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From HIMSS 3/2/13

March 3, 2013 News 8 Comments

From AlohaSally: “Re: acquisition. Word on the Street is that Epic consulting company [company name omitted] just sold for $40M. Not shocking as I’ve heard stories owners were focused on building to cash in. Will they maintain culture under new identity?” We asked the company, which said they would provide a response but haven’t so far. The wording of their reply and the timing of the rumor give me the feeling that something is indeed afoot. A transaction in that price range would probably warrant a Monday morning announcement, especially assuming that companies with $40 million to spend know how to publicize themselves. As to your question, I don’t know if I’ve seen an example yet where an acquired company’s culture isn’t replaced almost immediately with that of the acquirer, sending some of the consultants and sometimes the clients themselves fleeing depending on the degree of change. It’s like a software vendor forcing clients to migrate from a retired product to another company offering – it may be perfectly fine, but it’s not what you signed up for.

Perhaps I should title this “From New Orleans” since the conference hasn’t started yet as I write this Saturday. In any case, I arrived with no problems. The airports were teeming with spring breakers headed to Mexico and other warm climes. The New Orleans airport, which seemed to me to be small and old, was already overwhelmed even though most of the ingress will be Sunday. Taxi lines were running 30-45 minutes, so who knows how bad it will get Sunday since the number of cabs is finite. 

The cab fare to downtown is a fixed $33 for 1-2 passengers, and don’t even be tempted to save a few dollars by taking the shared shuttle, which earns nearly universally negative reviews. Single travelers, which I would guess make up the majority, would be better off to self-organize the line into groups of two or three folks going to the same or close-by hotels, thus not only saving time and money, but freeing up a cab for someone else. Thank goodness a new law (which the taxi companies threatened to strike over) requires cabs to accept credit cards, which any city hoping to lure visitors should do.  

My impressions of the ride from the airport to my hotel, courtesy of the billboards lining the rather unattractive route: people come to New Orleans to eat, buy hot sauce, and visit strip clubs.

3-2-2013 4-54-13 PM

I mentioned that HIMSS dumped me off to a hotel I didn’t reserve when mine became oversold even though I made my reservation in September (how did that happen?) Note the fine craftsmanship on the bathroom door that $200 a night gets you (yes, that’s a half-inch of nothingness between the knob and the closest available wood). The “we care about the environment, so don’t make us wash your towels” sign is adjacent to a faucet that leaks in a constant stream and the full-length mirror threatens to fall off the door since two of its six holders have broken off. At least the Internet speed is good (until everybody else checks in Sunday), the bed and TV are huge, and the location is excellent.

Weather wise, it’s around 50 and mostly cloudy (downright gloomy at the moment) with a freeze warning in effect for tonight, with similar weather predicted for Sunday before a big warm-up Monday. It’s slightly springy with green grass and early leaves.

I’m patting myself on the back for my wise decision after suffering through too many HIMSS conferences trying to write voluminous HIStalk posts using the Chiclet-style keyboard of my intentionally small laptop. This time I prepared by buying a USB-powered trackball and full-size keyboard, having realized that the screen size isn’t the main challenge, it’s the input devices, and they take up almost no luggage room. 

Sunday is open for me since I didn’t sign up for any of the paid workshops, so I’ll just stroll around a bit, drop by the convention center to pick up by badge, and stop by the opening reception. It’s not only cheaper to fly in on Saturday, it makes Sunday a relaxing day.

I see on Twitter that bunches of HIMSS attendees are limbering up their fingers preparing to unleash a non-stop barrage of tweets about everything they see and hear all week. The online noise will be deafening, so I would guess that nobody’s going to read most of what’s being indiscriminately spewed.

Inga, Dr. Jayne, and I will be posting all week. Send us anything we should include – photos, rumors heard, and insightful observations. We never seem to get enough HIStalkapalooza pictures to satisfy everyone, so snap some shots there Monday evening. Help us figure out the prevalent themes of the conference since attendees often miss the forest for the trees (and the social distractions.) News and rumors will abound and we like hearing reader reactions.


Mr. H, Inga, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis.

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Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. It turns out there is a city wide water shutdown; bucket brigades have been mobilized in the convention center to flush toilets. Do not shake hands during networking events! Oh my!

  2. The story out of New Orleans is that even Platinum- and Diamond-Level attendees in hotel loyalty programs may be turned away due to the shortage in the CBD. A vendor story is that over 80 attendees in one program will be trying to check-in, today, and will receive the same message: “Good luck, but the only thing we have is in Gretna. Beignet?”

    Also, the water issue seems to have been caused by an electrical failure in one of the pumps. (Super Bowl, anyone?) They have issued a boil water notice for the next twenty-four hours and have taken samples across the city for contamination. It’s actually humorous to hear it announced over the loudspeakers on the exhibition floor. Bottled water only, people.

  3. “As to your question, I don’t know if I’ve seen an example yet where an acquired company’s culture isn’t replaced almost immediately with that of the acquirer, sending some of the consultants and sometimes the clients themselves fleeing depending on the degree of change.”

    I used to be among those with no examples of acquisition without loss of company culture until, as a consultant with Vitalize Consulting Solutions, we were acquired by SAIC and then had MaxIT added to the equation. Great pains have been taken to maintain the unique VCS (and I assume MaxIT) culture throughout the various transition processes. There has been a remarkable degree of transparency and a conscious intent to maintain that which make VCS and MaxIT the great organizations they are. Personally, profit sharing and other employee benefits have actually improved since the acquisition and how often can one say that?

    It’s interesting because SAIC is so huge and by necessity highly procedural, but what they might not emphasize in corporate flexibility, they have to my view, more than made up for in (un)common business sense and fairness and respect for their new organizations.

    It’s a story that deserves to be told.

  4. I was there yesterday for the water shut down. Good times. I don’t know if the “don’t drink the water” signs are still up, but I’d refrain from drinking anything (i.e. coffee, etc.) made on site, and not bottled. Thankfully it happened on Sunday, and not on Monday, and they were able to resolve it relatively quickly.

  5. I haven’t seen any announcements yet about Epic consulting companies being acquired but did see some changes on one’s website (On the 3rd, Nordic’s website prominently said they were privately held but that info is now longer on the site that I see) that lead me to believe it may have happened or be in the works. Have you heard anything?

    [From Mr H] No, but you’ve identified the rumored company.

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