The information time bomb at the heart of M&As

It is concerning, therefore, that more than half of all mergers and acquisitions are expected to fail largely as a consequence of ineffective integration of the processes and practices of the companies joining forces. 

Obviously, signatures on a contract will never be enough to turn two different firms into a strong single entity with a single culture. This kind of change does not happen overnight and is particularly the case when the employees of one of the firms involved feel like a conquered people whose roles and ways of getting things done are about to change. A recent study by Iron Mountain in Europe found that despondency is widespread among employees who manage information at a firm that has been acquired by another. 

For these employees, concerns about integrating customer and company data and addressing disparities and duplication take second place to worrying about job roles and the impact of change. A third of them claimed there was no clear approach for record consolidation and data protection, while 44 per cent said there was no process for integrating paper into new digital systems. Some 31 per cent said the same for the storage of physical papers.

The risk to information is clear: integrated and secure customer data is vital for business effectiveness, the quality of customer service and brand reputation. Unmanaged, unmonitored information left floating around a business is vulnerable to loss, damage or exposure.

Company mergers, on the other hand, paint a far more positive picture perhaps because they are perceived by employees as a coming together of equals. Our study found that employees on both sides of the merger process are focused equally on the main information management challenges; with three quarters (71 per cent) of them feeling well supported.

The European manufacturing and engineering sector appears particularly prone to acquisitions, while mergers are most common in the financial services and insurance sectors, where market consolidation is a growing trend.

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