“24 Hour Fitness Acquired” by “AEA Investors,Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan & Fitness Capital Partners” | Business Wire

24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc. announced that AEA Investors, a leader in the #PrivateEquity industry ; Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Canada’s largest single-profession pension plan – and one of the world’s largest ; and Fitness Capital Partners, a fund organized by Dean Bradley Osborne and Global Leisure Partners have completed their #Acquisition of the Company from Forstmann Little & Co…!!

24 Hour Fitness also announced that Mark Smith will join as Chief Executive Officer, and Frank Napolitano has been named President…!!

“ I’m honored and delighted to lead #24HourFitness – which has pioneered so many breakthroughs in the fitness industry – into the Next chapter of the Company’s success,” said Mark Smith. “I’d like to thank former owner Forstmann Little for its strategic guidance of 24 Hour Fitness through a period of solid growth, and former CEO Elizabeth Blair for her execution through the acquisition…

Our new owners are firmly committed to supporting a strong, sustainable future, and I look forward to working with “24 Hour Fitness” executives and team members whom I have come to know as a talented and intensely motivated team”….

Smith and his family will relocate from Australia, and he will take office in July. Until then, the Office of the CEO has been established and will report to the Board of Directors for 24 Hour Fitness….!!

How ever the Terms of the transaction were not disclosed….!!

“E-commerce Logistics firm “Delhivery” to raise up to Rs.175 crore”: “PE’s interest in Ancillary Service providers” | ET Retail

E-commerce Logistics services company ” Delhivery “ is in the final stages of negotiations to raise up to Rs 175 crore in fresh funding, a development that comes at a time when a number of India’s Top Private Equity funds are betting big on the country’s Digital-commerce sector….!!

The company has had discussions with a number of blue-chip private-equity firms, a list that also includes marquee growth-stage risk capital investor Warburg Pincus, and a deal is expected to be finalised by mid-June, according to sources with direct knowledge of the talks…

If successful, this will be Delhivery’s third round of equity funding….In September last year, it raised about Rs 35 crore from Nexus Venture Partners, having raised an undisclosed sum from Times Internet Ltd earlier in 2012….The existing venture capital backers are also expected to participate in the new round…

Warburg Pincus recently made the news when it led a Rs 550 crore round of funding in online and mobile classifieds company Quikr in March. Avendus Capital, a leading investment bank, has been given the mandate to structure the transaction. While Sahil Barua, co-founder of Delhivery, and Warburg Pincus refused to comment, emails sent to Avendus Capital did not elicit any response…!!

A potential transaction could value Delhivery at over Rs 500 crore. A number of India’s top private equity firms with a consumer #BusinessFocus but are yet to invest in E-commerce have highlighted their interest in investing in companies that provide services such as Payments, Logistics, #Reverse-Logistics, #Packaging and #SupplyChainManagement…

“We don’t have a preference for businesses that focus on core merchandising…We would rather look at Logistics and Payment-related businesses, which go right across the space,” said managing partner, Tata Capital Growth Fund (TCGF)…!!

The shift is largely driven by the relatively lower valuations and smaller amounts of capital required by #AncillaryServiceProviders, with average deal sizes of Rs 50 crore to Rs 150 crore…!!

“We will consider investments in E-commerce. We haven’t so far, because a number of those businesses are yet to mature to a point where we, as a late stage investor, are comfortable investing in them…

BillDesk, where we have invested, is a classic example of a company that has been a direct beneficiary of what’s happening in the broader consumer internet space,” said.. India head of global private equity firm TA Associates…!!

“Stress Testing” the “Character of Future Business-Leaders”: “Leadership Under Fire” | Ivey Business Journal

Early one morning late last summer, a bus load of ambitious Ivey Business School students departed from Western University’s campus in London, Ontario, and headed north for a unique course on leadership. The individuals in question were not exactly sure what to expect when they arrived at their destination—Canadian Forces Base Borden…!!

From the course outline, the students knew #LeadershipUnderFire : Developing Character was a new program designed to challenge them both mentally and physically in an environment outside their comfort zones…. Many students, however, didn’t fully realize how much the course would empower them to explore their personal strengths and weaknesses and assess their suitability for leadership.

Some students imagined they had signed up for a field trip with relatively simple team building exercises and a fun obstacle course. At least one didn’t even bother to bring along boots and a backpack, which were clearly listed as required items on the course equipment list. These harmless misconceptions were quickly dispelled along with the dangerous and false idea that good leadership comes easy to intelligent and confident people.

“We’re not in Kansas anymore,” one student not-so-playfully noted after being ordered off the bus by a professional Canadian soldier, who made it clear (in the colourful terms deployed by hardened boot camp instructors) that the days and nights ahead would be far more educational than pleasant for members of the group that soon became known as Ivey Platoon…

Good leaders learn from experience…. If they are lucky, they eventually become aware of their limitations and take steps to address them. Unfortunately, history shows that too many leaders fail to become aware of their blind spots until it is too late. It doesn’t have to be this way…

 

The need to stress test balance sheets of financial institutions is generally accepted as a prudent form of risk management…. So why not test the character of managers of organizations where #LeadershipCharacter plays a major role in determining success or failure ? Better yet, why not give business students a chance to assess themselves before they accept the significant responsibilities that come with managing organizations in today’s challenging environment ?

This article discusses the need for more business school courses like Leadership Under Fire, which was developed in partnership with Canada’s military to allow Ivey students to gain a deep  understanding of their strengths and weaknesses before they graduate and serve future employers as risk managers, department heads, chief executives, directors and boardroom chairs…!!

THE NEED TO FOCUS ON LEADERSHIP-CHARACTER :

Forbes columnist Mike Myatt recently observed that the world suffers greatly at the hands of people who confuse their need for an ego boost or thirst for greed with leadership. “ Whether through malice or naïveté,” he writes, “ those who abuse OR tolerate the abuse of leadership place us all at risk. Poor leadership cripples businesses, ruins economies, destroys families, loses wars, and can bring the demise of nations. The demand for true leaders has never been greater – when society misunderstands the importance of leadership, and when the world inappropriately labels non-leaders as leaders we are all worse for the wear ”…!!

