Bell Canada Takeover

All the buzz on Bay Street and the financial nooks and crannies of Toronto is the bubbling rumors on the private equity based takeover of Bell Canada(aka BCE). Of course shareholders will be protected and minority interests will be respected – and a Blackstone-like billion dollar payday is less likely given the required participation of a whole flock of Canadian Pension funds and interests.

However, of even more concern to the private buyers is the fact that turnaround will not be easy. BCE is far far away from the efficiency and effectiveness of its Ma Bell days. In short, if the just-good-enough people at Rogers Communications can make BCE look bad then you know there are problems with Mabels operations. And I can testify from firsthand experience.

The DSL service is so bad in downtown Toronto. Bell delivers hopelessly inconsistent service, 8-10 minute waits to get Tech support, billing foul ups. And a colleague who does consulting service tells me of IT in a hopeless state of rival consulting sinecures such that getting any integration even across such fundamentals as billing and operational management is just Mission Impossible, yada yada yada… Just the stuff for a turn around artist. But wait until s/he meets the tangled web of unions in both English Ontario and French Quebec – and these unions have seen the likes of buzz saw takeover people having gone through the Air Canada and CN/CP “revitalisations”. In short, the task will not be short or easy.

Now that could effect the private equity plunderers … uhhh financial pirates….uhhh people because the tax-breaks to the wealthy that Dubya the Bagman delivered are expiring. And if there is any downturn in the economy, the first political grab back will be the tax breaks to the rich given that executive pay versus increased poverty in the US of A has started to rise on many political radar screens. For example, 4 party candidates doing reasonably well: John Edwards and Barack Obama for the Democrats and TomThompson and Sam Brownback for the Republicans have serious redirection of spending on their agendas. And 2008 is sure to bring a new President ….

But there is a lesson here for IT observers. This is not the first organization which has become crippled in outsourcing. IT is now so vital for the daily workflow of most businesses; that IT disease within can be crippling – as debilitating as missing major market opportunities in no small part because IT is diseased. Is it time the CIO became the CEO?