Mergers are difficult processes for all involved. Opportunities are often lost as extra layers of management are piled on top of an already creaking bureaucracy, efficiencies never materialise and the sprawl of technologies increases where it should have decreased.
For CIOs mergers are intense, swallowing time, altering strategies, putting teams under pressure and creating an air of uncertainty. But they can also reinvigorate an organisation and release potential.
Jane Moran, global CIO for Thomson Reuters, led the integration of the Thomson Corporation and Reuters in 2008, and strikes a relaxed figure as the new company continues to exploit the opportunities of the merger.
In 2007 Canada’s Thomson financial, scientific and regulatory information provider agreed to merge with Reuters, London’s famous financial and breaking news agency.
The deal created the largest financial and information services company on the world market, eclipsing Bloomberg, its US rival founded by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Brit Tom Glocer, previously chief executive of Reuters, became CEO of the merged company and will remain so until his imminent retirement in January 2012.
It was Moran’s second stint as a key component of a merger. Back in 2003 she had been CIO of CCBN, a US webcast provider that Thomson had acquired and was part of that deal team.
Today the merged Thomson Reuters has 55,000 employees in 103 countries and provides news, financial, legal and scientific information to many major markets and companies.
For Moran the Thomson Reuters merger was an opportunity to restructure IT across the newly enlarged company. Prior to the merger Thomson had a series of big divisions in financial, legal and scientific information markets.
“The IT structure was reporting into each division, so there were three CIOs,” she explains. In 2010 I took the decision to leverage the scale of the merger and look at centralising functions.”
“When you bring a big group together you can look at the projects that are in flight. I killed half as there were so many duplicate projects going on in the organisation. With customer master data projects, for example, we had a number of people trying to solve the same problem. So I brought them all together and the time to completion was much faster and with more openness.”
This enabled Moran to standardise the IT architecture of the organisation. To deliver a standard model Moran created centres of excellence for human resources (HR), business intelligence (BI), order to cash and financials.
“We are moving development into these centres rather than having pockets of development. I also have a small enterprise architecture group — my brainiacs. They are helping me move to the standardised model and working out how to move from our existing customised code to the new platforms.
“Everyone in these new centres of excellence is in IT, but there is a stronger partnership,” she says of her model. Thomson Reuters has its own IT shop in India where 55 per cent of development on SAP, BI and middleware is carried out. The other 45 per cent of Moran’s team is split between the UK and US.
In the restructure Moran had to let some senior roles go and expects the IT operation to shrink further as the standardisation takes hold. “Over the next three years of the project we will see a level of attrition,” she says.
As part of the restructuring Moran put IT – including herself – into open-plan offices because she believes it enables greater collaboration across the organisation, and throughout our conversation Moran enthuses about the IT talent within Thomson Reuters.
“I would have had a hard time going out to a consultancy to find anything better than we have here,” she says of the skills that are driving the standardisation.
“Staff here are really excited to work across the entire enterprise. I am a huge believer in the team-oriented atmosphere and I’m trying to champion that to get folks on my team to understand the company. But that wasn’t hard, people wanted to come together and meet their colleagues.
“There is a strong technology backbone in the organisation so we put in vehicles to help people communicate. We do a bit of travel, I’d rather spend on travel than consultants and it is a motivation internally.
“The coolest ideas come internally from junior programmers up, so the environment has to allow people to be creative. You set out a solid plan and stick to it and then communicate that out to your staff and across the organisation then people will rise to the challenge,” she says.