Improving the quality of leadership, of course, depends on the efforts of many of society’s stakeholders… As a business school, Ivey has long recognized its obligation to thoroughly examine, understand and commit to the development of good leadership. Following the financial crisis, Ivey faculty partnered with organizational leaders from outside academia to ask if better leadership would have made a difference..

The answer—an unequivocal yes—formed the basis of Leadership on Trial : A Manifesto for Leadership Development, which noted Good Leadership rests on THREE Pillars : “commitment”, ” competencies” and “character”… As explained by the authors (Gandz, Crossan, Seijts and Stephenson), when any one of the THREE Pillars is deficient, the shortfall will ultimately lead to problems. But while business schools have done an admirable job of researching and teaching the competencies that are deemed essential for individual and organizational success, the importance of leadership character and commitment as cornerstones in the development of the next generation of business leaders has been largely ignored.

To address this issue, Ivey compared the various strengths and weaknesses of leaders at companies that survived or prospered during the meltdown to those that didn’t. The school found “Good Leader Character” relies on having appropriate strength in 11 inter-related dimensions of leadership character: Accountability, Collaboration, Courage, Drive, Humanity, Humility, Integrity, Judgment, Justice, Temperance and Transcendence. If left unchecked, shortfalls or excesses in any of these areas can turn virtues into vices and ultimately lead to failure..

JOINING FORCES WITH CANADA’S MILITARY:

As noted above, the global economic meltdown reinforced Ivey’s commitment to identifying and promoting the prerequisites for good leadership. Since 2010, the business school has conducted research and published empirical and practitioner papers on leadership character for use in educational programs. Case studies with an explicit focus on character and commitment have been written. Special events and conferences that emphasize the three pillars of good leadership have been held. Speakers have been invited to address the issue in both conventional and unconventional ways. But all that still left a void because to understand the demands of good leadership in a way that will truly resonate, students need to do more than simply read or hear about the importance of character and commitment. They need to directly experience how their own character works in a team environment and how it holds up under duress.

Unlike the management skills required to run businesses, teaching someone to understand their character strengths and weaknesses isn’t something that can be done in a typical classroom, at least not effectively…

After all, one of the “Foundations of Leadership” is the “Ability to Accomplish a Task by influencing the Behaviour of other people”…To do that, a leader must be able to assess a situation, develop a plan, issue clear instructions and then supervise execution….And when trying to teach this in a traditional classroom setting, students never really get beyond assessing a situation and developing a plan. As a result, they never directly experience the challenges involved in issuing instructions and managing plan execution..

A solution to this dilemma was developed by two Canadian entrepreneurs with military backgrounds, Toronto-based corporate strategy consultant John Mercer, a former captain and personal assistant to the commander of the Canadian Army, and Larry Stevenson, managing director with Toronto’s Callisto Capital and former army platoon commander who revolutionized the Canadian book industry as founder of the Chapters retail chain..

Mercer (Ivey MBA, 1986) and Stevenson (Harvard MBA, 1984), who is currently Honourary Colonel of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, had long agreed that business schools were better at producing managers than developing leaders. Together, they approached Ivey with the idea of combining business education with elements of the Basic Officer Training Course (BOTC), which teaches the basics of leadership to every officer in the Canadian Forces before they move on to more advanced training.

Our troops have long had a reputation for being well disciplined, highly effective and well led, which is why the level of trust and confidence in the Canadian Forces ranks high amongst institutions in this country. And the wisdom accumulated by successive generations of Canadian military leaders represents an underutilized Canadian competitive advantage. The development of business school courses that tap into this knowledge is overdue.

Designed to be both a formative and transformative experience that students will reflect upon throughout their career,Leadership under Fire is all about getting the job done. Students must do much more than simply collaborate to achieve goals. They need to demonstrate good judgment, drive and courage in an ambiguous and challenging environment while knowing they will be held accountable for their actions and attitudes as leaders and followers. Simply put, partnering with the Canadian Forces (on a cost recovery basis) allows Ivey to introduce its students to valuable military insights while honing their individual leadership, followership and teaming abilities and instilling them with an understanding of the critical role character and commitment play in good leadership…

HOW IT WORKS :

Leadership Under Fire, which is delivered by veteran Canadian officers and non-commissioned officers in partnership with Ivey faculty, has several objectives, including :

  • To create an awareness of the character-related challenges encountered in leadership and decision making in challenging and ambiguous situations;
  • To deepen student understanding of the role played by virtues and values in leadership effectiveness and the shaping of individual decisions and actions; and 
  • To have students think hard about their own strengths and weaknesses (as both leaders and followers) and how to develop and maintain the required commitment, competencies and character it takes to be a good leader.

Students are divided into units with military mentors, issued uniforms, assigned ranks and then expected to effectively perform as a team while facing various challenges that expose their strengths and weaknesses in both leading and following positions.

While the course features leadership presentations by both military and business leaders, the focus is on task-oriented problem solving in stressful and uncertain contexts…Each student unit, for example, is required to assess practical problems like clearing a minefield….!!

They must develop a plan of action, communicate clear instructions and work as a team to complete the task. Unlike the case method used in class, the focus is on “ what to do ?” as opposed to, “ what would you do ..? ”

Pretty much anyone, of course, can learn to poke a stick in the sand to clear a path through a mock minefield. But having the discipline and patience it takes to do it to military standards as part of a team exhausted by late night learning exercises and early morning marches (while sporting backpacks and carrying field equipment such as water cans and medical stretchers) is something completely different, especially when Mother Nature proves she has what it takes to be a boot camp instructor by alternatively adding torrential rain and scorching humidity, not to mention bugs and poison ivy, to the list of things making it hard to concentrate…

Situational elements complicate the execution of the tasks assigned in real-life, so students participating in Leadership Under Fire quickly learn not to expect a time out to deal with bad weather or any other unexpected obstacle that makes completing tasks more difficult..

Keep in mind that tension and irritants are part of the program, making execution of assignments a true learning experience. In the field for three grueling days, students experience stress, physical fatigue and sleep deprivation. Meanwhile, military professionals constantly push the students outside their comfort zone while demanding cleanliness, discipline and respect. There is no downtime from learning. Something simple like forgetting to serve bacon with the breakfast prepared for the core group of master corporals leading the program’s exercises quickly turns into a long hard lesson on the importance of attention to detail…!!

