When high-level execs tout the benefits of upcoming acquisitions, they love citing "improved efficiencies" and the "elimination of redundancies." In other words, throw out one set of everything the two companies have in common, be it staff or IT infrastructure. Verizon Communications and MCI eliminated systems when they merged in January, for sure, but the newly combined entity also chose to bridge, rather than merge, its two sets of infrastructure where it could.
Verizon formed three units around three sets of customers: Verizon Telecom serves consumers and small-business customers; Verizon Wireless specializes in wireless services; Verizon Business serves big companies and the government. The bulk of the former MCI became part of Verizon Business, along with Verizon's own Enterprise Solutions Group. Other parts of MCI that had been focused on local exchange became part of Verizon's domestic telecom unit. The movement of key parts of the business was essential in lining up the three business units, says Judy Spitz, senior VP and CIO of Verizon Business, who led the integration effort.
The IT strategy for Verizon Business involved retaining systems from both the former MCI and Verizon Enterprise Solutions Group, while decommissioning some duplicates. The telecom industry depends on an array of systems for sales-force automation, pricing, order entry, billing, and more. Verizon Business consolidated hundreds of such systems to well under a hundred, estimates Mark Winther, a telecom analyst at IDC.
The company set a 10-week deadline for completing 32 merger-related IT initiatives before its official Jan. 23 launch. They included unifying payroll, setting up financial reporting to corporate officers, and interlinking the e-mail and instant messaging systems. Verizon declined to identify its infrastructure vendors or put a price tag on the integration work.
Spitz has Verizon swimming downstream
Photo by Ken Schles
But systems have to be linked even if separate sets of IT infrastructure aren't going to be merged outright or one used to replace the other. Verizon Business bridged two formerly separate infrastructures. The unit created a portal called eWeb that pulls data from both the former companies' systems to help staff find product descriptions, the right systems for servicing customers, and customer information. It also used a common software interface to link the two sides, letting former MCI staff access Verizon systems and Verizon people tap into MCI systems.
Verizon Business' systems are organized around a service-oriented architecture and Web services. That gives the unit a way to bridge the former MCI and Verizon Enterprise Solutions Group systems, as well as link to other Verizon units, customers, and suppliers. An enterprise service bus facilitates transactions across systems, and a developer workbench supports subscription to services and monitoring of transaction volumes. "We spent a lot of time to make our employees feel like they were a part of one integrated company," Spitz says.
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