Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) have become a common strategic business
practice, given recent economic trends and pressure to gain share in increasingly
competitive markets. The Boston Consulting Group recently published research
findings indicating that downturn deals -- those executed during periods of
slow economic growth -- were twice as likely to produce long-term returns in
excess of 50 percent and, on average, create 14.5 percent more value for shareholders
of the acquirer (http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=859125).
Although it may seem a counterintuitive market development, challenging economic
conditions have helped create a sort of M&A culture. Successful M&As
can add new technology capabilities the acquiring company deems beneficial and
can help advance a brand's value. For example, in 2007, Google paid $3.1 billion
for DoubleClick in order to accelerate and better target the placements of electronic
ads on Web sites.
In this M&A culture, potential targets are identified and analyzed, and
once the decision has been made to combine the entities, particular pressure
is placed on IT to deliver the large volume of required network changes on time
and within budget. This is to be expected, given the importance that the IT
network has for both the operational and tactical elements of the business.
An organization can reach overall goals quicker and establish a stronger market
position sooner if the IT network of the acquired organization is smoothly and
quickly integrated. IT managers face certain strategic challenges in merging
disparate corporate networks; the focus is usually on the systems, applications,
and data with little attention given to the critical impact on the network infrastructure
itself. Some of the critical elements to be considered focus on the network
devices and topology: Are all the devices on the network under management and
secure? Have the data paths between devices been analyzed to determine assets
are communicating properly? The pressures to rapidly integrate the IT networks
often cause IT managers to make hasty decisions without all the facts, resulting
in actions that can adversely impact the network's infrastructure, availability,
security, and compliance over time.