MEASURING IMPACT :

As an educational experience, Leadership Under Fire offers students an opportunity to open their minds and demonstrate courage by putting their leadership and followership abilities to the test in fluid and uncomfortable situations…But the physical side of the course is merely a vehicle to help students to reflect on their own character and developmental needs because good leaders require self-awareness and reflection capabilities..

Feedback on performance from faculty and military personnel plus peer evaluations on the student’s leadership and follower skills provides each participant with a road-map for personal improvement. This requires students to be open to constructive criticism that in many cases they did not expect or want to hear….!!

The following comments are just some of the wide-ranging personal-insights voiced during and after the course :

Being a great leader is to keep improving and learning from your mistakes and past experiences. Whether positive or negative there is a lot to learn from our past experiences, especially when we take the time to reflect upon them. In hindsight, I can see the best lessons come from my failures. It is through failures that the best successes are made..

  • I quickly learned this course was not only about being a good leader under normal circumstances but rather more heavily focused on being a good leader when everything is going wrong.
  • Remaining calm under pressure is something I need to work on. The only viable way to do this is to continue to pursue experiences like the Leadership under Fire course that will test my decision-making abilities under pressure.
  • I displayed bad temper because I didn’t stay calm and lacked self-control. I regret the way I first reacted when feeling overwhelmed… I realize that there will be many times when I will encounter unfamiliar and difficult situations. I believe the key to getting past these challenges is to stay calm and think clearly which is hard to do when you are stressed and anxious.
  • I realize now … reflection is very difficult and can be unpleasant because it is painful to think of things we put out of our minds for a reason – it can be embarrassing to look back on past failures. Our society, which values perfection, or at least a perfect image, certainly doesn’t encourage us to reflect.
  • Sometimes it takes a course like Leadership under Fire to expose your vulnerability and perhaps admit that you are not perfect.
  • Humility is hard to swallow – not everyone has it. I don’t always have it. One of the greatest challenges of Leadership under Fire was recognizing weaknesses without making justifications for the shortcomings.
  • I definitely learned a lot about how I lead and identified some major things I need to improve on. I think the stress factor was needed to remove the guise that we often put up in order to see our true character.

The deliverable for the course is a comprehensive self-reflection. Before they start, students complete an assignment that requires them to engage in a “deep excavation” around who they are, what they value and why they are who they are, which opens their minds to who they hope to become and what must be done to make it happen. Each student also completes the Leaders Character Insight Assessment (LCIA), a self-assessment resource to help individuals unpack the dimensions and elements of leader character…. Other inputs used in the reflection process range from assigned readings on leadership development and speaker presentations to team debriefings and peer reviews of individual performance.

Following completion of a final self-reflection paper, participants receive a report that provides individual feedback on the 11 dimensions of leader character and their associated elements. The report also provides suggestions on how to enhance or strengthen the character dimensions.

Leadership Under Fire concludes with a formal reception and dinner. At this point, students get a well-deserved chance to relax, but the learning continues. Military personnel, including war veterans, are on hand, along with representatives from the Ivey Veteran’s Group, to share their experiences and offer valuable perspectives on leadership. Brigadier-General (retired) Gary Stafford, for example, was the guest of honour last year. After hearing about his experiences overseas, the members of Ivey Platoon gained even more appreciation for the role character and commitment play in good leadership…

As the Canadian Forces winds down its commitments in Afghanistan, there is an abundance of leadership experience and leadership character development knowledge that can be shared with educational institutions producing our economy’s future leaders….More business schools just need to tap into it….!!

“Chief Executives” who “stand-out from the corporate-crowd”: be a “successful Business Leader”| by: Tim Bowler | BBC News

” What does it take to be a Successful Business Leader ? “… What is it that makes a Good-Boss stand-out from his OR her corporate-colleagues and rivals ??

Key attributes for a #SuccessfulChief-Executive,  would include the “ability to lead-others”, “to see in advance what needs doing” and to “be passionate about problem-solving”…

Another characteristic of any good CEO, is “their ability to understand fully the often complex scope of their company’s operations…”

It is a challenge which can be made easier by a manager gaining as much experience as possible while climbing the promotion ladder….Harriet Green, CEO of travel group Thomas Cook, tells aspiring leaders to broaden their approach early on in their careers..!!

” I always encourage executives to take the jobs that are not necessarily the norm, because you will learn a great deal more about your own boundaries,” she says…

” Whereas if you just do the job – the fast track to the top – maybe you’ll be a sort of thinner, taller leader, and not a rounded out one…“So take a little bit of risk..”

The importance of Ethics : 

But one of the risks that prospective leaders should not run, says Wang Shi – the founder and chairman of Chinese property giant China Vanke – is with business behaviour…

Business scandals have certainly made the news in recent years – underlining the point that ignoring ethics can have a serious and lasting impact on a firm’s Bottom-Line….Wang Shi maintains that managers ” have to balance “ the hunt for profits with the need to be ethical in the way that they treat customers and others…

” If you only get money but you don’t care about a thing, right OR wrong, you cannot last…. That cannot sustain you for the future…..”

If a Boss does the “right thing”, then the money will come, he says…And doing the ” right-thing” extends to how a company treats its staff…”

” CEOs need to be able to inspire and share their values with people throughout their organisation”, says management expert Steve Tappin and presenter of CEO Guru…!!

Sense of Purpose : 

It is a point under-scored by Frits van Paasschen, the CEO of Starwood Hotels, who points out that US civil rights leader Martin Luther King did not have an “I have a plan” speech…

He had an ‘I have a dream’ speech, people have to have a sense of what the purpose is – of what a company’s about ? “…If a company pursues its goals correctly, then profits should flow from that, he argues…!! 

”  We’re about giving guests great experiences so they come back, so we can create great returns for people who own the hotels…” It’s really that simple. If you can make your guests happy, these other things start to take care of themselves…”

Yet, when learning how to be a good boss, Rupert Soames, CEO of energy supplier Aggreko, cautions that a manager needs to make sure they learn from those who respect their own values…!!

