Nathan Shinn, Founder and CSO, BillingPlatform
Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are on the rise. According to a survey from KPMG, global mergers and acquisition activity in 2021 surpassed pre-pandemic levels, nearly matching the peaks of 2007 and 2015. This upward trend looks set to continue, with the same report finding that business leaders expect this number to climb even higher over the course of 2022.
While M&As can provide huge benefits to businesses, helping them expand into new markets, offer more products and services or gain a competitive edge in their industries, they also come with their own set of challenges.
The devil’s in the data
One of the biggest challenges is the integration of organisations’ systems and processes after a merger or acquisition is completed. Bringing two businesses together and combining or replacing methods of working, information and technologies is a time consuming and difficult process which can take months or even years of hard work before the benefits are realised.
This is especially true when it comes to integrating data. Businesses hold important information, such as customer account history, prior billing and invoicing information, which has to be integrated if the acquiring or newly formed firm wants to continue to offer these clients the service they expect. Yet getting access to this information, ensuring its integrity, and mapping it into a new data structure can be a monumental task, particularly if the two companies have different data and/or business models.
If the integration of this customer data is not approached properly, the new or acquiring business risks harming the quality of service that their newly gained customers usually expect, which could lead to them leaving for another provider. At the same time, if an ineffective cost structure is put in place post-merger or acquisition, this will make it harder to achieve the synergies anticipated from the initial deal, costing revenue and not producing the returns for the board and shareholders that were originally promised or forecasted.
If businesses want to merge data such as customer billing and invoicing information from two separate companies effectively and quickly, they need to harness tools which can manage the extraction and loading of data into the solution of choice. At the same time, they require solutions that have the ability to collect, deduplicate, consolidate, convert and route the information, matching records where possible and creating new accounts where necessary.
However, bringing in a range of new platforms and technologies, or relying on legacy solutions already in-place, to merge and manage customer data risks complicating the matter further and, as such, firms should be looking for a single solution they can implement which can easily integrate and run these processes, from data extraction through to creating new accounts.
Get your head IN the cloud(s)
Some more proactive organisations are solving this issue by prioritising cloud-native solutions, as they offer a scalable solution capable of consolidating disparate and legacy systems into a single, automated platform to store all customer-related activities, support any business model and minimise the solutions needed.
Identifying solutions that can support this process will mean that the acquiring or newly formed business will be able to effectively bring together data from across the different organisations without having to bring in a plethora of new technologies or relying on outdated, in-house platforms. This will speed up the integration process, helping ensure that customers’ experience isn’t negatively affected and the benefits of the merger or acquisition are seen at the earliest point possible.
M&As are becoming an increasingly important focus for businesses as they look to consolidate and grow their positions in current and new markets. While there are clear benefits to M&As, decision makers mustn’t ignore the potential challenges, especially when it comes to integrating data such as customer billing information. If they do, they risk limiting the benefits before they’ve had a chance to be fully realised. Through implementing cloud-based solutions which can effectively collate, consolidate and manage this data in one place, rather than relying on a suite of new or legacy solutions, businesses can ensure that their merger or acquisition hits the ground running, maintaining customer satisfaction and helping guarantee that the benefits are seen at the earliest point possible.