2019 saw a large number of mergers and acquisitions varying in size and industry. The total value of the year’s transactions in the United States reached $161.7 billion US dollars. From a business perspective, these mergers and acquisitions are generally structured to benefit the companies’ financial standing, stock price and business strategy to ensure financial success. But what about the work that goes on under the hood after these business transactions take place, both operationally and technologically?
It’s impossible to determine in advance what the process will be like for the companies involved, particularly if there’s a need for major technological and database integration. Sometimes, the systems may not have the ability to work together, creating information silos. These silos can create serious issues within a single organization, so the issue becomes even more complex and challenging when multiple organizations are involved. It’s vital to proactively consider how to solve these issues early, rather than reactively trying to solve problems after the fact.
I’ve identified three key technologies that can help to make the merger or acquisition transition less painful, while also producing more effective results for the business. These can replace or be layered on top of current systems to ensure data integration and drive accelerated digital transformation of the new business entity.
1. Robotic process automation
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a form of business process optimization that automates tasks using software robots, or digital workers. RPA can play a major role in automating repetitive and manual data-related tasks, freeing up employees for higher-value work.
During mergers and acquisitions, employees have new systems and processes to adjust to, within a limited time frame and staff may not have learned the skills required to complete these tasks efficiently. RPA can help to ease this process by using artificial intelligence workers to help with data entry, data mapping, data extraction and moving data into multiple systems, which is critical for systems consolidation after a merger or acquisition. This can also help to avoid and reduce human error.
RPA technology ultimately cuts operational costs and allows companies to focus on higher priority growth opportunities during a merger or acquisition.
2. Systems integration
System integration is the process of integrating multiple subsystems into one single system to deliver an overarching functionality. If the goal is to truly integrate two companies, it’s crucial to ensure all subsystems function together as one following a merger/acquisition transaction. A common pitfall is that companies will often begin integrating their combined systems by using the outdated method of creating integrations via custom code.
Custom code requires experienced developers to create custom, point-to-point integrations between specific applications, services, systems and databases. The amount of time and resources required for this approach is not practical for most companies, especially during a merger or acquisition. Even the most skilled developers create code that eventually becomes what’s known as “spaghetti code” -- where it’s fragile, complex and hard to manage.
While custom point-to-point integration can help companies reach a short-term goal, it drastically complicates matters in the long run when integrating multiple companies’ subsystems and data centers. Fortunately, there are a variety of off-the-shelf alternatives that can create connectivity across a company’s entire business ecosystem, without needing complex custom code.
Systems integration provides merging companies with the ability to easily connect cloud-based and on-premises systems.
3. Business process automation
Business process automation (BPA) is like robotic process automation in theory and is essentially the technology-enabled automation of human-centric business processes. While RPA focuses on automating tasks, BPA focuses on automating the process that task is part of. This digital transformation approach can result in streamlined and simplified processes that can offer improved service while also lowering costs.
In order to implement business process automation, businesses should review current processes and workflows to identify inefficiencies and areas that need improvement. Once identified, processes can be improved, streamlined, and consolidated. It’s particularly important to do this in the case of a merger or acquisition, when multiple business processes and workflows may be transformed into a single, unified process.
For companies going through a merger or acquisition, the importance of integrating technology systems can be a challenging, but an ultimately fruitful exercise, if done in a thoughtful and strategic way. It’s a prime opportunity to truly transform and automate the newly merged businesses and set the company up for success.
Albert Nguyen is an associate director at Bits In Glass, an award-winning software consulting firm. Nguyen is responsible for implementation delivery, professional and consulting services, and business development. He has experience/expertise/specializes in corporate strategy, program and project management, risk and scope management, contract negotiations, and various methodologies. During his time with Bits In Glass, he has worked with clients in property management, financial services, legal, government, and other industries.