“I went to this guy, and got my brain reprogrammed. I disappeared for three weeks and came back as a different human-being “…His colleagues were not impressed by the changes..”They hated it, and I hated it, and I managed to keep up good behaviour for about three weeks and then relapsed – and everybody sighed in relief “…!!

He says a manager should try to be real to themselves, but should also understand “that being real and being yourself is not necessarily a virtue.“You’ve got to be a little bit more sophisticated than that…”, Companies need to remain bold and entrepreneurial but also manage risk..!!

Being Open-minded :

Another problem comes as a company grows…There is a real challenge in holding on to what made a firm great in the first place when your kitchen tabletop business morphs into a corporate behemoth..!!

” There’s a lot of companies that as they get bigger, get slower and can’t innovate”… says management expert Steve Tappin.

A good manager needs to have the ” vision and values” to “create a Business Fit” for the 21st Century,” he says…These days, all firms need to face up to the reality of a globalised marketplace, and the impact of social media both on them and their customers…!!

When something goes wrong for a firm, a company may have only hours to react to what can often be a Twitter storm of criticism…

Generation Gap :

Allan Zeman, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Lan Kwai Fong Group, says a good boss should focus on “thinking about tomorrow, being open-minded”…Mr Zeman points out that there is often a clear generational gulf between top managers, who may be in their forties or fifties, and their media-savvy customers in their early twenties…!!

” Young people today are different. They care about things that we never cared about growing up – the environment, clean air, green – all the buzzwords that today make up our existence….”

And he has this advice for any would-be CEOs….” In my world there’s no Bad Staff…. there’s Bad-Bosses, Bad-Leaders “…

“Tekla India & RICS promote” Building Information Modeling “(BIM) Technology”, to “Engineering & Construction Markets”| Realty Plus

“Tekla India, a leader in bringing Building Information Modeling (BIM) software to the engineering and construction markets of India, today announces its strategic alliance with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the RICS school of Built Environment….” 

The main objective of this partnership is to build a critical-mass of  “Quality Talent Pool” and create better Employment Opportunities for Young professionals across the construction and infrastructure industry, in the region..!!

This collaboration will help reach out to the student and education community to educate them on BIM technology using Tekla Structures through the Real estate and Construction Management courses offered by RICS School of Built Environment in their campuses in India…

As a part of this 2 year course, the program will provide students with a firm foundation on Tekla Structures Building Information Modeling (BIM) software…. Tekla India as a strategic partner will also be part of RICS’s conferences and workshops through the year across the major metro cities of the country..

The construction industry is the second largest industry of the country. It makes a significant contribution to the national economy and provides employment to large number of people…!!

The use of various new technologies and deployment of project management strategies has made it possible to undertake projects of mega scale. In its path towards automation, the industry has to overcome a number of traditional and technical challenges. 

Hence, professional training opportunities in this field is a must as this will help them do their jobs better, while achieving greater accuracy, efficiency, and cost management”.
Nirmalya Chatterjee – COO & Business Director, Tekla India said, “We are very proud to announce this one of its kind industry-academic partnership with RICS India. Volume of construction and infrastructure is only increasing in India and use of BIM technology can lead to enormous gains for the industry. 

“Qualified BIM professionals are the need of the hour. It is thus important that we train the younger generation joining the construction & infrastructure industry in their nascent stage…

This tie-up is a step forward to benefiting the student community as well as providing the industry with a larger talent pool. We along with RICS ensure that the best of professional education is offered to aspiring students keen on joining this vibrant industry”…!!

Sachin Sandhir, Managing Director, RICS South Asia said, ” We are honored to be associated with Tekla as it will further enhance our education curriculum at the RICS School of Built environment by providing our students with expertise and knowledge to improve their skills and giving them an edge in an increasingly competitive market ” ….

With advancement in technology, a new era of automation in construction industry has rolled in which clearly shows a huge growth from the manual representations to the 3D modeling and digital level of engineering. The introduction of the newest version of Tekla’s BIM software has improved construction workflow efficiency by providing the means to better organize models, manage tasks and avoid structural clashes..

Construction is about collaboration. As BIM penetrates construction industry processes, architectural trends produce increasingly complex shapes, and buildings include more refined technology, information exchange becomes progressively more important…!!

While information management remains at the core of BIM, building today’s structures requires more information than ever before. The new professionals need to well equip with the latest developments and technologies in the rapidly growing sector..

“Reshaping the #Retail-Store” as A “Powerful Weapon” in Today’s “Highly Competitive #Omni-channelWorld” | by: Gary Lee | Retail Touchpoints

” Claims of Brick-and-Mortar’s looming ” demise “ are definitely more than a bit exaggerated…”, Despite the exponential growth of E-Commerce, a variety of new shopping options and even the advent of the dreaded “ Show-rooming ” trend, #PhysicalRetailStores still amass more than 90% of overall sales, and #Brick-and-Mortar continues to be the channel of choice for consumers of all ages and income levels….!!

That said, however, the retail world has definitely been knocked off balance by evolving and shifting #ConsumerShoppingBehaviors…Today’s connected consumer controls when, how, where and how often he or she visits, buys, interacts and even recommends brands to others across Brick-and-Mortar and Online channels..

And with consumers being more and more constantly “connected” to the web across their phones, tablets, eye-wear and other devices, it’s critical to break through their online world and give them a reason to come into #PhysicalRetailSpaces…!!

Customer Experience ( CX ) : The Differential :

To do this, retailers must rediscover the “why, how and wow” of their physical stores for consumers —why their physical store positively impacts consumers, how it helps move them along the buying process, and what the unique “ wow ” is that cannot be replicated in an online world.

These THREE Factors can be summarized as the #CustomerExperience (CX) a consumer has in the #RetailStore, which uniquely allows them to physically interact with and experience the product or service before they buy. It represents the last and perhaps most critical chance for a brand to make a positive impact before the purchase, and it is uniquely a part of the Physical #RetailExperience…!!

It’s therefore critical that both large and small retailers find a way to create these customer experiences. In this fiercely competitive market, intentional CX may be the only remaining way to differentiate, compete and win..

