‘The best of times, and the worst of times,’ was the headline takeaway I wrote at the top of my notepad during last week's The Riverside Company Leadership Summit. Indeed, it was an extraordinary opportunity to attend and present at the annual Summit, attended by Riverside’s investment and operating professionals, plus senior leaders from across the global investment firm's +120 active portfolio companies. A huge privilege!
But back to a tale of two cities.
Across both presenters and attendees, the mood was palpable: do more, grow more, learn more. But achieve this in an environment many investment and c-suite professionals have never worked in. High interest rates. Labour shortages. Pressured bond markets. And, by the end of last week, the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The biggest US bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis.
So, how do you do more with – arguably – less?
This was the prevailing message. Because “times aren't going to change quickly, and fortune favours the brave”, noted ITR President Alan Beaulieu in his keynote economic address. A sentiment echoed in Bain & Company's recent PE Report, which surmised that “deals done through a downturn generate superior returns over time”. [Link in the comments below.]
For Riverside (and many other investment firms) this translates into a material drive for add-ons across the portfolio, plus high-impact value creation playbooks – to guide management teams, particularly in areas such as sales & marketing, pricing, product development, and digital transformation. All aimed at enhancing and optimising portfolio company operations, with a team of seasoned operating partners on hand to offer counsel and be thought partners.
From DataDiligence's perspective, the message of 'invest now' dovetails perfectly with our approach to assessing, identifying, and delivering value from data assets. In fact, we would rather use the axiom of 'do more with what you've already got'! After all, every business – irrespective of size, geography, sector, or maturity – is generating data. Everyday. And the capex already spent on digital transformation over the past few years needs to generate some material return on investment.
'Do more with data and analytics' is a strategy every company must have in their 2023-24 roadmaps and future Board packs – to power their operating and business models.
Advance analytics, machine learning, and AI are all within the grasp of most businesses. And this doesn't mean that every company needs to develop its own version of ChatGPT! Absolutely not.
Rather, focus on your company's burning business challenges, and start your analytics programme small, agile, and replaceable so that you fail fast and hone your data science mindset even faster. All with the ambition of rapidly reaping the benefits of improved decision making, optimised operations, and - perhaps - even new revenue streams.