White Paper

Increasing M&A Complexity ― Are You Ready for the IT Challenges?

The right tools can help companies integrate the complex IT environments that arise from mergers and acquisitions.
by: John Whitenack |
September 03, 2020

Merger and acquisition deals have always been complex, but with IT environments becoming increasingly sophisticated, integrating them is even more challenging. To successfully navigate an M&A deal, stakeholders must leverage solutions and services that help them efficiently integrate their IT environments.  

No two M&A deals are the same. While technology tools and services from external partners are essential to the success of any merger, acquisition or divestiture, specific solutions and services will vary according to the challenges of each deal. Here are five challenges that businesses often face during the M&A process — along with tools and services that can help organizations overcome them.

Challenge 1: License Complexity

Many leaders assume that merging software environments during an M&A deal will be a simple process, but it often isn’t. For instance, one organization might be using cloud software, while the other is still using on-premises solutions. Or, the two companies might be using entirely different vendors. 

Solution: Analysis tools — Tools that analyze IT environments and perform discovery of existing assets can help integration teams create a comprehensive inventory of existing software assets. Using this information, IT leaders can redeploy licenses in a way that makes business sense for the new company. While new tools are sometimes needed, existing monitoring and analytics solutions are often helpful. Application dependency mapping tools, for instance, can help teams map out how various applications interact with and rely on one another. And even a simple help desk ticketing system can provide data about potential pain points. 

42%

The percentage of business leaders who say that an economic downturn would likely lead to an increase in M&A activity

Source: Deloitte, “The State of the Deal: M&A Trends 2020,” January 2020

Challenge 2: Data Integration

Bringing together corporate data from two organizations is one of the most critical — and most challenging — aspects of IT integration during an M&A deal. This process is essential for tasks such as application migration, maintenance or upgrade activities, data center migrations and website consolidation. 

Solution: Data migration tools — Leaders often lack visibility into where data resides even within their own organizations. This can lead to significant problems with IT integration after a merger or acquisition. When both firms in an M&A deal are operating in the same industry, it’s very possible that they will have customers in common. The goal during IT integration should be to combine customer data from both firms into a cleansed and concise “golden record.” It’s impossible to do this without a comprehensive view of existing data, and many organizations rely on master data management tools to locate and consolidate their critical data.

Challenge 3: Merging Hardware

The simplest way to merge physical IT infrastructure is to shift both organizations onto a common platform. However, this is often impractical — especially if organizations have recently refreshed their data center hardware. 

Solution: Cloud resources — Typically, merged companies will standardize their physical equipment over time. But IT leaders should be prepared to rapidly respond to performance problems in the new environment, especially in the early days after a merger. It’s critical either to have in-house IT staff who are expertly trained on all equipment running in the new organization or to be able to rely on a third-party partner that has this expertise. Cloud resources can also serve as stopgaps to help organizations temporarily move data and applications onto common platforms without having to make capital investments in new data center infrastructure. Some tools help firms to build out cloud planning and migration roadmaps, which can reduce costs by preventing the overbuying of cloud services. This is an important consideration, since a sprawling, inefficient cloud environment can lead to a significant loss of value after an M&A deal.

Challenge 4: Security and Compliance

In addition to the typical security and compliance concerns associated with data storage and migration, M&A can create an additional layer of complexity because of new considerations around geography or industry-specific regulations. Sometimes, one organization may be subject to stricter regulatory standards on data security than the other. 

Solution: Security solutions and services — If two merging firms have different regulatory hurdles, it’s usually best for the new company to simply meet the higher of the two bars. This approach simplifies security and compliance policies across the organization, and it prepares the new company to meet stricter compliance standards in the future. Cybersecurity tools — including next-generation endpoint protection, next-generation firewalls and other solutions that protect data and applications from attack — are important for securing the IT environment after a merger. However, the integration process itself often relies more on service engagements (such as vulnerability assessments, penetration testing and compliance assessments) meant to root out existing liabilities.

Challenge 5: Overburdened Personnel

Internal IT staffers typically have enough on their plates simply supporting and creating value for the business, without also having to manage a complex M&A process. And more often than not, these staffers lack significant expertise with M&A deals, forcing them to learn as they go, even while making critical decisions that will affect the new organization for years to come. 

Solution: Consulting and managed services — Services from a third-party partner can be crucial to M&A success. A trusted partner can lead or assist with processes ranging from inventory and data migration to cloud roadmapping and security assessments. Not only will third-party consultants have expertise that internal teams lack, but their presence will also prevent internal staffers from becoming overwhelmed. In a multimillion-dollar merger or acquisition, the stakes of IT integration are high. It’s worth making the investment to get the process right.

Want to learn more about how to navigate complex M&A deals? Read the white paper “A Smoother Path Toward IT Success in Mergers and Acquisitions” from CDW.

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