While discussing email upgrade planning with some very sharp folks in a large, global enterprise this week, one of the strategists noted: “With acquisitions, there is pain in compromise.” He was explaining some of the difficulties in moving to an enterprise-wide email system given that the enterprise had been growing with several acquisitions, many of which still operated IT somewhat independently.
For IT, integrating new acquisitions is an exercise with “pain in compromise.” Enterprise IT often does not receive the resources or information on acquisitions early because of legal and compliance issues. But IT is expected to integrate the new acquisitions rapidly, particularly with communications technologies, in order to speed the absorption into and value of the acquisition to the parent company. Rarely is this an easy task based on the conversations with the IT professionals tasked with this duty. In one enterprise I spoke with, acquisitions resulted in 5 different email environments, which they are still trying to reconcile over a period of years – not months. Mergers and acquisitions wreak havoc with email topology and organizational structure.
There is no easy answer because, as one IT architect explained, the executive team isn’t going to decide to acquire or not to acquire based on IT’s ability to integrate the new acquisition into existing systems. The best IT can do is have a good grasp on its abilities to expand existing systems and create generic plans for integrating new acquisitions when they happen. Ultimately, IT has to find the “pain in compromise.”