SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Joseph  Arena
Joseph Arena is a tenured enterprise computing and communications executive with more than 20 years of experience directing long-term UC&C...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Joseph Arena | November 28, 2016 |

 
   

How to Finesse Post-M&A Collaboration

How to Finesse Post-M&A Collaboration Best practices advice from my experience in overseeing UC&C integration following a major pharma industry merger

Best practices advice from my experience in overseeing UC&C integration following a major pharma industry merger

With M&A so prevalent in the market, I am reminded of some past experiences that today are quite relevant for our clients and the industry at-large. I joined Yorktel from Merck, where a 15-year run began in infrastructure, project management, and cybersecurity, and led to the role of collaboration engineering and delivery manager. In the latter position, I was responsible for the business-focused design and integration of global voice, video, and unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) services for the then newly combined organization made up of Merck and Schering-Plough operating environments.

Seemingly simple activities -- like contacting a new boss or talking to new team members -- become very complex following the mega merger between large multinational enterprises, with facilities and employees spread across several continents. These now-complicated tasks underscore the importance of transparency and the depth of knowledge about each user environment needed to enable collaboration from day one.

IT Due Diligence
For a new corporate structure to foster productivity, technology must align with company culture and management direction, for both present and future environments. Lack of visibility leads many organizations to struggle with under-utilization, and find productivity levels going in the opposite direction of what they originally hoped. In a 2011 report, McKinsey Consulting noted that in its work on post-merger management, 50% to 60% of the initiatives intended to capture synergies are strongly related to IT. However, McKinsey found, most IT issues are not fully addressed during due diligence or the early stages of post-merger planning.

Conversely, if a haphazard approach to technology can drain value from an acquisition, then a company with flexible, streamlined IT can wield this knowledge as a powerful tool in choosing which deals are most attractive. At such companies, executives rationalize systems and make disciplined decisions about integration.

Post-merger, we see clients with varying levels of commitment to due diligence. At one end of the spectrum are those that "rip the Band-Aid off" and force in new technology, dragging their users chaotically through change. On the opposite end are the ones that take time to assess the situation, design properly, implement in phases, survey their users, and leverage data for informed decision making.

The Band-Aid rip method usually exacerbates an already tumultuous situation, leaving employees -- as well as technology leaders -- lost and confused. IT personnel are often tasked with deploying a daunting new technology in months, after coming from an environment where just evaluating new technology products took the same amount of time.

Organizations that fall into the latter group benefit from allocating ample time to conduct a comprehensive "UC&C needs assessment," allowing them to fully capture the current state of collaboration, existing resources, and future needs. Management can subsequently make a calculated determination on whether and how to leverage existing technology, or if it needs to start from scratch. Project delivery teams then begin their Herculean task with the added advantage of a clear understanding of before, during, and post-merger strategy.

Countless new variables that come with integrating two global teams and their respective business units, disparate corporate cultures, processes, and technologies in a single environment create an infinitely higher degree of difficulty. Exhaustive due diligence during the discovery phase allows transition teams to identify overlap, and eliminate redundancies to increase operational efficiency. Most importantly, company employees and contractors who use the technology remain productive.

The first step in understanding a new user community is to identify and interview stakeholders, their various use cases, respective needs, and demographics. Creating a user persona map that details findings will clarify these issues and help put the right technology in place to support each layer of operations and their respective functions before, during, and after the transaction.

Next is the technology assessment phase, during which technology leaders evaluate all systems in use by each department for their respective strengths and weaknesses. This review allows team leaders to consider the pros and cons of standardizing on one vendor compared with a best-of-breed solution that combines multiple vendors. As new teams integrate, identifying collaboration tools is among the most important priorities, preceded only by the network.

Knowing the Network
At the most basic layer, the technology leaders must answer several questions on network connectivity, functionality, and day-to-day operations. Understanding how people collaborate with internal and external stakeholders helps formulate 30/60/90-day plans.