Here, I outline at a high level the vital tactics for successfully implementing an impactful retail CX project through the right balance of strategy, design, execution and continuous measurement and improvement…

Tactic 1: ” Leverage Your CX Project As A Strategic Move”, Not As Just Another Marketing Ploy :

There are many reasons to develop a new customer experience, but which ones make the most sense for your company? Simply implementing a new solution as a direct response to market competition and trends is not enough. You must dig deeper… Think in terms of what you want your customers to know, believe, feel or do before, during and after this experience. Then, begin your best first tactic — a plan, or better yet, a CX strategy…!!

The core of a CX (customer experience) strategy hinges on THREE Key things :

Stakeholder Collaboration — Bringing relevant stakeholders together to define business goals and measures of success is key to moving forward with your project. An important step here is differentiating your business needs from your requirements. This clarity will make it easier to benchmark the performance of your CX down the road..

Research — A key decision you will need to make is whether to conduct new research beyond your current reservoir, and if so, what kind. Whatever your decision, research is key to developing empathy for your customer. Without that, products and solutions can end up being uninteresting and even useless. Use this data to develop a 360-degree view of your customers and their needs and expectations. This will also help define the parameters of your CX.

Team Formation — Early in the process, form your team and clearly outline goals, expectations, roles and responsibilities. While team formation depends on the specific needs of the project, the team will usually include a project manager, strategist, design team and solutions management team..

The output of the strategy phase will be a CX Requirements Document—similar to a Design Brief, but a lot more comprehensive — detailing overall objectives, a project overview, design objectives, expectations, considerations and measures of success.

Tactic 2 : Design Intentionally, Practically And Impactfully :

The design team works to create something tangible OR visible, and formulates everything from how the experience looks and feels to how users will interact with the new experience. As you move into the design phase, much of the information your design team will need should already be captured in your CX Requirements Document..

Begin by mapping out the entire #CustomerJourney…. This means looking at all the #TouchPoints your customers encounter while interacting with your Brand—Pre-, During and Post-purchase — and understanding what your customers are thinking and feeling at each touch point. Consider what kinds of interactions are you wanting to elicit, what senses you want to activate and what you want customers to do. The most #EngagingExperiences are intentional — carefully planned and built to address specific user needs…

As you move further through design, I recommend prototyping fast and early. The quicker you can get a sketch off paper, the quicker you can start acting out how people might use the solution and thinking of ways to improve it. This also keeps your design grounded in practicality so you aren’t left with a vision that never leaves the paper. This process allows you to see how all the components are working together from a production standpoint and to explore different material and assembly options.

Another important consideration during the design phase is using digital or technology. These elements create impactful experiences by layering elements that improve effective customer engagement and delight the customer…

Tactic 3 : “Measure, Measure Then Measure again”:

After successfully implementing your CX project, it might seem like it is time to move on to the next project… But then you would be forgetting a key part of this process : ” Ongoing Measurement”… Measurement is its own priority, and project leaders commonly underestimate the value of measuring the solution’s ongoing effectiveness. To make any progress, a company must be able to monitor whether or not it is actually delivering what it intended, as well as calculate the return on investment. Collecting data consistently and regularly puts a company in a much better position to understand its customers, the effectiveness of its CX solution and how the solution impacts its business…

For our clients, we like to conduct a reality gap analysis before and after implementation to really gauge the effectiveness of the solution for all stakeholders — the customer, the brand and the sales associate, if applicable — and determine metrics for improvement. However, measurement does not end there. Ongoing measurement connects a project from implementation back to strategy and helps to continuously improve the existing solution so that it always aligns with meeting customer needs and expectations..

Following Steps To Success :

The #RetailLandscape is morphing before our very eyes…. To survive, companies must adapt and ramp up their CX arsenal or accept defeat…!!

This will require a hard look at the traditional retail customer experience and an altered way of thinking. They must be able to track and understand the customer’s entire journey, from realizing a need to the post-purchase relationship.

It demands collaboration and a heightened awareness of strategy, design and implementation to craft truly relevant and meaningful customer experiences that effectively engage the customer…

It means looking at each channel, including the physical store, and determining what role it should play in the overall experience to facilitate a seamless continuity of the experience in True Omni-channel Fashion….!!

Expect “more Mid-Market Divestitures in 2014” : “Strategic-sales OR Acquisitions for growth-momentum” | Chief Executive

The report, conducted in late 2013 and the THIRD such endeavor by RBS Citizens, surveyed 460 Executives, ” who are open to OR currently engaged in some sort of corporate development activity, including Mergers, Acquisitions and Raising-capital…”

With a sense of stability returning to the economy middle market companies remain open to buying or selling but are prioritizing opportunities to Re-invest in their existing operations..

“ Our latest survey indicates that the appetite for acquisitions and sales remains strong, but businesses are taking a more strategic, less urgent approach, which reflects a strengthening economy,” said Bob Rubino, EVP and head of corporate banking and capital markets for RBS Citizens.

“As more Middle -Market companies see Top-line growth, Owners are looking for Strategic-Sales or Acquisitions that can augment their Re-investment Strategy and help keep their Growth momentum going ..”

These findings mirror other reports that suggest that critical sectors of the U.S. economy such as healthcare, retail food and energy will see continued or renewed M&A activity in 2014, according to business leaders at CIT Group. .

The middle market is ripe for a more fruitful M&A environment in 2014, according to Thomson Reuters LPC. The persistent fog of economic and political uncertainty that has stymied investment is lifting, giving way to improved visibility for lenders, borrowers and private equity sponsors alike.

Increased Economic confidence, more certainty with respect to Fed tapering, and fewer concerns about future government budget stalemates are paving the way for greater willingness to buy, sell and invest in middle market companies…

If in recent quarters companies were primarily focused on cost savings, they are shifting their attention to strategic growth opportunities. There is an abundance of capital – in the hands of both debt and equity investors – waiting on the sidelines, which will help buoy M&A activity…

Key findings from this year’s RBS Citizens survey include :

Sellers are more interested in selling part of their business than the whole.

While interest in raising capital remains steady, companies are less likely to take on debt and are more likely to accumulate earnings, sell a business unit or divest significant assets to make investments.

Executives believe both this year and next will be a ” Buyer’s market”..!!

