As industry leaders seek to consolidate their positioning in the global marketplace, mergers and acquisition activity continues to surge. In 2018, companies announced more than 50,000 transactions worldwide for a total value of approximately $4 trillion. However, only one out of five M&As achieves its potential value.
One culprit for lackluster M&A results? Losing valuable IP—much of which lives on employee endpoints—from the sell-side company during the acquisition process. Much of an acquisition target’s value lies in its IP. In order to get the full value of an acquisition, buy-side organizations must identify, locate, secure and safely migrate the IP of the sell-side company. And it has to happen fast.
IT implications for growth
One company that’s garnering top value from the IP of its merger and acquisitions is SHAPE. You likely encounter the results of SHAPE’s waterjet cutting solutions every day. Its technologies are integral in many industries such as auto, aerospace, food, mobile and fabrication. Since 1974, the Kent, Washington-based company has delivered more than 13,000 waterjet systems to customers in more than 100 countries.
The global company employs 1,400 workers in more than 20 offices in North and South America, Asia and Europe. The organization’s goal is to double in size over the next four years to reach $1 billion. In addition to strong organic growth, one of SHAPE’s growth strategies is acquisitions — many of which are smaller companies and some are overseas.
With such aggressive growth targets come data security and IT challenges.
SHAPE turned to Code42 for its Next-Gen Data Loss Protection (DLP) to help protect precious IP during M&As and against loss or theft during employee departures.
Protecting sell-side company data
A large part of the value proposition when SHAPE buys a company is the IP that comes along with it. Unfortunately, that data is easily put at risk by employee actions and departures. That’s why it’s critical to protect the files and information on the sell-side company’s devices. The IT department at SHAPE understands the reality of this risk and proactively takes steps to protect the organization’s IP and secure the data.
“Our initial goal is to get the data captured and backed up,” says Jeff Zuniga, director of IT operations. “Some people have taken it upon themselves to delete files thinking they’re helping by cleaning things up. Once we get the data protected, we are able to manage it and consume it as needed.”
Some of the companies SHAPE acquires don’t have sophisticated security and IT programs, so SHAPE’s IT team must quickly get their data secured, integrated with their core technologies and aligned with IT standards.
“We needed a quick way to be able to start collecting the data that resided on their machines,” says Zuniga. “A lot of them ran on a shoestring budget and workstation backups weren’t part of their vocabulary.”
Safeguarding data during consolidation
Organizational consolidation often accompanies acquisitions — and often includes employee departures. To monitor IP and determine whether there’s any suspicious file movement or deletion during this process, SHAPE is using Code42.
“Being able to make sure we’re protecting our IP, that it’s not walking out the door, is important,” says Zuniga.
At a company that’s the innovator in its field, IP carries a premium—and without the right tools, it could be vulnerable to insider threats.
“We have a lot of IP like our drawings, sensitive information like cost of goods, where we purchase things, vendor lists,” says Zuniga. “We’ve been running reports and looking at users who have copied their local drives. We have to sort through and see if they’re personal files or does it contain IP.”
As it maintains its growth trajectory, SHAPE’s strategic approach to IT will continue to serve it well. And Code42 Next-Gen Data Loss Protection capabilities like data collection and monitoring, will help the industry leader safeguard its valuable IP—that of its acquisition targets and the homegrown ideas that have made it the industry leader for more than four decades.