After a merger, the CIOs get down to brass tacks


Right before the Christmas break, the news broke that gave everyone a flashback to 2011 or at least a simpler, better time: A major global exchange was about to be acquired by an ambitious and hard-charging exchange .

The news that InterContinentalExchange (ICE) plans to buy New York Stock Exchange operator NYSE Euronext for a reported $8.2 billion should warm the hearts of everyone in the battered financial services space. After an entire year of brokerage closures, rogue algorithms and bad numbers for hedge funds, it felt like 2012 just might end on a fairly higher note, especially if Congress could avoid driving over the Fiscal Cliff. (They did, by the way, last night, in case you just woke up from your New Year's Eve coma).

Now comes the hard part.

Once the ICE/NYSE-Euronext merger is approved by their board members and the assorted regulatory bodies, the technology teams from the two major exchanges must get together to see how the newer larger entity will operate. In most cases, the CIO from the buyer usually becomes the head honcho and calls the technology shots. But in the case of NYSE-Euronext and its vast technology empire and important role in global trading, no one is really sure how this techie power struggle will play out.

As an experienced technologist once told me, no one wants to walk into a new company and continue the projects from the other guy who just left the room for good. "Where's the fun in that?" he asked aloud. And the new ICE-NYSE mashup could be a golden opportunity for new technologies. NYSE is known for electronic trading and the leader of ICE has a background in derivatives, a field where NYSE has struggled somewhat. Maybe the strengths of both firms could be combined in the new entity -- and that's where a visionary CIO comes in.

This might also be a good opportunity for technologists in both firms to refresh their resumes and look to outside firms who want to do business with the new NYSE ICE. Who knows the workings inside these complex and powerful entities better than the men and women who have worked their for years?