Nine of Ten survey respondents intend to engage a ” Friend in the deal ” – an outside partner – to provide guidance throughout the M&A process ; half of all buyers and 40% of sellers are considering partnering with a commercial bank…!!

In late 2013, RBS Citizens conducted a survey of 460 U.S.-based middle market business executives that are open to or currently engaged in some form of corporate development activity, including mergers, acquisitions, and raising capital in the New England, Mid-Atlantic and Mid-West regions. For the purposes of this survey, middle market businesses have annual revenues of between $5 million and $2 billion.

The Sellers’ Perspective :

  • Based on this year’s survey results, the proportion of current and potential sellers in the market remains unchanged since 2012, but their motivations and intentions have shifted.
  • Although just 6% of middle market executives are currently involved in a sale, more than one-third indicate they would be open to a deal if approached by a buyer with a strategic fit.
  • While sellers were willing to ‘sell it all’ a year ago, a partial sale – selling an operating asset or division – has become more appealing than selling off the entire organization.
  • Being undervalued and underpaid by acquiring firms remains sellers’ primary concern; partial sellers are increasingly concerned about meeting post-acquisition revenue targets.

The Buyers’ Perspective :

While fewer acquisitions were in process at the end of 2013 than in the year before, deals this year are expected to be ” Larger and more Strategic” :

  • Less urgency in the market has translated into fewer current deals in process in early 2014 and more potential buyers are ‘on the sidelines’: open to but not actively seeking buying opportunities.
  • Buyers are less reliant on M&A as a means of growing; their goals are now more likely to be expanding geographic reach, increasing production and product capabilities and accelerating organic growth.
  • Respondents plan to make fewer purchases in 2014 but expect to spend more on each; the majority of executives anticipate spending between $10 million and $25 million.

Given the complexity of an M&A transaction, from ensuring proper valuation to identifying the best strategic buyers OR acquisition targets, the process has become more labour-intensive.

Most companies  without an “experienced Internal-Team” are “relying on an Outside Advisor”…!!

  • Of organizations who intend to engage external support for their deal-related corporate development needs, commercial banks are the most popular choice, followed by investment banks and business brokers.
  • Nearly half (47%) of respondents rate commercial banks as ‘excellent’ in regards to their corporate development capabilities, compared to 35% for investment banks and 26% for both private equity and venture capital firms.
  • Valuation, financing, opportunity assessment and due diligence are the areas where these companies are looking for the most help.

 

“Marketers” ; take “Digital out of your vocabulary” | by : Drew McLellan

“Going Digital ” isn’t a passing trend….!! Companies are learning — and proving — that building a flexible, integrated agency with a digital emphasis is essential….And that lesson is still being learned the hard way, even at the world’s most prestigious organizations….!!

BuzzFeed leaked an internal report from The New York Times this week, providing an intimate look into how one of the world’s leading journalistic institutions is struggling with the exact same problem most agencies are: integrating digital into its existing company structure….

So, what can this teach the rest of the world…….??

It shows that combining traditional and digital media isn’t easy for any company, and even the most prestigious of organizations make common mistakes, including treating digital as something that’s separate — and often secondary — from the rest of operations..

Digital Dividing Lines :

Although many companies have employees who specifically focus on digital media, all employees need to think digitally. Whether they’re focused on strategy, creative, or media, they need to know the digital landscape inside and out..

Why ?? Because Digital isn’t a ‘ Department ‘ ; it’s a way of thinking….!!

When digital was new, it was used as a buzzword to set innovative agencies apart from those that weren’t digitally savvy…That’s not true anymore. Today, it’s a given. When you tell a client your marketing firm does digital, it’s like telling them that newspapers have writers on staff….!!

Most clients now realize that a mix of channels and strategies — including digital — is the most effective way to communicate with customers. They know that most potential customers don’t just wander into a store to shop. Instead, consumers start their search online. Digital helps your clients snag customers earlier in the sales-cycle.

But there’s a benefit to using Digital-marketing, such as landing pages and YouTube videos : It’s usually easier to measure and track, so it makes learning about a client’s customers and tailoring campaigns to their behavior much easier.

Designing Your Strategy :

How can agencies integrate digital into their traditional offline strategies ? Here are THREE Ways to do Digital right ? :

  • Integrate your Digital “ department ” with the rest of your company… Take a cue from The New York Times. Separating different disciplines doesn’t just keep your employees from communicating ; it keeps them from collaborating. Remember, every employee needs to be digitally savvy…Start this process by letting them work together and learn from one another..
  • Attend Digital Conferences to stay informed – Then, create a series of lunch-and-learns. Make sure every team member learns something new and shares it with the rest of your employees.
  • Think Holistically – Don’t artificially create digital opportunities. Instead, let them come about naturally. Map out a client’s sales funnel, and identify the digital and traditional opportunities you have. Then, build a marketing plan around those.

When my company promotes Agency Management Institute workshops, we use email marketing, targeted digital ads, and SEO to drive traffic to our landing pages. But we don’t just use digital media to promote our events. We also use direct mail, speak at conferences, and encourage our past customers to generate buzz.

Why do we utilize so many marketing avenues? Because you never know when — or how — a potential customer will hear about your client. Seamless integration between traditional and digital media allows customers to move from one type of media to another, just like they do in their everyday lives.

Ending the Digital Division :

Digital is the way your clients’ customers connect to the rest of the world. That’s why “digital” isn’t a relevant term anymore….It’s simply how things are done in your customers’ lives and at a successful agency…

This is the most important lesson of The New York Times’ innovation report : If you and your clients are going to beat the competition, you need to change your company’s structure to accommodate the digital world…That means ending the division between digital and traditional in favor of an approach that’s completely integrated…!!

Don’t live in the past, when Digital-Marketing was a novelty…..Take “Digital” out of your campaigns and company-structure and join the ‘modern world ‘ — one that transitions between digital and traditional media seamlessly…

“Time to Re-engage with Emerging Markets”, “Not Retreat from”| BCG

These are challenging times for Emerging Markets… China’s economy is expanding at the slowest pace in more than a decade, and Annual-Growth in once-booming nations like Brazil, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa has slowed to about 1.5 to 2.5 percent…While India, has fared well in-comparison to its peer BRICS nations…but is well-below its own Y-o-Y GDP no’s, since 2008…

Look around the developing world, and currencies are weakening, worries about asset bubbles and rising debt are mounting, and foreign direct investment has fallen sharply. This volatility leaves many companies wondering if they are over-exposed to the #RisksOfEmergingMarkets..

