In this blog, I look at two polarised examples of M&As and how IT can play a key role in their success or failure.
The bad & the ugly
One example of an M&A gone awry was the case of Banco Sabadell’s acquisition of TSB from Lloyds in 2015. In April 2018 in a project to migrate 1.3 billion data records as part of the acquisition process, TSB customers reported glitches in the online system, and customers unable to access their online banking, or in some extreme cases, being able to view the accounts of other TSB users.
The episode would ultimately cost TSB’s chief executive his job, while losing the bank 12,500 customers, an estimated £176 million additional migration costs and further losses on waived banking fees. In addition to the tangible losses for the bank, the failed migration has also led to a range of regulatory investigations and public scrutiny.
While this is of course an extreme example, it does provide food for thought in evaluating the role of IT in M&As. In this case, it certainly appears from the outside looking in as though the integration of the organisations’ operations and technologies proved difficult, and, as in other examples, it perhaps demonstrates that IT did not receive sufficient emphasis during the phase of due diligence.
For McKinsey, one reason for this could be that “executives from IT and operations often aren’t included in the due diligence process, preventing them from offering valuable input on the costs and practical realities of integration”.
Specifically, it seems unlikely that a successful merge of supply chains and their associated operational processes would be fully effective without input from the very earliest stages of a process without a detailed understanding being formed of the two organisations’ IT systems. According to McKinsey, this key aspect in an M&A process is often overlooked despite the finding that 50-60% of initiatives to capture synergies as part of an M&A cycle are ‘strongly related’ to IT, but yet “most IT issues are not fully addressed during due diligence or the early stages of post-merger planning”.
Although an obvious statement to make, the more knowledge that a company can gain about a potential merger or acquisition at the beginning of the process represents significant advantage, and this is another key area M&A that IT should be playing a big role.
One example of this is Unilever’s acquisition of hair and beauty manufacturer Alberto Culver in 2010. During and even before this process, “rather than decide on the target and then commission a big four consultancy to check their decision was a good one, which is standard practice, they started by building a performance model using third-party data to construct a rich picture of their market”.
In other words, firstly Unilever did not just hire an external consultancy to tell them how great a move they were making, they began modelling the opportunity for themselves in order to make a data-driven decision. In addition to the clear benefit of deep analysis into whether Alberto Culver was indeed the right target for Unilever, this process also enabled the firm to build in analysis of additional targets in order to evaluate their suitability for acquisition.
Getting IT right
Based on this analysis, one of the keys is not only getting IT right, but figuring out the central role that IT needs to play in the crucial period after a merger or acquisition. This comes from getting the CIO’s office involved early – very early – with big projects.
While this is easier said than done in times of uncertainty, it’s an increasingly vital component, and, along with the obvious financial factors, can ultimately make the difference between success and failure of the overall venture. In extreme situations such as the TSB online banking outages, there were clearly integration shortcomings between the organisations even after 3 years of the original acquisition.
The complexity of the M&A process is encapsulated by the need for effective intertwining of strategy, assessment, negotiation, and the integration of corporate entities to all come together in harmony with the objective of maintaining and building business value. While IT departments can traditionally be restricted to carrying out due diligence and smooth integrations, this approach can significantly limit the broader roles that IT teams can play in such processes.
One example of this is the approach that Unilever took to the acquisition of Alberto Culver; the complex data-driven modelling it undertook before, during and after that transaction would have required IT to build effective quantitative data models based on the input of accurate information. With a combination of publicly available data and that sourced from third parties, scenario planning can be conducted by IT in order to more accurately assess the business impact of different decisions.
From this, effective ‘what if’ planning can be conducted that not only increases the search for potential acquisitions but can also decrease time to market through the provision of reliable and accurate scenario-based outputs based on real data.
Another key role that IT can play in such a project is the key assessment of what systems to keep, which to re-asses, and which to retire. According to Myles F. Suer, Chief Platform Evangelist, CIO, in a recent article, such ventures are a prime opportunity to “put in place a smart, holistic IT architecture”, and the chance to “leave legacy dinosaurs behind”.
Has your organisation been through periods such as this when an effective enterprise architecture could have made a massive difference to a merger or acquisition? And what role did IT play in this process – was it as central as it could have been?
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Also, if anyone is interested in finding out more, we also explored these stages and perceptions of EA practices in an Open Group webinar earlier this year - the recording is available on this link if you'd like to listen back to it.
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Cost breakdown of a nuclear build
The ETI’s report demonstrates that European and North American plants incur significantly higher costs on impact the costs of supply chain, labour, project governance, project development, construction execution, political and regulatory context, equipment and materials.
Should improvements be made to these 8 key factors by nuclear build projects, the same report takes the view that there are realistic cost savings of at least 35% to be made. So there is clearly an incentive for nuclear builders to take notice of and execute such improvements, but what has prevented it from happening already?
With the well-publicised challenges of the Hinkley Point C project to draw upon in recent years, the UK government has prioritised cost reductions and learnings from this to be incorporated into future projects that are being touted to fill out its ambitious clean energy plan.
From the cost perspective, the factors the ETI lays out as being most important are also telling from a process perspective. These included the need to lay out factual and/or measurable indicators, in addition to establishing more clearly defined processes that are critical to plant completion, or ‘realisation’.
