The EuRA Conference wrap-up: Acquisitions, Technology and Annihilation, oh my!
This year’s EuRA Conference, held in Dubrovnik, was jam packed with discussions about the future of the industry.
During the EuRA Conference I learned of two major acquisitions. Both were sizable. What does this mean for the industry? It means less choice, would be the first obvious answer. One could also interpret it to mean that there are two players that have greater global capabilities or geographic reach. This is not quite true in the case that affects Canada more directly. Turning the fourth largest relocation management company into the – – – slightly larger fourth largest company does not obviously give its current clients greater service options (but it could for the acquired’s clients). And the Canadian landscape will lose a well-respected service provider and could leave suppliers scrambling. But generally this is a sign of health for the industry. If two companies’ prospects are good enough to acquire other businesses to expand their opportunities, this can only be a sign of optimism, which we share.
The other major topic of discussion at the EuRA Conference was technology. Technology played a role in many of my meetings as well as in a number of sessions. Discussions ranged from improving the transferee’s user experience, to enhancing productivity, creating cost savings, and to implementing GDPR. Technology has always played a role at these conferences, but this year it was more prominent. There are new technologies being built, old technologies being enhanced, and a number of companies giving up on existing technologies and building solutions themselves. GDPR was also of major importance to most companies with whom I spoke. One person referred to GDPR as another aspect of duty of care, and I thought that was a very apt comment. We, as relocation providers, are assisting employees through a difficult transition, and it is our responsibility to act with a duty of care around their relocation – preparing them for the pitfalls that may lie ahead about which they do not know. Ensuring the security of their data, which we process in the course of delivering the service, is just another aspect of that duty of care. However, companies are scrambling to be compliant with the legislation which comes into effect later in May. Which brings us to….annihilation.
Yes, annihilation. In one of my first meetings, a well-respected industry player predicted that GDPR would annihilate (yes that was the word) many smaller destination services companies (possibly movers?) across the world. You see, the rigours required to be GDPR compliant are significant and the technology investment will have to be significant as well. I can advise our clients that All Points Relocation Service Canada is on track for the GDPR implementation date of May 25, and I can also advise that our security investment is quite sizable. My industry peer predicted that there would be many companies that would not be able to make this technology investment. Contract amendments are flying out from global RMC’s to their suppliers to be signed indicating that these suppliers can keep their clients’ information secure, can locate that information if requested and delete it upon request as well.
And could they skirt investment and sign those contract amendments anyway? It is possible, but compliant suppliers are putting pressure on their RMC clients to ensure that the whole network is compliant, so that there is a level playing field. That is bold. GDPR does leave Relocation Management Companies responsible for ensuring the security of their assignees’ data even when it is with their supplier network and it is not many who will take a chance with those they suspect cannot make the grade. Audits are likely and possibly even penetration tests. This is what my industry peer meant by annihilation. There are companies that simply will not be able to make the investment and they may lose long-term clients.
Well there you have it! Acquisitions, technology and annihilation. Acquisitions are likely to continue and if the predicted annihilations occur, the world will have fewer relocation players, but more secure data. In the end, the security of a transferee’s private information is of great importance, so we have to mark this down as progress, no matter how it may look.