The challenges in emerging markets go beyond volatility. Fundamental, longer-term changes are transforming the competitive landscape. In most emerging markets, domestic companies with low-cost structures and intimate knowledge of local consumers are more aggressive and are quickly improving their operations… Competition for increasingly scarce talent is fiercer and is driving up labor costs. Such trends are hurting profits. In China, for example, the share of U.S. companies reporting that their operating margins were higher than the global average dropped from about 50 % to just over 30 % between 2010 and 2013, according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai..

Still its Where the Action Is :

But companies that plan to look for the exits or scale back in emerging markets should reconsider. The most fundamental trends remain promising. One is that emerging markets will remain an unmatched source of growth in most industries. Another is that hundreds of millions of households will continue to join the ranks of the middle class and affluent in the decade ahead..

Despite the discouraging headlines, Emerging Markets are more important today than ever before. Even with all the turbulence in 2013, these economies accounted for 68 percent of global growth… Although the overall pace has slowed, Oxford Economics projects that GDPs of emerging markets will grow 2.2 percentage points faster than those of developed economies over the next four years. Just in terms of infrastructure, demand for investment in emerging markets will total a stunning $25 trillion through 2025, according to some estimates.

The ” BiggestDriverOfGrowth will be Rising Incomes… The Boston Consulting Group projects that in Turkey, an additional 6 million households will enter the middle and affluent classes in the next five years. In Indonesia, we project that 68 million people—roughly equivalent to the entire population of the UK—will make a similar leap by 2020. Thirty-seven percent of Brazil’s 60 million households will belong to the middle and affluent classes by 2020, compared with 29 percent now, and will represent a $1.2 trillion market. In China and India, such households will represent $10 trillion in buying power. Companies will have to look beyond a country’s GDP and focus instead on the more significant factors that will generate growth: rising consumption by relevant segments of consumer markets, and signals that purchasing power is about to take off.

To win in emerging markets, executives will need to rethink their approaches. As many of these economies make the transition from super-high growth, tapping major new sources of revenue will become harder than in the past. Executives should adopt a more differentiated approach to emerging markets and market segments…Companies should build new capabilities, adjust their business models, and improve their execution..

We believe that the following are the Primary #CorporateChallenges :

Refining the Emerging-Market Footprint – Growth prospects, consumer behavior, and the local competitive environment differ widely from one emerging market to another, as well as among industries. Each company must define the most promising emerging-market priorities, taking into consideration its own unique context and starting point…!!

We offer ” TWO Specific Ideas” for how executives should Re-visit their Market Portfolios : First, they should think beyond the popular acronyms. In the past few years, attention has been focused on the so-called BRIC economies—Brazil, Russia, India, and China. More recently, there has been more talk about MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey). Of course, no company with global aspirations can ignore China and India. But companies should also build positions in markets that may offer better opportunities in the short term. While many multinational companies still target Indonesia, for example, material opportunities are also opening in adjacent Southeast Asian economies such as Vietnam, a recharged Philippines, and the frontier market Myanmar. Africa is also drawing greater attention from multinationals. Hyundai, for example, has surpassed Toyota in the five African countries that account for 70 percent of new-auto sales: Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa. Samsung, also of South Korea, has set two goals for 2015 : achieving $10 billion in African sales and training 10,000 African engineers and technicians in order to develop the capabilities it needs to succeed.

Second, executives should simplify their strategies in order to expand and compete. Rather than always approaching each country individually, for example, they should think in terms of clusters. The sheer challenge of understanding and winning in more than 100 emerging markets can be so intimidating that most executives dare not try. So they should develop strategies to address promising segments across a number of neighboring countries or consider regional sourcing strategies in order to achieve critical mass. In Southeast Asia, for example, one major automobile company is taking advantage of the region’s free-trade pact to manufacture diesel engines and steering columns in Thailand, transmissions in the Philippines, gasoline engines and parts in Indonesia, and engine control units and steering gears in Malaysia.

Winning Over More Demanding Consumers – Emerging-market consumers expect more from foreign brands than they used to. Even average consumers in the lower rungs of the middle class are quality conscious. They can no longer be consistently won over by Western or Japanese products whose features and functions have been stripped down in order to hit a certain price point.

One reason for this development is that the quality gap between foreign and domestic products is closing fast. China’s Haier, for example, has emerged as the world’s largest appliance maker, in part because of its obsession with quality, according to a recent article in the Economist. Haier began by establishing a reputation for high-quality products and service in China. When it expanded overseas, Haier first pushed into the U.S. and Europe—rather than into less competitive markets such as Southeast Asia and Africa—because it wanted to learn how to meet the demands of the world’s most sophisticated consumers. As a result, Haier’s revenues have increased fourfold since 2000, topping $26 billion in 2013.

Multi-nationals must also move beyond selling off-the-shelf products and services that are aimed at the top of the income pyramid in emerging markets. Yum! Brands’ famous success story in China, where it has averaged annual growth of about 30 percent, is based on a strategy of customizing its restaurant concepts to local tastes, from restaurant design to food choices.

Adapting to the Big Competitive Squeeze – A decade ago, many multinationals regarded their global peers as their main competitors. This orientation has fundamentally changed. Foreign companies in emerging markets are being squeezed by different kinds of players.

One major source of competition is what BCG refers to as “global challengers”—fast-growing, globally minded companies with roots in emerging markets that are on track to establish leadership positions and to fundamentally alter their industries. In fact, 124 of the global Fortune 500 companies for 2013 were headquartered in emerging markets—more than double the number in Fortune’s 2008 list. In a recent BCG survey of more than 150 multinational executives, 40 percent of the respondents said they regarded other multinationals from developed economies as their primary competitive threats in emerging markets. But a greater proportion—50 percent—saw multinationals based in emerging markets as their main threats.