It should also be noted that the report states that while ‘contextual’ factors such as more experience in project delivery, less expensive and more productive labour, and more relaxed regulatory conditions could benefit developers in China, South Korea and Japan, “none of them would prevent an effective cost reduction programme from being implemented in new build markets such as the UK”. In other words, the cost and delivery differences between European and North American projects and those in other continents cannot be attributed to contextual factors alone.
So how could European nuclear build projects become more efficient from a process and cost point of view?
How enterprise architecture can help reduce nuclear build costs
With the complexity of the projects and the number of contractors, sub-contractors, staff, management layers, regulatory and political considerations to name just a few, a well crafted oversight strategy is clearly required.
Get a single source of truth to well-informed decisions and drive the projects
In Enterprise Architecture (EA) terms, this complex landscape could benefit from the ability to generate appropriate information sets for different stakeholders for the purpose of clear ongoing management reporting, mid-management oversight, and the monitoring of performance and timescales of the project’s many moving parts.
This need to manage and monitor such a range of risks, variables and different factions of a project is also integral to the role that enterprise architecture (EA) can play in a successful large-scale project delivery – the ability to provide a primary through-lifecycle reference and generate consistent views from a single source of truth could be the difference maker programmes of such scale.
From a cost-reduction perspective, the ETI’s report also emphasises that “fleet deployment by itself does not necessarily guarantee cost reduction unless developers implement a well-designed and intentional programme that incorporates multiple cost reduction opportunities by all principal actors”. With this, EA’s capability to build coherent transition plans, evaluate and prioritise specific projects, and foresee the impact of decisions in a complex environment could be invaluable to the nuclear sector’s ability to be agile and overcome in-project challenges.
Enhance collaboration and alignment
Yet as we have briefly established, it is precisely how to align and manage all these principle actors that is the main problem with delivering projects on this scale, and the recommendations underline this complexity. With the report identifying a total of 35 cost reduction opportunities for UK nuclear builds including a need to follow contracting best practices, the need to innovate new methods for developing alignment with labour around nuclear projects, and for government support to be conditional “based on systematic application of best practices and cost reduction measures”, the need for better and more effective alignment across the different silos of a project becomes all the more apparent. With the analysis and outputs generated from effective enterprise architecture tooling, this collaboration and alignment would be made all the more easier.
If you would like to explore the concepts introduced in this article in more detail you can listen to a presentation given at the recent Nuclear Decommissioning 2018 conference in Manchester, in which MEGA’s Simon Bobbitt outlined ‘modelling an enterprise, and what modelling gives us’. We’d be interested to know your experiences with modelling similar scale projects, and whether you agree that a greater focus on business modelling would generate positive cost outcomes for European and North American nuclear builds.
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Nice article Dan, thanks. I agree that there's a lot of "wait and see" approaches going on now, but examples such as the recent £125,000 fine Heathrow Airport was issued for data breach will begin to send the signal that the GDPR is for real. For me, one of the problems in the build-up to it was the sheer level of online "noise" and the failure of the authorities to formally recommend solutions in addition to the penalties.
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In our recent webinar hosted by The Open Group and MEGA, we shared tips on how you can demonstrate the value of enterprise architecture (EA) to key executives within your organisation.
The session covered some ideas on how to create excitement for EA outside of the IT department, and illustrating the link between EA and business outcomes that your executives may not understand or appreciate.
Our MEGA expert Alan Bradley shared insight into:
Creating visibility into the business landscape (because you can’t change what you can’t see…)
Understanding the priorities of your executive team and demonstrate how EA can help the business achieve them
Translate strategy into action by identifying objectives and selecting appropriate criteria that support business outcomes
The webina also outlined an approach based on The Open Group TOGAF® framework to position EA as a critical component in the pursuit of digital transformation.
To listen to a recording of the session, please follow this link. Please message me should you have any further questions.
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The programme is designed to provide a “more productive, more lethal, harder-hitting Joint Force able to counter conventional threats and deal with the new challenges of asymmetric conflict”. Core to the programme is building on existing plans, as well as integrating advanced new equipment, and using technology to harness and co-ordinate operations by and between land, sea, air, space and cyber functions.
In outlining the programme in March, the Defence Secretary stated the objectives of “In practice this will mean taking our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to the next level, hoovering up information from beneath the waves, from space, from across the increasingly important electro-magnetic spectrum finding out what our enemies are doing in high-definition and providing artificial intelligence – enabling analysis that can stay ahead in a fast-moving world”.
What will this mean in practice?
Because of its sheer scale, the initiative carries a number of risks and opportunities.
For the independent think tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), “officials in the Ministry of Defence charged with delivery of the UK Modernising Defence Programme would do well to heed the title and take a robust programmatic approach to their task”.
Upon closer examination of the scale of work involved, this need becomes even more apparent. With work strands split into organisational development and reform, efficiency management, commercial and financial management, and capability development, the programme is indicative of the convergence being witnessed in both the private and public sector in which IT and business operations are increasingly becoming one and the same thing. And with enduring questions as to the Ministry of Defense’s commercial management acumen and operational efficiencies of previous programmes, the need to approach this challenge in a different way could not be clearer.
A programmatical approach
The first three work-strands of the programme, organisational development and reform, efficiency management, commercial and financial management, fall under the remit of the MOD’s COO and Financial Director. From a programme management perspective, this already throws up the potential for the programme to become dysfunctional given the potentially different interpretations that these two offices could apply to the programme from the outset.
