The Euro 2020 final match had it all: an early goal by England, close chances, dogged chase by Italy and eventual equalizer. It was an enthralling display and a great example of how to play a game at the highest level. Eventually, it all came down to a penalty shootout. This is the point when any football/soccer match turns from a predominantly team sport to a game between two individuals: the kick taker and the goal keeper. As it turned out, Italy came out on top winning the tied game, 3 goals to England’s 2.

Going into the match, it seemed like England were destined to win. They reached the final after 55 years with one of the strongest sides and had the home advantage with the match at Wembley stadium. And as the match began, they started in a storybook fashion, with Luke Shaw thumping in a picture-perfect goal within the second minute. The crowd went berserk and it felt like the writing was already on the wall for Italy. It seemed that this early lead and momentum would carry England to a title after 5 decades of waiting, but it was not to be.

Italy as a team had other ideas. Almost as soon as England scored, the momentum shifted. The Azzurri dominated with an eventual possession of 66%. The game for its remainder continued in the English half with one attack after another from a ferocious Italian side. In the final minutes, Bonucci levelled the game, taking it into extra time and eventually penalties.

The penalty shootout

An Insider article points out certain stats which raise concerns over England team’s management and the choices they made during the penalty shootout. These points can be applied, surprisingly, to a MES selection perspective.

First, the stats:

  • The Italian penalty takers had almost twice the experience, with 117 spot-kicks in total among them for club and country. The English only had 67.
  • Two out of the 5 English players had never before taken a penalty.
  • The coach kept the two more experienced penalty takers, Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish on the side-lines.
  • England skipper Harry Kane had taken 50 out of the total 67 kicks, implying the other 4 players shared only 17 spot kicks among them.
  • Player Bukayo Saka, who missed the final shot which led to England’s defeat, was only 19 years old and had never taken a penalty before. 

Lessons learned

How does the MES selection process relate to the Euro 2020 final?

Experience and People matter the most

As soon as the top management realizes the need to replace an existing MES, they need to engage stakeholders from across the organization. This includes experts from operations, quality, engineering and IT to form the core MES selection and implementation team. A large-scale digital transformation will require participation of personnel from all areas of operation. They need to understand the problem and what needs to change in order to deliver ROI on a transformation effort. England’s team management erred on player selection, choosing youth, when the job clearly called for expertise and maturity. People form the most important part of any transformation project. Having the right set of individuals can prove to be the difference between MES success, and being trapped in pilot purgatory. 

Goals count and results matter

Careful selection of relevant uses cases can lead to success. When a team selects the right use cases and the MES application rolled out delivers results, it lifts the spirits of the whole team. This early success paves the way for a full-fledged and timely MES implementation. However, it is clear from the Euro final, where England earned the initiative with an early goal, that it is imperative to structure the whole strategy diligently. Early success should not transform to complacence. Italy’s approach to the match, after they were a goal down, shows that persistence and team work eventually delivers the results. For any company pursuing digital transformation, the lesson is clear. Choose the right use cases across manufacturing locations, maintain momentum by delivering results on these selected use cases and progress iteratively through an agile and small wins-based approach to ensure transformation success.

Point solutions don’t work

England relied heavily on their captain Harry Kane, the most experienced penalty taker. He came through and delivered as was expected. However, his goal counted for only one of the five goals needed to win. The same happens with point solutions. An exceptional QMS or Scheduling application do not always deliver the optimum value, that total digitalization offers. When thinking of digital transformation, you need to look at the big picture. Italy chose the most experienced selection possible for taking the spot kicks. They relied on the collective capability of the group to deliver the desired result. This holds true for a MES application as well. A modern, IoT-enabled MES delivers on all fronts. It has AI/ML capabilities, which allow for APC and predictive management, and it unleashes AR/VR. A modern MES is cloud-based, secure and above all modular enough to deploy standard functionality with requisite customization.

Data doesn’t lie, when analyzed properly

When we look at the conversion statistics of penalties, the conversion rate of England is higher – 85% , as opposed to 83% for Italy. Prima-facie England seemed to have the edge. However, analysis reveals that England’s better conversion rate is a result of skewed data. Only 3 members had their performance measured, while the other two equally important members have no relevant data. Italy’s data indicates the overall performance for all players. In manufacturing, it is imperative to have relevant, real-time data in order to establish control and affect improvement. How well and how soon you are able to analyze it to create action may be all that matters in a competitive and uncertain post-COVID world. MES applications which collect data from all sources, process and present them faster than others, suit best any given operation. Industry expertise plays a major role. Knowing what data to collect, and how to manipulate, structure and present it, can be the difference between user delight and user frustration.

Choose your application wisely

The MES application forms the backbone of an Industry 4.0 digital transformation. When selecting a potential MES, do all the research possible. ‘Winging it’ when it comes to selecting the right application, might prove to be a lethal mistake for your business. Tools like the Gartner Magic Quadrant can help you understand which off-the-shelf, modular platform MES suits your needs the best. Like the Italian team’s management, count on experience of widely-known and recognized professionals to see you through. Don’t rely on gut – choosing someone ill-suited to the pursuit of operational excellence and fundamental business transformation. Engage experts, consult leaders, review applications, do pilots and then make your final selection. A MES selection should be a careful, well thought out and extremely structured pursuit.


The Euro 2020 final is truly a masterclass in MES selection. It points out that the selection of the right team, with experience and a proven track-record are key. Making the right moves at the right time, not being complacent and approaching the endeavor in a structured, iterative manner, makes all the difference and determines whether a transformation effort ends in misery or glory.

So, learn from the champions and select your digital transformation partners and MES wisely. Hopefully, with the right MES partner, you will bring home the cup!!