Does the CIO need a seat at the table for M&A discussions?

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CEO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
A CIO should always want to be at the forefront of how an acquisition occurs. It’s not a matter of whether you have a say in how to proceed, but whether or not your timeline or risks change the dynamics of the corporate acquisition as a whole. The point of an acquisition is to be able to leverage what that company offers, whether it's the people, a product, or some combination of those. The sooner you can get everyone's technology working the same way, the faster you can leverage that, and that's a simple truth in almost every transaction.

The point of giving the CIO a seat at the table is to figure out how we can best leverage our own internal processes in conjunction with the rest of the C-Suite to affect as smooth a transition as possible. That shouldn't change no matter what kind of acquisition it is. What matters is how much pressure they put you under from a timing standpoint. 
2 2 Replies
Chief Information Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

I totally agree with you. I think the CIO needs to have a seat at the table both before the deal's made and during the acquisition process, because we can help enable day-one productivity.

CIO Strategic Advisor in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees

The CIO doesn't need a seat at the table to speed integration or make it a smoother process because that's not something that’s discussed early on. What's being discussed is: "Should we do the deal?" Unless the CIO has a very material reason why that deal should not proceed forward they don’t need to weigh in. Even if one organization has SAP and one has Oracle and it's going to be a nightmare to either consolidate, integrate or run two different systems, that's not a conversation to have during that phase.

CIO Strategic Advisor in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
If we're talking about due diligence (DD) before the deal is done, then the CIO should have some say as long as there is a material concern. If you're acquiring engineers or acquiring technology that's material to your IP base, or to the technology you're already using, then that makes sense. If you are a company where technology is not material to the deal itself and the reasons for the deal, then I don't think the CIO has to be part of the DD process. In fact, DD works best with the smallest number of people. You don't need so many voices in that process. Once it looks like we're going to move forward with the deal and we’re ready to figure out how to preempt some of the integration pieces, then the CIO should absolutely be part of that process. I want to parse that a bit, because it's easy to say the CIO should have a seat at every table, and I think we have to be careful about that. We don't want to come across as a role that feels like we have to be involved in everything.
1 2 Replies
CIO in Finance (non-banking), 51 - 200 employees

We shouldn't have to be gatekeepers for everything.

CEO in Software, 11 - 50 employees

Totally agree on the gate keeper thing. I don’t see the issue as gate keeping as much as it’s effective DD and high level requirements gathering. Part of a successful acquisition is the communication and table setting with existing employees. At a minimum, being involved early gives the CIO a chance to better communicate impacts to employees and investment requirements to leadership.

Chief Information Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I do think that a CIO can have multiple hats. It's not always just supporting corporate technology to enable employees, they can also bring in experience as an executive to help make the right decisions for the company. I also lead the data analytics team for ZoomInfo and we are the only ones who have the business data that runs across all systems. I don't see myself as just a technologist, and I do want a seat at the table. I want to be part of those decisions because I have executive knowledge, not just business systems knowledge.

CIOs can drive revenue as much as any other role, it's just that the perspective is different. I would hate to be excluded from these decisions and thankfully, at ZoomInfo I'm part of the conversation when we are evaluating technologies. I have contributed tons of information from past experiences, even about simple things like tech cultures that we see merging together. We shouldn’t underestimate ourselves. We bring in a lot of information, outside of technology or business systems, that is instrumental for any decision the business makes. I've always put on the CEO hat when I run IT as a business, so I never see us as a cost organization. That's why I think we should always have a seat at the table.
Director of IT in Software, 201 - 500 employees
The CIO should be part of the due diligence, have a say in the technology integration, and provide information on the timelines and potential difficulties. The CIO should influence the deal or the terms and expectations of the acquisition and should be included early on but not necessarily have a seat at the table.
CTO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
Easy - product market fit

CIO in Software, 51 - 200 employees
Not needed initially but only after financials are agreed. It takes too much time and effort and management bandwidth is stretched almost always

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