Secret CIO #2: Mergers and acquisitions

Image of the Stig

Image: Nathan Wong.

Some say his suits are made from recycled vendor proposals and that he can hear a sales rep’s heart beat as soon as they close the cab door.

We just know him as the Sven.

I meet with the Sven, the Secret CIO, today to discuss the ins and outs of mergers and acquisitions. I’m not sure if he’s been bought or is the buyer – either way, I’ll be paying for breakfast.

I am uncharacteristically late arriving at his cafe hideout today due to reasons beyond my control. He too, it would seem, was held up by the same parade and beats me to the table by minutes. “Bloody hippies. Why do they need to ride abreast?” he mumbles. I rest easy knowing that if his reactions were the same as in his youth he may well have taken a few out.

He orders his usual coffee and raw eggs adding chopped onion to the order. Whether for his eggs or coffee only time will tell. I order a latte as he refuses to say the word.

The conversation starts out somewhat gently with a review of M&As over the past decade. The Sven pontificates over the reasons for such marriages. Generally it all starts out with a sound business principle and a friendly courtship and ends up being viewed as a hostile takeover. Thankfully he suppresses the need to bring up his six ex-wives as active analogies.

The reasons for M&As generally revolve around buying someone’s product line, market share or are a stab at cost savings by sharing infrastructure and essential services.

All good stuff, The Sven tells me, before he wonders at whose kingdom will rule in the end. Understanding that we are not writing a paper on the topic and merely having a discussion I ask where he sees the issues that a CIO will face.

“One CIO? You goose … there will be at least two on day one” comes his pointed reply.

Fortunately, the coffee and food arrive to settle him down. I am pleased that the onion is in the eggs – the first mouthful is attacked with enthusiasm and is quickly followed by more.

Settled and content, The Sven tells me that he looks forward to the challenges and is assuming the Alpha CIO role.

“I’ll follow Innov8’s approach of ensuring I understand the new entity’s goals and reasons for the merge to start with. I may even get you to facilitate the executive meetings as even I cannot find time to do everything.”

Based on that, we’ll have a look at what we have between us and where the opportunities lie.  His initial list scribbled out on the table, due to a lack of napkins, is as follows:

  1. Understand business goals
  2. Audit what we have
  3. Work out what external options there may be
  4. Look at data migration possibilities
  5. Staff – who stays and who goes
  6. Find the other CIO scanning porn
  7. Organise a farewell for the above
  8. Use Innov8 to formulate overall strategy for ICT infrastructure that matches our risk appetite
  9. Work cloud and virtualisation into the plan – the boss loves it
  10. Sell off unwanted real estate

The Sven, it would seem, only works on a ten-point plan, but at least he seems on top of it and is open for assistance.

The bike-riding hippies slowly approach us for their après ride smoothies. The Sven is not impressed as he was once beaten by a Birkenstock while travelling the continent as a child, and the memory is indelibly stamped.

Noticing a rise in his blood pressure, I pay the bill and leave him working on the logistics of taking the note-filled table home.

In the distance I hear a slight man with a ponytail chastise The Sven for writing on the table as an unmanned push bike is launched into the morning sky. I continue my journey comforted by the fact that the logistics issue will have been solved.

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