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Editor’s letter: New dogs, old tricks

YOU MIGHT be mistaken for thinking that Financial Director is playing tricks. Skipping beyond the cover, which illustrates an organisation that can trace its roots back 500 years, readers are confronted by a plethora of tech-based start-ups that can barely boast 50 years in business between them.

What is fascinating about these fledglings is the mix of good, old-fashioned issues that they have to face. Hailo’s Nick Lally and Mind Candy’s Divinia Knowles have set up their finance functions from scratch. Now they are looking to make their functions more sophisticated, using high-quality data to drive growth into new markets and geographies. Mimecast’s Peter Campbell and Box’s Dylan Smith have similar issues.

The main difference between these businesses and Royal Mail’s situation (and there are many others) is the sheer speed at which they, and the markets they operate in, are moving.

Mind Candy, proprietor and founder of the Moshi Monsters brand, is shifting its focus from the Facebook-esque service used by kids through laptops, into delivering more Moshi – but through mobile and tablet devices. As the father of two small boys, I see every day the attraction of iPads and iPhones to them – wading through older versions of Microsoft’s operating system on my clunky laptop is not attractive to them. “It’s not even touchscreen,” their little faces seem to say.

A lot has happened to Mind Candy since Moshi launched five years ago … then again, couldn’t the same be said about Her Majesty’s former letter deliverers? Its market environment has been turned upside down (also by the internet, in different aspects), de-regulation has opened up competition … The only ‘old-fashioned’ parts of the business to deal with are a unionised workforce and tons of bricks and mortar – but admittedly these are big things.

Royal Mail CFO Matt Lester won’t be thinking that his business will be around for the next 500 years – he’ll be looking at the short-term changes needed to give the business a medium-term future. In such a fast-moving world, there’s probably not much more he – or Knowles et al – can guarantee.

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