Why Is Merger-Driven IT Integration Like a Hike in a National Park?

How can one compare the similarities and differences of an IT organization’s merger or acquisition with a hike in a National Park?

Seems unlikely, but it’s possible!

Recently, I hiked extensively in Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks in Southern Utah. Both locations display commonality in rugged terrain and drop-dead scenery (sculpted red rock canyons, pristine blue sky and evergreen foliage), and provide a blissful state of peace that permeates your soul.

And the differences between locations?

Zion National Park

At Zion, you begin hiking from the floor of the canyon up to the rim. Maximum exertion on the way up! At Bryce, you hike the opposite—from the rim down to the canyon floor. Zion affords much more oxygen for the hiker—the canyon floor is 3,900 feet, and most hikes go up to nearly a mile high. Bryce’s rim is at about 8,000 feet above sea level, making it more difficult for the hiker to breathe.

As I carefully negotiated my way down Bryce, I noted its similarities and differences compared to Zion, prompting me to consider a topic fresh on our minds at Dell EMC Consulting: the similarities and differences in merger-driven IT integrations, and using integration opportunities to modernize IT infrastructure and expand the use of Big Data Analytics. I will elaborate on the similarities and differences in Merger-Driver Integration roadmaps below.

Similarities in the Merger-Driven IT Integration Roadmap

  • Bryce Canyon

    Perform initial merger Integration planning – prepare for ‘Day 1’. This joint activity often has experienced consultants facilitating planning activities.

  • Execute on first 100 Day plan. The merged IT organization drives execution of both external-facing and internal-facing systems changes that are high priority yet relatively low effort to complete.
  • Integrate towards ‘North Star’ – the merged IT organization continues down the roadmap towards a merged to-be state for IT systems and processes.

Differences in the Merger-Driven IT Integration Roadmap

  • Specific integration requirements can change based on rapidly shifting business needs. Even if a company has performed multiple acquisitions in the past, each one comes with new business requirements – and often business units expect IT to ‘just do it’. IT may be expected to drive process integration as well as systems integration – and often IT needs consulting resources to augment their team.
  • Each ‘Newco’ has its own unique requirements for Day 1 branding, web sites, network security and email integration.
  • Quick wins within the first 100 days are always unique – and these are critical in order for IT to demonstrate confidence and competence.
  • Each merger involves large numbers of IT and business personnel – and leadership needs to acknowledge the need to keep everyone engaged in the tasks at hand. Personal executive interactions with key team members to hear concerns and future job prospects is critical. No two resources are alike.

5 Key IT Success Factors in Mergers and Acquisitions

I have lived through many merger/acquisition events – both as an employee and as a consultant advising clients. Here are my top 5 factors to keep in mind as IT organizations prepare for an event:

  • Understand outside dependencies – plan for ‘shadow IT’ that is not within IT’s control. Identify business unit processes for certain IT functions and plan for the merger jointly with the business unit.
  • Two-in-the-box organization structure – on Day 1, use this approach for key leadership positions to enable a successful integration. Over time, this can be phased out to gain merger efficiencies.
  • Continuous flexibility – adopt this mindset to adjust when Day 1 plans change frequently.
  • Don’t strive for perfection – perfection can impede the on-time on-budget delivery of Day 1 solutions.
  • Culture matters – acknowledging and treating culture is a key success factor. Conversely, not considering it can torpedo merger efficiencies and delay IT integration.


External consultants such as Dell EMC have an important role to play advising companies preparing for and executing a merger. Come back soon for my next blog with an overview of Dell EMC Consulting’s proven solutions portfolio for companies facing mergers, acquisitions and divestitures – and how to leverage the event for true IT Transformation.

Many thanks to Dave Buffo for providing invaluable input to this blog.

Learn More about Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks

Zion National Park 

Bryce Canyon National Park

Fantastic hotel adjacent to Zion National Park – you can literally walk into Zion

About the Author: Laddie Suk

Laddie leads a cross-functional Dell Technologies Consulting team focused on digital transformation and industry solutions. He is a seasoned industry veteran with deep experience across multiple industries, solutions, and technologies. As a former Verizon Network CIO and Network Executive at AT&T and Bell Labs, he has extensive hands-on experience in leading strategic network and IT development projects and managing communication service provider environments. He has also led strategic and tactical engagements in network transformation, IT transformation, and business process and performance improvement for clients throughout the Americas.