Single Family Product – One Brand or One Technology?

Over a tea chat, a friend of mine with IT background was explaining about challenges associated with merger and acquisition (M&A) involving software technology companies. According to him, while a conglomerate might able to acquire companies within months and rebrand the products into one family, but the technological integration between the software products previously developed on totally separate architecture, platform and maturity will be extremely challenging and will take years if it is possible at all.

With his many years of experience in IT industry, he must have encountered many legacies integration challenges & issues related to M&A activities. When company H acquires another company and later aggressively rebranding the products, behind the scene, it is not uncommon to hear it take lots of effort to standardize the different accounting, CRM, and sales systems into a common corporate system. In many cases, it is probably easier to retire a system or rewrite another instead of trying to integrate these different legacies systems. That’s how challenges it is for in-house accounting/CRM system, and the same will goes to different GIS software/ modules/ patents inherited from the company being acquired, which was developed on totally different platform. The fact is the integration will remain challenging regardless of before or after the acquisition transaction. Unfortunately, the technological challenges will not fade away simply because the marketer has done a great job to blur the facts and successfully rebrand the products under a single family product.

I must thank him for sharing this insight with me and make me wiser in understanding what’s more important to consider when implementing IT projects involving multiple software modules/ solutions. There are huge differences between common technology platform family and ownership family when comes to software solutions. Unmistakably, it is important to go for common technology platform family rather than ownership family if one wants to have common operating platform within the organization.

Simply because it is definitely going to be more seamless, safer and easier if the software system are developed on same technology platform regardless either it is owned by the same owner. Take for example the ArcGIS system, it is integrable seamlessly with Exelis VIS ENVI systems, BAE SOCET, Telvent ArcFM. All these software are owned by different companies (different brands) but can be seamlessly integrated under 1 common technology ArcGIS environment. It simply means less integration hassle and headache to make these systems works seamlessly within the new post-acquisition environment.

For GIS manager, it make sense to take a deeper dive and understand lots more from IT perspective before believing the marketing gimmicks. If your technical staff is not taking technology platform integration issues seriously or told you not to concern about it. Be worry. Be very worry. Because he/she is either not technically competent or he doesn’t care about the consequences. Either case, you as the manager in-charge are going to be in deep trouble. Bear in mind, while technical personnel always can justifying the unknown but that’s not going to save your day as manager/director of the company.

Lesson learned – be sceptical when someone claims they have single family product especially the products were acquired through series of M&A activities, which might not be technological integrable at all.

So there you go, “One Family Product” can be interpreted from marketing or technological integration perspective.

Thanks buddy, I will go for “One technology platform with independent brands” instead of “One brand with independent technology platforms”.

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