After a Merger, the Right Tools Can Help Financial Firms with IT Integration
Solutions that enable analysis, migration and security can help businesses complete M&A transactions successfully.
As the financial services industry experiences a high number of mergers and acquisitions, businesses in this sector face a common challenge: successfully integrating technology following a deal.
A number of IT solutions and services can help financial firms as they conduct their integration efforts. Identifying the right mix of tools can be tricky, as technology vendors typically don’t produce solutions specifically designed to assist with post-merger IT integration. Rather, organizations must look to the general IT market for the analysis, migration, security and other tools they need and then leverage these for the tasks specific to M&A integration.
Services that support migration, security and other aspects of technology integration are often a critical component of successful M&A execution. This is especially true for organizations that lack internal staff with experience managing M&A technology integrations.
During a merger, IT teams must conduct a thorough inventory of the IT assets of each partner. After all, integration teams can’t create a runbook that guides the way they’ll bring together procedures, operations and IT systems if they don’t have an accurate accounting of all of the hardware and software assets that exist within each organization’s environment. In addition to cataloging each M&A partner’s IT assets, technology integration teams will want to identify the dependencies between various applications.
In many cases, existing monitoring and analytics solutions can aid in this analysis. For instance, if a firm already has a robust application dependency mapping tool, that product may suffice for visualizing how various applications interact with and rely on one another. Some digital inventory tools work only with virtualized environments; in environments that lack significant virtualization, integration teams may be forced to rely on manual processes for conducting IT inventories.
Creative integration teams can often find helpful analysis tools in unlikely places. For instance, a simple ticketing system can be valuable for identifying potential pain points and managing IT integration.
Data Migration Tools
Bringing together corporate data from two organizations is one of the most critical — and most challenging — aspects of M&A IT integration. This process is essential for tasks such as application migration; maintenance or upgrade activities; replacements of infrastructure, such as storage appliances and servers; data center migrations or relocations; and website consolidation.
It’s not uncommon for IT teams to lack visibility into where data resides within their own organization, and this lack of transparency can create significant problems after a merger or acquisition. For instance, it’s possible that both parties in an M&A deal will have many of the same customers. Ideally, each firm’s customer data will be cleansed and combined into a consolidated record that can be easily accessed and navigated by employees who need this information. When firms don’t know where all of their data resides, however, it becomes difficult to merge records in a cohesive manner. Master data management tools can help firms to locate and consolidate their critical data.
Some tools enable organizations to build out cloud planning and migration roadmaps. These roadmaps can reduce costs by helping financial firms avoid overbuying cloud services and set more favorable pricing terms. These are important considerations, as firms will be unable to achieve the full potential value of an M&A deal if they start out of the gate with a sprawling, overpriced cloud environment.
Other cloud tools enable a holistic view of IT workloads — both on-premises and in the cloud. By enabling a higher degree of visibility, these tools can help firms to more effectively manage their IT environments, resulting in improved security and efficiency.
Security is an essential consideration for every financial services firm. Integrating security solutions is a major challenge, and firms should pay special attention to Active Directory integration, as well as to security management solutions. If the integration team at an acquiring firm fails to spot vulnerabilities in the organization being absorbed, those security gaps essentially become their problem going forward.
Cybersecurity tools, such as 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; but the integration process relies more on assessments meant to root out existing vulnerabilities. These may include vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, compliance assessments and other engagements.
Unless a financial services firm is acquiring new companies every year, internal IT teams will likely need help managing technology integration. Even if a firm goes through an M&A deal once every few years, technology simply changes too quickly for internal staff to stay abreast of issues that are only likely to pop up during a merger or acquisition. That’s why many financial services firms bring in external help to lead processes including inventory and analysis, data migration, cloud roadmapping and security assessments. Not only will third-party teams have expertise that internal teams lack, but their presence will also prevent internal staffers from being overwhelmed by trying to simultaneously lead IT integration and manage their regular day-to-day work. 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.
To learn more about how financial organizations can effectively manage mergers and acquisitions, read the CDW white paper “Managing the IT Challenges of M&As in the Finance Industry.”