Welcome!

Government Cloud Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan

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!

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. 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 busine...