BATTLESPACE INTERVIEW – FORDELL BUSINESS ASSOCIATES Ltd.
By Julian Nettlefold
“Towards innovative emerging market development in challenging times…”
Battlespace recently met Fordell Business Associates, the Cambridge based strategy and market development consultancy. We met Cameron Japp, founder and Managing Partner, who is a well known and respected defence strategist and business leader. He has worked internationally in a range of blue chip executive roles in the defence sector, from starting and growing small independent businesses, to directing R&D and global business development strategies at FTSE100 board level. We explored some of the issues facing defence and security sector companies in the light of the economic down-turn, and looked at some of the ways that independent consultancies can support these companies in addressing emerging markets during ‘challenging times’ in their home markets.
Why did you establish Fordell?
“Having personally faced the challenges and pressures that clients encounter at all stages of developing a business or organisation – not least in the defence and security sectors – I established Fordell to provide clients with a ‘challenging but uplifting business consultancy and coaching service’. We support clients as they periodically stand back from the day to day pressures of business, to define effective goals, strategies and actions to move forward with confidence. Our priority is to establish trusted through-life client relationships, and in depth understanding of the client’s business, so we can provide tailored support at every stage of the business journey”.
What do you see as the UK defence and security sectors’ main challenges?
“I am minded of my meeting Mark Prisk, the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, in the Middle East a few months ago who, in recognising the ‘challenging times’ faced by the UK defence and security sectors in the home market, adeptly referred to the opportune ‘juxtaposition’ of the ‘challenging times’ on the one hand, with substantial ‘emerging market’ opportunities on the other (the Middle East and Asia being clear cases in point)”.
“Our recent analysis from interaction with companies in UK, Europe and North America, certainly echoes this view and also underlines the current need for agility and opportunism as strategies to enter new markets are considered, shaped and implemented. The potential existence of an opportunity is one thing; but the question of appetite and focus needed to address it is another. So, this is an area where independent consulting firms like Fordell can help, by providing cost effective, tailored decision support, drawing on timely real world information from the target new markets, to assess the potential fit for the client’s capabilities. From there, an early view of the potential opportunities and risks can be generated quickly so that the cycle of internal pragmatic debate can take place, before market development goals, strategies and actions are shaped”.
Where does innovation sit in this “juxtaposition”?
“If a company is looking to sell its existing capabilities to new markets or develop new market-led capabilities, a key challenge is to clearly define its own untapped potential and appetite to “step outside” its traditional market. One challenge faced by many companies or organisations is that 80% of the knowledge base of a company’s true capability [already proven + untapped potential] resides in the minds of around 2-5% of the company’s people – and these (quote) “innovative artists and ballet dancers” (Phil Blundell CEO, Air Tanker Ltd), are usually dispersed across the organisation at all levels which is, in itself, a challenge in terms of tapping in to this important source of information”.
“So, in order to rapidly find this asymmetric ‘seam’ of knowledge and innovation, well targeted interactive engagement is important. Once areas of untapped potential are identified, clients