It therefore becomes all the more important for a clear programmatic objective to establish the goals in the early stages. Broad terms and political buzzwords such as ‘protect, project and promote’ that were laid out in a 2015 Strategic Defence and Security review of do not offer value in programme management terms as they are not specific or measurable in the way that process models, capability maps, ecosystem designs require.
Given this, RUSI recommends the government adopts a portfolio or programme management approach to provide the 2018 iteration with a stronger footing on which to build success. In line with good programme management principles, this led RUSI to recommend that the project be approached from the starting point of generating defence capabilities, which then leads to forming an understanding of which capabilities will be developed or retained. With these requirements established, the focus can then move to delivering them in the most efficient and optimal ways possible, and sub-projects for delivering, sustaining, continuously refreshing and tweaking those capabilities as needs arise.
Transforming the organisation
In RUSI’s approach, the principles of sound programme management are clear – senior leadership identifies the end-game and requirements, before working together to align staff, funding, equipment and materials, knowledge and skills, and time to deliver what is required.
During this process, the risks and opportunities involved in the delivery of the programme would be effectively captured, developed and managed throughout its lifecycle. For this to be achieved effectively, the four work strands identified earlier would need to merge so as to give primacy to the capability strand in order for it to inform the three enabling work strands.
This approach, if executed correctly, mitigates the limitations of previous such efforts the MOD has embarked on, and avoids the exercise becoming one of political soundbites, short-term thinking, capability cuts and resulting inefficiencies.
What end is being sought?
If the programme is a means to an end, what end is actually being sought? Is it sufficiently specific and measurable so as to give the programme the potential to be a game-changing one, or just another glossy policy initiative?
The MOD’s stated goals for the initiative are to deliver wider economic and international value and national security objectives, help UK industry be internationally competitive, innovative and secure, and make it easy to do business with the MOD.
But can this be translated into effective programme management? The answer will depend on whether these goals can be translated into what effects are required in practical terms, and what inputs are needed to create the appropriate effects. The fundamentals of good business process analysis come to the fore – understanding where the MOD is now, where it wants to go, and how it is going to get there.
Taking just one of the stated objectives – making it easier to do business with the MOD – demonstrates just how an effective business process analysis approach could help in achieving this. The MOD’s ‘customer’ in this case would be a supplier. Strong business process in this case would enable effective mapping of that supplier’s touchpoints and interactions involved in selling to the MOD, identifying ‘moments of truth’ at which the supplier may risk exiting the process, personalise the process to that supplier depending on various defined factors, ranking those touchpoints based on what the supplier feels about each one, and then linking those touchpoints to internal processes and align them to support the goal of facilitating easier business with the MOD.
There is no doubt that this is a big challenge. But with the right programmatical approach, there is certainly the potential to go further than previous incarnations of defence modernisation.
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Over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th June the MEGA team will be trekking the trail of the West Highland Way in Scotland for the next section of the story in what is now the traditional annual walk in aid of Brain Tumour Research and in memory of Taylor Emery.
Now in its 5th year and having raised almost £10,000 during that time, the walk has now expanded to include new colleagues not just from the UK team but from France and Italy. Here’s a little about the reasons for the walk and the charity it helps support – if you’d like to donate to Brain Tumour Research you can do so here.
In early 2014 Taylor Emery lost his fight with brain cancer. Taylor was working for MEGA in the UK when this happened, and he had worked in the company for several years.
The loss of Taylor and its effect on our team was huge. To suddenly have a close colleague, friend and larger than life character removed from the team with almost no notice left everyone shocked and upset. Taylor was self-opinionated, stubborn and worked hard at anything he decided to do both in and out of work.
The walk is born
The MEGA team decided that they needed to do something to both honour Taylor’s memory and to ‘take a stand’ against this horrible disease. We talked about the sort of thing that Taylor would be part of and agreed it had to be tough, involve a team and raise money for charity.
After some discussion, we decided we would attempt the UK Three Peaks Challenge. This involves both climbing the three highest peaks in the UK and more importantly doing so within a 24-hour period. Any of the three mountains are a significant walk in themselves, but the three together, the logistics of getting between them and the inevitable lack of sleep within the 24-hours means it’s a true test of both fitness and resolve.
I’m proud to say the UK team completed the challenge successfully and raised significant funds in the process. It’s also worth noting that many of the team that took part in the challenge weren’t necessarily ‘outdoors people’, hadn’t undertaken serious hill walking before, or in some cases ever been to Scotland! A combination of training walks, fitness training and a close-knit team all pulled together to both prepare and execute on the day. It was a draining and emotional experience, but above all proud team that completed the challenge and vowed to keep Taylor’s name alive.
The next few years
In 2015 a team again formed and walked a significant section of the UK’s Jurassic Coast. Continual gradients, changeable weather and serious distances were all overcome by the team whilst raising funds in the process for Brain Tumour Research. Of note by this stage is that the team was no longer just made up of people who knew Taylor or who are based in the UK… now we had people walking in Taylor’s memory and reputation from both the UK and MEGA headquarters in Paris.
Summer 2016 saw a new international team from both MEGA UK and headquarters assemble and attack the top third of the 95mile long Scotland’s West Highland Way. This route runs from just outside Glasgow to Fort William. The route is made up of non-surfaced tracks and covers a huge variety of gradients with the ever-changeable Scottish weather adding an air of excitement! 19 miles of walking on the first day and 17 on the second saw the team across the finish line. More charity funds were raised and many new friendships and bonds were formed – Taylor I’m sure is proud.
