Published on LinkedIn Pulse, here.
Acquisitions and integrations
How do we measure the success of an acquisition? How do we describe what is success or failure? As defined by the academics, the existence of synergy implies that the combined firm will improve its performance at a faster rate after the merger than when the firms were operating separately (ref. Stern School of Business). The only sensible way to measure success from an external viewpoint is to see whether the share price increases as a consequence of the purchase.
Any large-scale tech merger requires years to integrate sales, engineering and managerial ranks. In the best case, it takes years to complete; in the worst, it leads to entrenched fiefdoms and a bureaucratic hall of mirrors and in areas where there is overlap, job losses might follow.
Based on latest reports, at least 80% of mergers fail: poor internal and external communication is one of the most common reasons of the failures, in addition to late planning, lack of experience, unclear financial focus, unidentified leadership, cultural clash, absence of plans for customers and employees retention, just to mention a few.
The case of Schneider Electric and Invensys
In January 2014 the French Energy giant Schneider Electric acquired British FTSE 100 company, Invensys plc thus expanding its product offering to the field of Control Systems, Software and Services. With this acquisition, Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, has significantly enhanced its position as a provider of Energy management solutions by also integrating power and automation ones. In fact, the acquisition of Invensys has provided Schneider Electric with a strong portfolio of complementary products in several sectors including Process, Oil and Gas – and strong competencies in Cybersecurity management.
Right immediately after the acquisition, Schneider Electric focused heavily on internal and external communications and branding. The communication plan supporting the acquisition was tailored to the identified audience and was segmented by customers and partners types. After several stages of validation with the business units, specific contents and communication assets were released to address all segments: customers, partners, system integrators, OEMs, distributors, JVs, supply chain partners. The plan included external and internal communication contents.
From a branding perspective Invensys brought several independent brands which had to be integrated within Schneider Electric’s portfolio under Schneider’s “one-Brand” strategy. Under the one-brand policy all brands had to migrate to Schneider Electric: most of them were moved straight after the acquisition, while others were rebranded at a later stage. The objective was to deliver a consistent customer experience under Schneider Electric brand while also transferring Invensys brand equity to Schneider Electric.
The team in charge of the integration process had to define a path for each brand that had to be consistent with the Schneider Electric strategy; each brand was evaluated on customer install base, geographical scope and overall brand equity.
Six “associated” brands were identified. Associated brands would have will transfer equity on the long term to the master brand through association and promotion of the combined brands. All other brand migrated (or were in the process to migrate) to Schneider Electric brand.
One year after the acquisition, brand-surveys and KPIs are proving that the above strategy was appropriate for the situation.
“Better Together” campaign and Social contest
The communication plan included an integrated marketing campaign (“Better Together”) that was launched in September 2014 and which used Social Media channels to ramp up and reach the right audience. The campaign was triggered by 2 major situations, taking place in mid-2014:
- Existing customers started to be concerned about our future investment in products and solutions they used and thus were holding back on new projects.
- New customers did not recognise the value of the combined Schneider Electric and Invensys portfolio and showed higher resistance to move to Schneider Electric/Invensys solutions.
The main objective of the integrated campaign was to show the strength of the combined Schneider Electric and Invensys team/offer and to reassure customers that their investment in our existing offer was safe. Social Media represented the main channel of the new integrated campaign.
Cultures and Employee advocacy
Social Media played a critical role with the alignment of the two companies’ cultures, removing biases and clearing initial employees’ concerns. One very exciting part of the campaign was a social media competition started few weeks after the campaign was launched to recognize the power of our Schneider Electric and Invensys employees coming together as ONE, we launched a “Schneider Electric Employee Challenge”. The idea was to show the world that we were positive and strong, and together we could solve our customers’ toughest problems. The social media competition encouraged our employees to use their personal Twitter accounts to tweet about the power of being “Better Together “. For every tweet posted with the #BetterTogetherSE hashtag the Industry Business Unit (BU) Executive team committed to donate a corresponding amount to Habitat for Humanity (one of our global charities), with a goal of reaching a donation of 20KEuros.
We engaged all Schneider Electric employees in the communication of the “Better Together” message and captured creativity through photo submissions of what “Better Together” meant to all of them. All with the added benefit of helping to build a brighter future for a family in need.
Note – This post has been published on Brand Quarterly, Global Marketing Special Edition, Issue 16, July 2015.