Last week ECI brought together digital leaders (CTOs, Data Science and Cyber leaders) from across our portfolio, for the ECI Digital Forum 2019.
We have a diverse portfolio across ECI’s three core sectors, but a common theme amongst all of the businesses we have invested in is that technology is key to driving them forward. Whether its MPM improving the efficiency of their supply chain, or MiQ deploying machine learning-based marketing strategies on behalf of their clients, tech differentiates our portfolio and underpins its continued growth and success.
The ECI Digital Forum provided the opportunity for the digital leadership community within our portfolio to share their knowledge and experiences of how they leverage digital to drive incremental growth in their business, and the people and processes that have been built around it in order to optimise it.
Presentations were made by; Badr Khan of ATG, Ramkumar Venkatesan of MiQ, and Simon Pearson of Imagesound.
“Tech isn’t an enabler of the business. It is the business” – Badr Khan, ATG
ATG provides an online marketplace for secondary goods, and has customers across the world transacting on its platform 24/7; as such digital infrastructure underpins revenue and is leveraged by the business to drive growth through driving conversion, and increasingly leveraging analytics. Badr Khan explained how his team has met these challenges, and the processes he has implemented across the business in order to measure and improve the effectiveness of its digital delivery. He discussed the importance of focussing on the strategic objectives of the business, and aligning the technology organisation to those objectives leveraging objectives and key results (OKR’s) . OKRs are a powerful tool developed by Andy Gove at Intel, and adopted by large tech businesses such as Google, with Larry Page famously quoted as saying “OKRs have helped lead us to 10x growth, many times over”. Discussion around the table focussed on the differences between OKRs and more typical KPI management, the benefits of the transparency across the team, and on how other portfolio companies can implement the approach.
“We are a completely data-driven company” – Ramkumar Venkatesan, MiQ
Ramkumar flew in from India to present to the group on how MiQ, a leading ad-tech business, leverage advanced analytics and machine learning in their business. MiQ has a simple three-step mantra; Connect – Discover – Action, and Ramkumar explained the data science based products and services behind each of those steps. MiQ gather data from a large range of macro and micro sources and use advanced analytics developed by their 30+ strong team of data scientists to create insights to inform highly targeted, measurable campaigns across multiple digital channels. Clients’ marketing spend is distributed more efficiently, and the improved targeting of campaigns leads to greater returns on ad spend. Ramkumar was keen to highlight the importance of having the right people on board alongside the right tech infrastructure, and discussed how the size and structure of the data science team at MiQ has evolved to meet these challenges.
The implementation of the right people and processes was a theme that came up again as Max Jackson and Ash Patel presented the findings of the ECI Cyber Survey comparing inherent risk factors across the portfolio and positioning in relation to cyber risk. Taking a managed approach to cyber risk is critical, as a breach can lead to crippling reputational and financial damage. The discussion focussed on the areas where there are opportunities to further refine cyber risk management across the portfolio. Michael Bateman, Cyber & Managed Services Director and CISO at IT Lab, who has deep experience advising businesses how best to manage cyber risk also reinforced best practice in this area.
“We have evolved over time to a SaaS business” – Simon Pearson, Imagesound
Imagesound’s rapid global growth delivering in-venue music and signage over the last few years has put major demands on their tech capability. Personalisation of playlists and signage, allowing customers to interact with them via mobile apps, and rapid expansion overseas has provided CTO Simon Pearson with numerous challenges. He spoke to the group about how the business has met those challenges, and successfully evolved into a SaaS business, whilst at the same time maintaining its customer centric managed service model, including flexibility when customers need something other than a software only product. His comment about how the Imagesound software is able to implement the Muslim call to prayer into its service for Middle Eastern hotels impressively demonstrated how the business has maintained flexibility within its solution enabling simple configuration based customisation for specific customers and regions; giving it an edge over competition.
At ECI we have seen time and time again how businesses that effectively leverage digital expertise can deliver above market growth and returns (such as Cartrawler, Fourth and Wireless Logic). We see digital initiatives as forming a vital component to most companies growth strategy. We look forward to continuing to work with our current portfolio of market leading businesses as well as future investments in high growth technology enabled businesses.