A network assessment should address security, bandwidth, and performance. Using network monitoring tools to record network use over a one- or two-week period enables organizations to gain an accurate view of bandwidth usage and needs. They are also able to pinpoint any unauthorized applications that may be compromising current bandwidth availability. In addition, the high-performance requirements of voice and video communications necessitate intense scrutiny of carrier service level agreements (SLAs) about uptime, examining failover and contingency plans should the network become unavailable.

Along with the server and data center capabilities, technology leaders must thoroughly examine network capacity. Many global enterprises stream live webcasts for internal communications, investor relations, and human resources. Streaming inside the firewall is a different animal than watching sports online, especially for Fortune 1000 enterprises, in which 20,000 people from all over the world attend a single town hall. To provide a high-quality user experience, the network must be able to handle enough concurrent video connections.

Technology leaders must also give careful consideration to the backend service and infrastructure to determine the need for an on-premises, hybrid, or cloud deployment. Having made this decision, technology leaders are then able to create the appropriate service and maintenance model.

Factoring In Usability
Coming out of the assessment is a quantification of needs, or business case. In years past this information would typically only focus on financial justification achieved through reducing travel expenses. Today, enlightened business leaders are best served by concentrating on the "new" team's ability to collaborate anywhere. They should measure success by long-term productivity gains rather than saving a one-time expense.

A Booz & Company report shows that a common pitfall in merger integration planning is to place too much emphasis on the IT department itself -- specifically short-term cost savings from integrating IT resources -- and not enough on the IT requirements or new business capabilities needed to bring the company's other functions together or to support future growth. This occurs when executives from IT and the main business are not in alignment during the strategic framework, analysis, and design stages.

With the UC&C platform and supporting infrastructure selection complete, creating a roadmap that accounts for several usability factors is the critical next step. All users within the organization should have a single user interface; preferably this is widely familiar. Also important is integration with collaboration spaces, as well as core line of business and productivity applications. Connecting to people inside your organization is powerful, but being able to connect with customers and suppliers is what makes UC&C a game changer. Using technology that is federated is essential to enabling external communications. Users will need basic and technical support that's available anytime the system is in use to ensure a consistent user experience.

Assumptions on ease of use typically results in inadequate training, which appears as the most common culprit of failed UC&C deployments. When proper training or instructions are overlooked, users waste time figuring out how the system works, use only a small portion of the systems' capabilities, or abandon it altogether. Many times, it's not only the technical nuances of the new systems that stump users. Simple questions like, "When do I use that room type or technology?" or "How do I get access to a shared workspace in next-generation offices?" can be confusing in a new environment.

The organization should employ change management to inform the user community about impending changes, and follow up with substantive training programs. After the initial learning phase, ongoing training, supported by access to on-demand webinars, videos, and printed collateral that explain key features and functions, is necessary for sustained adoption. We always advise that the organization consider the collaboration environment in the same manner as information security, where user education is paramount. Employees come and go, and as IT service leaders we must maintain high levels of awareness of the technologies we deliver, which does not happen with a single session or email. IT leaders must continuously educate and communicate to realize optimal productivity from both our people and the technology we deploy.

I share this information in the hopes of furthering a true understanding of the customer perspective, and what is important to ensuring that UC&C serves as an asset following an acquisition. With firsthand experience of these pain points, I promise that incorporating this knowledge into each customer engagement will endear you to clients.





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

September 20, 2017

Customer experience can make or break your business. But how do you achieve outstanding customer service when you're dealing with outdated organizational structure, lagging technology, dated proces

August 16, 2017

Contact centers have long been at the leading edge of innovation in communications technology, given their promise of measurable ROI and the continual need to optimize customer interactions and sta

July 12, 2017

Enterprises have been migrating Unified Communications & Collaboration applications to datacenters - private clouds - for the past few years. With this move comes the opportunity to leverage da

September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.