Too many companies aren’t paying close enough attention to diverse information technology platforms when merging, says Accenture, a New York-based management consulting and technology services organization. Because of a lack of concentration, merging organizations may be foregoing financial rewards. "About half the M&As either fail outright or else fall well short of the value they are expected to bring because when viewed unilaterally, IT integration can wind up crippling rather than enabling the organization," says Gary Curtis, a partner in Accenture's Strategy practice.

In a survey of IT managers involved in 57 M&A integration projects in the United States and Europe from 1997 to 1999, Accenture found that less than half perform detailed IT integration planning. But of those that do, 70 percent said their subsequent integration was a success, compared to 18 percent who did not report their deal a success.

In addition, 73 percent of the companies who described their merger as successful had a full-time IT manager assigned to the integration endeavor, compared to 40 percent who did not call their integration a success. "Mixing business strategy with technology is imperative in a M&A success," Curtis notes. "If companies can get their IT leadership involved in the business planning, the IT function will be better able to develop a technology approach that truly enables business integration."

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