M&A, Business Models and Ecosystems in the Software Industry

Karl´s blog

Posts tagged M&A
M&A digitalization: We need a domain model for M&A

A domain model for mergers and acquisitions will save us.

The clash of domains

Two companies shall be merged. Two workforces and two administrations have to be aligned, changed and integrated. The first problem that comes up is corporate language and a missing joint domain model and integration plan for people involved but also for applications, companies, locations and countries.

Domain models

Domain models are semantic models that show objects and their relationship in a specific domain. For the M&A domain there will be representations of the M&A strategy, the business case, the integration plan and of course, of both companies to be merged. In addition we need a model of the integration project and all the tasks to be carried out in the different phases of the M&A process. The domain model does not only cover company data, but also data about the M&A process, the involved people and other attributes of the integration like goals and objectives and how they are measured.

Mapping out phases and tasks in the M&A process

Soon , the PMI workgroup of the German M&A association will publish a reference model for all tasks in the M&A process. Here is a short preview of what will be included:

  • Phases: are part of the M&A process like a due diligence phase or the phase between sign and close.

  • Tasks: describe the activities to be carried out during the M&A process. Plus there will be goals and objectives for each task that steer the execution of the tasks and measure success.

  • Concepts: Describe the domain data of the different companies, like companies, departments, the project management domain

Wow, that might be a lot of data types to be modeled, how can you ensure consistency? It all comes together on a task level. Tasks are executed to transform companies to reach an end state, called goal. Goals and objectives will be different by merger and companies involved.

In our case the goal is that the organizations are integrated. Success is measured with two objectives: integration success is maximized and risk is minimized.

task:             execute_merger_integration_project
phase:            merger integration
goal:             buyer and target organizations are integrated.
objectives:       integration success is maximized, risk is minimized.
task description: Resources for the project will be allocated.
                  and the integration project will be executed.
concepts:         target, buyer, organization, budget, project plan, resources

Domain model APIs foster integration of tool vendors

Domain models can be used to drive transparency in the heterogenous world of M&A tools. Tool vendors can easily show the coverage of tasks within the domain model

The description of phases, tasks, concepts, goals etc. will be formalized and can be easily used to generate API descriptions that could be used to integrate different tools in the M&A process like data rooms, project management tools etc. So stay tuned for more progress.

Software strategy selection: is build, buy, partner sufficient or do we have to add open source to the game?

Strategy selection

The best innovation and growth strategy is to combine organic and inorganic growth. SAP has successfully applied organic innovation and growth resulting e.g. in SAP HANA, SAP S/4 HANA as well as inorganic innovation and growth via acquisitions like Qualtrics and Calliduscloud. 

Build, buy, partner

  For me, the most important distinction between build or buy is the window  of opportunity that you have.  In technology markets, there are frequent changes of market direction. If you’re lucky, you had started  your solution  in time to build something that is en vogue  right now. But if you’re not lucky, you need to acquire capabilities that the market needs today.  But is this the only option you have?

Opportunity and risk in building  and acquiring solutions

To be frank,    with the current state of technology due diligence on to be acquired companies there is no difference in risk to build or to buy.  When building products, you trust your developers to build something great. The a priori likelihood of success is 50%. Same likelihood applies for acquiring technology. In addition, acquired technology exists, has customers, success and failure history. So, what is the impact of this statement on build decisions? 

Build decisions

Build decisions are made based on anticipated market trends. So don´t be suprised when you find out that you made the wrong decision. It is perfectly natural to take wrong decisions. But how can you fix such a wrong decision? I have two proposals: The first one is to start massive marketing to convince customers and markets that what you built is the right thing. Tough. The second option is to buy your way into front and center of the market.  What are these the only options you have?

 Outsource your worries

 What we need to look at is in another alternative.  You could leverage an existing open source solution with a license that permits commercial use to jumpstart your building efforts.   And you build differentiating, proprietary technology on top.

 If the open source community behind that solution is being active enough, you will save massive effort for support and maintenance of the solution.  

It also makes financial  and strategic sense to spend your money wisely on functionality where you can differentiate your offering from the competitors’ offerings.

Why don´t you choose one of the following topics to continue:


M&A Digitalization: where should data reside?

In past years, there always was a dichotomy: either companies were only on premise, storing their crown jewel data on site, or companies ran certain applications in the cloud. Now, hybrid clouds are on the rise.  This means there are three options now.  

In M&A, data rooms are typically private cloud based storage of highly confidential data during due diligence. Data from other phases are usually stored on site. With all these changes happening and the clear need to manage M&A processes,  where should company store their data about  all phases of the M&A process ?

On premise?

The safest way to store mission critical data is to store them on premise.  locked up.  This is perfect for a the early phases. As soon as more people get involved from inside and outside the company, during due diligence and post merger integration, this approach is not perfect. 

in the cloud? 

Cloud storage makes perfect sense for trustfully giving restricted access to people from different companies. For most companies, this is needed during due diligence and following phases. But many companies also interact with third party companies even before due diligence. 

Requirements for M&A process tools

Customers rule. An end-to-end process tool must respect that. No matter if  customers choose on site, private cloud or public cloud, vendors of end-to-end process tools should give customers a choice. The customer should decide where to store data. 