In August 2017 we chipped away at the “second to last” stretch of the West Highland Way, this time covering the 19 miles from the Bridge of Orchy to Inverarnan on day 1 and a gruelling 14 miles from Inverarnan to Rowerdennan on day 2.
Although we experienced some difficulties with inaccurate maps, double booked packed lunches, mistakenly cancelled puddings, blisters and even a sudden bout of dehydration and tiredness following the post-walk whiskey session, we all pulled through with the help of some Haggis Pakora (?!), Scotch, and half the world supply of plasters all in the spirit of doing our best to keep Taylor’s memory alive.
What have we got planned for this year and how can you get involved?
This year we will to return to Scotland and to walk the final section of the West Highland Way – we feel that we have some ‘unfinished business’ and recognise that many others have expressed an interest in taking part from across the company. This stretch will take us a mere 27 miles across the two days from Rowerdennan to Milngavie.
Money as always will be raised for the Brain Tumour Research – if you’d like to donate, here’s that link again.
About Brain Tumour Research
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer … yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this fight devastating disease. This is unacceptable!
The Brain Tumour Research charity works hard to make a difference - funds raised will help develop the charity’s network of world-class brain tumour research centres in the UK.
That’s all for now…
Thanks for reading – I’m off to start work on the level 2 fitness programme that’s apparently required to complete the walk! We’ll be sure to post updates and photos after the walk.
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It's that time of the year again when we're heading into town for Gartner EA London. To help make the event extra special this year we've got a bumper line-up of activities on and around our booth (number PL2 in case you want to make a note...) this year, so here's a few highlights to help you plan your week. A sneak preview of the MEGA booth... Ready to expand the boundaries of EA? Let us know if you'd like a software demo during the conference. Please send me a message in the Community using the button on this page and we'll arrange a good time with you during the conference. See how MEGA is integral to NATS NATS, the UK's leading provider of air traffic control services, will be on-site to discuss the role MEGA’s HOPEX platform plays in their Architecture Framework. Katie Duffy, EA at NATS, will present on Wednesday at 12:00 in the 'Westminster A' room. Right this way for more details on what Katie's session will cover. MEGA and the art of EA Accenture's Peter McElwaine-Johnn will also be discussing how enterprise architects can prepare for the next wave of technology-driven change - he'll be presenting on Tuesday at 16:00 in 'Westminster B' and at our booth during the networking reception if you would like to discuss anything from his session. The best goodies in town We've got some cool (and practical) freebies including RFID cards to keep your cash safe, cloths to keep your screen clean, and a few other cool bits and bobs. Pop over to say hi and grab yours! Evening fun The MEGA stand will really be coming into its own on Tuesday evening - it will literally be magic! The world famous master magician Dean Nicholas is here for the networking reception with some of his newest trickery to show you! A true master of his craft, Dean learned from some of the best in the business including Paul Daniels, Tony Slydini and David Copperfield. Here's a sneak preview of Dean at his finest during another event - that £5 note was mine so I can assure you it's genuine! We’ve also got some tasty cheeses, canapes and meats to enjoy with a cold beer – stand PL2 is genuinely the place to be! We look forward to meeting you at the conference, and feel free to message me if you'd like to meet or have any questions.
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The IT Architecture/Framework of an organisation is continuously evolving, particularly in a growing enterprise. This is due to developing technologies, increased business activities, new markets, cyber threats, regulatory demands etc. Ensuring that the IT infrastructure is in line with the business activities and objectives is fundamental to the competitiveness of an organisation. We're excited to be heading to Frankfurt for this event, as it will bring together Enterprise Architecture professionals from across Europe, Russia/CIS and the Middle East for an extremely interesting two days for all those involved in ensuring their organisations’ EA is keeping pace with the technological, business and regulatory changes and demands of these fast-evolving times. MEGA is a silver sponsor of this event and will be exhibiting on the show floor. Yannick Rudloff, Pre-Sales Manager at MEGA will be presenting the benefits of the company's Hopex platform and how it can provide the best business value possible from an EA platform. To stay up-to-date on what’s happening at the event, follow us on Twitter - @mega_int. You can attend the event to learn about Enterprise Architecture for the new and developing financial services ecosystem Maximising the flexibility and agility of your Enterprise Architecture Fast-developing & disruptive technologies Alignment with business activities Cyber security Greater process optimization through advancements in RPA and AI Cloud computing Architecture-led strategy & planning Compliance to financial regulation Big and Smart Data Risk management IT regulation and compliance Enterprise Architecture for ever increasing customer self-service Who should attend: Enterprise architects Heads of strategy and execution in the nuclear decommissioning sector VPs of business transformation and business excellence Business leaders with a stake in change management and business process management To set up a private meeting with MEGA at this event, please send me a direct message and I'll get back to you. We also have a small number of discounted passes available, so you can contact me if you would like access to those (please note these are first-come-first-served). To learn more, visit the conference website. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Frankfurt!
