Understanding the strategic value of IT in mergers & acquisitions

With the number of mergers and acquisitions expected to rise over the next few years, many companies are looking for ways to improve their M&A skills—especially their ability to assess and integrate target companies successfully. We’ve all heard about deals where the stars seemed aligned but synergies remained elusive. In these cases, the acquirer and target may have had complementary strategies and finances, but the integration of technology and operations often proved difficult, usually because it didn’t receive adequate consideration during due diligence.

One reason is that executives from IT and operations often aren’t included in the due-diligence process, preventing them from offering valuable input on the costs and practical realities of integration. Executives can’t hope to forecast the savings from merged supply chains, for example, without a deep understanding of what’s required to integrate two companies’ information systems. Too often, this key information is overlooked. In our work on postmerger management, we have found that 50 to 60 percent of the initiatives intended to capture synergies are strongly related to IT, but most IT issues are not fully addressed during due diligence or the early stages of postmerger planning (exhibit).

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