There's been a fair bit of M&A activity going on amongst vendors of late, whether it's the big deal of year between Oracle and Sun Microsystems, ECM vendors merging or Britain's titan Autonomy on the acquisition spree. The vendors, of course, sell it to CIOs, analysts and we the press as good for business and good for end users. But is it?
Consolidation of vendors can simplify the multitude of agreements a CIO has with the various application houses, and nearly all CIOs tell me this is a high priority for them.
But do the vendors consider the time they take off CIOs when they acquire a rival? By this I mean, the changes they impose on an organisation mean the CIOs team and organisation lose some productivity, albeit briefly. We had our own experience of this very recently at CIO UK. IDG, the publishers of CIO UK, has monitored its stable of online titles using a web monitoring programme called Hitbox, this was acquired by rival Omniture in 2008. As a result, all digital editors at IDG have had to change applications. Not the biggest disaster anyone is facing in the current economic climate. But on reflection earlier this week, I realised that because of the Omniture acquisition, CIO UK had lost nearly three days worth of productivity. That is three days of writing features, interviewing CIOs, networking and community building, developing new online offerings and looking for the next online strategic move we should be making.
How did we lose this time? There were two full days of training. I will never complain about training and it was without doubt useful, but I was also getting along just fine with the Hitbox application and getting the statistics I require for my role for that. There was then the inevitable delay before the application was fully integrated into IDG. So by the time I really needed to do some thorough analysis of readership behaviour what grey cells there are left in my parenthood addled brain were rusty as an Austin Allegro and it required a day to get to grips with the new application to draw out the numbers I needed.
There is no doubting the new application is good and now I've cracked it, traffic analysis should/will be an hour of work at the most, but those hours are lost and although no major set-backs have occurred, I still have a heaving pile of interviews to write.
Measuring and valuing time is not an easy conundrum, but one that CIOs may wish to consider when the vendors arrive bearing their PowerPoint slides of the advantages of a merger. Is there a way for CIOs to extract some valuable time for their organisation from a merger?