When done well, pivoting business models can drive top-line growth and create sustainable value. Inflexion’s recent Portfolio Exchange saw Commercial Director Jonathan Battye discuss the wins and pitfalls with a panel of experts.
Innovation can mean different things to different people. “It’s crucial to consider how to drive growth effectively, and that means planning and prioritising what initiatives to pursue carefully, and then getting the right team to execute on the goals,” Jonathan stresses. He works closely with the Inflexion portfolio to do precisely this, tailoring strategies and plans to suit each business’ specific growth plans.
Proper planning underpins successful business model innovation.
“It’s imperative leaders follow a structured process,” points out Ben Gregory, MD of consultancy Teneo. He advises people to start with a longlist of directions they might take business in, always considering the likely reward as well as feasibility. “The ‘why us’ question is critical; why does our business have the right to play in this geography, market or customer segment? These questions usually generate a shortlist of ideas from which we create a prioritised set of focus initiatives. It’s about balancing a long-term of what you the want the business to look like in five years’ time, with quick wins which can support growth in the shorter term.”
The importance of planning is reinforced by Zlatko Vucetic, CEO of Infront, delisted by Inflexion in 2021. “It’s easy to spend too little time understanding where you compete in a market. We had 100s of products across many markets, so we spent a lot of time initially designing our plans around how to become Europe’s leading provider of market data and software to the WealthTech segment.” This helped Infront’s business priorities become much clearer. Zlatko cites three important factors: “Never underestimate the time needed to truly understand the product fit, you can’t go fast with everything, and you need the underlying infrastructure to work.”
Robert Campbell, CEO, Detectortesters, is also pivoting the fire safety business towards more digitally focused, connected products. “We knew our aim was getting our revenue stream towards a subscription model, but the ‘how’ was our challenge.” Robert initially started to tackle this journey in-house – but found after six months that two steps forward led to one step back.
Inflexion’s digital team then helped to introduce an external consultant who really knew what best practice looked like. The step from hardware to software requires a different skillset which we’d not fully appreciated at the start. We went on a journey together with the consultant, and really accelerated our time to market.
Sales and pricing initiatives can drive success in the near term.
Creative Car Park (CCP) provides smart parking management solutions for businesses and is focused on investing in sales and boosting its data capabilities whilst also transitioning from parking enforcement to value-added, data-driven services designed to ensure clients can maximise the potential of their car park,” explains CCP CEO Stuart Cummings. “This helps them see the value we’re delivering as well as giving visibility and better solutions for their own clients at their sites.”
Scalability is the key aim at Infront, according to Zlatko. “We are a software company first and foremost. We have done a lot of work to understand the commercial infrastructure, as a result of which we’ve introduced an Inside Sales team based in Amsterdam, and we’re using latest AI tools to help drive efficiency throughout our sales and marketing processes.”
Management needs the right people to drive change and take the organisation forward.
As ever, people are a key driver of success. “Inflexion’s support has really helped us turbo-charge our plans, by supplementing our existing team with individuals who’ve already done this before and know what best in class looks like,” Robert says. For example, as Detectortesters moved into a software offering, customer experience became more important hence a VP of customer experience and sales was introduced which is already benefiting the business.
New faces are a feature at Infront, too. “We’re bringing in fresh individuals with new thinking and it helps empower the team,” Zlatko explains. “We went through a large transformational change and it’s brought in expertise to help us scale and transform the business.” Stuart also stresses the importance of regular communication with the whole business: “We send out a weekly sales download to help our team understand progress and celebrate key achievements”.