If you told me in 2019 of the challenges that lay ahead of our business at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) I would never have believed you. The pandemic presented existential questions about the future of our business. We had to close our doors for events for the first time since we opened more than 25 years ago. Our very successful business fundamentally changed overnight. Rather than stand still and wait for the doors to open, like some businesses, we used it as an opportunity to transform how MCEC works.
Unprecedented obstacles forced us to ask very difficult questions about how we did business. We had started a review of our business in 2019, however, the outbreak of COVID-19 forced us to examine everything we had taken for granted about our operations in more detail. Was our business fit for purpose in this new world?
In 2020 we completely reviewed our operating model to see if it best served our customers and their needs and maintained our competitiveness in this new environment. This involved reviewing everything about how we interact with customers and how we work on events from beginning to end including customer feedback, customer journeys, employee journeys, process mapping and more.
Our team looked at how Agile is working in other sectors and how global industry leaders like Google and Spotify use Agile at scale, and the Agile transformations at ANZ and Telstra in Australia. We saw how large organisations across sectors such as technology, utilities, and government have introduced agile ways of working so we were confident we could bring this to business events.
We wanted a strong customer-focused structure, so we decided to introduce an Agile model. Following a comprehensive review and phased introduction we now have a new Agile model in place that makes us more competitive moving forward.
What does it look like? We’ve introduced two new cross-functional groups focused on customer experience that work directly with our customers and event producers every step of the way, to make their interaction with the MCEC more streamlined. What this means for customers is that instead of working with multiple departments across our business based on internal structures – such as Sales, Planning or Food and Beverage – they’ll now work with a single team. This team brings together the knowledge needed at different stages of the customer journey, from building an event, to planning and delivering it.
Our cross-functional teams focus on different customer groups, meaning customers with multiple types of events will build relationships with the same customer experience team to deliver their events, regardless of whether it’s a conference, an end-of-year cocktail party, or a monthly board meeting.
While other support functions in the business may continue to be structured traditionally, all our employees complete Agile training and apply it in their day-to-day work. All these teams are supported by our Lean Agile Centre of Excellence, a dedicated Agile team that drives organisational change and continuous improvement across MCEC.
We’re still at the beginning of our Agile journey, but we’ve already seen it work successfully on several projects we’ve stood up, including the launch of The LUME Melbourne, the introduction of hybrid events, and the introduction of new floor planning technology.
It has been a great opportunity to reset our business. The transformation and change we’ve been managing over the last two years will ensure that we remain a leader in business events. We’ve decided to move forward with a model that reflects the uncertainty of the world we live in to provide the flexibility our customers need from us as a business in the 2020s. The hope is that as we look towards the future, MCEC can move with customer needs and be prepared to adapt to the world around us in a more agile way.