|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.
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Aug. 25, 2016 09:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,180
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
Aug. 25, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 630
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Aug. 25, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,487
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Aug. 25, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,212
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th 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 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 - comp...
Aug. 25, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,546
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Aug. 25, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,891
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Aug. 25, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,596
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Aug. 25, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 581
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Aug. 25, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,115
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Aug. 25, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,753
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
Aug. 25, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 484
Akana has announced the availability of version 8 of its API Management solution. The Akana Platform provides an end-to-end API Management solution for designing, implementing, securing, managing, monitoring, and publishing APIs. It is available as a SaaS platform, on-premises, and as a hybrid deployment. Version 8 introduces a lot of new functionality, all aimed at offering customers the richest API Management capabilities in a way that is easier than ever for API and app developers to use.
Aug. 25, 2016 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,440
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
Aug. 25, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,920
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Aug. 25, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,812
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
Aug. 25, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,644
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Aug. 25, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,926
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Aug. 25, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,998
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Aug. 24, 2016 09:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,705
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...
Aug. 24, 2016 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,280
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
Aug. 24, 2016 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,239