When it comes to mergers, acquisitions, or divestitures, IT professionals are necessarily focused on the immediate tasks of streamlining unwieldy IT systems; given the complexity and sheer size of the integration task, they must be selective about what projects and changes they can tackle within the first 100 days. That shouldn’t preclude them, however, from looking a bit further ahead in the integration schedule and identifying how the business could eventually revamp its processes in ways that can create significant long-term value.

IT organizations’ initial reaction to mergers and acquisitions has typically been to reduce the scope of change where possible, weather the storm, and resolve as many technical issues as possible by announced “go live” dates. They have tended to focus on maintaining what is there—primarily, costly legacy systems that add a complexity tax to every business activity undertaken. The organization can become mired in a long, frustrating integration process that yields only some (or even none) of the intended benefits of the acquisition or merger.

Instead, IT leaders should take the time to reconsider their IT architectures in the broader context, considering not just the requirements for the first 100 days of the merger but also the potential efficiencies the company may gain over time from digitization as well as the technical solutions the business needs to meet its efficiency objectives. Indeed, IT leaders should systematically review their options for building a more agile frame around existing and acquired systems. A focus on the implementation of new or enhanced technology-enabled ways of working—or digital process innovation—can help companies simplify the technology landscape, reduce overall IT costs, and bring products and services to market quicker, thereby realizing greater earnings potential.

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