During a recent big billion days shopping gala, I happened to book a Mac ProBook. Though I already own couple of windows laptops, when I saw a significant discount from the vendor, I immediately booked the model. To my utter dismay the delivery did not happen even after the status on the app shows as “To Be Delivered” for next couple of days. Every day I used to wait at home to get the pickup. I tried contacting the help desk checking for status only to be guided with information which is already there in the app, which I can see from end. No effort is made by the Call Center executive to help resolve the issue by tracking the captive courier team. I find that the call center did not try to convince me or provide reasonable answer for the delay. Above all they do not update on the status of the delivery with the courier team who is going to deliver and when they are going to attend. When I browsed the customer comments for the vendor, I find lot of complaints with failed deliveries, canceled orders or delayed deliveries.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Last year I also happened to book a pink color bed for my daughter as a Diwali festival gift from a different online shopping vendor. It got delivered with a proper tracking number and courier person contact information which got delivered on time. However, I did face issues with the assembly person taking time to assemble the bed. It took repeated calls from my end to the customer service to arrange a person to fix the bed before the festival. Here customer service representative made efforts to convince me that it is busy period and assured me of services. It made me wait even after festival period to get the bed assembled. What I realize is that I wanted to hear a reason for the deliver to convince my mind, which did not happen with current online store.

I heard that this online store was acquired by a very big retail chain, which has a very good reputation of shopping and customer service experience. Many times, we witness how acquired or acquiring companies’ values gets reduced, if not destroyed due to missed out opportunities. We also notice how those companies soon after getting into a merger go for a divestiture as they realize integration issues. When big enterprises enter into M&A, they have a potential for being too risky and too much is on stakes for business. We also hear and sometimes even witness ongoing process of synergy brought by the mergers and acquisitions as well. It made me think what is that which makes acquisitions to be successful and offer synergy and which make them fail or pose significant challenges.

I find many references by academicians who advocate for a successful Merger and Acquisitions, business Information systems strategies should be aligned and similarly there are also case studies which suggest the possibility of non-aligned M&A integration. The issues which made organizations either successful or challenging are cultural differences between integrating companies and business process integrations. There are also references of how the purpose of acquiring a firm drives the integration such as entering to a niche market, gaining profits or getting a new set of products etc. Many argue that for successful integration Information systems and business systems should be aligned to build a unified organization. While carrying out merger, analysis should also be done for IT System needs to account for the future organization and business process should be aimed to bring streamline the data, extend the capabilities of the organization IT assets.

Whatever may be the strategy of the organization during M&A, like absorption, symbiosis or preservation, the sooner the companies plan for integration of IT and business strategies, the more the chances of getting success. These definition of business models is very much important for the firm’s success and driven by the merger strategy employed while creating a unified organization like Transformation, consolidation, combination or co-existence. Transformations are future state scenarios usually driven post-merger scenarios. Consolidations are eliminating redundant systems, processes by means of proper analysis of organization assets. Combinations are scenarios which can offer competitive advantage by combining superior capabilities of organization systems for future state scenario and finally co-existence is the case when organizations begin to function. The scenario of the online shopping firm is at the preservation – co-existence state where it is trying to keep the organization intact and maximize the benefit, however the sooner the organization takes IT Combination stage, the easier for it to be a successful organization, followed by a full-fledged Transformative stage.  

Whether I could get Mac ProBook, or I cancelled the order is immaterial, however this episode made me analyze and learn about my shopping behavior and what is that I see in while doing online shopping. Ease of shopping, proper delivery tracking and a good customer service. We tend to carry out surveys and do research on online shopping behavior of people. Some of the research outcomes include, that perception to mobile use and security, age group of users, ease of browsing the content and user-friendly check out process are some of the features of successful shopping. Equally important is the customer service function and information technology systems which help in realizing the shopping. Process integration of End to End shopping is important for customer delight. Given that by the end of year 2026, the retail business is expected to touch $200 billion. An estimated growth of about 1200% compared to today. The key differentiating factor include service recovery dimension. Order fulfillment remains most important factors for the success.  

This experience is not specific to online shopping related to retail chain, this is equally important for other sectors as well, which are planning to go retail way of managing their sales. The way customer service representatives handle the customers and representative’s behavior is also important. It would be interesting to analyze the generation level of customer service representative like baby boomers, millennials, centennials etc., and their customer retention levels and need for training sessions. Other significance topics of e-retailing of significance include omnichannel retailing, integrating first-mile pickup and Last mile on shared routes and vehicle capacities, improvement of logistic and shipment services etc.

Coming to the integration of organizations during mergers and acquisitions I leave with brief set of questions for a much deeper analysis. Did you ever been part of a journey where you witness M&A right from the beginning where you carve out the IT systems to managing the post-merger transformation activities?

  • Which processes and IT environment you account for while carving the environment?
  • What are the key learnings from working with IT experts from both sides of the companies to come to a future state scenario?
  • What are the transition activities you carry out and what is the goal of the transition, success criteria and review procedure?  
  • Did you ever wonder what is that which is critical for the success of your organization and what is that which causes integrations to fail is it missing IT Links, Culture mismatch between acquired and acquiring companies or business processes?
  • While working on post-merger consolidations, where does your your organization start with and continue to extend within the organization.
  • Did you notice your organization working on development of competencies, conducting design workshop for future organization, cultural initiatives, organizational realignments or even moving to Cloud or rationalization efforts to a more complete Digital Transformation?
  • What is that your CIO or senior leadership advocate during calls and weekly mailers about the ongoing to efforts to bring synergy to the organization and make it a great organization? Did you get references of IT Integration and Business Integration and even cultural management?
  • What type of transformation strategies your organization following while creating a unified environment, recreating Business model or leverage business model or follow software while creating the future state environment?
  • What is your organization’s strategy while coming up with post-merger management, i.e., preservation – conservation, absorption – consolidation followed by Transformation. What is the time it takes to reach to a maturity stage of Transformative level?  
  • What is the discipline the organization followed, while carrying out the transformation – Organic Change, Making changes to edge organizational structures or Inorganic change.
  • Given the scenario we all are in – is your leadership aim for quick wins with transformation activities or if you still notice multiyear plans?

To conclude, there are excellent case studies on business transformation Post Mergers & Acquisitions. Some organizations are embarking on the journey of post-merger transformation activities and would be excellent case studies for the transformation in the digital era.  

Thanks

Jayakumar

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