product lines and take over an industry. Some companies are dipping their toes in, but many have already taken the plunge, all while dramatic new capabilities continue to emerge. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Reid Carlberg, Senior Director, Developer Evangelism at salesforce.com, to discuss real-world use cases, patterns and opportunities you can harness today.
Nov. 3, 2014 02:30 PM EST Reads: 2,780