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Mega are sponsoring this year’s Defence Information conference, which brings together defence seniors and thought leaders, innovators and suppliers, practitioners and subject matter experts, academics and those with ‘other sector’ know-how. The stimulating format of DI’18 includes a range of keynote speakers, interactive workshops, the TD-Info Excellence Awards, exhibition stands and plenty of opportunities for networking - including a dinner at the fantastic STEAM museum in Swindon. This multifaceted event has wide appeal and reliably delivers a sustained ‘buzz’ of interaction amongst attendees. And, the consensus from sponsors, exhibitors and attendees is that it remains remarkably good value-for-money. You should attend to learn about: Aligning organisational processes, infrastructure, and data to create and support a digital backbone across defence organisations Using operational excellence as a strategic weapon for measuring progress and continuous improvement Enabling innovation, strategy execution, and being more operationally agile The full conference agenda and confirmed speakers are available to view on this link. If you would like to pre-book a meeting with the Mega team onsite, please message me in the community and we'll arrange a convenient time with you.
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Either way, just because it’s become well-used should not mean that your organisation should overlook it or become complacent with it – quite the opposite.
Walt Disney called it long ago - “whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.” It’s worked out pretty well in his businesses.
So what is a customer journey in the digital world? The online polling company SurveyMonkey offers the following definition:
“ The customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer ”.
As a consumer myself, I’ve become interested in observing customer journey experiences when I make online purchases or carry out banking or other online administration.
It would not be right to drop specific names on a company blog, but based on Survey Monkey’s definition I’ve experienced some excellent customer journey experiences from the outside looking in; equally there are some that leave a lot to be desired. By way of an inexact calculation, I would say that around one third rank as excellent, one third rank as average, and one third rank poorly.
It got me thinking – how often do sizeable organisations hold up a mirror to ensure they are offering their customers the leading experience in their journey to buying a product or service? I would be intrigued to know, since my own rough estimation, around two thirds of organisations I have spent money with rank as average or poor when I roughly applied them to the criteria of the above definition and have therefore either done a poor job of evaluating this experience, or have simply overlooked the importance of it as a tool to differentiate in the market, and for increasing and retaining revenues. Some CEOs take the view that “today, companies should compete as much on customer experience as they do on product and price”.
When I was mulling how easy this would be for an organisation to accomplish in practice and learning from some of the use cases of MEGA’s own customers, it occurred to me how important it is that different people across an organisation are involved in such a project in order to make it a success. With stakeholders including the CIO and management team needing to make data-driven decisions, business analysts scrutinising and improving the processes and workflows, solution architects redesigning applications to execute the processes through to the business architects seeking to align capabilities with the wider strategy, the need for a best-in-class Enterprise Architecture tool becomes even more apparent.
For Digital Marketing Magazine, customer journey mapping “can enable organisations to identify pain points across different areas of the website or blockage points the might be impeding the customer journey. Once these have been identified, they can then work to address the problem”.
And herein lays the problem. Identifying these pain points from the consumer side of a process is a relatively straightforward task – think virtual mystery shopper.
Analysing them, fixing them and using the data to segment different sections of your customer base, building the resources, infrastructure, applications and workflows, and organising the outputs into a coherent and efficient process is another matter entirely, and this is obviously more complicated the bigger the organisation.
In our research, we have noticed that lower priced entry level solutions offer features such as neat drawing tools, decision diagrams and business modelling canvases – but without a centralised repository pulling in data sources from across the whole organisation it is impossible to truly map a 360 degree view of the customer journey and the application and technical architecture that drive it. Because of this, it’s important to take into account what it is that you’re expecting from your tool, and how holistic you want it to be.
For independent research and advisory firm Aragon Research, “until recently, capturing the voice of the customer has been either relegated to face-to-face customer focus groups or point in time surveys - or in the worst-case scenario - walking away to a competitor. Now, with the ability to map the customer journey and capture the customer’s rational inputs, sentiments, real emotions, and responses, organizations are better equipped to successfully and proactively retain their current client base and target “best customers” to win new clients.”
To explore the potential benefits of a re-evaluation of your organisation’s customer journey and associated processes, you can download the full Aragon Research report to discover why MEGA is a leader in customer journey mapping and also find out about:
The three main reasons of embracing the shift to Customer Journey Mapping
The key product requirements that need to be taken into account when selecting a Customer Journey Mapping software
The whole evaluation of the software vendors on this market
References http://digitalmarketingmagazine.co.uk/digital-marketing-features/the-importance-of-customer-journey-mapping https://www.surveymonkey.com/curiosity/map-customer-journey-keep-customers-happy/ http://www.businessinsider.com/sc/disney-customer-experience-principles-2017-3?IR=T
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In this article, I’ll explore the cases of Toys R Us and Maplin and analyse their failings in relation to industry experts’ findings.
Suggestions for explaining the failures of both retailers have so far included the locations of the stores, the rise of online giants such as Amazon and eBay, the rise in supermarkets selling toys and stationary, and changes in consumer buying and childrens’ interests, as well as the traditional achilles heels retailers face such as cashflow shortfalls and high levels of seasonal dependency.
But for me one theme put forward my several analysts stood out for me as being a very important and wholly preventable point of failure that affected both Toys R Us and Maplin – a failure to embrace customer experience and business transformation in an age where it is more and more essential to do so for a business to survive and thrive. In Maplin’s case, while it blames a slowdown in consumer spending and weakening of Sterling since the Brexit vote, the company itself also cited “competition from online rivals” as an important factor in its situation.
Threats or opportunities?
Yet as well as creating these shifts, the digital age also offers even greater potential for businesses to create exciting and seamless customer experiences, simplify business processes, and transform the ways in which the organisation operates.