Digitalization of M&A: robots are boosting M&A process performance

While we are used to physical robots vacuuming our homes, software robots are not in widespread use yet. The term used for software robots is robotic process automation. (RPA)

What is RPA? 

RPA is defined as tools to build automation for everyday tasks and processes  on a computer screen using Software Robots.   This can start with a simple sequence of clicks on the screen that you can replay automatically. But RPA can also cover more complex workflows with decision points. RPA  tools usually contain a recorder that tracks  certain work sequences on your computer screen and can replay it this sequence later.

What is RPA combined with machine learning? 

Recording workflows with current RPA tools is a manual process. If combined with machine learning, a digital assistant will track your online work and will propose automation of routine processes you do every day. This will lead to a step by step increase of the level of automation in processes.

How does RPA help in M&A processes?

 It frees up time to focus on the really important topics instead of routine tasks  and sequences of clicks on a computer screen.


Welche Auswirkungen haben Länder auf die Integrationsaktivitäten von Unternehmensfusionen? Wenn Sie an einer transnationalen Merger-Integration arbeiten, sollten Sie über Kenntnisse dieser Faktoren verfügen.

Multinationale Zielfirmen erstrecken sich über mehrere Länder mit Tochtergesellschaften in jedem der Länder. Es gibt viele Faktoren in einem bestimmten Land, welche die Integration von Fusionen beeinflussen, die auf überregionaler, nationaler und lokaler Ebene stattfinden. Hinzu kommen soziale und kulturelle Faktoren, die sich je nach Land oder Region unterscheiden, wie Arbeitstage innerhalb einer Woche, nationale Feiertagskalender, das politische Umfeld sowie die Präsenz und der Einfluss von Gewerkschaften.

Diese Faktoren sind:

  • Rechtlicher Rahmen

  • Soziologischer Rahmen

  • Kultureller Rahmen

  • Politisches Umfeld

  • Technologisches Umfeld

  • Ökologische Umwelt

  • Lokales Umfeld des Unternehmens

Hier ist mehr Hintergrund zu einigen der Faktoren:


Jedes Land hat eine spezifische Reihe von Gesetzen und Vorschriften, die für die Integration von Fusionen gelten. Diese betreffen z.B. die Übertragung von physischem und geistigem Eigentum, Compliance- und Berichtspflichten des Unternehmens, das Verhalten in Wettbewerbssituationen, Vorschriften und Verfahren zur Beschäftigung und Unternehmensübertragung sowie die Berechnung und Zahlung von Steuern.

Für die Verschmelzung setzt der Rechtsrahmen Grenzen und regelt Integrationsaktivitäten wie die Integration von Unternehmen in eine einzige juristische Person sowie die Umstrukturierung. Manager von Merger Integrationsmaßnahmen müssen über Kenntnisse dieser rechtlichen Rahmenbedingungen verfügen, um die Auswirkungen zu ermitteln.


Nationale Kulturen können sich unterscheiden, wenn es um Religion, Ethnizität und Klassenstrukturen geht. Nationale Kulturen definieren laut Hofstede aber auch die Gleichheit/Ungleichheit in der Gesellschaft, die individuellen und kollektiven Aspekte, die Geschlechterrollen sowie die Vermeidung von Unsicherheit und Angst in einer Gesellschaft. Für die Integration von Fusionen müssen Sie sich dieser kulturellen Aspekte bewusst sein.


Wie wirkt sich das politische Umfeld auf die Integration von Fusionen aus? Aus aktiver Sicht treiben die Politiker Gesetze und Haushaltsentscheidungen voran. Sie werden mit dem Erwerber zusammenarbeiten, wenn die erwarteten positiven Auswirkungen der Fusionsintegration hoch sind und dem Politiker von Nutzen sind.

Aus passiver Sicht müssen Politiker auf mögliche negative Wahrnehmungen und Ergebnisse oder Nebenwirkungen von Fusionsintegrationsaktivitäten wie Streiks der Belegschaft im Falle von Umstrukturierungen reagieren. Für die Integration von Fusionen müssen Sie sich über das politische Umfeld in jedem Land im Klaren sein, das von der Integration betroffen ist.


Verschiedene Branchen haben unterschiedliche Anforderungen an das Vorhandensein oder die Verfügbarkeit von Technologie in einem bestimmten Land. Dies könnte sich auf die nationale technologische Infrastruktur wie Verfügbarkeit von Strom, Kühlung, Wärme, Transport sowie auf lokale Lieferanten mit der richtigen Technologie, Kompetenz und Versorgung beziehen, aber auch auf die Verfügbarkeit qualifizierter Mitarbeiter.


Ein Unternehmen ist immer in sein lokales ökologisches Umfeld eingebettet. Natürliche Ressourcen, Ökologie sowie Umweltschutzanforderungen sind Beispiele für die ökologische Umwelt. Die Ergebnisse der Due Diligence können zu Arbeitsaufgaben für die Fusionsintegration führen, wie z.B. Umweltsanierungsaktivitäten.


Neben den oben beschriebenen makroökonomischen Faktoren ist jedes lokale Unternehmen in einen mikroökonomischen Kontext mit lokalen Wettbewerbern und Lieferanten und Mitarbeitern eingebettet und muss sich mit den lokalen Finanzierungsbedingungen und den lokalen Gesetzen und Vorschriften auseinandersetzen.