Meet the people who help our clients design and build innovative technology solutions to benefit their businesses as well as their customers: our subject matter experts aka SMEs. In this series, we’ll discover how they came to work in the industry and the changing role of technology in our lives. We’ll also get a glimpse into what makes them tick as people outside of work.
This time, we’re joined by Roy Murphy, CEO of Business Agility, who became part of the Endava family this February. Based in the London area and often working from his home in Reading, Roy not only leads the team to provide great services to our insurance clients but also loves the art of complex sales and having to find the right balance...much like his attempt at water skiing!
Hi Roy, thank you for joining us! Let’s start with some questions about your professional life. What has brought you into the tech industry and the insurance sector?
I’ve been in tech for decades, starting in systems analysis, then moving to development and into a support management position, before moving into sales and sales management – my true calling! I quickly learned that understanding the prospects’ business problems was key, and if the prospect couldn’t explain, then I was probably talking to the wrong person!
I found myself running the European operations of US software companies and was taken aback by the poor level of service that my clients would accept from the systems integrators. There was so little focus on the relationship and project outcome; I felt there was much more that could be done – a much better service that could be provided. That’s when I started a services company called Business Agility. Built on the core values of respect, integrity, professionalism, and transparency, we quickly grew and earned a reputation for high-quality delivery with large-scale transformation programmes in the insurance sector. When we met Endava, our cultures matched, and it was the perfect marriage!
What has been the biggest innovation since you have been working in the industry?
Well, there are so many! At the risk of sounding old, I’ve seen quite a few seismic changes! I remember seeing the launch of the PC with MS-DOS – pre-Windows! – as well as the internet, with its limitless possibilities for connection, community, and collaboration, as some of the most significant innovations. Barriers to creativity gave way, mindsets changed, and ways of working and doing business were never the same again.
What is the biggest challenge or opportunity you are seeing and what should businesses be doing to prepare for this?
Ignoring disruption and adapting to change, particularly in the insurance sector; it's playing catch-up in a highly competitive and digital age, when it could have led the charge – like the banking, finance and e-commerce sectors have. However, the focus on customer advocacy is driving new opportunities, and I feel like the digital journey is still in its infancy. Seeing how businesses can and are harnessing sophisticated innovations in automation, AI, and blockchain, I know the insurance world can do more than catch up – it can lead.
What Business Agility project are you most proud of and why?
I’m proud of all our projects, and our spirit is reflected in that work – really, it’s the team I’m most proud of. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than when I’m walking with a CIO or CEO at an insurer that we’re supporting, and the Business Agility guys are indistinguishable from the client team. That’s the One Team approach, and it shows how embedded and engaged we are – and have to be – to ensure successful delivery.
On the flip side, what is the project or technology that challenged you the most and where you had some setbacks? What did you learn from this?
When we launched our Solution Assurance proposition, it was to encapsulate over twenty years’ worth of ‘lessons learned’ into a portfolio of Critical Success Factors. If you look at the three areas that make up a programme delivery – people, process, and technology – it’s never the technology that causes things to drift off course. Maybe unsurprisingly, it’s almost always the people and the processes that the people control that are the troublemakers. This is particularly true when the client isn’t experienced with Agile and underestimates the many challenges that go with it.
There are always challenges around what I call the “Three Cs” – capacity, capability, and culture, including the business commitment to the programme. Clients need the expertise and experience of a steady hand that has navigated these waters before. Typical issues boil down to ineffective communication, unavailability of qualified client resources, and/or a reluctance to adapt to new ways of working.
Now, we’ll move on to a few more personal questions. If you were not working as CEO at Business Agility, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be a butcher! Believe it or not, I started my career as a butcher and loved it; it’s an experience I’ll never forget! It was great training for a career in the cut-throat world of sales, with lots of knives and gore! If you meet me in person, I’ll happily take you through my sausage-making process and recipes!
What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation?
“The Art and Science of Complex Sales.” Suppliers often underestimate the planning that politically complex sales campaigns demand. They also forget that while there may be formal procurement processes, the human beings who control those processes are often motivated by very different and informal objectives!
What was something you thought would be easy until you tried it?
I thought water skiing would be easy, but it took me twenty attempts to stand up without falling backwards, each time filling my nostrils with a gallon of seawater! I became exhausted, but eventually, I managed it – not with the most graceful stance (bent double with my feet four feet apart), but it was very satisfying to get there in the end!
Finally, would you share a favourite quote with us to send our readers off with some inspiration?
I’ve always admired Winston Churchill’s intelligent, dry humour and enjoyed reading his many famous quotes. After a long career in sales, there are two that stand out as being particularly poignant for me but apply equally to anyone who has ambitions to achieve their goals: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” and “Never, never, never give up.”!!
A big thank you to Roy and another warm welcome to the team at Business Agility! Stay tuned for more insights into the work and life of Endavans in the next part of our Meet the SME series!