In a report outlining UK trends in 2018, Deloitte states three areas that should be priorities for retailers:
Reimagine the store
Experiment with experience
Transform your business
Putting ‘digital in the physical’
One of the key components of ‘reimagining the store’ is “putting digital in your physical”, in which Deloitte claim “retailers are realising that the biggest impact that digital can have on their business is in-store. Some of the most innovative and compelling stores make digital a core part of the store experience”.
The BBC agree, citing a “lack of drama” in Toys R Us stores as one of five reasons for its demise. They contrast the hands-on and inspiring customer experiences created in the likes of Disney and Lego stores for example with the more bland, warehouse aisle style layouts of Toys R Us which fails to excite children.
Further to this, the same article takes the view that “the digital ecosystem can be an opportunity as well as a challenge”. An example is also cited of a four-year-old child looking on YouTube to inspire his toy collection, and how Smyths Toy Superstores use the digital experience to enhance and work in harmony with the in-store experience. “But Toys R Us failed there too”.
This last point about integrating digital with physical is another key point explored in the Deloitte report. For them, digital experiences, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality “are set to transform the retail experience both online and offline, often connecting the two with more immersive experiences”.
While seamless and visually impressive customer journeys, in-store experience and continuous consumer engagement are vital parts of the digital age which Toys R Us appear to have overlooked.
Deeper business transformation was needed
However full business transformation is about much more than the storefront – customers, competitors and consumer culture are in a constant state of flux, and as a result only the most forward-thinking and agile companies are thriving.
Initiatives such as try-before-you-buy and checkout-less stores and online experiences are underpinning the seamless consumer experience that differentiates the best from the rest in the modern world.
And interaction with consumers has changed in drastic ways. No longer are generic, outbound-only communication approaches effective – retailers and brands need to be immersed and engaged in conversations directly with their consumers, and sending tailored offers to them based on their behaviour and habits. For Deloitte, “brands are targeting individual consumers with individual offers and experiences and retailers need to respond by intensifying their focus on their consumers and what their offer means to them”.
While external factors may have played a part, my view, and one that is shared by many retail industry experts, is that Toys R Us and Maplin’s downfalls were caused in no small part by a failure to embrace the tools and opportunities that the digital age offers – the failure of both firms, in different ways, shows how customer experience just became even more crucial to business success.
What questions should your organisation be asking?
The highest cost for any organisation is acquiring and keeping customers. Does your organisation have a true understanding of who your customers are and how they interact with your company? Can you say, with confidence, that your company designs products and business processes that attract the customers you want?
Good customer mapping tools outline the path for creating winning customer journey maps that enrich customer experience, strategies for connecting these maps to processes, IT systems, business requirements and business capabilities.
In its Tech Spectrum for Customer Journey Mapping 2017 – mapping the voice of the customer report, independent analysts Aragon Research evaluated 15 companies that provide customer journey mapping software. Download the report to learn about the top three reasons to embrace the shift to customer journey mapping, how a customer-first focus is paving the way for businesses transformation, and key aspects of customer journey mapping solutions.
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The MEGA UK team are gearing up to attend next week’s Executive Leaders Network CIO | CISO | CMO event at the Millennium Madejski Hotel in Reading, and we’re excited about joining the discussion and valuable content that will be available across the day. In doing so I’ve been reviewing the themes and content, and it occurred to me just how much of a shift is going on across businesses in the digital age – even in my relatively short career so far (okay well 12 years since I graduated now!), I’ve seen a distinct shift from quite siloed business functions and departments in the mid-2000s through to the convergence we’re seeing now. Even 10-12 years ago, I would imagine that an event that combines IT, compliance/governance and marketing-related content would have been risky at best. But now it’s almost essential, and a quick inspection of the key themes that will be covered at the event demonstrates just how interconnected these departments have become as a result of the digital age. There’s a strong argument that digital transformation, marketing automation, security, BigData and analytics, customer journey mapping and content marketing all overlap IT, marketing and compliance departments within a global organisation at the very least – this demonstrates how much organisations have been forced (for the better) to come together in order to compete effectively and create cutting edge customer experiences. Brian Rashid of Forbes defines digital transformation quite nicely: Digital transformation is not just about embracing new technology, it is about a change in thought and organisation culture. There is a need for organisations to address the change in business scenarios, dynamic business demands and innovate ways to quickly cater to these changing needs. Leaders and IT teams in any enterprise should work hand in hand to meet the business requirements, drive innovation and march towards continuous improvement. This is what Digital transformation is all about —accelerate business activities, lower cost, improve time to market, bring about a positive change in processes, people, and competency models. Is this your experience of digital transformation? How advanced is your organisation in its journey? About the conference: The Executive Leaders Network conference brings together a thought provoking keynote and some of the best & brightest executives known for their influence, expertise and strategic thinking to help you understand digital transformation in practice and what it can mean for your organisation. It offers you the opportunity to engage, share and learn with more than 100+ CIOs & IT Leaders and 40+ CISO / Security Leaders. MEGA is a sponsor of the event and will also be exhibiting on the show floor, during which you'll be able to discuss your customer experience and digital transformation initiatives with the team. Please register your place via this link. To stay up-to-date on what’s happening at the event, follow us on Twitter - @mega_int - or use the event hashtag #ExecLN. We look forward to meeting you there! The full Forbes article cited earlier is available to read on this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianrashid/2017/06/13/digital-transformation-and-innovation-in-todays-business-world/#6ea276624905
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MEGA in Edinburgh
Last week a number of MEGA's customers and potential customers joined us in Edinburgh from all over the UK and Nordic regions to discuss how the features in the new release of MEGA’s HOPEX platform can enable business transformation programmes and improve decision making to keep organisations ahead of their competition.
