Any organisation with a portfolio of digital products and services needs to consider how it’s going to commercialise them at some point. It’s a tricky task and there are numerous ways it can fail, so it’s important that you have a clear path. In order to break down this topic into more digestible information, we were joined by David Hole for our Portfolio Commercialisation webinar.
David is CTO and Head of Digital Consulting at Evangelize, where he helps businesses create revenue streams through commercialising their portfolio. David has had a distinguished career working on technology projects and products for the likes of Lloyds Banking Group and CBRE. In this webinar, David offered guidance to anyone embarking on their commercialisation journey and took us through some of the most important stages to consider when starting out.
One of the first things that David reflected on was a phrase that the CEO during his time at CBRE used to say: “It’s all about the outcome.”
When commercialising your portfolio, this is non-negotiable. If you’re going to be successful in your endeavour, then you need to focus on the outcome and define the perfect scenario. By doing so, you can keep that outcome as a focal point all the way through the process to stop you veering too far off track. Start with the outcome that you’re looking to achieve by going through this process and then work backwards to determine how you’re going to get there. This makes it much easier to set targets, rather than starting with a review and deciding where to go from there.
It’s especially important when commercialising products and services. Many companies will start the commercialisation process because they think they have a mature portfolio that can go to market. However, what they may discover with hindsight is that their clients have certain requirements that the company can’t currently fulfil. So, don’t jump the gun.
The review stage of commercialisation is sometimes overlooked, but it is critical for success. This stage involves a lot of data gathering. David explained that companies need to conduct a full analysis of their portfolio – what it consists of, where it’s located, how it’s used, what it costs, and where it sits in the product life cycle.
One of the most important elements of the review is to drill down into the costs associated with the portfolio. According to David, additional costs are often ignored when these could actually be the difference between a profit and a loss in the long term. Every cost needs to be mapped out, from the user all the way to the hosting function.
Most businesses know what their top applications are according to their revenue or user count, but the more important measure is business benefit. In an initial portfolio shortlist, David said to try and include the products and services that provide the most flexible business benefit to end users. Giving an example from his CBRE days of what not to do, David explained how they took a lot of applications that were generally available and bundled them into a portfolio to take to market. By going ahead with this without conducting enough of a review, clients found that there was too much crossover between products in the portfolio. So, David’s key piece of advice is to keep the portfolio shortlist flexible while minimising crossover as much as possible.
If you’re going to attempt to commercialise your digital portfolio, then you need to be clear about what else is available in the marketplace. You must have knowledge of what products and services your competitors are offering and how they compare with what you offer. It’s also worth considering whether any of your solutions can be combined in order to streamline your portfolio.
Comparisons are difficult to do well because there are so many internal and external factors that affect your portfolio. David outlined what he believes to be the most reasonable approach – break down the portfolio into sectors that address common needs. For example, a messaging solution, core database solution, CRM solution – this makes your portfolio easier to understand for people that aren’t technologically savvy. Without this, larger organisations run the risk of having multiple internal solutions, significantly raising costs.
One way to compare your portfolio is to do your own research – find published market research, industry journals, web analytics and competitors’ annual reports. This can offer a generalised view but won’t give you too much detail. A more meticulous way to run comparisons is to approach an external research company like Forrester, Gartner, or IDC. It’s a more expensive option but it may be worth it if you’re certain that the additional insight will bring a sizeable return.
The previous two stages should have given you a clear idea of what you can change for your services and what your value proposition is. The next important stage is making sure that the organisation understands what the portfolio commercialisation entails.
Companies must convey to key stakeholders the strategic direction of the portfolio in relation to the comparison information that has been acquired. This part is crucial – failure to convey this information correctly could be difficult for the initiative to progress. Many of the stakeholders won’t be technologically minded, so you need to make the details clear for everyone.
David recommends getting the pitch/marketing team involved, as they will be able to adapt the message to communicate effectively with different audiences. To aid with this, David suggests utilising a content management system to house all information regarding the portfolio. Such a platform allows the marketing team to tailor their approach with specific information of varying detail to ensure that the information will be understood by every party. In David’s experience, this decreased the time to market by 20%. An added benefit of a content management system is that you can track who is reading the materials and for how long, which can hint at who you might need to follow up with.
These stages are critical when commercialising your portfolio and should not be overlooked. The attendees of this session found great value in studying these early stages thanks to David breaking them down into clear steps. After all, if you start on the right footing, commercialisation will be much more likely to succeed.
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