A second major challenge comes from companies that we call “Local Dynamos”: smaller emerging-market companies that focus only on their domestic markets. Such companies are catching up in terms of performance and distribution. They also have developed an intimate understanding of local consumers and strong relationships with local governments. In Brazil, where Wal-Mart Stores and Carrefour are both investing aggressively, the regional supermarket chain Super Muffato is the market leader in interior cities in the country’s south and in cities with more than 300,000 residents in the state of Paraná. Its 40 stores are just as profitable as stores in bigger cities owned by major international chains. For such reasons, 78 % of the multinational executives in our survey said they regard domestically focused companies as principal threats in emerging markets. In other words, these local companies are viewed as more serious rivals than other multinationals or new global challengers.

Meeting the Higher Expectations of Local Partnerships – Multi-billion-dollar #CrossBorderMergers&Acquisitions in #EmergingMarkets, tend to grab headlines.

But the real payoff on the ground for foreign companies is less than satisfying and often is not far-reaching. Organic growth, however, is challenging. To succeed, companies will have to up their game both in M&A and in forming local partnerships. While the rationale for and approach to a partnership agenda must be thought through in detail and tailored to each company’s own context, the emerging-market landscape is already witnessing different approaches to partnering.

One challenge for executives is to address the higher expectations of local partners. Emerging-market joint ventures in many sectors were traditionally based on a simple pact: foreign companies provide access to technology, capital, and sophisticated management solutions while domestic partners provide market access, government relationships, and, in many cases, low-cost production.

But this relationship has become obsolete. Today, partnerships between foreign and emerging-market companies are on a more equal footing. Local partners may inject capital or contribute valuable technology. They may even insist on a global partnership. When a Japanese provider of hospital equipment recently approached three preferred local-partner candidates for the India market, each company requested not only to help build up the local business but also to be the partner for expansion into other overseas markets. Indian motorized-vehicle manufacturer Bajaj Auto formed an alliance with Japan’s Kawasaki to obtain technology support for new-product development and to address a wider range of markets at home and abroad.

Organizing for #GlobalSuccess :

If a company views emerging markets as important to its success, this must be reflected in its organization structure. We see four imperatives regarding organization in these markets..

A Seat at the Table – One critical element is the way in which the corporate center supports its overseas units. Frequently, companies marginalize their organizations in emerging markets, all but guaranteeing that they will underachieve. They do not have a proper seat at the table of decision making, corporate strategy, and product development and have insufficient access to capital and people. If these markets are to deliver a larger share of growth, they deserve a disproportionate share of attention and support. At the home-product and beauty-care-product direct-sales company Tupperware Brands, which generates more than half of its annual sales in emerging markets, CEO Rick Goings is on the road 70 percent of the time, much of it in developing nations. Members of Siemens’s board learn about important emerging markets by spending two days in a region meeting with customers, government officials, and other key stakeholders.

An Accelerator Mindset & Organization – Multinational companies must adapt their organizations so that they can better cope with the tremendous speed with which many emerging markets are developing. Fast decision-making and consistent execution are paramount to compete with what we call the “accelerator mindset” of many emerging-market companies, such as their relentless pursuit of growth. Copying organization and governance structures that are successful in home markets may put multinationals at an unnecessary disadvantage against their local peers.

True Market Immersion – The most important imperative relates to leadership and people. Upper management must be familiar with emerging markets, ideally through on-the-ground experience. Senior executives must also remain sufficiently exposed to key customers, distributors, partners, and government officials in these markets. Too often, a foreign company’s senior executives experience only new airports and five-star hotels, rather than the realities of living on the ground.

Talent as a Competitive Advantage – Typically, foreign companies are at a competitive dis-advantage when it comes to recruiting top local talent. Talent is increasingly scarce, and attrition is high. Two out of three Indonesians change their employer within the first three years, for example, and one out of three does so more than once. The annual attrition rate in India is close to 15 % .

This high turnover suggests that executives must re-double their efforts to attract, develop, and retain local talent…They should also work harder to build organizations for the long run in emerging markets. When filling management positions, they must move away from the traditional practice of “ Expatriate Stints”, in which a Manager from Headquarters is assigned to an Emerging Market for about THREE years… Instead, executives must invest in future local leaders…

They should expose top Emerging-Market Talent to Global Activities and get them excited about their future growth potential in a company where individuals can thrive independent of their nationality… Wherever possible, leaders should instill in their companies a global mindset, in which a diversity of backgrounds is understood to contribute to international success.

#SuccessInEmergingMarkets, has become “more challenging than it was in the past”… But there is “still plenty of opportunity for growth”—most likely more than Developed Economies can offer. Rather than #RetreatingFrom EmergingMarkets, it’s “time for Executives to Re-tool & Re-position their businesses for #SustainedSuccess….!!

“Infographic” : “#ExpandRetailMarkets” by having an “#Omni-ChannelStrategy” | ERP Software Blog

” The Modern #RetailIndustry is increasingly becoming more complex and is no longer dominated by physical-retail locations…In today’s environment, consumers demand higher quality customer service and are willing to switch brands to fulfill this requirement “…!!

Consumers push for alternative buying options, whether that is in a physical store or online, and they expect expeditious shipping for free. With these new retail standards, retailers are driven by consumers’ need to find #NewTechnologyAndSoftwareSolutions, that meet the demands of the new retail environment…!!

A fully integrated, end-to-end, retail management software solution enhances the efficiency of key business functions and allows retailers to effectively manage every aspect of the supply chain. Mobility and real-time visibility empowers retailers with insight into all areas of their operation, including, but not limited to, merchandising, inventory, point of sale terminals, e-commerce, financials, and business intelligence.

The Omni-Channel Retail Grail - infographic

Retailers can expand markets by having a #FlexibleRetailStrategy, that meets the needs of consumers, as well as staying current in the industry…Going omni-channel can drive retailers’ success by offering products through whatever channel the customer desires, while at the same time streamlining operations to reduce operational costs, increasing efficiency and profitably, and obtaining powerful insight to make more informed decisions.

Break away from the traditional, brick-and-mortar retail environment to bricks and clicks by following the omni-channel grail – a #RetailStrategy focused on the consumer…!!