M-and-A-fishIn today’s rapidly-evolving business landscape, corporate acquisitions and mergers between companies are frequent occurrences. Such consolidation is particularly common in the software industry, where the financial barriers to developing a product and bringing it to market can be high, and the pressure for continual innovation is relentless and overwhelming.

Software companies can rise quickly and fail just as fast, while disruptive technology shifts can render yesterday’s breakthroughs obsolete tomorrow. Even seemingly successful startups may find it difficult to scale over the long term as an independent entity.

Small software companies may choose to be acquired for many reasons. Sometimes the motivation is strategic, with the transaction designed to enable the vendor’s solution to grow and strengthen both companies’ businesses. Other times the acquisition is financially driven, which could be for diametrically opposed reasons — thriving companies may simply be looking to cash in a windfall for their investors, while struggling companies may have no choice but to sell just to survive.

Good for the Company, Bad for the Customers?

When a vendor of consumer-oriented products is acquired (or in extreme cases, goes out of business), the impact on its customers tends to be minimal. While the change might impact a very high number of individuals, the consequences for each of those people are usually fleeting and limited in scope. Even having to replace a consumer product with an alternative is generally non-disruptive to users’ day-to-day lives, even if annoying.

What Are the Impacts?

In contrast, for customers who depend on a software solution from an acquired vendor as a key enterprise support system, the effects of such transactions can be very significant. In a best case scenario, customers may experience temporary support disruptions, delays in expected product updates, and changes in key relationships. At worst, after suffering through such headaches in the short term, users may find themselves forced to switch platforms or vendors entirely when the acquiring company soon mothballs the original offering.

Has your meeting management software vendor been acquired? If so, it’s time to start asking some tough questions about the future of your current solution and whether you’ll need to migrate to another platform. Even if you were just considering choosing the acquired vendor and not yet a customer, the answers will shed light on whether that solution is still your best choice.

The Importance of “Why”

Naturally, many of your first questions may be purely practical in nature — for example, who do you call for technical support now, and will the new feature you requested still be added?

Know the Background

Your initial reaction may be that you don’t care why the company was acquired, just what it means for you and your organization. But digging deeper to understand the reasons behind the acquisition will provide the most insight into the likely fate of your current system.

A situation where the new owner acquired your vendor’s products to complement its existing portfolio may lead to a different outcome than if the acquirer already offered a similar solution, and simply wanted to eliminate a competitor while gaining access to its customer base.

From evaluating the acquirer’s track record with past corporate mergers to reconsidering whether the reasons you chose your current solution are still valid, there are many things you should be asking your vendor and yourself to determine whether it’s time to start considering switching to an alternative. It’s important to start asking these questions right away; your meeting management system is too crucial to your organization to take a “wait and see” approach.

Ask the Right Questions

Questions to ask when software vendor acquired white paper coverTo help you determine what the acquisition means for your current meeting management solution (and more importantly, for your organization) in both the short term and long term, we’ve compiled a list of in-depth queries you can ask. Our free white paper (no registration required) “Questions to Ask When Your Software Vendor has been Acquired” outlines these questions and shares insights on how to interpret the long-term meaning of the answers you receive.

Some of these questions you can ask the acquiring vendor directly, but others you will need to ask and answer for yourself through research and watching the company’s actions. And don’t just ask them once; ask them again in the coming months. Many aspects of integrating two companies aren’t yet known in the first few months of an acquisition. The answers often change as the new company learns more about the people, technology and customer base they’ve acquired, and as they determine how it all fits in — for their benefit, not yours — with their overall business plans. Download the white paper today, and start evaluating how those changes might affect you tomorrow.

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