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Conducting Market Entry Strategy + Execution for a Top 100 Engineering Firm

The client’s perspective

Expanding into new markets can bring opportunities and obstacles to companies, no matter the industry. Those companies that have done it well can attest to the importance of having the right strategy to lead the way. Consider the story of KCI.

Based in Maryland with offices around the nation, KCI is an employee-owned engineering, consulting and construction firm. Ranked in the top 100 of Engineering News-Record’s top 500 engineering firms, KCI offers environmental, transportation, telecommunications, construction, facilities and land development services.

2012 was an exciting time for the company. KCI had been selected to provide data communications network design and installation services for the Inter-County Broadband Network. This is one section of the One Maryland Broadband Network, a high-speed fiber optic network that would span the state when completed. Think of it as a communications backbone to take Maryland into the digital age.

At the time, the fiber optic network design and installation market in the United States was booming at over $4 billion annually. What’s more, projections called for continued growth fueled by strong consumer and commercial demand and $7.2 billion in federal stimulus money for funding broadband grants and loans.

There was clear potential for KCI in this burgeoning market—and fundamental questions to ask before fully digging in. Did it make business sense for KCI to grow its broadband network design and installation footprint? If so, what was the best approach for success? And what would it mean for the future of the business?

A new view

KCI turned to Eagle Hill to help the company tackle some of these key strategic questions. We were asked to provide an objective and comprehensive view of the fiber network design and build market, focusing on several guiding objectives: 

  • Market research. Analysis of KCI’s position in relation to market demand, trends, opportunities and risks.
  • Market entry. Definition of actionable market expansion entry and exit criteria and key metrics to measure success.
  • Market opportunity. Identification of geographic opportunity areas and potential partners and customers.
  • Competitive assessment. Analysis of competitors in relevant markets to understand what makes them successful.

A breakaway approach

We took a very targeted approach to help KCI meet its business need, completing a comprehensive market entry plan in just eight weeks.

We rolled up our sleeves and began by taking a close look at—and listen to—KCI. Our team conducted a series of interviews with key personnel to get their valuable subject matter expertise. This allowed us to take an inside-out approach to analyzing overall market potential, grounding our focus in what was most relevant to KCI, and creating checkpoints along the way as needed.

This very client-centered approach is a hallmark of our strategic work with clients. We never want to provide an “ivory tower” strategy that only applies to a perfect world that does not exist. Instead, our teams work collaboratively to create a living plan that is actionable, measurable and rooted in a deep understanding of the organization.

The initiative was a classic market research and data analytics project, which required an ability to collect and assess large amounts of publically available data to develop data-driven insights. Our analysis included:

  • Market entry/exit criteria
  • Overall market size, characteristics and constraints
  • Recommendations on geographic areas or states and related opportunities
  • Preliminary, cross-regional partner recommendations
  • Implementation considerations

Once the final plan and recommendations were complete, we presented the plan to KCI, conducting a brainstorming session where everyone came together to react to the findings and begin formulating next steps.

The plan became an important guidepost for KCI. The company ultimately did expand into several new markets using the research and recommendations from our work. KCI continues to view this market as a strategic component of its future growth plans, and is actively working to continue to grow its business.