4 merger and acquisition network integration challenges

Between January 2019 and March 2020, there were between 130 to 178 domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As) by UK companies each month. These are major undertakings for any organisation, but they are full of promise if conducted correctly.

Typically, the focus of the integration is around people and process, but the technology aspects must not be overlooked. And corporate networks are a major component.

The end goal of the enlarged organisation is normally to integrate the existing networks, so that all previous systems and data can work and communicate with each other easily. Making this happen can be complex: data must be integrated and/or migrated securely, access control must be properly defined and users must be securely administered.

This post outlines the key obstacles during an M&A network integration, the solutions to those challenges, as well as how to get the help and support you need along the way.

Four common network integration challenges 

Although there are a range of different complexities in the network integration process, along with varying requirements unique to each organisation, there are four common challenges that apply in most cases:

1) Systems integration: each business involved in an M&A integration will have its own legacy systems in place, and there is no guarantee that these systems will be compatible. This extends beyond the applications that the respective workforces use every day. Hardware, infrastructure have to be taken into account, too.

2) Integrating data: just as systems need to be evaluated, so too does  data, in terms of volume, formats and sensitivity. The project team overseeing the network integration must have visibility of all data and be sure that there are no confusing overlaps; failing to do so can easily lead to data breaches that can affect the entire merged system.

3) Understanding infrastructures: a successful network integration team will have a full knowledge of all the IT infrastructures and devices involved, so that they can complete the process smoothly and quickly. Without establishing this at the start, unexpected delays and problems can crop up, generating significant extra time and excessive costs.

4) Security: all of the points above come with their own security implications that can make the process especially complex and hazardous. Research from Forescout found that more than half of those polled encountered security incidents during the M&A process so big that they jeopardised the entire deal. With a greater threat surface, bigger networks that come with larger mergers and acquisitions are at particular risk.

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Overcoming these network integration challenges

In order to steer past these pitfalls with confidence, there are three considerations that network integration teams (and their management) should bear in mind:

  • Allow time for planning and due diligence: businesses may be keen to complete a merger or acquisition quickly in order to make the most of new opportunities, but network integration cannot be rushed if it’s to be done properly.

    Sufficient time should be baked into the planning stage of the integration that incorporates training, asset inventory and due diligence, so that IT teams can take a more active and informed role in the process from start to finish.

  • Establish continuous device visibility: even one device that slips through the network integration net can pose a significant security threat. This is because IT teams and the integrated network will have no knowledge of the device, what is on it and who can access it.

    A complete and regularly updated list of all company devices and systems, from every party involved in the M&A, is therefore critical.

  • Engage with experienced partners: when unexpected difficulties emerge or specific complexities become time-consuming to break, being able to use relevant technical expertise can make a real difference in helping the integration proceed.

    Using a service partner that possesses all the right skill-sets and experience represents a much safer and professional option, rather than attempting everything in-house.

Key takeaways

When a merger or acquisition is confirmed, the hard work from an IT perspective has only just begun. There are many challenges to negotiate on the way, but none are insurmountable, especially when using an expert service provider to take the burden of the toughest tasks away from internal IT teams.

With the right planning, a sufficient amount of time and relevant third-party advice, network integrations can support the long-term needs of the wider business group.

Tiviti delivers fast, reliable and secure business connectivity, and removes the hassle of managing underlying network infrastructure. Learn how we can support you through a network integration through our Connectivity-as-a-Service solution here.

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