The enhancements in the new rollout include:
Integration of the new Project Portfolio Module to enhance the transformation phase
Improve IT portfolio performance through ideation
CAST integration for cloud readiness and technical debt
Fully aligned with IT Architecture module for data flows
BDNA integration enhancement
Fresh new user interface
New collaborative features including Easy Survey
Role-based views with clearly defined purposes for:
Smart, valuable deliverables to address IT problems that exist today
Full alignment with MEGA’s ITPM module
Ensure coverage for modern architectures
Cloud computing architecture, virtual, platforms, IoT, API, web-orientated architecture, etc.
The slides we shared during the event are available to download from this page (displayed on the right side of the screen).
Thank you to those that joined us at the event, and please contact us should you require any further information or a discussion on your requirements.
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It’s not difficult to envisage the apples and oranges in the sketch making way for more serious strategic debates in a boardroom. In fact the arguments that can arise from a simple statement about comparing apples with oranges probably resonates with most peoples’ daily lives – CIOs and other global business executives in particular.
Take for example something that should constitute a simple request such as a report on the cost, businesses justification and processes behind the CRM systems of your organisation for example? It’s not so simple when EMEA, APAC and the Americas are all running different applications and processes. And it doesn’t stop there. The different countries are probably all running separate billing systems to effectively manage their local requirements whether it’s currency, language, approval process, or simply different days in a working week.
That’s just a few of the complexities; suddenly, something that seemed like a simple request is not so simple at all, much like Dilbert’s experience of comparing apples with oranges.
Trying to compare the vagaries and complexities of different regions can be painful but very necessary. Okay, so it’s not necessary to compare apples with oranges, but in the cartoon strip it undoubtedly became very painful!
So just how does MEGA stop you having a Dilbert-style falling out?
Our solutions, with HOPEX as the common repository, enables us to gather our apples and oranges, or processes and applications, to see their interdependencies and make informed business decisions off the back of it. With this methodology, MEGA helps organisations facing these types of complexities manage and prioritise IT transformation projects to gain IT agility and drive business innovation, build a clear IT roadmap, and plan out capabilities to best utilise IT resource to support the organisation’s wider objectives.
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After a minor navigational hiccup almost saw us take the wrong direction from the outset, Saturday saw us start out ready to rock and roll for the 30km stretch from the Bridge of Orchy to Inverarnan with a mostly clear sky and a perfect temperature for walking. With such a variety of landscapes from the mountainous panoramas to the craggy and technical forest climbs, the day was undoubtedly physically challenging but hugely rewarding.
After a traditional Scottish feast and a very early night in the Tyndrum Inn, we were up and about bright and early for more on Sunday. With “only” 23km to cover on day 2, some of us were perhaps thinking it would be slightly easier going, but the ups and downs of the path around Loch Lomond soon dispelled those thoughts! But again the team spirit and effort for why we were doing it were evident for all to see, and the stunning views of the loch were something we’ll all remember for a long time. Our Sunday evening was spent in the famous Drovers Inn, and the friendly welcome, superb selection of Malt and tasty food were all very well received by our creaking bodies!
It’s back to business for now, but we are already putting our plans together to return to complete the West Highland Way in 2018.
The whole team would like to say a massive thanks to everyone who has sponsored us so far – if you’d like to make a contribution as well please visit our fundraising page via this link: Just Giving - MEGA - West Highland Way 2017 Part 2 Charity Challenge
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The traditions of the UK Charity Walk Taylor was self-opinionated, stubborn and worked hard at anything he decided to do both in and out of work. The MEGA team decided that they needed to do something to both honour Taylor’s memory and to ‘take a stand’ against this horrible disease. We talked about the sort of thing that Taylor would be part of and agreed it had to be tough, involve a team and raise money for charity. After some discussion, we decided we would attempt the UK Three Peaks Challenge. This involves both climbing the three highest peaks in the UK and more importantly doing so within a 24-hour period. Any of the three mountains are a significant walk in themselves, but the three together, the logistics of getting between them and the inevitable lack of sleep within the 24-hours means it’s a true test of both fitness and resolve. I’m proud to say the UK team completed the challenge successfully and raised significant funds in the process. It’s also worth noting that many of the team that took part in the challenge weren’t necessarily ‘outdoors people’, hadn’t undertaken serious hill walking before, or in some cases ever been to Scotland! A combination of training walks, fitness training and a close-knit team all pulled together to both prepare and execute on the day. It was a draining and emotional experience, but above all proud team that completed the challenge and vowed to keep Taylor’s name alive. In 2015 a team again formed and walked a significant section of the UK’s Jurassic Coast. Continual gradients, changeable weather and serious distances were all overcome by the team whilst raising funds in the process for Brain Tumour Research. Of note by this stage is that the team was no longer just made up of people who knew Taylor or who are based in the UK… now we had people walking in Taylor’s memory and reputation from both the UK and MEGA headquarters in Paris. Summer 2016 saw a new international team from both MEGA UK and headquarters assemble and attack the top third of the 95mile long Scotland’s West Highland Way. This route runs from just outside Glasgow to Fort William. The route is made up of non-surfaced tracks and covers a huge variety of gradients with the ever-changeable Scottish weather adding an air of excitement! 19 miles of walking on the first day and 17 on the second saw the team across the finish line. More charity funds were raised and many new friendships and bonds were formed – Taylor I’m sure is proud. About Brain Tumour Research Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer … yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this fight devastating disease. This is unacceptable! The Brain Tumour Research charity works hard to make a difference. Carol Robertson, Head of Community Fundraising for Brain Tumour Research, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Mega International UK team, and wish them all the best for a successful event. We hope as many people as possible will support their endeavour, or even consider holding their own events, helping us to spread the word about this terrible disease.” To donate If you would like to donate to this great cause, you can do so via our JustGiving page via this link Funds raised will help develop the charity’s network of world-class brain tumour research centres in the UK. We’ll post pictures and updates during our trek, and thank you for your great support! #MEGAUKCharityWalk
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A week on from a hugely successful Gartner EA Summit in a sweltering London, I wanted to take the opportunity to o ffer a short summary of the event and reflect on a productive couple of days.
