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Telecom Still the Place to Be

The positioning of the technology, media, and telecom (TMT) sector is changing, as discussed in the Q1 2017 "TMT Trend Report from M&A intelligence firm Mergermarket.

In the report, Mergermarket notes that:

  • TMT deals made in Q1 2017 dropped 17.6% in deal value (634 deals worth $73.2 billion), compared to the same period last year (695 deals, $88.8 billion)
  • The slowdown suggests that TMT-related M&A activity not only is trending downward from all-time highs in 2015 and 2016 but also has passed its peak "as buyers shy away from record valuations and consolidation in multiple industries."
  • TMT's global slowdown is most evident in the U.S., where deal value decreased by 25.6% (241 deals, valued at $26.1 billion for Q1 2017 versus 249 deals, $35.2 billion for Q1 2016).

Source: Mergermarket "TMT Trend Report" for Q1 2017

So what's the next big investment? Are UC&C cloud providers digging in and entrenching themselves in process improvements and finding ways to lower costs and improve access, reliability, and security so they can deliver better services? An alignment of force is necessary, especially after record M&A activity. Of course companies feel the pains of change, and if UC&C cloud services become static then we can welcome ourselves back to the old way of doing things.

Providers have the opportunity to improve, and there's plenty of room for improvement. While converged services offer advanced features and capabilities that normally would require substantial investment, per-seat cost of any UC service is relevant to companies fighting to be competitive within their respective industries. Different vertical markets offer unique challenges, and many companies aren't willing to accept off-the-shelf solutions.

The Mergermarket report made me jump back in time to the headline from a No Jitter post that publisher Eric Krapf wrote nearly 10 years ago: "Telecom: No Country for Entrepreneurs." Eric was writing in response to a Gigaom article, "Take This Job And Shove It -- Why I Retired From Telecom." Likewise, in response to Eric's post, I wrote a piece titled "Telecom Is the Place for Entrepreneurs."

Time is always a good measure; when things are time-tested, we know the outcomes, for good or bad, and hopefully we can learn from them. I know now, as I did then, that this is the place to be. This business has always been about moving things around... and I don't mean MACDs. It's new, it's refreshing, and it's improving. You can argue telecom is dead, grandfathered into IT, morphed, or just your grandpa's old job. Telecom is what it is, and for a lot of people it's probably more about perception than anything else.

Opportunity abounds for those providers that dig in and improve process; lower costs; improve access, reliability, and security; and improve customer offerings. How much opportunity can you handle?

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