In the Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Perspectives e-alert for August there is some interesting analysis/insight on Post Merger Integration, which BCG refers to as PMI. Post Merger Integration is by its obvious nature many-faceted – systems integration, staffing, rebranding, cultural integration, and on … and on. And obviously … the facet that grabs my attention is integration of content and its organization.
We’re currently working with a client who is both a very successful manufacturer and a very successful strategic acquirer. One “sidebar issue” that has cropped up is around readiness for assimilating the acquired company from a content value perspective. My definition of a “sidebar issue” is one that is not in the statement of work and has not been discussed as a potential piece of work … but which is an “issue”.
Two Models of Effective Post Merger Integration
First though, in their Perspective BCG notes the fact that for most companies acquisitions are infrequent business events. For this group the integration effort will be ad hoc. However, for those companies where acquisitions are “frequent” and probable, BCG noticed these typical patterns– “Some companies, especially those whose strategies lead to more frequent acquisitions, are choosing to build more of this capability on a permanent basis, in-house. They have trained people, designed processes and templates, and set up structures, moving beyond the common ad hoc approach.”
BCG discerned two models to build effective and enduring integration capability. One is Tandem PMI Enablement – resourcing necessary capabilities just before, during, or immediately after an acquisition. The other is Standalone PMI Enablement – resourcing capability independent of any known deal.
What Needs to Be In Place for Effective Content Integration Post Merger?
It’s both my experience and my intuitive perception that most acquirers don’t do enough top-down inclusion to the level of their own internal business groups that will be called upon (and be responsible for!) integration of content from an acquired company.
It’s also important to always bear in foreground mind that “integrating content” is not “just” integrating the content assets themselves. It is what is within them – facts, figures, opinions, analysis, proscriptions, forecasts, regulations and so on. And the voices in which they are written.
Your artifacts for organizing and describing content – taxonomies, ontologies, and metadata schema – need to be effective at what you really require them to perform (not just what they do right now). Your content strategy needs to know your audiences, the voices they want to hear, and has clear editorial sight around content types and what information is included in each content type. Governance, including taxonomy governance, needs to be robust and frictionless.
Your Readiness for Post Merger Integration of Content
There is a book’s worth – or a consulting engagement’s worth – of content to compress into a blog post. So here are some of the headline perspectives – the detail will be easy enough to discern.
In a very true sense, integrating content from an acquisition is not rocket science. Nothing new needs to be done – there is no secret, magic, sauce that you know nothing about that you will be called upon to whip into action. But … and it’s a very big but … everything you have currently in place on your side will be stressed. Thus you need to feel very confident indeed (repeat, “very confident”) about the effectiveness and performance of – your taxonomies/ontologies, metadata schemas, content strategy, all the parameters and rules that contribute to search “relevance”, your taxonomy and metadata governance, and the capabilities/features of all the applications that comprise the infrastructure of your content supply chain.
As for the content on “the other side” … well … It has to be triaged – content analysis and content audit. Its metadata has to be assimilated, and where it is missing, supplied from your side. If the acquisition is of a new business area then your taxonomies will need to be extended. And so on.
As for which of the two BCG models will be most appropriate for your company … that’s an interesting question and depends very much on how your C-level execs, and the VPs who manage your overall content supply chain, perceive the need. My hunch is that it will be a melding of both. Your content strategy, your content organizing artifacts, and your content governance processes all need to be ready for you to be prepared to add value to an acquisition. That goes without laboring the point! Then, and only then, will you be prepared for the actual hands-on tasks around the “other content”. For sure, it is still possible to fail at the hands-on piece – but that will always be due to avoidable areas such as scale, timing, and management. What is more certain is that if what BCG term your “trained people, designed processes and templates, and set up structures” are not in place to handle content, then it will be arduous indeed.
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The Boston Consulting Group essentially “invented” global business strategy consulting – many of the leading members of this peer group over the recent decades were spin-outs from BCG, for example Bain and Company in 1973.
Bruce Henderson, BCG’s founder, wrote a marvelous book on the basic building blocks of his visionary approach – “Henderson on Corporate Strategy” ( http://www.amazon.com/Henderson-Corporate-Strategy-Bruce-D/dp/0890115265 ) I truly regret I lost my copy many years ago, since it bears re-reading now and again in the pursuit of re-finding simplicity, again.