As Platinum sponsors at the event, MEGA had the luxury of being the very first booth in the Solution Showcase area of the beautiful Park Plaza Hotel conference centre – with views over the Thames and the Houses of Parliament it is a pretty special venue.
Conversations came thick and fast during the day, with people clearly concerned with the GDPR regulations and acknowledging that basic applications such as Excel and Visio, while useful, are quickly outgrown as an organisation scales its enterprise architecture practice.
‘GDPR from the inside’ presentation
At 16:30 on day one of the event, Gerry Rankin our advocate from the MEGA Associate Programme and formerly Chief Information Architect at British American Tobacco gave his views on the GDPR from the inside, and what the impending regulations mean for data governance in organisati ons such as the global banking group he is currently working with.
Gerry’s presentation was packed to the rafters, with just under 200 people listening attentively and many visiting the MEGA booth afterwards to discuss their challenges further. The presentation is available to download from this post, and if you would like to discuss the aspects in which MEGA can help with GDPR preparedness please send me a direct message and I will arrange one of our team to contact you.
The GDPR from the inside de MEGA International
The Magnificent 7
Throughout the event our ‘Magnificent 7’ themed booth led to some fun conversations, with lots of you recognising yourself as the safe pair of hands, the visionary or one of our other light-hearted persona traits.
One of the most amusing conversations I had was with a CIO from a large bank (I probably shouldn’t say more than that!), but he strolled up to our booth and said that the personas pretty much perfectly described his team to a tee! He particularly liked the risk officer as the persona as the safe pair of hands like a wicket keeper in cricket, not least because he actually played that position for his local team. The conversation then took a big tangent onto the upcoming England v South Africa test match, but that’s another story!
On the Wednesday evening (after the networking drinks!), the MEGA team were also fortunate to enjoy a delicious meal with a number of our existing clients and some new acquaintances we met during the day – it was all-in-all a very pleasant experience followed by a stroll along London’s beautiful South Bank to unwind and prepare for another packed day of conversations and meetings on the Thursday.
Need a solar charger?
Last but not least, our solar charging devices proved highly popular throughout the whole event, so if you missed out on yours fear not – again simply send me a direct message and I will have one sent to you.
We hope you enjoyed the event as much as we did, and we look forward to talking to you very soon about the value that MEGA’s Gartner-leading HOPEX tool can add to the many exciting initiatives and projects that we touched upon during the event.
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MEGA are proud Platinum sponsors of the Gartner Enterprise Architecture and Technology Innovation Summit on the 14th and 15th June at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London.
The event will provide the opportunity to meet the MEGA team on booth number PL1 to discuss how your organisation could join the likes of NATs, Babcock, Co-operative Banking Group and Nissan in benefitting from our solutions, and for us to understand your organisation’s business transformation challenges and objectives.
To ‘keep it real’, we’ll also have a fun ‘Magnificent 7’ style theme on our booth featuring an interactive 3D shootout game, not to mention tasty Tex Mex food and beers to hand. Our team, or ‘cowboy coaches’ also have innovative solar charging devices to give out for 3D shootout hotshots.
Back to business for a brief moment…. because MEGA’s HOPEX tool adds value to so many parts of our customers’ business, we get to know the different roles that stakeholders play in an organisation. And with this we have come up with a ‘Magnificent 7’ stakeholders that experience business challenges that MEGA can help to solve. And with the Magnificent 7, innovation has a number… next week we’ll be asking the question which number are you?
Innovation has a number...
Here’s a quick roundup of the exciting activities we’ve got going on before and during the event.
Because we don’t want you to be dehydrated - win a bottle of bubbly
If you’d like to pre-submit a question to discuss how MEGA can be of specific assistance to your role and organisation, please feel free to do so in the comments field below or send me a private message in the Community if you’d prefer. On the last day of the event we’ll also be doing a live draw for a random winner from anyone who has sent a question or engages with us on the MEGA community before the event!
Need a ticket for the event?
We have a very limited number of free passes for customers and a unique discount code available, so if you’ve not already booked your ticket please register to our Community and send me a private message for .
We know that the Gartner schedule is pretty full-on. So if you’d like to schedule a meeting, please email or send me a private message in the Community with your preferred day and time and we’ll do our best to accommodate you. We can be flexible, so let us know if you’d prefer to meet on the exhibition booth during the day, in one of the networking areas, or even for some lunch or in the evening.
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